Why Microsoft Software is Annoying, Reason #42,517

I lecture using a tablet laptop, and have been doing so for almost a year. It’s great because I retain a record of the lecture, and I can tidy up any sloppiness, include any additional points, then post the lecture online for the benefit of my students. Another nice point is that I can type in example problems that I wish to solve in advance, so I don’t have to take time to do this in class.

On the tablet, I write (and type) into electronic files using Microsoft’s OneNote software. It works pretty well, and I can convert the note files into pdf files, which are then easily accesible by anyone (i.e., students who don’t have the MS OneNote software). I can also embed figures from the web into the OneNote files, and they appear in satisfactory quality, both in the classroom and in the ultimate pdf files.

I ought to be grateful, shouldn’t I, to have such wonderful tools that serve me and my students so well.

Alas, ungrateful clod that I am, I have a complaint with Uncle Microsoft.

Now, I don’t consider myself a Microsoft hater. My tablet is a Windows machine, so I’m not averse to using such a bloated, unwieldy operating system, that accretes so much crud over time that it becomes practically unusable after a year or two. (I’m sorry, it seems that I’m getting a little heated, aren’t I?) This is what happened to my desktop Windows machine, which became so slow that I wiped the hard drive, and started all over with Linux (Zenwalk, with many thanks to my good friend Ed Sternin for installing it for me). What a difference! It’s so fast! I can actually work without having to wait 45 minutes on a regular basis while something or other chugs in the background, making the machine act as if it is trudging through double-thick molasses. (I’ve also used Macs in the past, and they are also fine.)

However, when I type into MS Office OneNote, I cannot write (c) without the software auto-changing it to a copyright symbol. So if I am pre-typing a multi-part question from the textbook, I resort to using (a), (b), but then (c.), so that the darn software won’t auto-change.

This is typographically ugly, inconsistent, and therefore annoying.

Now, I’m sure if I were more adept at using the software (my policy, perhaps misguided, is to learn the absolute minimum about computers and software that is needed for me to be relatively efficient, so as to use my time pursuing matters of greater personal interest) I would know a quick fix to the problem. Perhaps I only need to go into some settings menu or other and make a quick change in preference.

But why is this the default? Do the vast majority of people who write (c) do so because they need to write a copyright symbol? I don’t expect this is so. Surely the enormous number of teachers out there have need to write (c) to indicate a list item, as do the enormous, stupendous number of list-writers.

Nowadays, with creative commons, and open source dominating, I expect the number of people who need to write the copyright symbol is very small, and the frequency with which they need to write it is also very small. So why have an auto-change set for (c) as the default? Why doesn’t Microsoft make it an option that a user has to intentionally select? The default action should be to leave (c) alone, and have a special keystroke sequence for the copyright symbol.

So please, Uncle Microsoft, keep your hands off my (c)!

For another complaint about Microsoft auto-changing, see Gerard ‘t Hooft’s complaint here, and this one, linked from his site, warns against using MS Word (particularly in email attachments).

And of course, the complaints against MS PowerPoint are numerous, and include claims that PowerPoint is making us all stupid. For further discussions of this point, see here, and here, as a start.

End of rant; we now return you to regular programming.

Update: Thanks to a comment by Joe, here are a couple of comedic links: Life After Death by Powerpoint, and Life After Death by Powerpoint 2010, both by Don McMillan.


About Santo D'Agostino

I have taught mathematics and physics since the mid 1980s. I have also been a textbook writer/editor since then. Currently I am working independently on a number of writing and education projects while teaching physics at my local university. I love math and physics, and love teaching and writing about them. My blog also discusses education, science, environment, etc. https://qedinsight.wordpress.com Further resources, and online tutoring, can be found at my other site http://www.qedinfinity.com
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2 Responses to Why Microsoft Software is Annoying, Reason #42,517

  1. Joe says:

    Nice rant on Microsoft!

    Here’s a link to Life After Death By PowerPoint:

    • Santo says:

      Thanks, Joe! I hadn’t heard of Don McMillan before, and I’m glad to know about him. I’ll update the post to include this link in the body of the post.

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