Time, Ladies and Gentlemen
What is time? Nothing more than an illusion, according to Douglas Adams and the rant from Kant. Breakfast time is after we wake up, but in some parts of the world people have to live on the equivalent of a breakfast a week. Does time move slower for them? In the developed world, time can be measured in billions of years, billionths of a second, or the time it takes to get into a spreadsheet.
Why do Excel files take so long to open? A recent spreadsheet file we received took nearly 15 minutes from clicking to displaying. Inside, a few worksheets, some simple graphs, and that was it. Opening the same file in NeoOffice, the free open-source Office alternative, took a few minutes—still a long time, though showing how bad Microsoft products can be.
Apple of Newton’s Eye
The computations in a huge, multi-layered Photoshop file are infinitely more complicated. File sizes can be hundreds of times bigger, but they don’t leave you wondering whether your computer has had a little hissy fit. Given enough RAM, Photoshop exists in Newtonian Time as a background task, churning through a series of actions on billboard images.
If only it were the same working with PowerPoint, which is sometimes more like bog snorkeling in treacle. Compared with opening someone’s poster “helpfully” made in PowerPoint, or a newsletter “created” in Excel, Photoshop feels more like Lewis Hamilton though Eau Rouge rather than Button and Barrichello ’round the Bus Stop.
At least the latter aren’t wasting their time, because they get darned well paid for driving un-competitive cars, unlike the time my partner has just wasted working with a Word file. It simply needed a series of images inserted into a ready-made table. Most were cut and pasted from a PowerPoint file, but some had been created in Photoshop and saved as grayscale 8-bit TIFFs.
Time Makes You Mental
One resolutely refused to be inserted into Word. Leibniz would say this was time as part of the mental measuring system, especially as it drove my partner nuts. The solution was to copy the TIFF from Photoshop into PowerPoint, then copy from there to Word. Yet the same file pasted back into Photoshop showed no difference from the one which Word refused to touch.
The hegemony Office has had on the world seems to be reaching an end as free alternatives are offered by the likes of Sun and Google. Apple, too, has kept its AppleWorks suite in a time-warp somewhere back to the latter part of the last century. The new iWork software will do almost everything the average word-processing, presentation-making, spread-sheeter will need, NeoOffice and the like filling in any gaps.
Microsoft has no to blame but themselves. Office is a mess of interfaces, confusing to use, and limited in how it integrates with other software and how it can output its files. Not that we mind, as yet another book created in Word is given to us to be redesigned at great cost in QuarkXPress or InDesign so that it can actually be printed.
This is charged-for time, our favorite as we bank the checks.
Also in This Series
- What Trick, What Device, What Starting-Hole… · May 2012
- Do Androids Dream? · April 2012
- Our Macs Are Under Attack · March 2012
- The Best and Worst Christmas Presents · February 2012
- The Best Use for a Kindle · January 2012
- It’s Got No Blinking Light · January 2012
- Box-Shifting Causes Migration · December 2011
- The Best Thing About the iPhone 4S and How to Cope in Clink · December 2011
- Death of a Salesman · November 2011
- Complete Archive