'Microsoft Word is a tyrant of the imagination'

Plus: 'Steve Jobs was born in 1955 - WWII ended in 1945. Grrr'

Our flyboy during the Battle of Britain

Quotw This was the week when Brit sci-fi author Charles Stross published an almighty rant about the omnipotence of Microsoft Word and how the program should just up and die. And being a writer, he's capable of a few good putdowns:

Microsoft Word is a tyrant of the imagination, a petty, unimaginative, inconsistent dictator that is ill-suited to any creative writer's use. Worse: it is a near-monopolist, dominating the word processing field. Its pervasive near-monopoly status has brainwashed software developers to such an extent that few can imagine a word processing tool that exists as anything other than as a shallow imitation of the Redmond Behemoth.

Not only is it annoying to use, but according to Stross, it has put other software houses out of business, has inhibited any innovation in word processing and has stupid file formats:

The .doc file format was also obfuscated, deliberately or intentionally: rather than a parseable document containing formatting and macro metadata, it was effectively a dump of the in-memory data structures used by word, with pointers to the subroutines that provided formatting or macro support. And "fast save" made the picture worse, by appending a journal of changes to the application's in-memory state. To parse a .doc file you virtually have to write a mini-implementation of Microsoft Word. This isn't a data file format: it's a nightmare!

And just for good measure:

Its proofing tools and change tracking mechanisms are baroque, buggy, and inadequate for true collaborative document preparation; its outlining and tagging facilities are piteously primitive compared to those required by a novelist or thesis author: and the procrustean dictates of its grammar checker would merely be funny if the ploddingly sophomoric business writing style it mandates were not so widespread.

Meanwhile, thousands of Purple Palace emailers are hopping mad over the changes to Yahoo! Mail. Irate users have said the new service gets rid of handy features they liked and is slow and difficult to use. One cried:

The redesign of Yahoo mail is terrible. Nothing works properly. Please bring back tabs and put it back to how it was. Everything was easily accessible and clear. Now it is a mess, making simple tasks like managing folders and filing a nightmare.

While another seethed:

Did ANYONE praise the new yahoo email client? My emails are now sent with no formatting and look like a disaster. I can't find some emails in my inbox unless I use the ****** fully functioning version (which seems to cater to teenagers who won't care if it works, as much as they care if it's cool enough to be seen with). A step backwards.

Speaking of hopping mad users, low cost airline Easyjet had its share of p***ed off customers this week when its website crashed, stopping folks from booking any new flights but also holding up passengers at the airport. The technical difficulties were stopping people from checking in online and in the airports, where harassed staff were trying to use the same system. A spokesperson said:

As a result of the technical fault, queue times at airports may be longer than usual for passengers checking in. We’re doing all that we can to resolve the issue and minimise the level of disruption to our customers.

These words did not soothe the pitchfork-wielding crowds at Gatwick Airport however, where one Reg reader fumed:

I cannot believe that a company of this size has no back-up plan, no resiliency, no disaster recovery… even easyJet, in this day and age.

Over in Russia, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has said that the agency's secret surveillance project has been messing with the American economy. In a speech at an event, Snowden said:

These [surveillance] programs don’t make us more safe. They hurt our economy. They hurt our country. They limit our ability to speak and think and to live and be creative, to have relationships, to associate freely.

The mega-leaker also said he felt compelled to release the documents he sent to media so that citizens could make informed decisions:

If we can’t understand the policies and programs of our government, we cannot grant our consent in regulating them.

And in Apple news, a US analyst has said that the iWatch won't just be a totally unnecessary bit of kit that links up to your other iStuff, but will instead be a fruity overlord over the entire home. Cantor Fitzgerald's Brian White said:

As an Apple supplier, our contact offered insight into the 'iWatch' and described this potential new device as much more than an extension of your iPhone but as a multi-purpose gateway in allowing consumers to control their home (i.e., heating/cooling, lights, audio, video, etc).

While in Cupertino, the company's new doughnut spaceship HQ has been approved by the council in a move that surprised absolutely no one. As one resident succinctly put it:

Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

If we don't honour Apple with this building, they'll leave. There's no reason for them to stay here and be loyal to a community that doesn't support them. But if they left, it would be a disaster for the city.

And finally, Chrisann Brennan, former girlfriend of deceased founder Steve Jobs and mother of his daughter Lisa, has released a memoir of her five years as his girlfriend, including titillating information about their sex life and details of the subsequent deterioration of their relationship. Brennan also revealed this rather strange tidbit about the tech titan:

Steve often said that he had a strong sense of having had a past life as a World War II pilot. He’d tell me how, when driving, he felt a strong impulse to pull the steering wheel back as if for takeoff.

Which seems to have befuddled one Reg reader quite a lot:

Steve Jobs was born in 1955 - WWII ended in 1945 - this account is obviously a complete fabrication. Do not take anything from this journalist (I hate using that term for worthless writers) as truth. To make a completely invalid statement without checking the simplest facts (such as a birth date) is preposterous. Be wary of these new writers, they write for attention, not for validity. It's a sad state of affairs for the fourth estate. ®

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