Everything Looks Like Marmaduke

January 10th, 2007  |  Published in etc

Back in the Windows 3.0 days, when I was this dude who worked in a copy shop but happened to know computers and so got pressed into helping everybody out, I had this run-in with Shelby the Bookkeeper.

Shelby was new to the world of computers and she was having trouble writing a memo with her computer. So they sent me back to help Shelby.

The problem, she explained, was all the lines all over her memos. “Lines everywhere … I can’t make them stop!” So I looked at a memo that was causing problems and lo, it was written in Excel. Shelby thought Excel was some sort of multi-purpose application that was meant to do EVERYTHING.

At the time, I was probably not internally cool about the whole thing. Outwardly I wasn’t such a little tech prick that I gave Shelby trouble … I just told her Excel wasn’t what we used for such things and set her on the right path. Inwardly, I’m sure I was amused and pleased at this affirmation of my personal worth when compared to a 50-something technophobe who’d had a computer thrust into her life about the same way I feel like mini-sized snack products have been thrust into mine.

Looking back, I am mildly ashamed of how categorical my thinking was, because really if you turn off the lines, Excel is kind of nice for making memos, in a bent sort of “the squares are how we make the indentation line up for the address and signature blocks” way. I mean, I never got to the bottom of just how long Shelby had been using Excel to write memos, so maybe, if it had been working for her, I should have just showed her how to make the lines in a printout go away, right? I once tried to fashion a tool for breaking into a locked car with a coat-hanger and some baby bottle nipples, and back in the horrible old days of Linux, when there was no word processor, I even composed a resume in HTML and printed it from Netscape Navigator. I am no stranger to improvisation.

Anyhow, all of that came back to me when I read this comment on VersionTracker:

during the past two years i’ve replaced word-processing software with documents created in Comic Life.. really, fax cover sheets, program advertisements, student school identification badges, resumes, greeting cards, meeting agendas, office signage, informational posters, training manuals and, oh yeah, some cartoons.

I mean, why the hell not?

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