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This Day in My History

2000:  I'm Mad
2001:  Back in the Groove
2002:  Molly
2003:  After I Leave...
2004:  Family Ties
2005:  Day of Rest
2006
I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing


IN MY OPINION
"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"

Books Read in 2007

Updated 4/9:
"Paula Deen"

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"Rottweiler Puppies"

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Desert Nut
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John Lennon's Piano
The History of Late Night TV
7 Minute Sopranos
Bette Davis...uh...Sings
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Wizard of Oz--Alternate Ending

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AUTO TEXT AND MACROS

23 May 2007

(I've spent the day continuing to get the computer set back up again, so you have to put up with another technical entry)

For those who don't understand what I'm talking about when I refer to "macros" and why I'm so wedded to Word Perfect, I thought I'd explain a bit the difference between Word and WordPerfect and why I love WordPerfect so much.

First there's "reveal codes."  I learned these computer programs early, early, when you wrote out the instructions for how you want a page to look.  It was way back in the Lamplighters days when we used to write code to tell the printer how we wanted our document to look.

If you look at the code for a text that is in bold, for example, you'll see <b>TEXT</b>.  The <b> tells you to start bolding everything after it and the </b> tells you to end bolding text.  Some codes are simple, some are quite complex. 

To get an idea of what you see when you look at codes, go up to the toolbar of your browser.  If you use Explorer, click on "VIEW" and then on "Source."  That will bring up all the codes for this page.  (If you use Firefox you can get the same thing by going to "VIEW" and "Page Source.")

But the neat thing about knowing about codes is that when something doesn't do what you think you've told it to do, you can read the code and see where you screwed up (because computers don't do what you want them to do, but what you TELL them to do).

People tell me that you can see the codes in Word, and you can.  The problem is that you can't see ALL the codes in Word.  I have been so terribly frustrated by that in all my years of trying to learn how to bond with it.  It will show me the major codes, but not all of them.  WordPefect shows you everything.  And the errors are always in the minor codes that Word doesn't show you.

It's the macros that are the killer, however.  Both have what Word calls "auto text" and WP calls "quick correct."  This is a terrific feature if you tend to misspell the same words over and over again, or if, for example, you want to spell the word "theatre" and your boss wants you to spell it "theater" and your fingers keep typing "theatre."  Using the auto text, or text correct, you teach the word processing program that whenever it sees "theatre" it should print "theater."  You're happy and your boss is happy and you no longer have to fight about the proper spelling of the word and you don't have to keep remembering to check to make sure you've spelled the word the way he wants you to.

But I digress... (bitter? who me?)

For my transcription work there are lots of words that I have shortened.  Why type "antidepressant" or "antipsychotic" over and over again when if I type "antd" or "antp" it will expand the words for me.  Why type "pursuant to your report, I interviewed" when I can type "pur" and have the word processing program type the full phrase for me?

Both programs do that and I have hundreds of such abbreviations.  Amazing how much faster things go when you don't have to type whole words over and over again.

The big difference in the two programs is how they handle macros.  Macros are more powerful than simply replacing a series of letters with a longer word or a phrase...or even a paragraph.  Macros include all the formatting, the codes that determine how text looks on the screen.  Recording a macro means recording all of the keystrokes you use to create that particular section of text.

The psychiatrist's reports are formatted into several different sections.  I write macros to start each section.  In WordPerfect, I hit the "alt" key and type PO and it gives me:

PRESENT OFFENSE

 

The words "present offense" are printed capitalized, in bold and underlined, and there are two carriage returns after the header.  If I type Alt-hab I get:

"HABITS

Smoking:  "

It gives me the header, does the right spacing, puts in the sub-header and spaces over for me to start typing again and stops bolding the text.  Other macros are more complicated, but they include all the programming language.

I discovered that yes, you can record macros in Word, but the way you run a macro is more complicated.  Instead of typing Alt-PO, for example, in order to run that macro I would go to the task bar, highlight "Tools," then scroll down to highlight "Macros."  It will then bring up a list of all the macros I've written, I scroll to the one I want, highlight it and then press the button that says "run."

Well, by the time I've done THAT, I could just as easily have typed in the header with the bold and the underlining and saved myself a lot of time.

That's the big difference.  It's not that you can't do that in Word, you can.  It's just that it's not nearly as efficient, for the way I use macros.  Just as you can view the programming codes in Word, but it doesn't show you all of them, so if it's a subtle error, you can't always find it by looking at the codes.

Macros and the quick correct or auto text are a transcriptionist's best friend.  When I was doing gynecology reports, where a standard exam was the same for almost everybody, I could write a macro that printed out half a page of text with only a couple of key strokes.  I don't have to do that any more, but I sure do use my simple macros a lot.

That's why I'm willing to spend extra money to get Word Perfect back.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

Ruby naps in the playpen

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