More from the computer wars

Before I start, I notice that recently I’ve had a new reader from New Caledonia.  Welcome.  I hope you enjoy what you’re seeing.

Now, for years dating back to the ‘80s and our first computer, a Commodore 64, I’ve been engaged in a running battle with these infernal devices.  Every now and then, the system will enlist the aid of printers and software in these skirmishes.  Last June my trusty HP 4580 died after about 4 years of service.  As I’m a photographer, I decided to replace it with a new HP Photosmart.  I chose the 5510, figuring that for the $20 difference, I could turn the paper over myself whenever I wanted two-sided printing.  The theory behind the PhotoSmart was good, the practice was not.

Right from the beginning I had problems with the paper feed, the machine frequently feeding two or more sheets at a time.   This would not normally be a problem unless you’re printing a multi-page document.  Although it was a PhotoSmart (it said so right on the label) it wouldn’t print 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 photos straight, no matter what I did or said – and I’ll admit I used some very unladylike language.

After a week of these irritants, I contacted HP, who sent me a replacement.  I was not impressed with this second machine.  I had a week old printer which I had purchased brand new and they sent me a refurbished unit as a replacement.  Not that it mattered much for the replacement was worse than the original.  Where the original would feed two or three sheets at a time, on occasion the replacement would feed as many as eight at a time.  I returned the replacement and decided that, once the ink in the original was used, I’d replace it.  The ink ran out just after Christmas, so this past weekend, I went shopping for a printer.

The replacement is yet another HP, an Officejet 6700 this time.  Yes, it’s more printer than I really need at the moment, but that could change.  This one not only feeds just one sheet of paper at a time, it also prints photos straight.  And, I got it on sale.

Software will occasionally enter the fray as well.  As I wrote in “Editing ain’t easy”, I’m helping a friend edit her manuscript.  She uses MS Word to write, whereas I prefer WordPerfect.  I’ve been using WordPerfect 12, while she has a more current version of Word which WP 12 doesn’t recognize (I get “unknown format” messages if I try to open her documents in WP).  My computer came with something called “MicroSoft Word Starter”, which is a pain in the ass to use.

She usually sends me five chapters at a time.  I’ve been downloading them, then opening them with this MS Starter monstrosity.  From there it’s been a matter of copy and paste into WordPerfect.  Although WP won’t recognize the format when I try directly, I have had no problems with this method.  That is, no problems until today.  Today, I had the five chapters copied, but when I went to paste in WordPerfect, I got a message reading “out of memory”.  Excuse me?  A 93KB document is “out of memory”?  Okay, ran a programme to clear the clipboard and get rid of the junk files that always accumulate.  Just to be sure, I also defragged the drive, then tried again.  Same message.

To see if it was WordPerfect or my system, I decided to try to copy and paste the chapters into Open Office.  Worked just fine.  As I wrote, I’m using WordPerfect 12, which is ancient by software standards and thought that although WP12 had worked well for the first 35 chapters, perhaps it had reached the end of its life.  Went onto the Corel website and downloaded a 30 day trial of the newest version – WordPerfect X6.  Installed it and tried again with the same result.  Obviously I’ll be on the phone with Corel in the morning.  I discovered that while the 93KB total was too much for the available memory, each individual chapter was small enough to transfer.

When my friend sent more chapters later (I should have them done Jan 4 for you) I decided to give WP X6 a try.  Opened the Word files without breaking a sweat (figuratively of course).  Problem solved.  Or rather, that problem solved.  Now I have to rework my budget to find the money Corel wants for the new WordPerfect before the end of the 30 day trial.

I hope 2013 unfolds just the way you’d like it to.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love (and cooperative computers) too.

Cat.

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