MS word header definition logic “upside down”

February 25th, 2008

Here is an example of something that drove me nuts recently. I have an MS Word letterhead with a header. I didn’t create it, someone else did (it’s a standard departmental one, customized with my name and other personal data, and it was created for all of us). By default, when I write a letter that’s longer than one page, it puts the same full header on the following pages as well. That’s not nice. I want the full header to only appear on the first page, and would like to define a separate header for all other pages. Yes, Word has a “different first page header” option, which you can choose through the Header/Footer format menu. But it works “upside down”. If you have already defined your header — which would logically be the header, the one you’d want on your first page, and the one you’d typically define first, when you choose the option to have a different first page header, Word will remove your header from the first page, and will keep it in all other pages; the exact opposite of what you want. There is a workaround (I forget what it is exactly). But what we really need is the logical opposite, something like “different OTHER pages header” — or more control over the header’s placement in general.

Why is it that?

February 25th, 2008

How often do you ask yourself this question? Probably more often than you even think. Well, so do I. So I’ve decided to do something about it. The first thing I’ve decided to do is to start writing down each time, each situation in which I find myself asking this question. Why? Because becoming aware of a problem and documenting it is an important first step towards fixing it.

We all spend more and more time with “machines”. A lot of those machines today either are computers or are controlled by them. Examples (beside your computers): cell phones, mp3 players, digital cameras, microwave ovens, TV sets, cars. Cars? you say. Yes, cars. A typical late model has about a dozen computers to control fuel injection functions, emission, trip meter, climate control, air bags, stability, ABS, and more. Some of it is hidden from you, the user; much isn’t. Try a new BMW’s i-drive. I haven’t, but everyone who has says it is terrible. Why? because it is overwhelming.

But it goes beyond that. I get frustrated with so many confusing, ambiguous, unclear situations: signs that are hard to read, instructions that make no sense and produce no results, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. You, too, get frustrated with them. How do I know? Because so many people come to me for help with their new (and old) gadgets. I do have a reputation for “getting along” well with them, so everybody, young and old, ask me to help them set up this or that in their gadgets. And while I try to figure out how to, I ask myself dozens of “why is it that?” questions.

So I started writing them down. This space is where I’ll be posting them as they come up. And I’ll ask you to share with me — and your fellow readers — your own “why’s”. And if by some luck we discover a “why” that has been fixed, we’ll let you know too. Hopefully, this will encourage others to also fix their own “why’s.”

So, let’s go.

(P.S. If you ask “why is this blog called ‘quamobrem’ ?” the answer is quamobrem is Latin for …. yes, why)