Josh (the blog)

Hey there. I’m Josh, a SydneyCanberra-based maker of Internets. I don’t update this very often.


Office 2007

Please stop me if I am making a fool of myself by overflowing with gushing praise for this thing, but, seriously, the best $75 I ever spent on software. (Yes, you can get the latest Office Ultimate for $75 if you’re a student. Legit.)

The new version of Word is a thing of beauty. It just works, and makes sense, and is generally a usability wonder. I’m sure someone will publish a study to the contrary in the next week, but I don’t care — it is perfectly intuitive to a non-Office literate user. Yes, that is myself–I’ve battled with for years, and am utterly convinced it sucks. I have occasionally fought with MS Office products in this time, and battled slightly less, but still it’s felt like I’m doing things the slow way. Every essay I’ve written over the last eighteen months is stored in LyX (LaTeX) format: I’ve basically not used a word processor for anything serious in at least that long. And I haven’t used a Microsoft word processor at home for three years (on a horrible laptop), and not on my primary desktop computer for four, or possibly five. Historical perspective: I started using Windows when I was 7, stopped when I was 15 or 16, and returned at 18 ½ — Microsoft have got good reason to be trying to bring me back into the family, because I’ve been away for a long time.

I am as upset as the next web developer about the Outlook team’s brain-dead decision to switch back to Word as the primary rich email rendering engine, but will wax lyrical about the new calendaring features in Outlook!! For they are greatly beautiful. Observe my three calendars (Organised into: Personal & Work; Uni; Church) layered together here:

Outlook 2007 week calendars layered

Groove makes me shrug enormously, it does nothing useful for me. Unless it’s like Sharepoint only… good. But even then, I’ve never dug that whole Intranet collaborative thang. Really, if I were going to run bloat-inducing collaborative software, I should start with Adobe’s Version Cue. But I don’t use it because… too many apps in my tray annoys me, and Firefox eats all my memory as is (screeny from yesterday… it peaked at about 1GB but I couldn’t be bothered taking another):

Firefox using the better part of 1GB of RAM

The only reason I still use that bloody browser is its extensions support: Firebug has stolen my heart where Office 2007 hasn’t yet. Here’s its asset download graphy thingamijig:

Firebug in Net inspector action

It’s even better than Chris Pederick’s toolbar. But oh how I’d love to switch to Opera (or even, shock, IE) full time now. Firefox really isn’t doing it for me with its bloat these days.

Speaking of bloat, Office 2007 is one 500MB download. It doesn’t download a 500MB stub and then install the rest — no, that includes Word, Outlook, Powerpoint, Excel, Publisher, … and all the other random crap I installed but will probably never use. Fantastic.

Everything is pretty fast (but it emphatically encourages you to install Windows Live Desktop, and seeing as I’m a beta tester for other Live stuff pretty willingly, I figured I may as well, and when you first install that indexing makes everything chug) which is excellent — but I’m still looking to buy a new dual core 939 sometime soon. Graphics are fine because I have no intention of upgrading to Vista (read: needing DirectX 10 and a $1000 graphics card) in the next 18 months at least, but… well, another 2GB of RAM would go down nicely. Shame it’s still relatively expensive, though.

Microsoft, I wasn’t going to pirate your software because it’s not that good, but thanks for the discount, anyway!