Gang aft agley

I am neither mouse nor man but my plans for the evening did get agley-ayed rather unexpectedly. I was going to eat, and then I was going to play something for a little while; if you’ve got insomnia, you may as well use it by getting some evening playtime in, especially since my early-morning playtime has been nixed by said insomnia. I did the eating part, but the playing part got hijacked. And it’s all Microsoft’s fault; and saying that never gets old.

See, I haven’t had a copy of Office on my machine in several years, because we were too cheap to spring for the Professional copy I kept thinking I needed (I like to play with Access) and too ethical to get hold of a pirated copy. Besides, I’m told MS send black helicopters and licence-ninjas to chop off your ears if you do that.

Yesterday, therefore — and I suspect that only in America (oh well, and Canada) could I have gone to a shop and picked up anything other than spam and a packet of smokes on New Year’s Day — I went to Staples and purchased one of their fine, sale-marked MS Office Home & Student editions. It wasn’t cheap (nothing is when everyone is either half broke or halfway past broke), but it wasn’t horribly expensive and I can actually justify it from a work standpoint. Oh crap! I’m not supposed to use it for business! Is that ninjas I hear?

… False alarm. I installed it, that went well enough, and then I fired it up. And my eyes exploded. This isn’t Office! It’s some newfangled pastel blue thing with no menus where I expect them; with rounded, suspiciously Mac-looking corners, and nothing I recognise! Aaaaaaaaaah! (Note to the Mac aficionados — not counting the Vic20, oops, or the Atari (or was it an Amiga? – the one with the bees) — not counting those, a Mac was my first computer. My grades and those of all my college housemates went up an easy 5% once we started printing out our essays. Just for the record, I like Macs — I just can’t afford ’em.)

At this point I realised I’m getting old. I no longer embrace new software the instant it comes out, I certainly don’t read up on it beforehand, and I don’t even upgrade my machines every 18 months like I used to. Soon enough I’ll be getting a “Smash a cellphone if you’re proud to be a Luddite” bumper sticker.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but the most recent copy of Office I’ve been using is either 2000 or 2003 — whichever looks the most old-fashioned and not like 2007, that’s the one we got on Mort’s machine. Oh wait, it’s 2003, they didn’t even have XP back in 2000. They still used abacuses (abacii?) and string back then. It looked just fine to me, worked just fine, and since it hadn’t changed all that much in a decade plus of use I knew the damned software (especially Word) inside-out; hell, I used to train people in it.

I backed off in slack-jawed shock for the rest of the evening… and then spent today warily poking around to see what this new beast can do, under the guise of working (I did get some done; not much, but some). It’s slick. It’s actually quite nice. Word still handles graphics and proper element-based layout about as well as a rottweiler could give a haircut, but that’s what PowerPoint is for when you don’t have PageMaker (ahem — or whatever it is cool kids use for page layout these days). As far as work goes, it’ll do, since that’s mostly just text; there’s a little too much of the “heyyyy, aren’t I slick?” Office-Fonz thing going on, but give me a few weeks and I won’t even remember the old interface. Give me a month and I’ll probably resent having to use the old, crap Office version on Mort’s machine. Proto-Luddite I may be, but I still adapt pretty fast.

Here’s the thing: I can’t decide whether I’m hip– err, cool and down with it to be spending a few hours just putzing about with a new program, or incredibly uncool for a) not having upgraded years ago and b) putzing about with a Microsoft program. Changes, in software and computers? Who’da thunk it?

Tomorrow I will PLAY. With a game, not with a Microsoft interface (really, that’s almost kinky). Right after I finish work, anyway.

Thieves in the night

No, I’m not unbiased about this and yes, I am a little upset about it. I also said I wouldn’t blog about it but enough other people are — on the other side, and sometimes in a way that’s just a little too passive-aggressive smug — that I feel entitled to give my own point of view. I’ll keep things unspecific, especially since it’s not the first time I’ve experienced this type of event and though the names, faces and  games may change, the behaviour doesn’t seem to. So much for maturing.

If you’re going to start a new, breakaway guild, fine. But don’t start a fight to do it, because that causes drama and bad feelings that really, really weren’t necessary to begin with. You’d be surprised how many people will just nod and understand when you say a situation doesn’t quite suit you and you’re going to try and create something that does.

If you’re going to join this breakaway guild, at least have the courtesy and courage to say goodbye to people. Don’t leave the guild without a word. We’re not fucking lepers and we’re not the bad guys and we’re due, I feel, at least that much.

Who we play with in MMOs is our own business, I firmly believe that. I do, however, also believe that calmness and (yes, I do harp on about it) courtesy make things so much easier. Instead, it feels like there was a falling out that needn’t have happened and I don’t know whether to be angry or just really disappointed that people I thought were friends, or at least amicable acquaintances, didn’t think enough of me to talk to me, if only to say “Hey, this setup doesn’t suit my style, I’m moving elsewhere, but I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

It’s not that difficult.