Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dreaming of WordPerfect

Just before I woke up this morning, I was inhabiting a dream about WordPerfect, the first word-processing program I really ever used. I have no idea where this particular dream came from, and as I type right now, the details of the dream are fleeing my memory (as Kurt Vonnegut once wrote in a very different context) "like bandits from a burglar alarm" ("Harrison Bergeron").

But I remember one thing clearly: the centrality of WordPerfect.

I learned the program well, used it throughout most of my teaching career until the ubiquity of MS-Word eventually forced me to change.

WordPerfect--like Microsoft Office--has a variety of supplemental programs, including a PowerPoint-like presentation program and a database program like Excel. I remember using the presentation one as I was converting from 35mm slide shows to digital ones. (Later, I had to convert those files I'd done to PowerPoint.)

There are a couple of things I really appreciated about WordPerfect: (1) it had a "reveal codes" command that could show you what was causing something you didn't want in your document (e.g., some odd indentation, some other unwelcome formatting issue); (2) it had some keystroke commands I really liked and used a lot--especially the one that allowed me to swoop the cursor to the end of the line (not the end of the paragraph or page--but the very line I was working with); I used that one repeatedly--and miss it greatly with Word.

I had actually thought--before my dream--that WordPerfect was now gone--like another program I used a lot, especially in the 1990s at Harmon Middle School: ClarisWorks, a version (a better one) of that old MS-Works program. The Aurora City Schools used it throughout the district--I even attended a workshop on its use up in Cleveland somewhere back in the early 1990s.

I still have some ClarisWorks files, files that I can't really open, I don't think, unless ...

... I just checked: I can open them with the Notepad or Wordpad programs (or I can go get some software--but I didn't). I'm going to open one right now with Wordpad and see what happens ... here's a screenshot ...

This shows an old coversheet I would staple onto my students' book reports (written ones); I see that I had recently taught some things about verbals and was requiring students to use an infinitive, a participle at the beginning of a sentence. (Oh, what a taskmaster! Dickens could have written a novel about me and my classroom cruelties!)

Anyway, there's a lot of junk at the top--probably old ClarisWorks code that Wordpad doesn't know what to do with. Still, I'm happy that I can (sort of) open these old files and see what I used to do--though discovering what I used to do in class is not invariably a pleasant experience!

Anyway, re: WordPerfect. It's not gone. Far from it. I see they have a vigorous website (link to it), a plethora of programs.

But I'm so firmly involved with Word now that I'm not sure I could endure a divorce. Still, my heart remains with my First Love. (Pitter-patter.)

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