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How We Managed Without Office
Fri 23rd October 2009
Microsoft Office was introduced to the public way back in 1984. Obviously this means that there are people who have grown up in a world where Office has always existed and they know of no other way of life. Improvements have been made and defunct features discarded, but Office has always been there in some form or other. So to demonstrate some of the many ways that this amazing application has made our lives easier, we will take an old 'Hammer House of Horror' type film from the late 1970s and remake it in 2009. The film, which doesn't really exist, is called Stankenfrein's Monster and the action takes place in an ancient castle bathed in moonlight and set against a backdrop of a very dark blue night sky.
A coyote howls and a solitary light burns in the castle. Inside that room Dr Henry Stankenfrein sits hunched over his typewriter. Six weeks have now passed since the tragic accident that killed his assistant Max and he feels that it is time to resume his work. He is typing a request for a laboratory assistant onto a card, which he intends to place in the window of the local newsagent's. On pulling the card from the rollers of the typewriter, he sees that he has typed 'mostner' instead of 'monster'. He tries to correct this with a pencil but is unsuccessful, so, with a loud sigh, he tears up the card and starts again.
In the 2009 remake, the doctor types out his message in Microsoft Word. The typo is immediately picked up by the running spell checker and underlined. Stankenfrein simply corrects the spelling before printing the advert.
Back in the original film there are seven replies to his advert and the doctor writes to each, inviting them to the castle for interview. He patiently types out the same letter seven times and then writes the addresses of the applicants on seven envelopes. On becoming distracted, he accidentally writes 'Creation Street' instead of 'Coronation Street' on one of the envelopes. This letter never reaches its intended recipient, and sits, quite appropriately, in the dead letter office at the local mail-sorting depot. As a result of this, only six of the seven attend for interview.
In the modern day version the doctor types out the interview invitation only once in Microsoft Outlook, and he sends it to all seven recipients simultaneously using the Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy) field. The email that was sent with the incorrect address is immediately returned as undeliverable and the doctor sees his error. Corrections are made, the mail is re-sent and all seven applicants attend the interview.
Back in the original, the applicants gather at the castle and, before being interviewed personally, they assemble in a lecture room, where Henry outlines the nature of his work. Chalk taps and screeches against the blackboard as Henry demonstrates his theory that the dead can be brought back to life. His cause is not helped by his shortcomings as an artist, though, and his representation of the human brain brings sniggers from his audience, one of whom likens it to Mister Potato Head.
No such difficulties beset the doctor in the remake. He shows his plans to the applicants as a PowerPoint presentation, incorporating graphic illustrations of the human brain, the heart and a pair of size eighteen boots.
The original film flopped and the financial department of the studio worked out their losses in a hand-written ledger. The remake also bombed, but the money men kept track of its failings much more easily with an Excel spreadsheet.
Using this film remake story to illustrate the ways in which Microsoft Office applications have changed our lives is very tongue-in-cheek, but it certainly makes the point. Things we take for granted today were not even possible in the not too distant past, so it is definitely worth considering enrolling on a training course to see how Microsoft Office can make your working day that bit easier. And with new innovations being introduced all the time, future versions may be able to perform tasks that we would consider impossible today.
Now that's scary.
Original article appears here:
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