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Thursday, 9 January 2020

I Hate Microsoft Word

It seems to me that there must be another sensible and serious word processing programme out there somewhere. If there is, can someone please let me know?

I've been quiet on this blog for a while - nearly a year I'm shamed to say - struggling to make my new computer work. The old one blew up noisily at the beginning of last year, just when I was at an exciting part of my writing. Now I hate computers at the best of times, but this was a disaster. It took seven weeks to sort out insurance and find a decent, large enough memory, no stupid gadgets computer. It's taken the rest of the year to try and make the stupid thing work as I want it to. And it still doesn't!

And a hint about insurance. I had a sweet voiced, sympathetic woman take me through the forms but the questions she slipped in between the chit-chat were all designed to prove I hadn't looked after my computer. Do be wary of not having a single, separate wall socket to plug in your computer. If you have it on a multiboard they won't pay. No, they had to pay me. I knew that and had a special wall socket installed when I moved here.

Anyway, back to the computer. My kindly understanding, does-not-patronise-women-over-forty IT specialist supplied me with a new, business standard HP computer with the new Word and new Gmail programmes. Ah me! The computer is fine, it's those bloomin' programmes.

The new Gmail wanted to take over. It did. It deleted my old emails from my editors which I keep in my inbox as a reminder that I have work on file to write for them. It kept trying to make my unimportant emails important. I got junk and spam saved in the important file. I saved into a special folder my marketing information for my columns for Writing magazine. Two weeks later the whole file was vanished. Apparently I could spend time hunting all my missing stuff in the Google Cloud. Don't people work any more? I don't have time to go hunting things down, especially as I am not tech savvy and don't know where to look in Google's cloud. Even my clever tech man threw up his hands and swore at Google. So now Gmail is out and a local New Zealand company is in as my main email server. At least I can ring them up and get things fixed. But what a frustrating waste of writing time it's been trying to sort it all out and I lost so many email addresses in the muddle up too.
 As for this impossibly dumb Word programme! I don't know what the idiots at Microsoft think people do when word processing. Not serious work obviously. The default font is Calibri, a tiny size 11. That is not a standard business or publishing font. I had to spend hours and money getting a proper standard publishing format  fixed as my default with Courier or TNR 12 point, and with decent margins, indents and header. Even then the bloody programme keeps try to run back to its default.

And I am driven mad by stupid pop ups. I don't need idiot Word to say Hello or show me a note saying 'Welcome back. You were working on this page.' This morning I opened my files and got a huge banner saying 'Relieve some stress. Let's colour.' and offering some sort of colouring game. What the Hell?!!!!! Don't people work anymore?

I don't want or need fancy fonts and layouts. I want a computer to be a serious working tool, not a plaything. I don't want or need a computer to try and think for me. I hate the fact that when I go into Word it gives me a list of what it thinks I want to work on. And it takes several clicks to actually get to what I want to use. And saving is a pain and attaching stuff is a pain as the computer keeps telling me I want to save or attach this or that file when I want another one. Every time I want to do something the computer tries to make me do it its way. I have been so frustrated by the darned Word programme that my actual output of writing has been noticeably reduced. Something must be done. I need a real word processing programme for serious workers!

Anyone out there know a decent, plain, sensible,word processing programme I can have installed instead of stupid Word? 

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Review of 'Book of the Dead' by Patricia Cornwell

I always enjoy the tight, present tense, analytical style of this series. The characters are old favourites who grow and change. The writing, plotting and conclusions are always polished and satisfactory. I enjoy being required, as a reader, to think and read intelligently.

In this novel, Kay Scarpetta has moved to Charleston, in the southern States. There is some hostility to her presence and she has to sort the trivial from the serious. And serious it becomes as it appears there is a killer on the loose and the seeming separate deaths she has to deal with are finally linked.

As usual Kay Scarpetta has to deal with the irritating little problems of every day living, the personality clashes of her colleagues, as well as a nasty murder. She manages to retain her dry sense of humour through it all, solve the murders, and even make headway with the difficult neighbours.

A good solid read and not just one for fans. All the books stand alone although it does help to have read the earlier ones if you enjoy watching the characters develop.

Reveiw of 'The Abomination by Jonathon Holt

A well written tightly plotted novel set mainly in Venice.As the story proceeds so a conspiracy emerges between the CIA, the Italian government and the Catholic Church.

Villains act like goodies and the main characters are people the reader wants to care about. I am puzzled in that the novel is meant to be thee first of a trilogy and I looked for the second part but according to Goodreads there is only that novel and a non-fiction book available. Pity, as Venice is a great setting will used and I want to see what happens to our three main characters.

Well worth a read as it's more original than the usual conspiracy whodunit, Jonathon Holt writes well with a distinctive voice and his plotting is exceptional.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Reveiw: Force of Nature

Finally I've laid hands on number two in the Australian series by Jane Harper. The library had a long waiting list, now it's my turn.

'The Dry' impressed me although I was hesitant about Aaron Falk as a character, but the Australian setting and the tight writing and clever plot carried me along. I'm pleased to say that Aaron Falk is coming out of his shell in this novel and I feel less inclined to shake him!

Working with his colleague, Carmen, for the financial investigative side of the Federal police, Falk is trying to obtain documents from a 'mole'. It's difficult and the pressure is on when the 'mole' goes with her company on one of these management bush treks and disappears. Has she been murdered by the company director? What has happened?

Again we have Harper's tricky plot full of surprises. She writes well and makes the reader feel the Australian bush and the terrors of being lost in it. We have a bunch of complex 3D characters and some raw emotions and it was hard to guess whodunit.

The novel is a stand alone but I'd advise readers to start with 'The Dry' and then read this one just to get a more complete picture of the main character.

A great read for anyone and especially for those who like mysteries.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Book Review: The Blackhouse' by Peter May

This is the first of a series set on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Detective inspector Fin Macleod is sent from Edinburgh to the island to investigate a murder. Sounds straightforward, an ordinary police procedural, but the novel is far from that.

Peter May seems, in his novels, to like the theme of Deal With The Past. Unless it is dealt with honestly at the time it will indeed come back to haunt, destroy or radically change people. So the novel is a tightly written, well plotted story with solid 3D characters and Fin Mcleod indeed finds that the past is not just going to bite him, it's going to kill him.

A depressing read in some ways - I wonder how the people of Lewis regard their depiction - Fin's early experiences and mistakes form his character. Can he overcome those disadvantages and strike out again to a better future? We are left with the hope that he can and the second novel in the series becomes a must read. Clever Author!

Peter May provides an excellent read.

Book Review: The_Ice_is_Coming by .Patricia_Wrightson

It seems to me we don't have another writer of .Patricia_Wrightson's quality when it comes to absorbing and using the ancient mytholgical heritage of Australia. I think she's much underrated as a truly Australian writer.

I have always been impressed with Patricia Wrightson's ability to write fiction which is so purely Australian and make her work become part of Australian mythology. Some of the Goodreads reviews call her work fantasy. I think she wrote well beyond fantasy. A fantasy simply requires magic. Wrightson created a modern mythology from her own Australian culture, and her people and other creatures are part of that culture.

The 'Ice is Coming' looks at what happens when people ignore their mythology and culture. It's a demanding read for Wrightson makes no bones about what the land needs and about what people have done. Her descriptions of the majority of people as Happy folk, her rejection of their ways of life, form a backdrop for Wirren to establish himself as one of the people of the land and not just 'an abo'.

Why is the ice coming? Where is the Nargun who holds the balance of power? Wirrern has to sort all this out and find himself.

It, and the following novels, are a wonderful read, a lovely combination of ancient mythology, modern interpretations of it, an Australian setting so vivid you can see it, and a charming main character. If you want to get a feeling for what ancient Australia is like these books give you an excellent impression.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Review: Revenge in a Cold River by Anne Perry

Another great read from Anne Perry in her William Monk series. This time Monk as the senior officer in the Thames River Police is asked to investigate the drowning of an escaped prisoner. It's tricky because he has to work with the customs officer McNab, who hates him. Monk cannot remember why, it's part of the dramatic time in his life when he lost his memory. McNab is seeking anything he can find to ruin Monk. As the disasters pile up Monk, wife Hester and friend, the lawyer, Oliver Rathbone, struggle to find the truth.

As ever the research is top notch, the writing excellent, the story gripping and the book hard to put down. It was one of my best reads of the year. Thank you, Anne Perry.