Thursday, 22 May 2014

Office at home and at work

Thunder and rain today. At least it lowers the pollen count, but there's not much incentive to go out. The new antibiotics are slowly conquering my infected sinuses but improvement is slow. Thankfully there are matters I can deal with from home, as my office work environment can be accessed and contributed to whatever computer I have, wherever I am. It's not yet perfectly seamless but it's adequate. There are always legacy issues to be dealt with when it comes to software compatibility, as we are running machines with three different operating systems.

Every software giant seems to want to 'improve' work tools are already fit for purpose in the eyes and under the hands of the regular user. Creating a need for upgrades meant to enhance user experience keeps companies in business, but this can backfire if users don't agree, as has been shown by the fate of Windows Vista and Windows 8 in less than satisfactory user uptake. Reliability, consistency and compatibility are what most concern busy long term users. Stopping to learn how to use a new operating system or new versions of software you rely on heavily makes life worse for the user not better.

The version of MS Word we use in the office and at home dates back to the turn of the century. I installed and used Open Office as well MS Office when it was launched in 2002. I've used Libre Office since it was launched in 2010 as a Free and Open Source alternative to Open Office. It has continued to improve and add new features with each upgrade, and yet its user interface has remained consistently the same. It means learning new things is always an incremental extension of what you already know. It's a tribute to the way the Open Source design and programming community learns from user feedback. Why does Microsoft thinks it knows what's best for us. Consistency is every bit as important to users as improved speed and reliability.

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