Using Microsoft Office reminds me of being married to my ex-wife during our final unhappy years together. It’s all I’ve got for the moment, but I just have to believe that there is something much better which would really meet my needs. Today it was Outlook 2003 that drove me to imagine the hell that rightfully awaits Microsoft programmers (or, more justly, the executives for whom they work).
I dutifully have upgraded to Outlook 2003 from 2002, hearing that the integrated spam filter alone is worth the price. Yes, it is a nice spam filter, better than the stand-alone product I had been using. And yes, I do enjoy the snazzier look of Outlook 2003 (and the other Office 2003 products), the new color scheme bringing some brightness to my laptop world.
So my outlook on Outlook was pretty positive this early afternoon, as I finished entering all 86 names and addresses of the people in our Spring Lake Estates neighborhood association into a new Contacts file. I am the secretary of said association, and had been charged with quickly mailing out a survey to find out whether the members wanted the board to get involved with a proposed property development that could threaten the quality of water in our communal lake.
Having recently shifted over to a new laptop, I wanted to move the address file into Outlook, as I had been printing labels on an ancient version of AnyTime Deluxe that seemed just too archaic to transplant to my Wi-Fied E-Machines 6809.
Is it too much to expect that Outlook, Microsoft’s workhorse contact manager, would be able to print 86 labels on standard Avery stock? Mr. and Ms. Microsoft executives, is this Office 2003 user being unreasonable in his expectation that, if a $29 AnyTime Deluxe program can easily print those labels, your mucho-more expensive Outlook 2003 could do the same?
During the 90 minutes I spent trying to unravel the mysteries of mail merging an Outlook file into a Word document I had plenty of opportunity to ponder those questions—along with more malevolent fantasies of how those Microsoft executives would like living at Guantanamo in their orange jumpsuits, forced to endure 20 hour a day interrogations: “Why, why!, why!! did you not put the features into Office 2003 that normal human beings actually need, rather than all the fancy-pants crap that no one other than a computer science Ph.D. understands, even you?!”
I finally gave up and installed good old faithful AnyTime Deluxe on my new computer. I then printed out the labels and went to Kinkos. And when I got home I learned via Google that for $40 or $60, depending on the version, Aladdins Envelopes and Labels will do for me what Outlook 2003 should have done: print some damn labels.
I read on the Aladdins website, “Aladdins adds envelope and label printing functionality to Outlook.” And I think, “Should I really have to pay $40 or $60 for this?” And I answer, “No.” But I do. And after downloading the Aladdins software I find that it easily prints labels, just like they say. And I think, “Why does Microsoft, which makes programs that suck, rule the computer world rather than Aladdins, which makes software that works?”
The answer likely can be found only by delving into metaphysical karmic mysteries beyond my ken. It’s probably the same reason why George Bush is our president rather than Al Gore.