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Archive: October 7, 2003

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Word Bullet Miracle

Tuesday,  10/07/03  04:10 PM

I have the most amazing story to relate.  Sit down, and put down all sharp objects, because you will not believe this.

First some background.  I am editing a document using Microsoft Word.  I like Word, it mostly works.  But one of the things I don't like is the way it tries to "help".  One of the helpful things it does is auto-indenting bullets, only it never ever does it right.  It takes about five times as long to work around Word's "help" than it would have simply to enter the bullets the way you want them.  Auto-numbering bullets in an outline?  Forget about it.  Word seems to have a mind of its own.

Okay, so I'm editing, and I have all these bullets, and I've laboriously adjusted each paragraph to get the indenting and bullets just right.  This is a one-page document.  I go to print, and [of course] this causes the margins to be adjusted to fit the printer, and [of course] this causes my one-page document to be slightly more than one page.  Sigh.  So I decide - yikes! - I am going to shift all my indented bullets just slightly to the left.  This should make enough room to fit everything back on one page.

Now I carefully, gingerly, drag the first bullet's paragraph marker just slightly to the left.  Wham!  In an instant, the whole document is messed up.  I mean messed up completely, the indents are wrong, the bullet types are wrong, and oh yeah it still doesn't fit on one page.  Undo.  Try again.

word bulletsNow I position in the first bulleted paragraph, and type shift-tab.  This sometimes un-indents things.  Wham!  In an instant, all the bulleted paragraphs shift one indent to the left, and everything is perfect!  The relative indents are the same, the bullet types are the same, and all the paragraphs are shifted slightly to the left.  And -- everything now fits on one page.

The first and only known case where Word's auto-indent bullet logic actually worked.

Well, I said you would not believe me.



Tuesday,  10/07/03  11:17 PM

Today I was in a Mobil gas station.  They have big signs advertising their deal with Upromise, a company which helps you save for your kid's college expenses.  Nothing wrong with that, right?

Well, let's do a little math.  If you sign up with Upromise, Mobil will pay 1¢ for each gallon of gas you buy into a college savings account.  I drive about 10,000 miles per year, and my car gets about 25mpg.  That means I buy about 400 gallons of gas per year.  That means Mobil would pay 400¢ per year.  Wow, $4, that's really going to help send my kids to college!

This program must cost Mobil a fortune, because they are advertising it everywhere.  No doubt there is positive PR value to the message "we're helping you save for your kids' college", but don't people do the math?


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