What's Old Is New Again: The Ribbon

2006-09-01 11:22 - General

I've decided to take a shot at writing fiction. Instead of reading on the train, which I've done for years, I'm going to be writing. I'm going to use my HP 200LX palmtop computer to do it. I've been working on outlines so far; one for all my general ideas, and once I worked that far enough, the outline of a story for one of those ideas.

I used its built in Memo application to do this so far. It's a light word processor, it will do on screen word wrapping, and it does multi level outlines very easily. But in that short bit of work, I've found out that Memo just won't cut the mustard for real writing. So, I started looking for something else to use. One of the reasons I really love the 200LX is that they call it a palmtop computer, and it really is a palmtop computer. It might not be the fastest hottest thing, but it is a real PC compatible machine, and it runs MS-DOS 5.0. Which means that it runs a vast array of already existing DOS programs!

Back in my school days, I used WordPerfect for DOS. I didn't still have a copy, but I sent an email off to my Dad, who I expected might still have it lying around. But I was impatient, so I started looking around to see if I could dig up a copy online. Eventually, I did find a copy of WordPerfect at a very nice abandonware site called Vetusware. But before that, I found that not only is Microsoft Word for DOS out there, it's available for download from Microsoft for no charge. The page I found explained that it had to do with the Y2K fix, and WikiPedia agrees. When Microsoft patched it, rather than go through the effort of producing an updater and checking licenses and whatnot, they apparently decided to simply distribute the fixed version for free. And never took it away.

It gets more interesting

So I set it up, and I got it running on my palmtop. We'll see how that goes. The really interesting bit is the comic value that yet remains, though. In setting it up and checking that it all worked and whatnot, I dug around in the settings and options just a bit. And I saw something funny.

Quite some time ago Microsoft started bragging about their new "Ribbon" feature in the upcoming version of Office. They spent all sorts of effort on a massive marketing video and said that it is "the most significant update to the Microsoft Office user interface in more than a decade". Technically I suppose that might be true, since Word 5.5 says copyright 1990, so it was more than a decade ago. But either way, they already had "the ribbon" back in those days (animated gif demo, which might have already finished by the time you scrolled down here, so you might want to reload):

Hehe, silly Microsoft. Now, I know: This new ribbon is slightly more advanced than that old ribbon. But I still find it comical to put so much gusto beind something, to call it revolutionary and advanced, when it is not only an old idea, but an old idea that you yourself have done before.


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