Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The "not-exactly-the-best" of times

It's been the best of times, it's been the worst of times. . .

Well, actually, that's not exactly true. It's actually been pretty close to the best of times, and not even close to the worst of times. So, here comes a description of some of the bad stuff.

Today I upgraded from Microsoft Office 2000 to Microsoft Office 2007. Heed a word of advice from a wiser, sadder Charlotte. NEVER EVER EVER go seven years without updating software! It's been frustrating, maddening, discouraging, and in short a general nightmare. The main problem has been with the mail merge function which is completely different in Office 2007 than it was in 2000. I try to get my data (in Excel), to come into my document (in Word) and it comes over in a completely different format than what I'm expecting.

For example: The main use I have for the mail merge feature in Word is that I use it to generate all the contracts for the people who come here for our opera season. So, every singer, every musician, every costumer, every props artisan, every person who hammers a nail into every piece of plywood to make our beautiful scenery receives a contract that is generated by yours truly. It ends up being about 200 different contracts.

Well, today, after the upgrade, I went in and tried to put together a contract for one of our props people. The start dates, end dates, and payment dates came over in random numbers, making it impossible to tell when the contract started, ended, or when payments were to be paid. Kind of important, don't you think? The worst part though was when I looked at the actual number to be paid. Instead of being a nice round number, like $1,000 or $50, or $100,000 (no, no one actually makes $100,000 here!), it came over in date format. So, rather than being paid $10 on August 23, 2007 my dear props person was scheduled to be paid 2 February 1647, on 389997.

It was awful. I couldn't figure out how to fix it, so I looked in the help menu, which was rather unhelpful. I tried some more, all the while getting more and more frustrated as I looked at the stack of other work that seemed to be growing on my desk, not getting done. Finally I called Eric, not because I thought he would be able to tell me how to fix it (he wasn't), but because I thought he would cheer me up. He did. After talking to Eric, I took a walk around the block, put it all aside for 30 minutes, got some other work done, and came back to it with a little more creativity. I was finally able to jerry-rig it so that it worked for my needs, and then about an hour ago I found some very helpful information on a message board that I think will go a long way towards me being able to do it without the jerry-rigging. But still, what a frustrating day!

I think this is going to be a two post day--because I have to get to the good stuff, but this post is already long enough. So, I guess this will just be a "not-as-happy" post.

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