Sunday, 9 November 2008

New Rules

If I were to go out onto a football pitch and start to play I would expect the rules to be the same this week as last week. Or, if there had been a rule change, I would expect it to have been publicised. I would get upset if the referee suddenly blew his whistle and told me I was offside despite being in my own half. “But that’s not the rule,” I would cry and I’d be somewhat annoyed if he said – “Hard luck, I’ve just changed it.”

But this happens to me all the time in the world of computing. Systems update themselves and change the ‘rules’ without me even knowing they’ve done it. Just very occasionally a new version of something asks to be downloaded so at least I know it’s altered but it doesn’t tell me how. Then, even less frequently, a programme may be updated and some technical comment comes with it. Unfortunately that comment has usually been written by someone whose native language is not mine – i.e. he speaks techie Japanese rather than plain English.

Today’s example of the rules changing came when my Word switched to US English for no apparent reason. Certainly I had done nothing to the tools / spelling and grammar. I saw the word odour underlined and wondered why. Then I came across neighbours underlined. Light dawned. I went to the tools and found I was now using U.S. dictionary so I changed it back to UK English. I have never used the U.S. dictionary in Word so why did it suddenly decide to change the rules?

Then, when I tried to respond to an e-mail from Helen it told me that my version of Word did not support Outlook. That's funny, it has done for the past two years...

Ah, hey. Ref!!

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