Clippy strokes my penis
Tuesday, January 27 2004
Perhaps a reader can help me with a problem I'm having with a client's Macintosh. It runs the earliest version of OSX and refuses to install any software because it claims to have insufficient disk space. But the amount it says it needs is available on even the most crowded of the three partitions. And one of the partitions has 30 Gigabytes free. Is there a way to change where the Mac downloads its installation files (the ones it downloads from Apple.com)? I can't figure out which partition it downloads Apple updates to - all aspects of its operation are completely concealed from the user, a common attribute of Mac software that will surely send me postal some day.
Also, does anyone have any suggestions for salvaging data from a corrupted Palm data file?
This evening Gretchen and I went out to eat at Northern Spy in High Falls with Kathy, the woman who runs the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Actually, she was taking us out as an expression of gratitude for recent help we've provided. We ended up talking at length about the wacky quirks of our respective families. What fun!
The most coincidental thing I know about Kathy (other than the fact that all our animals have the first names of her closest relatives) is that she graduated from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, my obscure hometown in Redneckistan. I'd noted a strangely familiar (though out-of-place) quality in Kathy's accent. One almost never hears people talking that way up here in the Catskills, since a common characteristic of people with that accent is that, like apples, they don't fall far from the tree. That exact phrase actually came up in our conversation in another context, one about me regarding the zany qualities I inherited from my family. To this I responded, "But does it count if someone comes along and carries the apple away?"
It seems that the only music that they play in the Northern Spy dining room is Nora Jones. It's hard to go into a nice restaurant these days without hearing one of her soothing, uncontroversial, but nevertheless ignored-by-Clear-Channel tunes. Last time I was in Northern Spy I even raised the question, "What did restaurants do before Nora Jones came along?"
After dinner we had Kathy follow us home so she could briefly see our house and so her dog Murphy could hang out with our dogs and cats. The roads had a small amount of snow on them still and, being rather more cautious than us, she didn't drive any faster than 30 mph. Then snow began falling, something Kathy had been concerned about. She must have wondered where the hell we were taking her, because (aside from a half mile on US 209) we only took the back roads. And that last bit, where Dug Hill Road climbs out of the Esopus Valley, is about as wooly as it gets this side of the Everglades.
Later this evening Gretchen had the task of converting an Access database into a pile of mailing labels, and she asked me if I knew anything about how to make this happen. I'd had a little experience with Access, mostly at the backend level (and then only to extract data for insertion into a SQL database), so I thought I'd give it a shot. It ended up being a real eye-opener regarding the quality of one of Microsoft's core applications. Admittedly, I didn't really know how to use the Access GUI; I just assumed I'd be able to figure things out by tugging at menus and seeing what actions they contained. Amazingly, there's no mention whatsoever of Reports in any of the menus. Reports are an essential aspect of Access - they are the mechanism by which the data in a database is arranged and displayed. I looked around for a Reports option throughout the entire Access interface and didn't discover where it was until I accidentally dragged the datasheet window out of the way. There it was, on a smaller window hidden behind the datasheet where one could initiate the Reports Wizard. But the Reports Wizard was far too primitive for my needs - I needed to make mailing labels, and all I could do with Reports was create a useless columnar presentation, the kind that no one would ever actually create. So I made the mistake of consulting Clippy, the sound-effect-rich anthropomorphized paperclip who patronizes us with a bit of kindergarten playtime embedded in the madness of unchecked bloatware. If his hands could have come out of the screen, I feel certain Clippy would have stroked my penis as I typed in my question. I asked about printing mailing labels, one of the most common tasks asked of Microsoft Access, and here are the topics Clippy suggested (my comments in red):
- Attaching labels to items (huh?)
- Create a label (as in one at a time. Sounds fun!)
- Add or change captions, labels, and titles in PivotTable and PivotChart view (huh?)
- Show or hide toolbar screen tips (how exactly does this pertain to labels?)
- Add, remove, or change a legend in PivotChart view (huh?)
As you can see, none of these suggestions was the least bit helpful. Clippy made no mention of the Access Label Wizard, a fundamental part of Access I eventually found and used to successfully generate a Report of labels. Like everyone else, I've always regarded Clippy as a distraction worthy of a slow, painful death, but I'd never realized before today how completely useless he is.
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