Tech Insider					     Technology and Trends

MS-Word Response 
Michael Halcrow 
Sat, 16 Feb 2002 13:19:17 -0800 

I have spent some time figuring out the best way to communicate to my
professors and peers about the problems with using Word documents in
digital communications. None of the current technologies in Linux
(StarOffice, AbiWord, antiword, wvWare, etc.) work well for most of what I
get, and some documents are *totally* unreadable (especially stuff with
embedded images). After reading a few web sites that contain some similar
(and often rude!) responses to people who post and send Word docs, I came
up with this. I thought a little plug at the end for various alternatives
to Windows+Word might be appropriate in the context of this message. This
is public domain stuff, so feel free to modify and use it to your heart's
content:

<DOC>
I am sorry, but I cannot properly view the attachment that you posted or
sent to me because it is a Microsoft Word document (.doc extension). I do
not use Microsoft Word or other Microsoft-approved products.

Microsoft has refused to submit a description if its Word document format
to a standards committee such as the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF). Thus, Microsoft Word documents are correctly readable only to
people using software that is approved by Microsoft. This makes Microsoft
Word an unsuitable medium for digitally exchanging information. Similar
issues exist with the WordPerfect file format.

When exchanging or distributing documents digitally, please consider using
a format that is openly defined and freely accessible such as:

Plain Text (.txt)
Portable Document Format (.pdf)
Rich Text Format (.rtf)
HyperText Markup Language (.htm/.html)
PostScript (.ps)
LyX/LaTeX (.lyx/.tex)

Most word processors are capable of saving documents in Plain Text (.txt)
or Rich Text Format (.rtf) using "Save As" under the "File" menu. You can
select one of these formats under "File Type."

This will ensure that files that you send or post are readable by me and
by anyone else who receives them, regardless of the word processing
software or operating system that they use.

Thank you for your consideration,
Michael Halcrow

-----
If you wish to save money on office productivity software, consider
StarOffice by Sun Corporation (http://www.staroffice.com), which costs
nothing to download and to install. Sun StarOffice provides most of the
major functionality present in Microsoft Office and Corel WordPerfect
Office.

If you wish to create professional-looking academic articles and reports,
consider LyX (http://www.lyx.org), which is also free to download and to
install. Unlike popular word processors that are based on the obsolete
"typewriter" paradigm, LyX encourages an approach to writing based on the
structure of your documents, not their final appearance. LyX lets you
concentrate on writing the content, leaving details of visual layout to
the software. LyX comes with most major Linux distributions, including Red
Hat, Mandrake, and SuSE.

For more information on the Linux operating system, visit
<http://www.linux.org>. Most major distributions of Linux are also free to
download and to install. I recommend Mandrake Linux
(http://www.linux-mandrake.com).
</DOC>

---------------------------------------------- | ------------------------
Michael Halcrow                                | [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Research Assistant, Network Security Lab       | Dept. of Comp. Science
                                               | Brigham Young University
(No Microsoft products were used in the        |
creation of this message.)                     |
---------------------------------------------- | ------------------------

Re: MS-Word Response 
Lars Olson 
Sat, 16 Feb 2002 13:52:46 -0800 

One piece of feedback I can offer is that a lot of people might just 
roll their eyes at people that don't use Microsoft products simply as a 
matter of principle, holy-war style.  A better approach would be to give 
a gentle reminder that "it is not considered proper internet etiquette 
to send documents in a closed-standard format such as MS Word 
documents," or something along that line.

This way you have the advantage that suddenly you don't look like a 
vocal minority insisting that everybody play their way, but more a part 
of a larger community that has years of communication experience and 
knows what's acceptable and what's not.  It's also true-- they can ask 
anyone that has used the internet for more than a couple of years, and 
they'll tell them that sending MSW docs is as amateurish as writing 
e-mails in all caps.  (Be careful not to appear condescending, though!!)

Michael Halcrow wrote:
> I have spent some time figuring out the best way to communicate to my
> professors and peers about the problems with using Word documents in
> digital communications. None of the current technologies in Linux
> (StarOffice, AbiWord, antiword, wvWare, etc.) work well for most of what I
> get, and some documents are *totally* unreadable (especially stuff with
> embedded images). After reading a few web sites that contain some similar
> (and often rude!) responses to people who post and send Word docs, I came
> up with this. I thought a little plug at the end for various alternatives
> to Windows+Word might be appropriate in the context of this message. This
> is public domain stuff, so feel free to modify and use it to your heart's
> content:
> 
> <DOC>
> I am sorry, but I cannot properly view the attachment that you posted or
> sent to me because it is a Microsoft Word document (.doc extension). I do
> not use Microsoft Word or other Microsoft-approved products.
> 
> Microsoft has refused to submit a description if its Word document format
> to a standards committee such as the Internet Engineering Task Force
> (IETF). Thus, Microsoft Word documents are correctly readable only to
> people using software that is approved by Microsoft. This makes Microsoft
> Word an unsuitable medium for digitally exchanging information. Similar
> issues exist with the WordPerfect file format.
> 
> When exchanging or distributing documents digitally, please consider using
> a format that is openly defined and freely accessible such as:
> 
> Plain Text (.txt)
> Portable Document Format (.pdf)
> Rich Text Format (.rtf)
> HyperText Markup Language (.htm/.html)
> PostScript (.ps)
> LyX/LaTeX (.lyx/.tex)
> 
> Most word processors are capable of saving documents in Plain Text (.txt)
> or Rich Text Format (.rtf) using "Save As" under the "File" menu. You can
> select one of these formats under "File Type."
> 
> This will ensure that files that you send or post are readable by me and
> by anyone else who receives them, regardless of the word processing
> software or operating system that they use.
> 
> Thank you for your consideration,
> Michael Halcrow
> 
> -----
> If you wish to save money on office productivity software, consider
> StarOffice by Sun Corporation (http://www.staroffice.com), which costs
> nothing to download and to install. Sun StarOffice provides most of the
> major functionality present in Microsoft Office and Corel WordPerfect
> Office.
> 
> If you wish to create professional-looking academic articles and reports,
> consider LyX (http://www.lyx.org), which is also free to download and to
> install. Unlike popular word processors that are based on the obsolete
> "typewriter" paradigm, LyX encourages an approach to writing based on the
> structure of your documents, not their final appearance. LyX lets you
> concentrate on writing the content, leaving details of visual layout to
> the software. LyX comes with most major Linux distributions, including Red
> Hat, Mandrake, and SuSE.
> 
> For more information on the Linux operating system, visit
> <http://www.linux.org>. Most major distributions of Linux are also free to
> download and to install. I recommend Mandrake Linux
> (http://www.linux-mandrake.com).
> </DOC>
> 
> ---------------------------------------------- | ------------------------
> Michael Halcrow                                | [EMAIL PROTECTED]
> Research Assistant, Network Security Lab       | Dept. of Comp. Science
>                                                | Brigham Young University
> (No Microsoft products were used in the        |
> creation of this message.)                     |
> ---------------------------------------------- | ------------------------

Re: MS-Word Response 
Michael Halcrow 
Sat, 16 Feb 2002 17:45:31 -0800 

Thanks for the feedback.

On Sat, 16 Feb 2002, Lars Olson wrote:

> One piece of feedback I can offer is that a lot of people might just
> roll their eyes at people that don't use Microsoft products simply as a
> matter of principle, holy-war style.

It does sort of sound that way, doesn't it? I was concerned about dragging
the message on explaining the nitty-gritty as to *why* I don't use
Microsoft products. It's not just Microsoft; I can't think of *anything*
that I use that isn't Open Source and/or Free Software. I don't want to
sound like an anti-Microsoft zealot, but I also need to get the point
across that "I cannot properly read your Word document because I do not
use Microsoft Word or a Microsoft-approved alternative."

> A better approach would be to give
> a gentle reminder that "it is not considered proper internet etiquette
> to send documents in a closed-standard format such as MS Word
> documents," or something along that line.

"This makes Microsoft Word an unsuitable medium for digitally exchanging
information." goes along those lines, but not as specifically as you
stated.

> This way you have the advantage that suddenly you don't look like a
> vocal minority insisting that everybody play their way,

I'd rather be that than part of an apathetic majority led by a monolithic
corporation that coerces everybody to play *their* way. In fact, I think I
may try to find a way to work that idea in. I take Martin Luther King's
stance on this one: no matter what, you are an extremist.  It's just a
matter of which side you will be an extremist for.

I think it's presumptuous that my professors largely assume that (a) I'm
going to drop what I'm doing and run to an Access Point computer lab
*every time* I need to access a class document/read an attachment or (b)
I'm going to shell out hundreds of dollars for a closed and proprietary
operating system and word processor that is able to correctly display the
document. But I would only bring that up with them if they insisted on
sending and posting .doc files after I ask them nicely to do otherwise.

Make no mistake: this is WAR. We are attempting to build an open,
interoperable, free society on the Internet, and Microsoft is the flagship
of the army of corporations strangling this society by wedging in
incompatibilities and obstacles to communication for those who don't buy
their software.

> but more a part
> of a larger community that has years of communication experience and
> knows what's acceptable and what's not.  It's also true-- they can ask
> anyone that has used the internet for more than a couple of years, and
> they'll tell them that sending MSW docs is as amateurish as writing
> e-mails in all caps.  (Be careful not to appear condescending, though!!)

Hmm. You took the words right out of my mouth. :-)

> Michael Halcrow wrote:
> > I have spent some time figuring out the best way to communicate to my
> > professors and peers about the problems with using Word documents in
> > digital communications. None of the current technologies in Linux
> > (StarOffice, AbiWord, antiword, wvWare, etc.) work well for most of what I
> > get, and some documents are *totally* unreadable (especially stuff with
> > embedded images). After reading a few web sites that contain some similar
> > (and often rude!) responses to people who post and send Word docs, I came
> > up with this. I thought a little plug at the end for various alternatives
> > to Windows+Word might be appropriate in the context of this message. This
> > is public domain stuff, so feel free to modify and use it to your heart's
> > content:
> >
> > <DOC>
> > I am sorry, but I cannot properly view the attachment that you posted or
> > sent to me because it is a Microsoft Word document (.doc extension). I do
> > not use Microsoft Word or other Microsoft-approved products.
> >
> > Microsoft has refused to submit a description if its Word document format
> > to a standards committee such as the Internet Engineering Task Force
> > (IETF). Thus, Microsoft Word documents are correctly readable only to
> > people using software that is approved by Microsoft. This makes Microsoft
> > Word an unsuitable medium for digitally exchanging information. Similar
> > issues exist with the WordPerfect file format.
> >
> > When exchanging or distributing documents digitally, please consider using
> > a format that is openly defined and freely accessible such as:
> >
> > Plain Text (.txt)
> > Portable Document Format (.pdf)
> > Rich Text Format (.rtf)
> > HyperText Markup Language (.htm/.html)
> > PostScript (.ps)
> > LyX/LaTeX (.lyx/.tex)
> >
> > Most word processors are capable of saving documents in Plain Text (.txt)
> > or Rich Text Format (.rtf) using "Save As" under the "File" menu. You can
> > select one of these formats under "File Type."
> >
> > This will ensure that files that you send or post are readable by me and
> > by anyone else who receives them, regardless of the word processing
> > software or operating system that they use.
> >
> > Thank you for your consideration,
> > Michael Halcrow
> >
> > -----
> > If you wish to save money on office productivity software, consider
> > StarOffice by Sun Corporation (http://www.staroffice.com), which costs
> > nothing to download and to install. Sun StarOffice provides most of the
> > major functionality present in Microsoft Office and Corel WordPerfect
> > Office.
> >
> > If you wish to create professional-looking academic articles and reports,
> > consider LyX (http://www.lyx.org), which is also free to download and to
> > install. Unlike popular word processors that are based on the obsolete
> > "typewriter" paradigm, LyX encourages an approach to writing based on the
> > structure of your documents, not their final appearance. LyX lets you
> > concentrate on writing the content, leaving details of visual layout to
> > the software. LyX comes with most major Linux distributions, including Red
> > Hat, Mandrake, and SuSE.
> >
> > For more information on the Linux operating system, visit
> > <http://www.linux.org>. Most major distributions of Linux are also free to
> > download and to install. I recommend Mandrake Linux
> > (http://www.linux-mandrake.com).
> > </DOC>
> >
> > ---------------------------------------------- | ------------------------
> > Michael Halcrow                                | [EMAIL PROTECTED]
> > Research Assistant, Network Security Lab       | Dept. of Comp. Science
> >                                                | Brigham Young University
> > (No Microsoft products were used in the        |
> > creation of this message.)                     |
> > ---------------------------------------------- | ------------------------

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