By ADELE FERGUSON
Ferguson's column is published statewide.
Open letter to Bill Gates, president of Microsoft:
First off, let me explain that just because I used the familiar salutation of Dear Bill doesn't mean that I harbor any affection for you.
To the contrary, after using your Microsoft Works program in my new computer, I understand perfectly why it took you this long to get engaged.
Your bride would want to know what you do for a living, and after you had spent two, maybe three months explaining to her how Microsoft Works works in a computer, she would go out in the kitchen and get a butcher knife and come back and kill you.
I've had the same feeling.
In fact, for anyone contemplating the purchase of a personal computer and accompanying software, let me advise that your first step should be to remove any deadly weapons from your home, to prevent the temptation to do harm to yourself or the machine.
When I was forced to buy a computer, after years of using those in the offices where I worked, I told my husband to get one that was simple.
All I want it to do, I said, is allow me to write my column, store it so I can make changes in it if necessary before it has to be sent out, and get it out of the computer and onto paper for the mailing.
What I wound up with is what is known as "state of the art. "
That means that I can play games, figure my income tax, do color graphics, communicate with any astronauts in space stations and monitor the progress of the North Korean nuclear weapon capability.
The man at Costco who sold it said it would be an "easy walk" to do what I wanted it to do, my husband said.
This is the same man who told George Bush the voters would never elect an Arkansas hillbilly president and Ross Perot got that way by being thrown too many times from his horse.
An instruction manual came with the program and, at first reading, I thought this was the last undiscovered work of Agatha Christie. I mean, there is no way you can get from A to B to C in this book. Clues are scattered along the way like air drops over Bosnia, only occasionally landing where they do some good.
I should have been suspicious when I saw the title: "Concise Guide to Microsoft Works for Windows. "
Bill, 198 pages ain't concise, not where I come from. And the fact you call this book a "remarkably friendly application that can help you process any type of data - words, numbers or sets of records" - cuts no ice with me.
The Rosetta Stone was easier to decipher.
Do you know what it's like, Bill, to be caught in the machine, desperate to get out and can't, to be unable to stop underlining, which you never meant to do in the first place but hit the wrong button and don't know which one?
To have program after program rush by you as you frantically pushbuttons in hopes of finding the right one, stacking up like pancakes until you're afraid they are going to burst off the screen and fall in your lap.
What I wanted to know was supposed to be on Pages 18 to 20, but I read Pages 18 to 20 more times than I have recited the Pledge ofAllegiance, and I've been going to political dinners for over 30 years, remember, and I still couldn't figure it out.
Anyway, the only reason I am able to even write you at all, instead of being hopelessly lost in the maze of Microsoft is that a child stopped by the house.
A simple child who asked to see the computer, said it looked like it was compatible to what they used at school, sat down in front of it, and did in 40 seconds what I had been trying to do for two weeks.
I didn't even know she could pronounce compatible. And when she was through, instead of asking for a cookie, she said: "Get a cover for your keyboard so you don't get cat hairs in there. These things are murder to clean."
So, I guess there is hope for our public school system, and the younger generation.
I just wish, Bill, that you had a Dick meets Jane kind of manual for those of us who date back to the days when newspaper stories were written on typewriters, then cut and pasted.
And if I don't figure out pretty soon how to make this thing disgorge stuff I've written and it has hiding somewhere in its digestive tract, I'm coming to see you. Hide the butcher knives.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at P. O. Box 69, Hansville WA, 98340, or 206-638-2234.
A Note from the Emperor:
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