My Word! The mini-saga continues

The tale initiated here and continued here (hey, the WordPress paragraph-swallower strikes again!) continues, with an episode that won’t matter to most folks.
I’m continuing to use the notebook as my only PC. Haven’t done more downloading yet (because I really don’t need those applications yet). With one enormous exception, everything’s been going fine–the software works, it’s snappy, I prefer Vista, etc.

The enormous exception only involves one application–but that’s the application that, other than Firefox, matters most to me. Namely, Word 2007 was taking forever to close files, move between open files, and shut down–“forever” being anywhere from seven to ten seconds or more. (And 5-7 seconds to open a file.) Taking more than a second to switch between multiple open files is simply not acceptable; if I’d had that situation with Word 2000, I never would have done the blog investigations (they basically require two open files at all time, switching back and forth frequently, in addition to Excel and Firefox windows).

The open web to the rescue. Turns out it’s my fault (sort of), and probably won’t affect many of you. I’d reinstalled Acrobat 7–knowing that I’d probably need to move to 8 (there’s no way that 7 will recognize .docx) eventually, but that 7 might do in the meantime.

And Acrobat 7 installed a COM addin into Word 2007, even though it couldn’t actually work.

And that COM addin was the culprit–I’m not sure why, but it was adding absurd amounts of overhead to any file-change operation.

Here’s the thing: I don’t even need Acrobat to produce PDFs directly from Word: Microsoft’s free download to add PDF save-as capability to Office 2007 works beautifully. It seems to offer the same flexibility as the old Acrobat toolbar, it’s a lot faster than the old Acrobat/Distiller combination, the output’s actually a little smaller than the old Distiller output, the bookmarks are there… It is, in short, a better tool, fully integrated into Word (and the other Office 2007 applications). And, to be sure, it’s free.

Where I will need Acrobat: To produce the book version of Volume 8 (which requires combining multiple PDFs)–and probably to produce the book my wife is working on (which also seems likely to require combining multiple PDFs). So eventually I’ll pay the $99 or so for an upgrade to Acrobat 8 anyway.

For now? I uninstalled Acrobat 7. The problem went away. It still takes a little while to open a file (longer if it’s still in .doc format), but “a while” is a second or two. Closing a file: Instantaneous. Switching between open files: Instantaneous. Closing Word: Instantaneous. As it should be.

(Why doesn’t Adobe offer a way to let you back out plugins without removing the whole application? That would be too easy…)

There’s the advice, if Word 2007 seems sluggish in certain ways: Check for add-ins (the start/Office button, “Word Options” in the lower right-hand corner, Add-ins on the Options pane). Disable any that you don’t need–especially COM add-ins.

Now here’s another one that will affect almost nobody else, I suspect.

When I tried out Word 2007 by opening the the current issue of Cites & Insights (in .doc) form, it came out a little longer–taking up just a little of a 37th page. OK, so the spacing’s a little different. Turns out that I only had to compress one paragraph by 0.1 points to fix that.

But: When I convert any of the Cites & Insights issues to .docx–taking Word out of “compatibility mode”–the resulting documents are a little shorter than they were (and a lot smaller on the disk–a known change). Not a lot shorter, but C&I 8:1 has about a quarter of an empty column on page 30. (So that’s about 0.25% change, but it’s never that simple.) Looking at a page or two, it appears that Word 2007 does a slightly better kerning job than Word 2000–or maybe it’s got a better hyphenation dictionary. Maybe both.

Again, this only affects me when it comes time to do a book version of volume 8, and the changes are so small that I suspect I won’t bother trying to make pages match up exactly. I certainly approve of tighter kerning and better hyphenation. (I’m also seeing better grammar suggestions and a general move to preferring close style–that is, combining two words without a hyphen when that’s sensible.)
Oh, and have I already said how clear it is that dual displays will improve my productivity–e.g., when I’m marking up a PLN page, assembling a page from blogs, working on a C&I essay that’s partly derived from blogs, and especially if I do any more blog investigations? Even yesterday, adding another movie to a 50-pack file, being able to have the full IMDB page for a movie open while also having a good-size Word window open made life easier…

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