I canceled my Office 365 subscription

I finally ditched Office 365. Not for LibreOffice, which I’ll probably end up using in the long run, but for Office 2007. I never could get used to writing in Word 2016 and I absolutely hated Excel 2016 to the point that I only ever used it when it accidentally opened a file.

I was happy to use the 1 TB of space OneDrive gave me with my subscription, but after getting a look at my account history the other day and seeing in black and white that I’d already paid $330+ for access to software I was barely using (only 38 GB of OneDrive space actually), I just did not see the sense in continuing to pay for the subscription. The personal plan is $69 a year plus tax, but I decided that wasn’t really any better. Subscription plans for software just don’t make a lot of sense for users like me.

So I revisited LibreOffice just to see what I would be giving up if the Office 365 uninstall screwed up my Office 2007 install (it’s been known to happen) and realized that I would be perfectly happy with LibreOffice for what I do.

My spreadsheets aren’t so complex that they didn’t open and work in Calc, and my documents all look fine in Writer. I might have to refresh myself with some things, because the last time I was consistently using something other than Word and Excel, I was using OpenOffice. I’ve played around with LibreOffice Writer, but I haven’t used it on a day-to-day basis.

First thing I did was change the background of Writer to Word’s background blue. That’d be #9DBDE6.

Talk about feeling more at home…

The good news is that the uninstall of Office 365 did not mess up my Office 2007 install. When I opened Word for the first time after the fact, I got an install/setup window that did make me wonder, but Office did a few things, and then I was back to work in Word 2007 within a few minutes.

I like LibreOffice Writer. I’ll probably make the switch for any new books I start, but finish in Word the books I’ve already started, just so I don’t have to mess with styles. There does appear to be a bit of a difference in how those work and I don’t want to get distracted.

So all is good. I can take my time transitioning to LibreOffice Writer and keep working on my current book just the way I’ve always worked on it, in Word 2007.

Yesterday with the book went well, so what did I do today?

I spent the day messing with my fonts library, caused Word to screw up with some of my most useful fonts, spent way too much time deleting and installing one particular font that just would not display correctly after I’d installed newer versions, deleted my font cache again, (and again), and finally got things working correctly by digging out some files I’d put into a backup folder in case I messed something up.

I do appreciate that I had the foresight to do that.

Because boy did I mess something up.

At one point I had Word displaying everything in an italic font for what was supposed to be a regular font and I have no idea how that happened.

But what a waste of a good day. I can’t even understand why I did this.

I finally started writing at 11:24 and spent most of an hour and three minutes editing stuff that probably didn’t need to be edited.

Oh, and about mid-day, I reached across my kettle while it was boiling water for my coffee and steamed the crap out of my arm. Right where it touches the edge of my keyboard when I type. Those burns hurt! Of course it blistered. It’s a very ugly burn, in fact, and will probably leave a scar.

So “Yay” for today.

I’m ending my writing session with a negative word count. I knew when I sat down today that tomorrow was not going to be a writing day and that I really needed to make some progress today.

I did none of that.

It was just not a great day. I’m glad to see it over.

Progress and a brilliant idea I should have had sooner

I did run out of time yesterday and didn’t make it through all the chapters of my book.

Well, sort of. I stopped the editing at chapter 12, but then I sent the file to my tablet and read through the rest of it and realized most of it’s solid. Just a few bits I want to change, one because of an inconsistency and a few paragraphs that tripped me up when I was reading them. They could use some smoothing out for sure for various reasons.

Unfortunately, I didn’t highlight those spots during that late night read through so I still have to read through those chapters again today and find the things I thought needed changing. I was just too tired last night and it seemed like a good idea at the time to focus on the reading. I don’t agree so much to that today, but too late now. :o

I think those rough patches come from not writing fast enough. Too many rewrites and edits makes it very easy to screw up the flow of a story. When I bog down, that happens to me. I mean, I’m doing it because I can’t figure out what’s wrong usually, so I have to, but I know it’s not usually helping the story. I seem to get the best results when I’m able to just ignore what’s there and write fresh, then delete the old. :D

That’s probably why this kind of edit takes me so long. I’m really doing a lot more redrafting of the book than actually editing what’s there.

As for the brilliant idea I mentioned in the title of this post, I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it before. I have to revisit my previous books quite a lot to find stuff, and I had the notion to create a master series doc yesterday. It took me about three minutes to put together using Word’s “Insert > Object > Text from File” menu item. Then I used another half hour or so cleaning it up so it wasn’t cluttered with various styles. (The oldest books used different style sets than my newer books and I just quickly applied the new styles and deleted the old from the document. Less chance of corruption later, I hope.)

Anyway, it’s a huge file, but Word handled it fine. So now I can open one file when I need to search the books for something and I can get results for ALL the books. Since small corrections won’t affect that, I won’t ever have to do anything else to this doc except add the newest books when I publish them. :D

When I start the next book on my other series, I’ll do the same for it. So much easier than opening and searching multiple books trying to find that one bit of info I need. ;)

Anyway, here are the numbers: 6.467 hours of timed writing (plus all the times I forgot to turn the timer back on, because that kept happening) and 151 words net from edits, redrafting, and deletions.

It was a highly-focused day of writing, for sure.

Now on to today. I need to get these final changes made, and then I’m going to put some real effort into writing the rest of this book as fast as I can. Onward!

My new favorite tool in Word

I’ve just discovered a new favorite tool in Word. Despite how long I’ve been using the program, I still come across simple features I just haven’t noticed before that turn out to be extremely useful.

I had highlighted a word in my book (on my Kindle) that I thought maybe I’d been using too often, so I went to my document in Word, opened Find and Replace (Ctrl + F) and noticed the Reading Highlight button. I swear I’ve never noticed it before, even though it’s right there and I use Find and Replace all the damn time.

Here’s a pic.

So I clicked it, chose “highlight all” and then realized it also showed me how many times the word was highlighted! So now I have a quick way to count words in my document if I feel like I’ve been using one way too often.

And if you didn’t know about this little feature, now you do too! :D

Turns out I had not used the word nearly as many times as I felt like I had (not “yelled”) and so I don’t even need to worry about it. :D

I also checked for a few other words I do use too frequently and yep, definitely like that F-word. 155 times in all it’s variations.

Doubt I’ll change a thing! :D

But I really like this little tool. Very handy for the odd words you don’t want to repeat too often.

Trying to like Word 2016 or Excel 2016

I much prefer Word 2007 to Word 2016, and that preference goes for Excel too. In fact, I will candidly say I hate the newer versions of all the Microsoft Office products. Really hate them.

However, I also hate to see myself sticking with something just because I don’t like change. Because of that, I’m challenging myself to use only the new versions for the next week. If after that, I want to return to the 2007 versions, then I’ll do so with no regrets. :D

Here’s what I don’t like about the 2016 versions (was also applicable to the 2013 versions). I’ve had them on my computer since early September, but just haven’t been able to bring myself to use them much at all.

  • Fonts look terrible on my computer in the new versions.
  • Menus and borders in the new versions take up more space. In a side by side comparison of the same document, I get fewer lines of my spreadsheet visible in Excel 2016 and fewer lines of text in Word 2016. That’s without the ribbon visible. I didn’t check how it looked with the ribbon because that’s not how I typically work.
  • The style set icons are so much less readable than the simple list from Word 2007.
  • The flat icons and colors of the menu are not appealing to me. In fact, I find them very busy and hard to identify when I’m skimming the menu. They all blend together.
  • It takes at least 1 extra click to get to my recent and pinned documents list than it does in Word 2007 or Excel 2007. I just discovered that this isn’t actually true if I set up my quick access toolbar with the “open” icon on there. That takes me directly to the pinned doc list. It only makes me feel like it’s taking more clicks because it’s a page and not a menu that comes up, but the number of clicks is the same.

I do, however, really like the way the search function for Word 2016 works now, by moving into a sidebar and allowing me to see the list of results. That’s the reason I’m giving myself the challenge to use the 2016 versions for a week. If not for that, I probably would have just said forget it and stuck with 2007 anyway.

Microsoft Word and Embedded Fonts; Open Type Is a Problem

These things matter because I need embedded fonts to generate the right kind of PDF file for CreateSpace. I never noticed a problem with this before, but apparently the font I’m using is an Open Type font and Word won’t embed that font.

Now, this really surprised me when I researched the issue today, because the book I’ve been preparing is the third book in a series and is the third book to use that same font. Why I didn’t notice, or why it didn’t seem to matter, the last two times is beyond me, but this time, it came up as a problem in CreateSpace’s Interior Reviewer.

What I discovered is that Microsoft Word won’t or can’t embed Open Type fonts even if you have license permissions for those fonts to be embedded. I checked, and sure enough, I have the right permissions. Word just won’t embed Open Type fonts.

The solution was ditching the Word “save to PDF” option, and a search for a decent PDF printer that would embed those fonts for me. I installed several, including doPDF, CutePDF, and finally, PDF Creator (their website seems to be a bit broken, but this is the one that worked for me in the end). I couldn’t get any of them to print to the right sized paper for my book (5×8).

Turns out I had to create a new “form” for my printers.

That was tricky to find, since I’d never heard of this before. I found it under my control panel, printers, and when I clicked one of my printers, it was something I needed to do in the “Print server properties.” I created a new 5×8 form, with measurements of, you guessed it, 5×8 inches, and then when I “printed” my Word docx to the PDF Creator printer, it saved just fine!

A lot of work just to get some fonts embedded in a PDF file but it was worth it to know I’ve done it right.* I’m left wondering, though, how in the world did I get my last two books in this series through CreateSpace?

Also, although I ended up using PDF Creator to successfully create my PDF file, I have to wonder if the others would have worked just fine once I had created the new 5×8 form. I didn’t discover that I needed to do that until I found a FAQ on the PDFforge.org website, Word documents with custom page size are converted in default size:

By default, PDFCreator only knows the paper formats that are created when it is installed. If a custom format is defined in Word, PDFCreator does not recognize it and thus Word will use the default page size.

To create new paper formats, they have to be created under Print Management->Server settings. There you can create name and dimensions of the format. Aftwards, you can use it in Word.

And there was the tricky bit. I had no idea what “Print Management->Server settings” meant. But once I figured it all out and did it, my file came out great.

I uploaded it earlier this evening, and there weren’t any apparent issues according to CreateSpace. Yay!

*What I really need to do is learn Adobe InDesign, but for what I do, it’s just not worth it at the moment.