File this under “Autocorrect Disaster”

I’m not much of a fan of silent autocorrect.  That is to say, I like spellcheck and all, but I don’t like the silent and automatic bullshit that has crept into word processors and other software over the years because most people are either too lazy or too stupid to use the tools on their own.  Apple software is particularly bad at this, and I can usually tell that something has been written on a mac because it contains bizarre word replacements for no other apparent reason.  Sadly, most software is happily following suit because this appears to be what most people want.

But this is an example of what can happen when this madness goes too far.  The gist of it is that some gene names which resemble dates were automatically and silently changed by Microsoft Excel because damnit, Excel knows better than us what we wanted in those databases.

Clippy bastard

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t use a very modern word processor to do my writing.  For the longest time, I used a program called Cetus C Word Pad.  This program was basically WordPad for Windows 95 hacked with a spellcheck utility.  I’ve since upgraded slightly to the word processor that came with Microsoft Works version 7.  But even that program silently autocorrects, and I have to rely on my text-to-speech program to catch the shit it changes on me.  I may bitch about being inconvenienced, but reading about gene names being changed is just inexcusable.  Why would they use Excel for this in the future?  Wouldn’t they scrap that and find another program better suited for not fucking up data in such a horrible way?

I’m baffled by the entrenchment that Microsoft has in the business world.  For all their talk about taking risks, it looks to me that corporate types are some of the most diffident people out there when it comes to assessing the benefits of technological systems.