The Other Kind Of Multistep Word Problems

Jinkies! This Black Castle stuff is like real work!

And them learners - they're no help.

"Wendell, can you help me with these word problems in fractions? I'm trying to...."

Not now! *snarl* The font's all screwed up again! Howdoyaspell 'berserker'? One 'l' or two? *glances up to see the class staring, open mouthed* Okay, okay. Fractions. I wish all I had to worry about was fractions!"

Actually, it's not that bad. My learners are wonderful, clever, and patient with all my little side hobbies. They know they matter most, and I almost never snarl at anybody.

But I have been dealing with angst-making formatting issues as I move back and forth between MS Word (2003) and Open Office's Open Writer program (and dealing with my own iconoclastic spelling and grammatical foibles).

I should have just written the whole thing in notepad. But, no - that wouldn't have worked either. I've been trying to keep paragraphs together on one page. The page format is landscaped with wide margins and two columns (for book-making purposes). I'm using Word because I'm most comfortable with it's tools and trappings. But it doesn't have - or I can't find - an "export as .PDF" function. Hence my use of Open Writer, which I mostly don't like otherwise.

Why .PDF? I thought that would be the most accessible (you can print it or read it in a browser or reader) and would also preserve the original from inadvertent editing. I guess I could also have saved it as a read-only Word document. But is that still as accessible?

I dunno. *sigh*

I sent a link to the uploaded file via MSN Live directly to six people, five of whom reported back being able to open it okay. Not sure about the 6th one - whether it was a compatibility issue of maybe a firewall / security thing. So... unless I hear something more alarming, that's going to be my con't practice.

Right now I'm editing the second book in OW. Maybe I'll get that squared away by the end of the week.

You know, it's not rocket science. The first book was only about 2500 words, with book two just over twice that.

But it does take time and care and patience.

Mathematics really is the easy side of the street.



michael chalk said...

Hi Wendell.. i know that feeling of technological frustration.. and the urge to snarl at learners when you really should display your deepest teaching patience.

One time when i exploded in frustration at a group of learners, they gave me this "oh you're a real person after all" look.

btw, there's a great app called "pdf creator" which lets you make a pdf from any program that can print (eg word).

kind regards, michael

Wendell said...

Hi Michael,

I read with interest your adventures with Windows 7. Better you than me - LOL. Playing with software is fun right up to the point where we want / need to get something done in a hurry.

Thanks for the heads-up about that app. I'll definitely take a look.

Karen B. said...

Hi Wendell,

I meant to send you a note earlier in the week to tell you that I downloaded the Black Castle file successfully, without any problems.

I can sympathize with your problems using Word as a typesetting tool. In my previous life, I worked for a legal publisher as a typesetter and we used Word exclusively then exported to pdf with Adobe Reader. You may have more success using sections breaks to prevent the text from flowing to the next page.


Wendell said...

Thks Karen.

Michael Chalk from PRACE in Australia (I just love the connectivity of the internet!) put me on to a free app called PDFCreator. With it installed, you print your document (from word, notepad, a spreadsheet... any text that can be printed) but chose PDFCreator as your 'printer'. Then, nothing actually prints, but a pdf file gets saved into whichever folder you chose. I used it to put up the second book in the series: (drumroll, echo voice) Return to the Black Castle.

So, no more bopping around between word processing programs! Yay!