Spent most of yesterday in a state of carefully controlled panic. I've been desperately working on finishing my late papers for last quarter — thank goodness for being able to "pre-load" WP with my reviews and Bestiaries!

So I have a desktop with Word 2007, the latest version, on it… and a nice but very old laptop with Open Office on it — which is an open source program that works like the previous version of Word, and is much, much less space-hoggy and reprehensible than Microsoft products. I start a paper on the desktop, save it automatically (which is in the "new" .docx format), and have the 15 page paper almost complete before the usual Cmas frenzy. I set it aside for the few days to have a joyous Solstice, then decide to finish the paper on the laptop in the living room, so I can listen to all my wonderful holiday music on the best sound system in the house.

I light a fire and the Solstice candles, get a drink, start up the music and the laptop, take a moment to collect myself and remind myself this form of creativity is for me a sacred work… then go to open the paper in Open Office.

…it's not there…?

Huh. Must've saved it in another folder by accident. No worries — I remember the distinctive surname of one of the authors in my Bibliography. I'll just search for that through my Education folder.

Results: no files matching.

First small twinge of worry: where could it be? I must have saved it in my personal directory instead of my Education folder… or maybe I spelled the author's name wrong? I've got the book here, though, so I know I'm spelling it right now… maybe I spelled it wrong in the paper itself? That must be it.

I ignore the small internal voice that tells me I did not misspell it in the paper — I typed it in right from the book! I start running a more egregious search from here on the laptop, within my entire personal directory, for another word in the paper, and I go to my desktop and start the same search there, just in case I mistakenly saved it onto the desktop instead of into my personal directory on the server.

I'm watching the search and getting very worried… no matches yet — and that's when my sweetie notices something's up. He's reassuring: he'll find it! He'll just run a grep for the word I've got in the paper, throughout the entire server. I'm relieved — I know the tools he has access to are more powerful than Word's dinky little Search. I thank him, and he runs the search…

…with no results.

Holy f*ck! Where's my misbegotten paper?! I know I saved it onto something a few days ago! How could it — and nothing else — vanish so completely?! I'm starting to get the first horrified butterflies in my stomach as I realize I may have to entirely re-write this puppy!

My sweetie is soothing: I should let him "drive" the machines for a bit; let him do some really penetrating searches for the paper. I run every single errand that day that I'd been putting off due to the season. I stay Out Of The House so he can work. I take my phone so he can call if he needs any more info, or has good news to report.

Hours later I come home, and he shakes his head once at my worried-hopeful-inquiring glance. I take a deep breath — not going to scream or cry or yell here… and he asks me to sit down at the desktop with him, and show him exactly where I would save the paper if I had it open right now before me. I tell him the directories and folders to go through, until we get to the right one…

…and there it is.

Holy f*ck again! I'm overjoyed to have it back, but where's my misbegotten paper been all this time?!

My sweetie does some research on his machine while I just barely keep myself from hugging my monitor and muttering things about my precioussss… and a few minutes later he comes back with the answer.

First, I'd told Open Office to show me only the .doc files — that was my error. This small initial error was compounded by something really peculiar — and, I believe, stupid — that Word has done: apparently .docx files aren't saved the same way .doc files are saved! The new .docx files are saved as a collection of compressed files, in a .zip file — which means you cannot use Search on .docx files the way you can on .doc files!

So my day of controlled panic is over, thank the goddess — and my wonderful sweetie. However, from this point onwards I'm saving strictly in .doc, until Word gets its act together and figures out how to modify its Search capabilities so they work on all files saved in Word.

Hopefully this warning will help my readers to not have to go through such a horrible day as well — and now back to my lovely papers.

Happy holidays — and stress-free writing — to you all! :)

Similar Posts: