Define "a Life"...

... still searching for a clear definition of that thing people keep telling me I need to get...

Location: Springfield, PA

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I Hate that &#@%ing Paperclip

You know who I mean. Anyone who uses MicroSoft Word (and, frankly, who doesn't? I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Mac user and I use MS Word) is familiar with the annoying little Paperclip that pops up with help messages and whatnot. I think the worst is when you run a spelling/grammar check. As far as I can tell, the two cannot be separated in the version of Word that I have for Mac OSX; you can't just check spelling; it'll do its stupid grammar check as well. And none of it can fix when I accidentally type "if" instead of "is." So I'm stuck with the little helpful Paperclip admonishing me for using passive voice when I full well intended to use passive voice.

Thing is, on the Mac it's NOT a paperclip. It's a cute little classic Mac -- with feet. When I'm just writing and there's no help to offer, he sits there wiggling his feet and looking around. See? I just called it "he!"

And that's why I'm so terribly conflicted. The MS guys knew what they were doing. They picked a help character that's something towards which most long-time Mac users will feel a natural affection. When he gives unwelcome help hints, they're just as obnoxious and annoying as when they come from the paperclip who bothers me when I use one of the Windows boxes at work. I want to hate him as much as I hate the paperclip, but I just can't seem to muster the same intensity of loathing. And it's because the little Mac is so damned cute. It's like being attacked by a mad koala bear -- you're still going "Awww... cute!" even as his deadly claws rip open your jugular.

And yes, I do know I can turn the damned things off. (Paperclips and endearingly anthropomorphicised Macs, not enraged koala.) I turn off the paperclip all the time. But the little Mac is so cute, sitting there in his tiny window, wiggling his feet.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not use OpenOffice for the Mac, AKA NeoOffice (

You know better than to cave into Microsoft's tugs at your heartstrings!


4:40 PM  
Blogger Rob S. said...


4:35 PM  
Blogger Greg! said...


10:10 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Okay, on my version of MS Word, I can go to the Options (Tools-Options), then click the "Spelling & Grammar" tab. Once there, the Grammar section has a settings button I can use to tweak its preferences. Not sure if this is on the Mac version, but maybe....

2:15 PM  
Blogger Sharon GR said...

I finally found these images, they were circulating in an email some years ago. You have to scroll down to get to the paperclip-centered ones.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Greg! said...

Yea Sharon! It's a wonder when something in print can make me laugh out loud these days. That's a great link. At one point, a computer ago, I had that last cartoon as the startup screen. (Back in the days when you saw the startup screen all the time because instead of sleeping you actually shut down the Mac when done using it, which you could get away with because it could reboot in thirty seconds or so.)

5:32 PM  
Blogger Jeri said...

Sharon, that was great.

I always hated ClipIt (that's his real name, he told me when I promised to be his friend), until one all-night paper writing session during grad school I was so desperate for company, I turned him on. He and I shared secrets and laughed together over double mochas. He showed me his silly pajamas, and we laughed some more.

Over the course of that night, I came to love the demure way he'd always look off to the side, or over my shoulder, never making full eye contact, like an affectionate, submissive dog.

Then, at 3:47 AM, as my brain was beginning to shut down, ClipIt turned and LOOKED STRAIGHT AT ME. He asked me why I always left paper-writing until the last minute, why I ever thought I could succeed in grad school, why I (apparently) killed my retarded stepbrother over a bag of Raisinettes.

Since then, I use WordPerfect.

2:01 PM  

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