Browsing through old memories

I was browsing through my old reports from way back in primary and high-school. That brought back some memories… I found lots of short stories from my Danish and English classes — it’s very cute to see a two-page summary of some English text which I now don’t even remember reading :-)

There were also bigger reports among my old stuff: a report from a class excursion to Nordjyllandsværket, our local power plant in Aalborg. Our class also made an excursion to Dansk Eternit where we made tests with breaking their fibre-cement roof elements. I might put those online someday if I can get them converted.

The reports and texts from my primary school days were all written in Microsoft Word — I had not yet seen [the light][LaTeX] back then… :-) During high-school I started using [LaTeX][], and now I’m glad I did: the DVI files still exactly like they did those five years ago!

With the Word files things are a bit more difficult: OpenOffice is able to open them all without problem and the text is there with the correct formatting. The embedded images are also there and OLE stuff like Equation Editor objects and vector drawings from the venerable CorelDRAW are generally there too, although some of them looked a little weird.

There’s also the problem that I no longer have programs like CorelDRAW, so I’m no longer able to edit those images — I have basically reached a dead-end in the upgrade path when I switched to Linux. With programs like MetaPost I don’t have to be afraid of that — it’s free so I’ll have access to MetaPost today, tomorrow and in ten years.

If you’re a normal Windows user, then you might be thinking something along the lines of “What about incompatibilities between new and old versions?” Fear not! Stability is a major concern for people in the LaTeX world (and MetaPost is primarily used with LaTeX). I believe this is so because LaTeX is a tool used for serious stuff where one would actually loose huge amounts of money if something “suddenly” changes. A twenty page document written in Word doesn’t count at serious stuff — a 1000 page book in LaTeX does.

There you want to be absolutely certain that everything looks the same as the first edition when you begin preparing a second edition. So TeX itself is now frozen and all changes to LaTeX are made with much care so as to not disturb existing documents.

Despite the grieves over MS Word it was an enjoyable tour through the good old days!

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