Three speakers reported on how computers have made it possible for them to do their jobs quickly and easily. Here is a summary of their tips and tales.
Alison Weatherston, Ontario Geological Survey, demonstrated WordPerfect 6.0a and its built-in "redline method" of editing. She reported that the authors like this method because they want to see every change that she proposes, but don't always understand the usual copy-editing marks. Her special techniques involve careful organization (i.e., customization) of her "desktop"--including the Power Bar and Button Bar--via choosing preferences from the menu under the File selection. She has programmed macros for certain repetitive tasks, such as inserting author queries into the text. She also inserts codes for heading formats, etc., that are picked up by the Interleaf system, from which files are sent to the Xerox Docutech system for printing-on-demand publication.
Diane Lane, U.S. Geological Survey, passed out a list of 12 amazingly simple steps to reformatting tables in Word for Windows. Then she walked us through the steps as they applied to an actual table and explained their logic. She said that there were three keys to her approach: (1) use the "cells" method, (2) do the steps in a uniform, optimum order, and (3) "cleanup" after each step (i.e., remove extra tabs and spaces). I tried her approach, and it works!
Beverly Vogt, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, related an exciting story of doing more with less. Because earthquake hazards are only newly recognized in Oregon, legislation about rehabilitating old buildings needed to be formulated. She was asked to ride shotgun on the process and consolidate the input of scientists, specialists in building codes, real estate developers, insurance lobbyists, and other interested parties. The process started April 1 (there was a titter in the audience when this fact was revealed), and the now 40-page (initially 150-page) report was presented to the legislature on October 1. Still breathless from the experience, she gave the following pointers: (1) get a dictaphone and record everything, (2) be prepared for all kinds of transmissions of documents, (3) put date and time on every version, (4) upgrade the amount of memory or at least be aware if there is a limitation on the size of document you can work on, (5) break document into smaller pieces if necessary, and (6) exit Windows and restart it often to avoid memory-related crashes. I think all of us can relate to a memory-related crash!