Reflections on a power outage

Computer Life column for May 29, 1999

Richard Gordon

Monday, the Wilmington area had its first thunderstorm-related power outage of the season.

There I was sitting in an office whose only light was the glow of my laptop's display. But battery power has its limits: laptops make lousy reading lamps.

As colleagues scurried about with flashlights checking that our network servers and routers (systems that manage the traffic on a network) had shut down gracefully, one of our co-workers wondered aloud if this were a Y2K preparedness drill.

That got a good laugh as people hung out in the hallway in the glare of the emergency lights.

This first power outage of the season should remind us of some important precautions:

Some things have to wait until the power comes back on. But we depend so much on the technology that we sometimes jump to the conclusion that because the computers are down, there's nothing we can do.

Tip of the week

Turn it off!

Microsoft Word thinks it knows more about spelling and grammar than your 7th grade English teacher. You can turn off its automatic marking of "errors" with a simple change.

In Word 97 or Word 2000 for Windows, select "Options" from the "Tools" pull-down menu. On a Mac, select "Preferences" from Word 98's "Tools" menu.

Select the "Spelling & Grammar" tab.

Turn off "Check spelling as you type." and "Check grammar as you type." If you type a lot of URLs and e-mail addresses in your documents, turn on "Ignore Internet and file addresses."

You can still check your spelling and grammar from the "Tools" menu, but with these settings, Word will put away its annoying red and green correcting pens.

Copyright © 1999, The News Journal Company

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Richard Gordon helps support faculty, staff and student computing at the University of Delaware. E-mail questions, comments or suggestions to, or write him at The News Journal, Box 15505, Wilmington, DE 19850. Although each note cannot be answered individually, reader comments and questions will often be incorporated in future columns.