Pet peeve watch

Apple has added track changes to the mobile version of its Pages word processing app in an update, so now I have two apps that let me use the iPad as a work device. However, one inexplicable and seemingly hard-wired shortcoming keeps me from using it to work on important documents like grants and papers. So far as I can tell there is no word processing app for iOS that can handle subscript and superscript. The other app which can handle track changes, Office2HD, has a superscript in its name (the ‘2’) which means that you can’t write the name of the app in the app. What’s up with that? Anyone?


Ok, I meant something more like ‘supplemental work device to use while I’m at home or traveling’. Of course I have a (Mac) PC to do the heavy lifting, but even reviewing and interim editing is a pain when I have to remember to swap in every sub/superscript later.

103 replies
  1. 1
    Walker says:

    You actually want to write grants on the iPad? Man, you are brave.

    Now for reviewing grant proposals from other people, it is great. iAnnotate FTW.

  2. 2
    Shadows mom says:

    Not sure but last time I transferred a doc from OfficeHD2 to Word, I lost all of my formatting.

    Not sure if something I did, or app issue

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    I blame Obama.

  4. 4
    dmsilev says:

    I can see, especially now with this update, using the iPad to review and lightly revise already-written Word documents. Writing a ten or twenty page document, including a bunch of figures, seems like asking for trouble.

    Especially since Word can’t reliably guarantee consistent formatting between the Mac and the PC. Do you expect Word files generated by not-Word to work? Brave man.

  5. 5
    cat says:

    iPad apps probably have a low enough ROI that nobody wants to risk doing a real SDLC on one or they don’t have enough devs to do all the little features their customers want.

    You could goto but good luck as they have almost a dozen products yet their website is a bunch of static pages so I’m guessing they are probably struggling on erecting the scaffolding they need to be a mature software organization.

  6. 6
    PopeRatzo says:

    Apple doesn’t want you making stuff with their products, they want you buying stuff.

  7. 7
    cathyx says:

    They also changed the format to iTunes and I HATE IT!!!

  8. 8
    srv says:

    Just do it all in TeX

    Or write your own app instead. Eleventy billion other people have.

  9. 9
    Ted & Hellen says:

    I am so glad I am an Old.

  10. 10
    Roger Moore says:

    I’ve always said that it’s been all downhill since Word 5, and the big loss to me was removing keyboard shortcuts for superscript and subscript. Lack of any access to them seems like a bridge way too far, though.

  11. 11
    kevin the hen says:

    You could try CloudOn ( – it’s cloud-based Office and you save the docs in your cloud storage of choice (dropbox, drive, etc). And of course I expect you are using a keyboard case with your iPad, unless you are a complete masochist.

  12. 12
    JCT says:

    Writing any image-embedded document (especially grants) in Word is the fucking devil.

    I had always hoped that with it’s layout roots that Pages would fill this important GAP in Word’s usability.

  13. 13
    RubberCrutch says:

    Why don’t you send Tim Cook an email and ask him? Apple execs are known to respond to email from users. Just be sure to put “query from prominent blogger” in the subject line.

  14. 14

    Dude. Just get a laptop. Geez.

  15. 15
    mai naem says:

    I loved the Lotus word processor and word perfect. I even bought the Lotus suite when I got my first laptop back around 2000 but I could not get it to work with Windows and I just started using Windows products.

  16. 16
    Raven says:

    I made a standup workstation yesterday. Stood up most of yesterday and today. My dogs are barkin and my knees are killin me!

  17. 17
    Calming Influence says:

    Fuck anything “i”.

  18. 18
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Somehow you accidentally blogged something about your work. Or something.

  19. 19
    WereBear says:

    Word can bite my shapely behind.


    Are you typing on the iPad? Are you made of magic pixie dust?

  20. 20
    MikeJ says:

    @srv: TeX is ten times easier than getting other people’s software to do anything useful.

  21. 21
    khead says:


    Enjoy some Darlene Love.

    I plan on buying a shitload of Apple products on Thursday.

    I will let y’all know how it goes.

  22. 22
    burnspbesq says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I’ve always said that it’s been all downhill since Word 5

    It’s been all downhill since WordPerfect 5.1.

  23. 23
    dmsilev says:

    Just for a change of pace, can we have a nice emacs vs vi flamewar?

  24. 24
    Allen says:

    @burnspbesq: @burnspbesq: In my humble opinion it has been all downhill since DOS 3.3.

  25. 25
    burnspbesq says:


    Are you typing on the iPad? Are you made of magic pixie dust?

    Bluetooth keyboard for anything longer than an email. Although you can two-thumb type on the iPad mini in landscape mode. Just like a CrackBerry, except it actually does shit and will be supported after next month. RIP, RIM.

  26. 26
    MikeJ says:

    @dmsilev: What’s to argue about? vi exists so you can have something on the system to edit the files you have to so you can get to the internet and download emacs.

  27. 27
    22over7 says:

    Use Tex.

  28. 28
    burnspbesq says:


    Most of the old formatting is still there (not Cover Flow, that’s gone for good on the desktop), but it’s turned off by default. There is a lot of useful info a cnet, gizmodo, and

    If you use Pure Music on top of iTunes, you’re fucked on iTunes 11 until Pure Music updates. Audirvana Plus and Amarra work fine.

  29. 29
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Allen: #25

    In my humble opinion it has been all downhill since DOS 3.3.

    Okay. You win. :-)

  30. 30
    WereBear says:

    I remember when the PC came without a monitor. Because whats-a-matter-u? You don’t remember what you just typed?

    I love having a really portable option, but I get an iPad, I have to have a Bluetooth keyboard, too, and now I’m more than twice the price of a Chromebook, which is what I wound up getting.

    And, loving it.

  31. 31
    Roger Moore says:


    Does Open Office (now “Apache”) have a mobile/ipad version?

    You should go with Libre Office rather than Apache Open Office if possible. Libre Office was forked by the people behind go-OO when Sun/Oracle basically abandoned the old OpenOffice.Org version. They’ve made a lot of improvements while Apache was wasting time on converting the moribund Oracle version into an official Apache project.

  32. 32
    MikeJ says:


    In my humble opinion it has been all downhill since DOS 3.3.

    What was wrong with CPM?

  33. 33
    Walker says:

    Has anyone actually used these TeX tools on the iPad. I use TeX for everything, but when working on grants and articles, I typically want it in an SVN environment for collaberation with my coauthors.

  34. 34
    Roger Moore says:


    Just for a change of pace, can we have a nice emacs vs vi flamewar?

    Why, do the idiots who use vi need another drubbing?

  35. 35
    RossinDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:


    Real men write machine language.

    I have an iPhone now, my first Apple product since the early ’80s, when I WAS coding machine language.
    Current peeve: it lets you do all kinds of advanced social-networky things with photos, but if you want to know where and when the photo was taken, you have to download it to a different machine (Win 7 works fine…) or buy a 3rd party app. How hard would it have been to add a tab to let you access the metadata?

  36. 36

    OT but even in retirement, Robin Yount is so fundamentally sound that he always hits his cutoff man, SS Dale Sveum.

  37. 37
    Jamey says:

    “I never get tired of hearing people complain about their overpriced iCrap!” — nobody ever

  38. 38
    Roger Moore says:

    @RossinDetroit, Rational Subjectivist:
    Wow, that’s lame. The Android Gallery app shows metadata on request and even has a neat feature where you can go to Maps and see exactly where a geotagged picture was taken.

  39. 39
    Allen says:

    @MikeJ: Actually, my first work computer was a CPM machine, with two external 360K soft drives.

  40. 40

    I have an idea, lets cut the tax rates to 0% for everyone. Exactly how long do you think it would take for the government workers to revolt and how long do you think it would take for the defense contractors to pressure their tame congressmen to raise taxes? I say go ahead and do it, zero taxes for everyone! Go for it republicans.

  41. 41
    BGinCHI says:

    Tim, what’s the other app you use (besides Pages) for work on the iPad?

  42. 42
    mawado says:

    Worth trying google docs. Can do super/sub script. I use it frequently off-line on a windows notebook. I think it can import/save as word docs, but I don’t use that feature.

    I don’t have an iPad, so can’t speak to how well it works on iOS/Safari.


  43. 43
    scav says:

    Let’s work it from the other direction for a change. Evervbody raise their hands who coded in their pampers in binary in their sandbox? individual grains or did you use buckets?

    anybody stunned to learn peaches were actually fruit too?

  44. 44
    MazeDancer says:


    It’s all been downhill since WordStar, IMHO

  45. 45
    MikeJ says:


    Actually, my first work computer was a CPM machine, with two external 360K soft drives.

    Oooh la la! *Two* 360k drives! I had to use a computer in a cardboard box in the middle of a motorway, and we had to scratch tick marks into the pavement for our bits.

  46. 46
    Tim F. says:

    @BGinCHI: there are a number of utilities that I find useful – lab timers, unit conversion, calculator, fluorescence spectra viewers – but the other word processing app is Office2HD, like I said in the post.

  47. 47
    jenn says:

    @Roger Moore: Roger, Word still has keyboard shortcuts for subscript and superscript. Just FYI!

  48. 48
    WereBear says:

    @efgoldman: 8″ floppies! I’m having a flashback!

    Of course, back in MY day, we recorded our code on cassettes. It took forever. And you had to be careful of magnets… uphill both ways!

  49. 49
    srv says:

    @efgoldman: I still just write my code on some dot matrix sheets from some old DEC printer and mail it to my monkey.

  50. 50
    srv says:


    Oh, just dig out your NeXTstation and use that version. Mach was always better.

  51. 51
    Maude says:

    It was in my cloth diapers.

  52. 52
    khead says:

    I miss punch cards. They made great notepaper and message slips. ‘Cause back then, taking a message meant write the fucking thing down

    Dad saved money by buying savings bonds.

    I recently tried to explain to someone that the stack of savings bonds Dad had piled up reminded me of a stack of punch cards. The poor soul looked at me like I was an alien.

  53. 53
    trollhattan says:

    @Calming Influence:
    Keep your mitts off iCarly. My daughter would be very, erm, upset.

    To the OP: Hit the characters with a hammer for subscripts, poke them with a needle for superscripts. Is that so hard?

  54. 54
    Cassidy says:

    Smart consumers buy Apple.

  55. 55
    MikeJ says:

    @trollhattan: The finale was very sweet.

  56. 56
    dmsilev says:


    Last time I went to the MIT model railroad club, they were running the trains with a DEC mini using paper tape.

    That doesn’t narrow the timing down by very much. I belonged to that club for a few years in the early nineties, and the PDP-11 was still in use. It was the user-friendly interface to the older System built from 50s-era telephone crossbar switches.

  57. 57
  58. 58
    khead says:


    I haven’t heard the term “saving stamps” in years.

    The folks that looked at me like I was crazy over punch cards would damn sure have no idea what saving stamps are….

  59. 59
    Raven says:

    @khead: Ever hear of Fedscript?

  60. 60
    Maude says:

    Green stamps. Those were a great idea, it’s too bad they don’t do them any more.

  61. 61
    PurpleGirl says:

    I never owned one but somehow I acquired a TRS-80 manual. Still have it some where.

  62. 62
    Raven says:

    @Maude: They are called “reward cards”.

  63. 63
    khead says:

    Fedscript? No.

    Green stamps I do know though. :) My parents used those on several Christmas holidays….

    Also, this is a bit of an aside for the thread but since folks are talking about old computers, I have an actual working Atari 800 – just no TV to hook it up to.

  64. 64
    xian says:

    Can I recommend my own software, CloudOn? Still free for the iPad.

  65. 65
    Maude says:

    It’s not the same. I liked those little books of stamps.

  66. 66
    Raven says:

    @khead: In LA starting in the late 40’s:

    The FEDCO chain was unusual in that it was a nonprofit consumers’ cooperative. It was founded by 800 U.S. Post Office employees who wanted to leverage their buying power by purchasing goods directly from wholesalers. . .

    Under the guidance of Board President Robert Kee FedScript was developed. This allowed for a form of “borrowing” but ensured that the funds could only be spent at FEDCO.

  67. 67
    xian says:

    @kevin the hen: ah, what he said.

    it works without external keyboard too.

  68. 68
    Steeplejack says:


    Two drives? Sheer luxury! My first Altos (1981) had one drive. You loaded the program, and once it was in RAM you took that diskette out and put in your data diskette for the loadin’ and savin’ o’ the info.

  69. 69
    PurpleGirl says:


    It worked. I typed that in WordPerfect and pasted it here. I have a copy of one of Donald Knuth’s first books on developing Teχ.

  70. 70
    khead says:


    The only problem with getting some of the stuff to run on that Atari is those crappy 5.25 discs….

    Drive and machine run fine – but the discs? Not so much nowadays. They did not age well. They hiccup like a granny drinking sherry.

    MULE still runs though. So I am good.

    Best. Game. Ever.

  71. 71
    Maude says:

    That’s close to Palin writing on here palm.

  72. 72
    Steeplejack says:


    I used to have that same book. The one with the Pascal source code? I spent quite some time one year trying to port TeX to Turbo Pascal.

  73. 73
    Steeplejack says:


    Compared to a typewriter it was ecstasy.

  74. 74
    Maude says:

    I have a DEC with all the manuals. Needs a motherboard, but I’m to lazy to get one and put it in. It has CPM and DOS.
    Selectrics used to move tables.

  75. 75
    JCT says:

    @Raven: My lord, haven’t thought of FEDCO forever, we used to shop at the one on La Cienega when I was growing up. Great electronics section — I remember those early computers with cassettes were sold there.

    What a blast from the past.

  76. 76
    Peter says:

    Google Drive?

  77. 77
    Punchy says:

    I find it hard to fathom that on a blog that continuously blasts Republicans for all sorts of trivial shit, the one day they pull The Ultimate Dick Move and block a treaty for disabled people, the FPers are silent.

    If there ever was a day in need of a post about this and a 400+ comment train excoriating these scum-sucking fuckers, today would have been that day.


  78. 78
    Yutsano says:

    @Punchy: I suggest a sternly worded e-mail to John Cole. You know how much he just LOVES those!

  79. 79
    Mhanch says:

    (Disclosure: I work at Microsoft, so take what I say with a grain of salt)

    Go check out a Microsoft Surface.

    I use mostly macs at home for main computers. We had all iPhones and I had an iPad as the tablet to use. All the editing solutions suck in iOS. I gave my iPad to my daughter, and use a Surface as a tablet. It has a basic version of office, and syncs documents via Skydrive. Works just fine with both my PC and macs, documents open in Mac Office just fine.

    The keyboard cover rocks as well. It isn’t a perfect device, but It replaced my iPad without question. Might not be your cup of tea either, but worth playing with.

  80. 80
    gnomedad says:

    It’s been all downhill since TECO.

  81. 81
    Don says:

    @Roger Moore: Word 5.1 and WordPerfect 3.1 for the Mac were the fastest, most efficient word processors in existence. One could do whatever was necessary with utmost confidence that it would actually work.

    And then came Word 6, and the world of efficient writing on the computer came to an end.

    Isn’t there a copy of WordStar out there somewhere?

  82. 82
    MikeJ says:


    Bought it instead of Commodore because it used floppies, not tape, for data storage.

    The Commie had the 1541 disc drive available. I might have gone a week with the tape before I went back for the fdd.

  83. 83
    The Red Pen says:

    @Roger Moore: I was telling someone that I didn’t start using Eclipse until someone told me that it had Emacs key bindings. This person then informed me that it also now featured a vi mode and I said, “Why would anyone want to use Eclipse in vi mode?” They looked hurt.

    Also, bash shell acts like a one-line Emacs buffer. It’s really painful to watch people up-arrow through the history because they don’t know about ctrl-r.

  84. 84
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Steeplejack: Of course, now that I want to check the book, I don’t see it on the shelf. I used to type mathematics at NYU’s Courant Institute. In the mid-80s I was dating a guy who worked for IBM and computers and printing were things we talked about. He mentioned Knuth and Teχ and he wanted to learn it, so I bought the book to read up on what Knuth wanted to do. I sort of followed the development of Teχ.

  85. 85
    Walker says:


    No offense, but Surface looks like a device that has no market. The floppy keyboard means you have a laptop that cannot be used in your lap. The RT has no apps (and the keyboard is just begging the app developers to make apps with exactly the wrong form factor). And the Intel version costs as much as an ultrabook, which is superior in most every way.

  86. 86
    eemom says:


    Coupled with the latest among increasingly frequent incidents of boring-as-shit posts left up for 75 hours.

    Sigh. Were it not for the deep and abiding affection between myself and John Cole…..

  87. 87
    Mhanch says:

    @Walker: I have the type cover, and it works fine in my lap. if you want a full laptop, this isn’t it. but if an iPad isn’t enough of a device, then this splits the bill.

    I use the RT every day, and it meets my needs. the main apps that I need are there, the web browser and mail apps are where I spend most of my time, and office is there for that work.

    But if you don’t like one, don’t get it. But give it a fair shake, if you haven’t tried it, try it.

  88. 88
    Don says:

    @gnomedad: 0TT$$
    an in joke for TECO users.

  89. 89
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Punchy: This treaty was based on the Americans with Disability Act and encourages other countries to use it as the basis for their own treatment of their people. Yes, it’s a shame the Republicans acted so asinine in not ratifying it. However, it would not have had much effect on people here. Besides we can still talk about it, even without a post from John Cole. Yes, Congress has a large number of asses in it.

  90. 90
    eemom says:


    Take heart, however — there will be a post on that eventually. Just wait until ABL finds some obscure Breitbart blogger ranting about some Onion piece on the subject.

  91. 91
    Yutsano says:


    Besides we can still talk about it

    We have been, in several threads. In fact that discussion took over one of them. I’ve been silent because of a busy day at work coupled with too much disgust for words.

  92. 92
    waratah says:

    @Mhanch: I was under the impression that Microsoft was going to come out with a pro version of the surface. Do you know if they are still planning for this?

  93. 93
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Yutsano: Which thread did it take over? I remember a few comments this morning but I haven’t been reading all the threads today. I know I wrote a few lines this morning on the treaty, but don’t remember if it was here at BJ or some place else.

  94. 94
    Mhanch says:

    @waratah: yeah, that’s the intel version. it’s on the surface site with specs. Walker kinda nails it, the “pro” is basically a ultrabook in tablet form. The “RT” is a tablet that only supports App Store apps (it’s on an Arm processor)

    I like the RT better, as it has iPad-like battery life. The RT is out now and the PRO is sometime after new year.

  95. 95
    luc says:

    Get an android tablet and enjoy softmaker office there. Opens and saves word documents w/o problems and does all the formatting you can ask for.

  96. 96
    Mnemosyne says:


    I remember FEDCO — my brother used to work for the Department of Labor, so he was allowed to shop there. I think the one we used to go to was burned down in the 1992 riots.

    I always assume that Costco operates on a similar basis.

  97. 97
    dollared says:

    What MHanch said, but I’ll paraphrase for your benefit: you own an iPad, which is to say a toy. Don’t do Real Things on toys, even if the moms at the coffee shop think it’s cool. Get a Surface.

  98. 98
    Roger Moore says:


    Roger, Word still has keyboard shortcuts for subscript and superscript. Just FYI!

    Thank you, that’s useful to know. So I’ve spent 20 years complaining about the lack of keyboard shortcuts not because they aren’t there, but because Microsoft changed them and didn’t provide an obvious way of finding out what they had changed to. I suppose that’s not quite as bad, but having items in a drop down menu that have non-discoverable keyboard shortcuts is just stupid on Microsoft’s part.

  99. 99
    Roger Moore says:


    It’s been all downhill since TECO.

    Only because RMS was able to use TECO macros to develop the first version of EMACS. Just remember the greatest recursive acronym bacronym ever: EMACS Makes A Computer Slow.

  100. 100
    Eolirin says:

    @Roger Moore

    In newer versions of Word, the superscript and subscript options are clearly visible in the font box of the Ribbon, without having to go anywhere to find them; no dropdowns or buried menus. If you hover over them (or any other option with a shortcut) they tell you what the keyboard shortcuts for them are.

    Word has not had a discoverability problem (for keyboard shortcuts at least) since 2007.

  101. 101
    Gian says:

    he’s just being a curmudgen lawyer. Don’t know why, but many law types fixated on word perfect early and hated giving it up.

    before my time. I expect it had features for writing the freaking arcane minutia of legal cites or somesuch. Or it was better than anything else when they learned it, and they’d be ear-fucked with a salt crystal before they learned something new.

    My best guess is it was the lotus 1-2-3 of DOS word processors and that he’s writing about the windows version he couldn’t let go.

    – not to say I understand why a piece of software that does what’s needed and isn’t obsolete needs to be “upgraded” to a version that changes shit like keyboard shortcuts or where to find the print menu or what have you. there’s a culture that every 3-6 years MS needs a new office suite and the elves have to do something, even if it makes little sense.

    I get it, but it still bugs me. they simply won’t get the same result from say updating word for windows 95 to run properly in vista as they will from a whole new version.

  102. 102
    Gian says:

    @Roger Moore:

    emacs as implemented where I work is stupid.
    rather than have someone sign off on a paper abscence request and forward it to payroll, where a payroll clerk would handle it, we now have really highly skilled in other areas, and paid 4 to 5 times a payroll clerk people doing payroll.

    but we did fire some payroll clerks. way better to have post grad degrees doing that work.

  103. 103
    Iron Lung says:

    Circus Ponies Notebook.

    Or, as already mentioned, one of the apps that gives you a virtual Office interface linked to your preferred cloud storage.

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