The members of the M.Phil in International Relations programs have collectively embraced Macintosh computers. The only machines you ever see during our seminars are MacBooks, Powerbooks, and my lonely iBook. At the same time, Microsoft Word has generally been embraced by the academic community. I get about half a dozen Microsoft Word attachments from fellow students, instructors, and mailing lists every day. Every academic journal with which I have had experience (both editing and submitting) has used MS Word as their normal document type.
As such, the following error is especially infuriating. If you add images to a Microsoft Word document being produced on a Mac (in this case, a Venn diagram for my failed states paper), it will may load in Word for Windows with the following error:
QuickTime and a TIFF (LZW) decompressor are needed to see this picture.
First off, shame on Microsoft for not making documents from two pieces of their own software properly interchangeable. Secondly, shame on Apple. They say that Macs are machines for use in serious professional environments, and yet problems like this exist in the single most essential piece of professional software. This, and some other weird incompatibilities relating to fonts and formatting, make me a bit nervous about writing my thesis on a Mac, to be taken to a print shop that will almost certainly be using Windows machines.
People will say to switch to OpenOffice, but that is like replacing your car with a buggy because you don’t like the controls on the stereo. OpenOffice, like Linux, simply isn’t worth the bother in a world where everyone is using a near-ubiquitous alternative.
On a semi-related note, I am strongly considering using a non-standard font for the thesis (either Bembo or Perpetua, perhaps). Is it possible to have a document printed in a font that isn’t particularly standard, or will I get back something switched over to something generic but similar? If you turn a document using a non-standard font into a PDF, can people who do not have that font view and print it properly?