Thursday 26 July 2007

Lateral thinking at Microsoft.

Mark Liberman at Language Log links to this interesting observation by Michael Kaplan of Microsoft about how to turn off the hated Office Assistant:

Have you tried being rude to him?

Apparently, type "God damn clippy" into the "What would you like to do" box, and ...

After telling Clippy this, the first item on the list explains how to change the Office Assistant,and the second item explains how to hide or show it.

Michael makes three observations:

An amazing number of people use this exact phrase;

There are reportedly many other expressions of negative Clippy feelings that will have the same effect on search in help;

There are disadvantages to a formal education that make this method of finding a solution less obvious.

That third observation is particularly interesting — but, like, I suspect, everyone else who read the piece, I decided to concentrate on the second one by firing up the Office Assistant and swearing profusely at the little bastard.

My research indicates that the Office Assistant recognises quite a bit of abuse: "Fuck off", "Sod off", and "Bugger off" all work, as does the word "arsehole" (you may need to combine these phrases with "Clippy" or "Assistant"). But my most interesting finding is what happens when you tell Clippy "Fuck you" in Word: the first template he offers you is "Thank-you for job interview". Genius.

And you get the same result for "I wish you were dead".

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