Shooting ratio

OED: cold turkey … and abundance

Back on 12 August, I reported to OUP a problem with loading the OED (on CD-ROM). This followed a Microsoft security update. OUP got back to me a few days later:

There is a known problem between the OED and the Microsoft Security Update KB917422. It causes the OED to close as soon as it is loaded, without showing any error messages. The developers are currently working on this problem and a solution will be posted on our Support website as soon as it is available.

The OED website subsequently confirmed this position and also made it clear that it was Microsoft who were now sorting this out ('Microsoft are currently working on this problem'):

In the mean time, to enable the OED to open successfully, it is necessary to uninstall the Microsoft update …

Huh? Spend two months (see below) with this security fix uninstalled? No thanks.

Late last week, I checked back at the OUP website: still no news of a fix. A search, though, revealed that other software had been affected by KB917422 and some sites certainly did now know of a fix. This from eLearnAid:

On 8 August 2006, Microsoft published an automatic Windows Update KB917422. This update has installed on your computer and conflicts with a wide range of software, including OED Macmillan CD-ROMs. Computers running Windows 2000 and Windows XP are likely to be affected. Microsoft has now made a hotfix called KB924867 which solves this problem.

At the moment, KB924867 can only be obtained by calling your local Microsoft office or +1 800-936-3100. On 26 September, we expect to be able to publish a link on this page to Microsoft's Download Center where this hotfix can be downloaded directly.

Macmillan had this hotfix news, too, went some way to apologise for a problem not of their making and also had some practical help to offer their customers:

My CD-ROM has stopped working after a Windows Update. What can I do?

LATEST INFORMATION published on 27 September 2006

… At the moment, KB924867 can only be obtained by calling your local Microsoft office or +1 800-936-3100. In October we expect to be able to publish a link on this page to Microsoft's Download Center where this hotfix can be downloaded directly.

If you are unable to contact Microsoft, Macmillan recommends that you register for the free online edition of the Macmillan English Dictionary so that you have an alternative to the CD-ROM.

The Macmillan dictionary team and our software partner apologise for the inconvenience caused by KB917422, which is beyond our control, and we thank you for your understanding and patience.

It would have been good to have had a similar OED offer from OUP. Instead, users just had to sit this out. Or so it seemed. 

Happily, I remembered (but not until several weeks of OED-deprivation had passed) that in England you can access the OED through your local library's Online Services portal — here's Wiltshire's. So this was one very good thing to come out of all this — discovering the amazing resources available online in England through local libraries. From the OUP (ironically! — no-one at OUP had had the bright idea of directing users-in-England to this, their own page): 

"It's hard to imagine a better excuse for the recent rises in the council tax … a recent remarkable deal between Oxford University Press and the Museums Libraries and Archives Council means that many of the world's most prestigious and authoritative reference works are now available free online [to members of public libraries in England] The list of works is astonishing: the entire Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, and 170 other dictionaries, companions and atlases on a myriad of subjects including law, medicine, zoology, statistics, space exploration, world literature, saints, history, theatre, opera, politics, biology, the ancient world, mythology, football, and many languages. The magisterial Grove Dictionary of Music and the Grove Dictionary of Art are also available Most English libraries have joined, but if yours hasn't, or you live in Scotland, I would start lobbying now." The Independent, 15 April 2006 

As part of the MLA's new Reference Online initiative, OUP is delighted to announce that 144 public library authorities in England have joined together for the first time to share the cost of a 2-year national licence for a range of OUP's online resources. 

129 library authorities have subscribed to the following resources: 

15 library authorities have subscribed to the following resources: 

Access is available until 31 March 2008. Members of subscribing libraries can access the resources from any computer at any time - as well as within the library! Check with your local library for details.

To find out more, go to . (That's for England; there's no mention there of Wales or Scotland or Northern Ireland.) Cornucopia! To access any of the above, you visit your local library's Online Services portal page, click the link to the OED (etc) from there, enter your library membership number … and away you go. 

Meanwhile, back at the hard drive coalface … Contacting Microsoft UK (0870 6010100) earlier this week got me the hotfix — but, again, no thanks to the OED website which continues to report that 'Microsoft are currently working on this problem'. 

Sometimes, one just has to wonder how user-friendly software manufacturers think they're being. When the OED on CD-ROM first came out (which is when I bought it — at full price, and me having beta-tested it ’n’ all), it cost an arm and a leg. That kind of money ought to buy you something better than the experience of the last two months. And as for Microsoft — well, it's worth reading Bruce Schneier's posting, , and drawing appropriate conclusions for the little episode of KB917422. Having said which, I can't fault the way Microsoft have handled my case this week.