Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 9, 2012

Where did that “—” come from?

Rob Cox
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Daily News readers may have noticed a number of distracting stray characters (““ —) running across their pages in recent weeks.

A handful of readers have kindly Ñ and, in some cases, not so kindly Ñ called us to point out this continuing error.

We understand your frustration; in fact, we share it.

Until early October 2012, the writers here at the Daily News completed assignments on iMac G3 computers Ñ from 1998.

Yes, you read correctly; we worked on computer equipment that was nearly 15 years old. Imagine our ecstasy, then, upon receiving brand-new, state-of-the-art Dell Optiplex 750 machines with Intel Core i5 processors.

It was a veritable Christmas-in-October around here Ñ for the writers, anyway.

Unfortunately, our long-suffering paginator Ñ the person who uses our content to electronically arrange and construct the pages Ñ didn’t receive a super-duper, Core i5 Christmas-in-October miracle.

Mind you, this wasn’t a matter of naughty or nice; our poor paginator did nothing to merit such exclusion. However, although there was no bag of coal waiting on her desktop, there was an electronic equivalent: the same old iMac G3 Ñ from 1998.

Jubilation in our newsroom soon turned to frustration when we realized that our “Ñ”s were being transformed into “—”s when translated from a super-duper, Core i5 Christmas-in-October miracle to an iMac G3 Ñ from, you guessed it, 1998.

Since we in the newsroom refuse to dig our old electronic bags of coal out of storage and boot them up (in truth, we can’t really refuse anyone anything around here Ñ we’re only writers, after all), it’s up to the powers that be to update the paginator’s equipment; we’re told that will happen soon.

However, updating and modernizing a pagination system is, apparently, decidedly more complex than upgrading the equipment for us less-technical types. As such, we’re left to wait and deal with the stray, impertinent characters, finding and fixing them by hand and hoping they don’t change back after they’re on the page.

The last we heard, the changeover would be completed sometime in January Ñ but that’s by no means definite.

Until then, we’re doing our darndest to prevent those pesky little “—”s from finding their way into our final copy.

Unfortunately, by the time our stories find their way to the page, it’s too late for the writers to do anything about it. And although our paginator is extremely professional and extremely good at her job, intense deadline pressure, combined with using a 15-year-old computer, make it impossible to catch them all.

We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding and forbearance with our stray character issues, and we promise to strive harder to fix the problem moving forward.

We don’t like those annoying little buggers any more than you, and we’re hoping against hope 2013 will see everyone at the Daily News return to the same modernized, technological page. If so, it will be a merry Christmas-in-January indeed.

Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.