Pandoc for Word Document conversion

I just discovered pandoc. Well, I first bookmarked it in 2008, and again in 2016, so I guess I rediscovered it. But what I mean is that I finally discovered what to use it for: converting Word files to Markdown. It’s dead easy:

$ pandoc -f docx -t markdown sample.docx >

I’ve been using Antiword for years to convert Word 2006 (DOC) files to text, but it doesn’t do DOCX, and, instead of producing Markdown or something more neutral, it tries to recreate the DOC experience in text by centering lines, etc. Not complaining: it gets me plain text and I can take it from there, but Markdown is a big improvement. DOCX is even better, since, apart from pandoc, the only way I knew to read those at the command line was via Libre/OpenOffice:

$ libreoffice –headless –convert-to “txt:Text (encoded):UTF8” sample.docx > sample.txt

(I see — now, when it is too late — that there is also code to do this in ruby: antiword-xp-rb. I hope that’s an awesome tool, but it took me 9 years to figure out what to do with pandoc so don’t wait for me to tell you.)

I wouldn’t take it gift-wrapped

Office 2016 for Mac now available as stand-alone software. I’ve been exposed to Office 2013/Windows, and to get anything done, I have to use Office 2011 on my Mac.

I wouldn’t even install Office 2016 on my Mac for $100 even if it left the old version intact. More likely, though, it clobbers the previous version. In that case, I’d only do it for the cost of a new computer—so I could throw out the old computer with Office 2016 on it.

Microsoft Keyboard Blues

I foolishly installed the Intellipoint drivers for my Microsoft Keyboard 4000, and have been frustrated ever since. I assume it’s because it’s a Microsoft product on a Mac.

Anyway. This is the solution.

First, uninstall the Microsoft drivers as described there.

Second, open the keyboard preferences pane:

Mac OSX Keyboard Prefs

Then swap the modifier keys as follows:

Mac OSX Keyboard Prefs

Black Friday – Mac Office 2011

I’ve been trying to decide whether to upgrade my old copy of Office.

The problem with Office is that I only use Word. I’ve pretty much switched from Excel to Numbers, and Keynote is so good that it’s been years since I even thought about running Powerpoint.

So why upgrade? Well, I do use Word a great deal. And Word 2008 is so slow that I routinely type ahead of it (e.g., when applying different styles to two paragraphs) and get it confused. That’s when it’s running. But it’s so ridiculously slow to load, I always leave it running. Supposedly, it’s faster now, especially launching. (Opening .DOCX files is faster, but I never use those. I would, if the Antiword folks would support them, but I’m content to stick with .DOC until, well, forever.)

So should I upgrade? Probably. It’s not a slam dunk, but with these newly-announced Black Friday prices I can probably talk myself into it.

Fun Eddie Still Having Fun

Well. I lost track of Ed Fries in about 1989, when he was still doing Officey-things at Microsoft, before his move to the games division. He did that for 15 years or so, and then, after he made his pile, or got tired of Xboxes, or whatever it was, he left Microsoft. Now I know what he’s been up to: coding Halo for the Atari 2600. I’m not surprised he’s been involved with games: back in the day, he made his reputation by bringing down the Vax so he could play rogue in single-user mode. (Via DF.)