Breaking the Code – Part IV

Patience and Persistence Pave the Road to Success

The search was on for software that would convert Bill Laux’s ClarisWorks files into Word documents. For information I visited Apple and MS Word forums. Some offered very lame solutions: Load the file into word processor X, wade through the first 4 pages through a jungle of gibberish, delete it and you are left with just the text. I decided against this odd solution, which may be fine for just a few files, but with hundreds of files that would have turned into a nightmare.

img_1538
Batik by Artist Bill Laux

There were a lot of complaints against the Apple Company, which did not produce a single program that was backward compatible with their old product. But many forum contributors were also unhappy with MicroSoft Word not being able to read files with the cwk extension. In other words there was a real dearth of information on the Internet. Someone suggested downloading the open source software Abiword, whose claim to fame is that it can read all kinds of text files without any gibberish on the screen. I tried it with no success, but learned on the side that it is otherwise a very powerful word processor that can easily read and write Word document files. It is free and but accepts donations for further development.

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The Castle that Bill Laux built – Photo Taken in 1977

Then by mere luck – and we need it when we do work like this on the Internet – I stumbled across a comment made in a users forum to the effect that a program with the promising title docXConverter by Panergy might just do the trick. It was supposed be free. I eagerly downloaded the software and tried it out immediately. After the installation you simply drop the file into its window on the screen and voilà it works! Yet there was another fly in the ointment. After being mesmerized by the first couple of pages directly decoded and translated into Word format, I was confronted with another message, this time by the Panergy company to pay to get the full version. Being enticed to bite the bullet and pay the reasonable amount, I finally experienced the ultimate success in my quest to unearth Bill`s mystery files.

bill-laux
Tiny Portion of a Bill’s First Document Decoded and Revealed

So my plan for the New Year is to collect as many text files from Bill`s research and publish some on my blog, but also donate them to the Arrow Lakes Historical Society. Of course, I will do this on the shaky assumption that MS Word will be around for a few more years or with any luck even decades.

If you would like to read the previous posts on Breaking the Code, click on the following links (part I, part II, part III)

art Fauquier BC Kootenays Local History Local Industry Photography Writing

12 Comments Leave a comment

  1. How exciting! I can’t wait to see what treasures lie within.
    Coincidentally enough, we found a trove of old floppies from the 1990s weeks a couple of weeks ago at the archives. Fingers crossed for something interesting, I hauled out my USB floppy converter to open them all up – they just turned out to contain inventory reports and financials. Oh, well!

    Like

  2. Kyle, I was going to alert you in the New Year to the treasures I found at Fauquier Communication Centre. Until then I won’t find the time, but I will try my best to have one complete document ready for the Arrow Lakes Archive in early January. Thanks for the comment!

    Like

  3. My new email-system is just playing disgusting jokes, spamming my girlfriend and spamming even emails sent by me from my old but now dead email-account while the provider’s support is not in a position to resolve this matter. How crazy is this? So good to see that you have been able to finalize this archeological IT-Project so subsequently all this Information could not “escape” to the digital “nirwana”.

    Liked by 1 person

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