How to tell the geeks from normal people


H and I are preparing the signs for the tables at the wedding reception. Just so you see the context: there are 24-25 tables, and every one of them has a name so people can find it. All the tables have related names, what is called the “theme” of the wedding (for instance: species of goldfish, islands, famous doctors[1]). Every table has a 4-page leaflet on it for orientation purposes. The first page bears the name of the table with about two paragraphs of explanations (example: if all the tables are named after famous doctors, every table has two paragraphs of doctor biography), and the inside has the menu (which comes in three flavours: French, English and French children’s menu).

Me: “So we’re agreed on this, I’m sending the layout to the parents so they can comment on it.”
H: “Yup, looks good to me with this colour choice.”
Me: “And then I’m stopping until we have the green light from them. I still have to write 23 bits of text for every table, and if we change the layout I’d have to go over all 24 documents and change the layout for every single freaking one of them. *pause* It’s kind of a shame you can’t apply a global layout across documents.”
H: “I bet you could use a Python script to generate an RTF file according to your specifications.”
Me: “I don’t speak Python. Maybe VBA? *pause* Hang on, theoretically, all we’d have to is look in the master document, find the anchors where the bits of text are, and then do a standard substitution from the command line, using sed or something like this…”
H: “…”
Me: “You’re right. Let’s not go there.”

[1]I’m not spoiling the “theme” of the wedding until we get closer to the date. You’re free to guess, though :=)


  1. Why not? 🙂

    If you go text-substituting, you may find it easier with OpenOffice ODT (zipped XML).

    Or you can geek out in full mode and use LaTeX!

  2. ROFL!!! From the subject title I thought you were talking about placing geeks with geeks around your tables – but nope, I got it. That is hilarious!!!

    Hope it all works out smoothly and you have a wonderful, wonderful day.

  3. I was at my brother’s wedding this weekend, and there were little red and clear plastic jewels on each table. I used them to make an original series Enterprise and a hydrogen atom, my partner made a light saber and my cousin laid out Fibonacci’s sequence. I was proud of us…

  4. Seb: why am I not surprised? 🙂 I might give OpenOffice a shot, actually. XML processing definitely looks simpler than the guts of the RTF format… Thanks!
    Terry: Actually, you commented twice, once here and once at my LJ–might explain why you thought the first post had vanished in the aether. But yes, we do have geeky guests.
    Dylan. Wow. That’s some serious geekiness. You can indeed be proud of yourselves 🙂

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