Over the Christmas holiday, Leslie and a friend made up to watch a recorded Hallmark Christmas movie at our house. I’m not a big fan. They’re predictable, they seem to always have a happy ending, and all the people in the movie are gorgeous. However, The Christmas Train was written by David Baldacci, a crime novelist, and I let Beth and Leslie convince me that I should watch the movie. How bad could it be?
Well, right out of the terminal, we could tell what was going to happen. Will she get on the train? Why is he traveling by train and not by plane to get to LA? Who is the old man? Has anyone ever gotten married in a train station before? The movie was indeed predictable, and I managed to stay awake for the entire two hours. I did find myself wondering where Dermot Mulroney has been. He should make a few more Hallmark movies.
I admit it. I was being hypercritical about the scenery and the wardrobe. Until Kimberly Williams-Paisley showed up in a scene wearing an ugly pair of gold earrings. Why should I care, you ask? We paused the movie to talk about how much the earrings looked like Clippy!
Remember Clippit? Better known as Clippy, it was the default animated character in the English Windows version of Microsoft Office Assistant, an interactive user’s guide that came pre-installed with Microsoft Office bundles from 1997-2003. Clippy quickly became a subject of mockery among Office users due to its impractical and intrusive nature images, and its overall incompetence.
Clippy, a paperclip with googly eyes and expressive eyebrows, was designed to serve as a user-friendly troubleshooter for people using Office applications including Word and Excel. For instance, typing an address followed by “Dear” would cause Clippy to pop up with and a variety of pre-determined messages, including “Hey! It looks like you’re writing a letter!” before offering to help walk you through the process.
While Clippy was intended to be helpful, it was widely regarded as a failure by many users, developers and tech reviewers alike. By the following year, Microsoft product managers who knew Office Assistant had failed publicly “executed” Clippy at the Professional Developers Conference held in Denver, demonstrating how to get rid of it using a Visual Basic code. Upon execution, the paper clip said, “I’m melting, I’m melting” and then disappeared.
In 2009, tech blog Technologizer compiled a history of Clippy, including older versions of the office assistant that were patented but never hit the public. Thirteen years after its original release, TIME declared Clippy one of the 50 worst inventions of all time.
Not to worry, Clippy. It seems some jewelry designer copied you into a pair of earrings (without the buggy eyes, of course).