About The Software Lady
After receiving her B.S. in Special Education and teaching for eight years, Mary McArthur began her long and varied career in the computer industry. She began as a Marketing Support Representative in a small business machine store. She learned troubleshooting by the seat of her pants and with lots of assistance from technicians at the other end of hardware and software company 800 numbers. She installed software, developed materials for classes, taught people to use programs and supported the store’s customers.
Over the years, Mary has supported wordprocessing, spreadsheet, network administration, database, accounting, e-mail, timekeeping, file management, project management and web editing programs and taught classes on many of them. Early on, she wrote the software manual for a database program written in dBase by a client, the first of many how-to-use and how-to-setup documents. Thanks to a client referring her to Gordon McComb's work, she learned to use WordPerfect's powerful merge and macro functions to create wills and trusts by merging boilerplates with individual data files. As Microsoft Word became more popular, she transferred that knowledge into Word's macros (Visual Basic) and templates.
When Mary moved into self-employment, her clientele evolved around heavy wordprocessing uses—mail merge forms, legal pleadings, real estate documents, medical transcription and event management. She developed macros, shortcuts and templates to facilitate professional-looking documents, text entry, letterheads, signature lines, multilevel paragraph numbering and file saving. She designed dialog boxes for users to select choices of text from a wide variety of options in wills, trusts, interrogatories, jury instructions, objections and bankruptcy documents. That's the fun stuff for her—making people's everyday wordprocessing easier, quicker, consistent and well-formatted.
Mary's favorite projects are the document creation systems she's built. Macros:
- retrieve case, contact and other information from a database
- massage that information into the proper form for documents
- populate templates with that information
- insert corresponding gender-specific and single/plural language
- save the file in the client folder with a suitable name
all in seconds, before the user begins to edit. She used the same techniques differently to produce a directory of companies and services—in updatable web-linked and printed forms—and to market, manage and implement weekend classes and an annual event for a non-profit solar organization.
Today, Mary continues to assist her clients with producing consistent, professional-looking documents easily and quickly. She primarily supports Microsoft Word and, yes, still Corel WordPerfect, through training, support and programming. She applies their features in new ways as she works with authors, students and wordprocessing staff in document-intensive businesses.
Outside the office, Mary works hard to justify the title of gardener. She and her husband, Dave, whitewater kayak and raft and go hot air ballooning with long-time friends. They have two dogs, Lila and Jojo.