Friday, 23rd May, 2014
Just a quick update after these last few months of neglect…
I haven’t been doing much spreadsheeting recently.
My last role was as an Access developer, which actually made a nice change. There are lots of good things about Access, a few weird things and some proper daft stuff.
It easy to forget after years of other front ends that in Access you can point a wizard at a table and have a form with full CRUD functionality in a couple of clicks.
My next role is just being finalised but is not looking like a spreadsheeting one either. This isn’t a conscious choice on my part, more just following the market.
There are still a few worthwhile Excel roles out there, but not many. My search terms wouldn’t pick up Calc or Google docs jobs so maybe I am missing out on a mass migration… But most likely professional spreadsheet development is out of fashion.
In fact a lot of development seems out of fashion, everyone seems to want managers, not developers. Makes one wonder who/what these hordes of managers are managing? (no one ever advertises for an outsourced/offshore dev team manager…)
Saturday, 22nd March, 2014
XP support ends in a couple of weeks so…
How is your (personal) migration project coming along?
We still have a few XP machines at home, and I think I might have a win 2k one somewhere. I won’t be
upgrading updating them. We never use them anyway. I sort of wish I picked up a Win 7 licence before the latest Windows Lemon was released.
I read an article that banks are considering Linux for cashpoint software. Well about time!! Those things only have half a dozen options, why indeed have a fully featured fully licensed OS? Although I guess they are getting more options (top up phone, and some random other options I can’t remember spring to mind).
I also read the NHS are negotiating an XP extension. And if MS did a U turn in the face of pubic pressure it wouldn’t be the first time. They are offering a 100USD bribe to encourage XP holdouts to buy a win8 machine. I can’t see that working – they would need to pay me much more than 60 quid to use that time sink.
So are you still on XP or something older/newer/different?
Sunday, 23rd February, 2014
I have a long history of taking broken things apart to try and fix them. And a somewhat shorter specklier history of getting them back together, especially with no spare parts.
So when one of the doofers dropped his iplop, I was up for having a go at replacing the creen. Then I read on t’interwebs that its a pretty tricky fix, but 15 quid off fleabay v 150 for a new ipod touch. How hard can it be?
Pretty damn fookin tricky as it turns out. But after a few attempts, and with no spare bits left…
Its pretty tough to get those broken screens off in one go!
Sods law now its working, he’s just discovered a new set of books.
I saw an article on the beeb the other day about fixing an ipad, which sounds even harder. I had to rely on the interwebs and the Mrs’ hair dryer rather than wandering experts with the right tools.
Any of you guys fixed one of these? Or something worse?
Sunday, 16th February, 2014
You know what its like, you wait ages for a bus then 3 come along at once.
And the same with jobs…
You wait ages, as confidence in the viability of your skill set rapidly evaporates, and suddenly several offers come in within half an hour.
Considering the imminent collapse of the global financial system I jumped at the chance to move into pharma.
Back to VBA, which is tough after the luxury of C#/VS2010 (and to Access after SQL Server – even tougher!), have just about got out of the habit of adding a semi colon at the end of each line. Still keep getting comments wrong though.
I had lots of great insight from agents, in particular the idea that most front office dev work has now been offshored and the main onshore work is is risk and regulatory. Those areas interest me, but as the banks announce huge layoffs again (funny in the alledged ‘recovery’), it seems a bit of a delicate target market.
I’d say between the offshoring and the bodyshop invasion, Excel/VBA is officially dead as a viable IT department skillset. There are still roles but mainly through business areas, and/or on crap rates. The .net roles are pure buzzword overload, and clearly a world removed from the cut and thrust of the actual business. No pressure but not much interest either.
I hope you are all sorted work wise.
Thursday, 6th February, 2014
MS have announced that infopath will soon be pining for the fjords.
I always found infopath as the perfect demonstrations of how MS have no clue how most people actually use their software.
I have never actually met anyone outside Microsoft (or Contoso :-)) that has ever used it.
I read an interesting article recently about keyboards. Hopefully we all know that the current ones really aren’t very good, and for example Dvorak layout is more efficient. Anyway the article was a plea to people to stop developing new and novel keyboards and focus on making the current ones as good as they can be. The argument being that although they are poor at least they are consistent. New designs and layouts just cause cognitive friction because people always end up using more than one. (eg at work and at home)
(I use about 5 mildly different layouts which really is a pain in the arse. Worse one of my phones is qwerty and one is qwertz.)
Microsoft would do well (under its ‘new’ leadership) to optimise the way people actually use their products rather than trying to dictate their (mostly wrong) view of the best way.
I assume they will continue to recruit inexperienced graduates and lock them in airless rooms in ivory towers to imaginate new ways of doing stuff instead of rebuilding their ties with actual real world user communities. These were the ties Ballmer destroyed. The people who had already found the better workaround for product limitations.
I’m expecting more pointless products rather than a new round of MSDN roadshows!
Are you a big infopath user?
what do you use it for?
Thursday, 30th January, 2014
Back in olden times when MFC roamed free, and VB6 ruled the roost, fat client was it. Then came thin client and the dash for browser based apps, and its more attractive sibling platform independence.
A few of us warned MS that this was a bad move, they did nothing. A few of us moaned about this lowest common denominator approach and the decreased user experience compared to smarter/fatter clients. MS tried to call Office its smart client, this fizzled out, quickly.
Eventually we were all browsered up and windows apps were career limiting comedy, and Silverlight (A fake weak impersonation of Windows that only worked in browsers on Windows) was created. A few of us guffawed, lots. Those handful of companies that committed to SilverShight are still clearing up the mess its oh-so-bleedin-obvious retirement caused. Some poor goofs in Zürich are constantly looking for their white knight (but probably not dressed in silvershite armour).
Then the iPhone happened, and suddenly sleek, powerful, integrated, native apps were back in fashion. Big time.
So my conundrum is this: will iOS/Android client/native apps all migrate to the phone browser? or not?
What do you think and why?
Personally, I think browsers are ok for surfing the interwebs, crap and/or pointless for everything else. Ok for content consumption, crap for creation. However I have always thought that and it didn’t stop the revolution last time… I think probably not in iOS as Apple will maintain control of many key apis to be native for ecosystem reasons. Dunno about Android, they may go the web route.
What do you reckon?
Wednesday, 29th January, 2014
Looks like I picked the wrong time to specialise in financial services IT:
And those are just the public ones…
So I guess FinServs isn’t going to be leading us out of the depression then?
Excel VBA certainly isn’t, at least not according to the IT job boards, I suspect the business ones tell a different tale.
Maybe its time to consider a move to the darkside? (permie – although as shown above that is largely illusionary).
Tuesday, 28th January, 2014
As discussed previously I have concerns about the market viability of the old Excel/VBA/C# skill set, so I am developing other skills.
Part of this reskilling involves watching some very good videos.
Every time I put one on I get extreme head lolling syndrome.
I was watching one on the train last night and nearly missed my stop I was so flat out asleep.
I’m getting scared to put the videos on as they seem to just flick an off switch in my brain, and within 5 mins I’m snoring like a good-un.
As I mentioned they are good videos, so I really don’t think it is the fault of the producers.
I remember the same from years (decades!!) ago when I was learning Access 2.0, it seems I’m just not very good at learning from videos.
Maybe I should put them on my iplop and watch them whilst walking, although latest research suggests that using a smart device on the move is the cause of an increasing number of accidents. I have never fallen asleep whilst walking but I have dozed off whilst standing, so this could be risky.
I have some related books that are pretty heavy going too. Maybe I just need to start straightaway building something, even if it is very badly, and cobble it together as I go. But before I do that I was really wanting to get some perspective about what is possible. Maybe I just have to resign myself to building the same thing half a dozen times as I learn more and more…
Do you have the same video learning problems? (Maybe this is an important issue for all these MOOC’s)
What do you find is the best way to introduce new stuff for you?
Tuesday, 21st January, 2014
Why put this on the ad if it isn’t?
Do you really think you are going to trick us into accepting a crap paying job by telling us its competitive??
There has been a bit of a buzz the last couple of days about an apparently interesting job advertised. One of my buddies put me onto it so I applied. noting the ‘competitive rate’.
The agent was cagey when he phoned, wouldn’t say what the budget was, asked what I wanted etc – the usual shizzle. Eventually he fessed up – the client is a consultancy and known for paying low rates!
Why waste everyones time then?? dipshit.
Just put ‘crap paying job for desperate developer or substandard one’. You might drop lucky and find someone who can’t calculate day rate – accom – travel = 0 or less, but is still a great financial systems developer.
I notice it is now out with loads of agencies – a clear sign of desperation. The poor consultancy may have to give up some of their 200% margin to the actual worker. Unless they can find a local with the right experience and a low cost base.
These consultancies are weaselling in all over the market and charging a fortune for nothing (well maybe sue-ability). They take from both sides and provide nothing as far as I can tell. Unless you know different?
Friday, 17th January, 2014
Just saw an Excel dev job to consolidate a bunch of templates, easy enough, I’m sure lots of us have done it a millions times. The trouble is this was a 1 week contract, thats right 5 days! To understand the current 40 odd spreadsheets in the system, create a consolidation system, and presumably test it…
I would *test* something like that for more than 5 days, even after building it carefully and testing as I went along.
Reminds me of an irresistible job offer I had a while ago. The end client said ‘To be honest, you are here to take the blame when it goes wrong. We only have 2 weeks, we can’t do it in that time. So you will carry the can when we fail!’. I appreciated his honesty and was still up for the job until the agency started messing me around on rate. In the end I blew them out as they were squabbling over a few euros per day on something that had a client charge out rate in the thousands.
I can’t help thinking this is a similar set up…