Free Win 10 Developer virtual machine

Tuesday, 21st November, 2017

Our good friends at Microsoft are giving away time limited virtual machines with Win 10 and VS2017 on board. They expire mid Jan so don’t get locked out.

Its for developers to get up to speed with the latest and greatest. However there is no mention of full fat Office. So I guess its not for ALL developers. Unless its a given that developers need a proper office suite not a mickey mouse online one.

I’ll download it and take a proper look as soon as I find a device with 20 gigs of free space. If you look first let us know if it has proper Office with VBA (If so I might delete a load of shite off here to get it up and running)

cheers

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VBA third most hated language

Thursday, 2nd November, 2017

amongst Stack Overflow devs anyway…

On SO devs can mention tech they would rather avoid. Perl was top at being avoid worthy, then Delphi (is that even still alive??) followed closely by our own VBA.

This is developers so its not really a surprise they prefer to avoid VBA. They want to be playing with new shit not adding business value.

Interestingly SO reported that VBA is still an actively tagged language so still popular in use, just not by devs.

In fact, of those languages disliked by over 3% of mentions, VBA is the only one not shrinking in tag mentions, in fact its growing slightly.

VBA course hosting

Friday, 27th October, 2017

I think I might have mentioned that I am thinking of making an online video VBA course?

Well anyway, I haven’t exactly finished the content yet…

But I have been poking around for a ‘platform’.

I was initially thinking of Udemy, and I still might go that way initially, but I have heard a few not so positive things about them from an instructor POV. Although I am not sure if that is all old stuff or recent.

Cost wise I imagine the course being around 50 quid/dollars/francs.

I had a look at this place and they have that price as an example.

If the student pays 50 quid the instructor can get as little as 3.15!!!!!

That is the content creator, the author, gets just over 5% of the price the student pays!!

I just can’t quite believe it!

I think I might look into creating a ‘platform’ instead. Its only hosting with a few bells and whistles, most of which I won’t use.

Maybe I’ll have to do youtube with ads after all.

Some Blog stats

Saturday, 7th October, 2017

Here are the top 10 or so pages on this blog over the last 10 years. Not perfect as some of these have probably been here for 10 years, some might be merely months old.

But still the focus on 2007 errors makes me laugh. Maybe I didn’t post much about 2010 errors (2003, as we know didn’t have any (ha ha)).

In fairness 2010 was much better than 2007 in almost every way. Well, except dev tools maybe (the bit we looked at ironically).

Home page / Archives 171,829
Excel 2007 workbook window not visible 75,716
Excel 2007 Error: Link source not found 15,901
R1C1 notation 13,728
The spreadsheet disadvantage 12,988
Excel 2007 screen lock up 10,373
Code execution has been interrupted 10,280
Excel 2007 =#N/A error 9,550
xlls With ExcelDNA 7,530
Excel 2007 screen / video issues 6,290

Delighted to see ExcelDNA in there too, it is an excellent tool.

And lo, what’s that? a spreadsheet quality post in the mix? Methinks a far sighted undergrad course may have pointed the students towards some research into the disadvantages of using spreadsheets (for everything).

I never started SOS to get big viewer numbers, I wanted to have a conversation about more advanced Excel development related topics. Somewhere where XLM would not be auto ‘corrected’ to XML, somewhere we could discuss the merits of the C API v the COM interface, or the merits of manual calc v auto calc without drowning in ‘my Excel stopped adding up’ cries.

I have always resisted going for the bulk beginner audience here. But I am contemplating developing a beginner level VBA course at the moment, so may have to revisit that. Although I would probs set up yet another blog I think.

So anyway there you go, at least 75,000 people came here because they could not find their Excel 2007 workbook window.

as expected

Saturday, 30th September, 2017


and the actual message:

1,000 posts, 10 years (and VBA still going strong).

Is VBA a dead end ?

Thursday, 28th September, 2017

This topic came up on Excel-l, I got shouted down on there, so I thought I would elaborate on my views here. (its mainly an Excel view but I don’t think the other MS Office apps are much different.)

I see two sides to the VBA story – the technology and the career.

Technology wise a VBA solution is a dead end – it can’t be run on a server (officially), it can’t be run in a browser, it can’t be run in a high performance cluster, it can’t be run on mobile devices. This means it can’t be easily scaled if more users or geographies must be served. You can’t really even have multiple simultaneous users of an Excel VBA app. With the relentless march to cloud and mobile, VBA is left behind.

Of course MS won’t remove support for VBA, the world would fall apart, well the finance, pharma, and energy industries at a minimum. But the editor is pitiful by the standards of this century. It is testament to the work of those MS guys in the ’90’s that the debug Edit/continue is still better than nearly all mainstream IDEs. But its still out of date and hard to extend.

MS can’t invest in VBA because their strategy is .net/cloud/browser blah blah. They had the chance to fight on their strengths – rich client, but instead they tried to be google. And lost. Now we are all struggling with crap web sites in bloated browsers with slow Win3.11 style interactions from 1995.

VBA hasn’t suddenly become bad, its still very good at what it does, its just that we are often now looking for more from our solutions. More users, more device types, more threads, more whatever.

So its not dead but it is basically limited to single user apps on their individual workstations. But I am sure it will continue to work for a long time.

From a career point of view, what else is like VBA? nothing really, so expertise in VBA doesn’t easily lead onto anything else, hence its a bit of a dead end.

VBA is not really object oriented so it doesn’t lead to the sort of object based designs that C# and Java are suitable for. Its not functional so it doesn’t lead to F#/Scala.

Of course you can write VBA in classes, but lack of implementation inheritance hobbles your solution. By the same token you can write VB style ad-hoc procedural code in C#/VB.net, but you would be missing out on many of the elegant OO features of .net. You would struggle to implement most modern design patterns in VBA, and the latest CV must-have MVC is also all but impossible.

From a functional point of view (probably more useful than OO these days) VBA can’t treat functions as data smoothly (although CallByName does better than many languages). And a little toot of Application.Run can ease the friction too.

In Excel VBA especially we can get an awful long way without worrying about user interface/user experience or data structure. This is great for your current users (fast development/deployment) not so good for your career development – no other system is so well integrated as Excel/VBA. No worrying about Restful APIs, onClickListeners, Asynchronous callbacks, all very powerful, all generally avoided in VBA land.

If you love VBA, and why not, then continue on, you are probably adding untold business value with the work you are doing (and perhaps a little future maintenance pressure for someone). But I’m not sure it will take your development career too far, business career possibly but IMO it won’t help you much as a developer.

If you are doing VBA now and thinking of progressing to other development technologies then consider carefully how you will make your next steps. Adding Access and SQL to VBA is completely doable, adding modern scripting, web technologies or .net/Java is much tougher.

Getting into .net via VB.net is a possibility, but, I think it would be easier to go straight to C#, although the .net/Excel story is still, in 2017 very ugly.

ExcelDNA might be a good bet if you want to inject a bit of .net into your Excel life. I found this approach much more viable than VSTO infrastructure hell. Somebody somewhere is maintaining a lot of both that I developed. I bet the ExcelDNA maintainer is having more fun.

I also managed to blag my way into writing a load of custom Java on Essbase, that route probably isn’t open for many though.

Which led to my new focus on Android which is both challenging and rewarding. Although stay posted for news on that…

btw this is my 1,000th post on SOS, I assume WordPress will give me some superficial badge of honour, reward or ‘achievement unlocked’ bollocks, in the modern way.

cheers

simon

 

Job hunt

Wednesday, 20th September, 2017

I’m back on the hunt for a contract.

Looking for easy work, high pay, and ability to work from home in my pyjamas.

I am just caught mid hop really, my Android mastery has not quite reached the level to dazzle, and my Excel/VBA/trading experience is starting to look a little distant.

That said I do have a few mini projects on the go both in VBA and Android, but a big juicy contract would be handy enough too

I am pimping myself out on all the usual job sites and I have noticed a pattern.

An agency posts a job, I apply with my cv, and then… tumbleweed.

This is not new of course, and perhaps my ‘varied’ cv is not what they are looking for but…

A couple of agents did get back to me either with a no thanks or a discussion or whatever. And you know what?

The next time a role comes on with multiple agencies, I apply to the ones that bothered their arse to get back to me. Those tumbleweed guys? I don’t bother.

So pimps of the world, if you can’t even be arsed to ping back a quick no thanks to your applicants, you may be losing out on candidates in the future. just sayin.

Drum roll please…

Friday, 2nd June, 2017

To avoid polluting this place with loads of off topic nonsense and to try and preserve it as a mainly spreadsheet development resource I have created a new blog.

Its mainly about my new life as an Android developer, so if you are interested in that topic or just find my writing A-fookin-mazing, or you are that stalker that nicks my underpants off the washing line, be sure to follow me over there… on.. wait for it.. in a moment of blinding originality… MURF ON MOBILE. :-)

GoPro SD card problems

Sunday, 30th April, 2017

Bit random for a spreadsheet blog I know…

I am putting this here because I found a fix, and I know from my own searches other people have exactly the same issue: disc full, no sd, sd err on gopro.

One of the kids deleted some files from the GoPro SD card on the mac, but didn’t empty the ‘trash’ before ejecting the card.

What a fookin pain in the arse!!! (Thanks Apple.)

Not sure exactly what misery Apple inflict on the card in this case but it really upset the gopro, really.

Initially the gopro just kept saying disc full (because macs don’t delete files, they just reclassify them – until you clear the ‘trash’)..

I reformatted the card in disk utility on the mac, then the gopro kept cycling through the above errors, either disk full, no SD or SD error.

I reformatted it in Linux, same crap, tried Windows (normally a good bet) same shit.

Of course the card was fine in other devices – I think the gopro is a bit sensitive, and a bit incapable of formatting the cards for itself. Nomally I clear the cards on a tomputer then put it in the device to format – the gopro wasn’t able.

The SD card seemed to have picked up a second partition somehow, but even after removing that the gopro wasn’t happy, a few resets didn’t help.

Then I saw a post suggesting this. A specialist SD card format tool from the SD Association. Its a free tool that does what it says – formats SD cards – but seemingly better than everyone else. It took about 5 mins, instead of the 30 secs with all the other things I tried. But IT ACTUALLY WORKED! Yay.

The whole episode cost me a good few hours of buggering around, and I was on the verge of just retiring the SD card or saving it for a gadget with better formatting capabilities. I hate it when technology beats me so I was pleased to get it sorted.

So anyone else having SD card problems with their gopro check out the SD card formatter from the SD Association (I am assuming it hasn’t opened up some GCHQ/NSA backdoor on my pc!)

cheers

simon

10 year birthday

Sunday, 12th February, 2017

I missed it obviously but one of the kids pointed out I have been blogging here for 10 years! ken ell!

(as of January just gone)

I can’t imagine dragging it out for another 10, unless some spreadsheet miracle happens and I am sucked back in. I still think spreadsheets are brilliant at a great many things, I have just given up waiting for numb nuts management to realise.

I built a random mental maths test generator for the kids the other day. I looked at doing it as an app, as a web thing,  but in the end I did it in a spreadsheet in about 10 minutes. The kids hate it!

I love it!

(it even has a bit of VBA in it – woo hoo)

cheers

simon