Sept update

Friday, 11th September, 2015

Barely a decade after Microsoft, I too have finally given up on Office development.

The holidays are over and its time to, at least appear to, look for a contract. I’ll still chuck my cv in for any sensibly paid Excel/VBA/.net contract but a. there aren’t many around at all, b. I think the competition might be quite stiff, c. I’m not investing any other effort in this area.

What am I doing? well…

iPhone development, in a word, or two.

Why? I realise I am very late to the party, and most of the streamers have already been popped, but I still think there is some mileage. I have a reasonable level of confidence that over the next 3-5 years this is still a viable skill, even if it is in the throes of a move from objective-C to Swift.

In a way I regret milking Excel/VBA as long as I did and not jumping ship sooner, as I think the golden years of app dev are behind us. But I’ve made a decent living from one long tail, I’m not above setting my sights equally low again!

The great thing about iPhone development over say SAP Hana (apart from from the lifetime of death march tedium) is the accessibility, assuming one has a mac of course.

I can sit on my arse at home, develop apps in areas that interest me, publish to the app store and sit back and wait for the avalanche of money to trickle in…

Well that’s the plan anyway, but here I am on SOS instead of xcode…

I will link from here if I decide to blog about my exploits, but I won’t drag SOS off topic as I know some people still find value in the content we created here.

Please leave a comment if you too have jumped ship, and what to, or if you are staying in the Excel/VBA world, and why.



Will I Pimp Your Shizzle?

Sunday, 28th June, 2015


I currently get several categories of email:

  1. You a due in court, here is your virus laden summons pdf.
  2. Your account is overdue here is your virus laden account xls or pdf
  3. Can I be your fuck buddy?, with a link I sure as shit don’t want to visit
  4. Hi,  please will you promote our product or service to SOS readers

and I occasionally get a useful message.

1,2 and 3 I delete and curse my crap anti spam filterage

4, I ignore. why? writing to me doesn’t confer the right of a reply, its what you write about that may get you a reply.

Have you actually reviewed the content here and checked your product or service is relevant. Not just any old Spreadsheet stuff, but it needs to be relevant to advanced developers. How to write a VLookup is about as much use here as the virus laden court summons.

Will I pimp your stuff here? are you making money? how much? what’s my cut? per click, month, sale or what?  But whatever, if you need to ask, the answer is no.

I never set out to make SOS directly commercial, I don’t show any ads here (WordPress might, but I don’t and I have never made a penny from this blog, directly at least).

I set up SOS to create a place for advanced developers to talk about complex issues away from the noise of how to open/save files etc. Along the way I have highlighted some excellent tools that I have found personally very useful, ExcelDNA and XLL plus are two that spring to mind.

And of course I’m not really investing much time here now…



Quick Update

Friday, 26th June, 2015

Hi, I’m still here.

Just in the process of finishing up my Essbase/Oracle Exalytics project and planning my summer hols.

I had to edit a file list routine in and Java from top level only to include all sub directories.

in Java (6) I had to restructure a ton of code and make it recursive, with guards etc and lots of testing.

In vb : Directory.GetFiles(directory, “*”, AllDirectories)

I know Java 8 has the same, but this is .net CLR 2.0 from the 1950’s

Anyway the difference made me smirk.

In terms of SOS I think things are going to get quiet to silent here as I really don’t see much spreadsheeting in my future (I have just applied for an Access role so never say never). I might refocus on more general software dev stuff or I might just sack it off – we’ll see how the time goes. I hope you are all doing well, doing the stuff you enjoy with the tools you like.

(I still prefer java to vb.)




Tuesday, 23rd September, 2014

I’m doing my first proper commercial Linux project at the moment.

Might need to resurrect my Eclipse and dust off my Java skillz.


Excel Modeling World Championships 2014

Wednesday, 27th August, 2014

I saw this last year and thought it was a great idea, and have just been prompted to mention it.

Here is all the info

Big wedge for the winner…

And the fame of course…

ciao, peeps

Smurf Off Spreadsheets

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…)



Win XP

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?

Major Success

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?



Number 5 busses

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.



Infopap re-envisioned

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?




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