Is Office/productivity suite/spreadsheet discussion boring?

I accept there are more effective ways of impressing the laydees on a night out, but is the whole area less exciting than watching paint dry?

The reason I ask is that I’m sure I have read comments like that. And I don’t see that many headlines on the bbc about our little world.

And yet this application area has had some serious big changes in the last 12 months.

  • Google apps
  • new Apple suite
  • VBA in OpenOffice
  • IBM release ‘some’ Office suites
  • MS Works touted as zero cost, advertising supported (why would anyone choose that over OOo??)
  • Oh and the small matter of MS Office 2007 (with its User Experience Astronaut (UEA) inflicted UI lemon)

Seems to me its been a pretty lively year. And yet in a world where vacuous time-drains like facebook and myspace assault us from every angle, no one really seems to give a shit. Although in fairness I guess not much has changed, MS Office’s market share may have moved a couple of nano points, but its hardly a new world order.

Is it just that this space has become a bit utility and a bit mundane. Like car tyres, essential for sure, but really not that sexy. Did I ever mention the donkey who put my front car tyres on back to front? I had a couple of life threatening moments before I noticed and swapped them. That was exciting for sure, ABS really isn’t all its cracked up to be. (Although it never wheel span under acceleration!).

BTW I saw (and heard) a new Ducati 1098 today, he was having more fun than me (it was sunny today). I only wish Subaru could afford a days worth of design input from Tamburini (916-998) or Fabbro (1098). The new scooby is butt ugly, as usual, lets hope Prodrive can rescue them again. I am going to skip the UEA dig I was going to add here.

I’ve always done plenty of stuff outside of spreadsheets and I’m thinking of increasing that. I’m thinking of maybe doing a bit more security stuff for one, as far as IT goes this is probably the ‘exciting’ side. Of course I expect the majority of work to still be spreadsheeting, but a bit of variety now and again wouldn’t go amiss. (I still havent worked out where to target on the adoption curve).

What do you reckon, is ours a rich and fertile area of software? Any plans to incorporate (more) work from non spreadsheet areas?



14 Responses to “Boring”

  1. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    IBM’s suite of Office tools (Document, Spreadsheet and Presentation) is Lotus Symphony which is also integrated with Lotus Notes (Notes comes in two versions).

    Anyway, spreadsheet has been around since the early days of the 80’s from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel today. How cool is a 30 years old area of spreadsheeting compared with all the new stuff? It has reached its maturity stage and it this stage it cannot compete with “whistle & bells”.

    On my TODO list is:
    – VS 2008 including VSTO and VSTA
    – LINQ
    – MOSS
    – Continue to learn more about SQL Server 2005/2008
    – Explore Lotus Notes 8.0 to control it via .NET solutions from Excel

    Kind regards,

  2. gobansaor Says:

    Spreadsheets are boring, in the same was as a Ford Mondeo is boring, admittedly you can have some fun with it, but its main function is to get things done in a reliable, flexible and familiar way as possible. That’s why end-users love Excel, IT related excitement is something they would prefer to avoid.

    To me Excel is just one of many tools I use to get a job done, in my case BI and general datasmithing. If and when something significantly better comes along, then I’ll consider dropping it, but at the moment nothing competes.

    For my IT buzz, I take an interest in the consumer side of the business, social networks, RSS, Google apps etc. as it’s the area of IT where experimentation is at its greatest and therefore where most of the excitement is. But not only that, increasingly consumer tech will start to filter back into the enterprise so it’s also an investment in my future ‘bill paying’ skills.


  3. MikeC Says:

    It’s incredibly tedious to someone not involved in it, in the same way as the details of microbiology and the different species of beetles are to someone not particularly interested in that area – when was the last time the BBC had a headline about developments in the world of etymology? Even one which has a significant impact on the previously-established groupings of these venerable bugs – an event which has the enthusiasts jumping through hoops and arguing vociferously amongst themselves?

    Outside of work, I rarely, if ever, even mention anything to do with spreadsheets, coding, or, in fact, anything to do with computing.

    The “vacuous time-drains” are certainly that, unforunately, in our modern world where the average attention span is less than the lifetime of a mayfly, they prove popular diversions. Just like reality tv and microwave dinners, they provide an instant gratification, though the quality is, at the least, arguable.
    Like you say, not much has changed, really. There’s nothing worth a headline for the average joe in the street, who doesn’t really give a damn about how the 2k7 ribbon impacts developers, or OO including VBA elements, because it doesn’t affect them. I can’t imagine that changing anytime soon and The Sun running a headline:


    Hardly likely to sell more newspapers than the latest gossip about whether some reality tv girl has had breast enlargements…

    (finally starting an MCSD in .NET before the end of the year. Fingers crossed it’s worthwhile! And trying to catch up to SQL Server 2k5 from 2k. And learning some SAP. And…)

  4. Jon Peltier Says:

    Mike –

    You’re probably more likely to find a headline about etymology (word and word origins; newspapers love this topic) than about entomology (creepy crawlers). But your point is well taken. The average Joe, when asked what version of Office he’s running, doesn’t know the difference between Office and Windows.

  5. Ross Says:

    >>I accept there are more effective ways of impressing the laydees on a night out, but is the whole area less exciting than watching paint dry?

    Yeah that’s ture, if you pony up talking about office, you’ll get laughed out the club, you’ve got to go with a C#, C++ angle to get any tail these days!


  6. Marcus Says:

    Wow. I can’t believe what I hearing (okay, reading) here.

    How many other tech related roles get you as close to the business as MSO development? Regardless of your bent, you could consistently work combining development with your business interest more so that almost any other job in IT.

    I love banking (no, really). In the last decade I’ve met many interesting business people, solving real problems for real people. You get to see your projects from inception to implementation rather than merely providing one cog in a large machine.

    However, at the same time I still surprised at people’s ignorance of what I do. One client, whom I’ve dealt with on and off for seven years still refers to me a a database developer. All my mother knows is that I do ‘something with computers’.

    “The average Joe… doesn’t know the difference between Office and Windows.”

    Yup. In another life I used to work for a computer training company. There was a time when many clients (students) would enter reception announcing thsat they were for the ‘Microsoft’ course.
    “And which ‘Microsoft’ course was that?”
    “Oh, is there more than one?” (MS apps made up 80% of the courses).

    Ross, if you’re hitting the clubs with that kind of talk, then you truly must have a very thick black book. My wife did mention something about tricking her at one point. :P

    Regards – Marcus

  7. MikeC Says:

    Jon – dammit, but thanks for the correction there!
    I blame it on the Monday morning / not enough coffee syndrome… though I guess you must read a higher-class newspaper than I do!!

    Marcus – my missus says the same… I work part-time teaching martial arts, and when she asked what I do on that fateful night I met her, that was the one I told her about..!! =;-) Now she, like your mum, knows that my day job is “something to do with computers”…

    (As an aside, I do work with someone who uses the “SQL Server angle” to try and score in bars and clubs. After 4 years, I have yet to see him get anywhere with that one….! I’ll pass on Ross’ advice regards upgrading his conversation to C#!!)

  8. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    Marcus – How many other tech related roles get you as close to the business as MSO development?

    Web development

    Kind regards,

  9. Simon Says:

    I’m thinking we should organise a night out where Ross goes out! (I think I’ve seen a ‘bluff your way in nightclub C++’ book on
    Tom yeah mondeo sums it up.
    I wonder if that Apple (cool) pc (dork) ad is true? maybe thats the way to go for more street cred?

  10. Ross Says:

    >>I’m thinking we should organise a night out where Ross goes out! (I think I’ve seen a ‘bluff your way in nightclub C++’ book on

    I love a challenge Simon, none of those crusty working men’s clubs you have up you way though! ;-p lol!

  11. Simon Says:

    Ross I was trying to think of a north/south joke – you beat me to it.

  12. Marcus Says:

    Hi Dennis,

    Okay, that’s one.

    (Hmm, the list seems somewhat short :P )

    Kind Regards – Marcus

  13. Ross Says:

    I hardly ever put an “else” if I don’t need it, some times I might and add a comment if I think it will help me figure out why I put the if in the first place!.
    I never use one line ifs, as that many keywords should ever be so close to each other, nor do use iif – don’t they have to evaluate both conditions?

    I tend not to use select case that much – I’m not sure why, but I just done like them -, and I’ve read that else if’s are quicker. Not sure that’s true, but I bet it is because you just can’t trust those select case statements!

    There’s a copy of code complete (v1) downstairs where I work, I’ve flicked through a couple of pages and it looks great, I’ve even thought about buying it, but sadly I spent all this years book allowance on “Bluff your way in nightclub C++”, which I can hartly recommmed.

  14. Ross Says:


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