Archive for February, 2009

Excel 2007 screen lock up

Sunday, 8th February, 2009

Has anyone seen this issue:

Excel having a little rest

Excel having a little rest

I’ve seen a few mentions on-line but really just a bunch of superstition about what causes it and what might fix it. I’ve seen it on multiple machines, some are big beasts so its not a hardware resource issue. (printer and video drivers have been implicated from what I have read).

There is no workbook open, and I hadn’t been hammering Excel when this happened.

Excel has not crashed, it seems like the effluent UI has just given up the ghost and gone back to space station zebra, and taken its bat and ball. Some keyboard shortcuts sometimes get a response, Excel will close on the X, so the Excel process still seems healthy – but the UI has died. (app.screenupdating has no effect)

I have only seen it in Excel none of the other O2007 apps. Outlook is implicated too – launching workbook attachments seems a frequent cause of this freeze.

Although the dialog showing looks recent, I have had the same dialog in a windows 3.11 stylee.

I have seen it most often when coming back from the screensaver, its as if Excel never gets the message to repaint itself. (hmm I wonder who might be subclassing that?? (ribboneers I’m looking at you!)) Or run out of video resources?

I had waited about an hour before I could get the screenshot – when this happens prntscreen does not work. Only once the resource dialog appears does print screen start working again.

Anyone else seen this? any ideas on a fix? (has the ribbon found out how rubbish I think it is??)

[its hard to investigate as it only happens once or twice a day on my box, so is hard to replicate. I’ve done removing add-ins, changing default printers, opening and closing other apps, its multiple machines so its not a hardware issue, or that black theme. All ideas welcome…]



OpenOffice Dev

Thursday, 5th February, 2009

I was chatting with a fellow dev the other day and he told me about one of the jobs he had had.

The client had worked out their Ms Office licence fees were x thousand per year. They estimated that to get everything working in Open Office would cost about x thousand (including recoding all the VBA as Star basic).

So they paid this guy the same x to do the work over a period of months and have paid nothing for office suite licensing since.

I find that very interesting for several reasons.

  1. Payback in 12 months is a good return
  2. The figures were 10’s of thousands of pounds so they must have had a significant investment in MS Office.
  3. I still don’t see why these projects seem to be so rare.
  4. Is this a future opportunity?
  5. In a few more releases the VBA would probably have worked in OOo.
  6. I’m watching IEs marketshare plummet, watching the strange things happening in MS Office, and wondering if OOo can do what Firefox has?

I know whenever we discuss this, very few people see any signs of migration. If you do see any evidence then let us know, even if its to Google etc.



Pivot table love

Wednesday, 4th February, 2009

I love pivot tables.

These days I only really ever have one spreadsheet design – a bunch of input type stuff, some reference stuff, a big database sheet and then a bunch of pivot table reports.

That design came into its own recently when a client asked for an urgent reporting change. Instead of reporting by reporting line as agreed, their client now wanted everything by geography.

A quick check of the database sheets showed geo was in there so it was the work of a few minutes to totally change the whole reporting.

Of course I still scratched my chin, drew a sharp breath and made it sound difficult and expensive!



Spreadsheet intuition

Monday, 2nd February, 2009

Because he no longer fits up chimneys I am having to retrain my eldest (he’s 8) in the delicate art of the spreadsheet.

He’s not a total nooB as they do plenty of computing at school, but I don’t think they have looked at spreadsheets.

Anyway he built a rota for looking after the rabbits in double quick time. In particular I was struck by how after I showed him a couple of simple things most of the rest seemed to come intuitively. He certainly knows about spell checking! nuw beding -> new bedding.

I am convinced that the grid approach is trivially easy for almost anyone to understand. The idea of copying across and/or copying down seems totally natural. The idea that relative position is important also seemed obvious.

Has anyone seen any highbrow research into Human Computer Interaction with a grid versus other approaches?

Of course everybody is ignoring the rota.

Bear in mind if you are looking for some junior level consulting from Codematic, it will be seriously junior!