Archive for March, 2009

Compulsory Training

Sunday, 8th March, 2009

Do you think spreadsheet training should be compulsory for certain people?

If so who? Users of critical spreadsheets? all users of spreadsheets? developers of spreadsheets?

And what about testing and certification? should spreadsheet users need a certificate to be allowed to build certain spreadsheets?

Never mind the mechanics of how/who might do it, should it be the case?

If it meant a few quid more per day would you get certified?

I read something the other day saying vendor certifications were an absolute clear sign of lack of experience and poor candidate quality. what do you think?

would you pay more for the services of someone you thought was ‘certified’ as having a certain level of knowledge? What about if they had extra insurance or support or something else (what?).?



tick one

Friday, 6th March, 2009

msft traded down to 14.summat today making it the first (only?) of my 2009 predictions to come true.

Now I’m wondering how low it can go?

Even at 15 I think they are outperforming the market!



Smurf on recession

Tuesday, 3rd March, 2009

I am gradually catching up on my internet reading after a rather busy time, followed by a stunning holiday (skiing and snowboarding with the smurflings).

Anyway I read on Dennis’ blog about some things he is doing in recognition of tighter times ahead.

That made me think – what am I doing about it?

Traditionally my biggest cost has been travel and accom. I already fly cattle class and sleep in flea pit class (a bit too literally sometimes!) so the only option is reduce travel. That means in 2009 any travel has to be self financing (apart from whopping great expensive holidays of course).

That means no Microsoft jollies unless they are paying – which looks vanishing unlikely seeing what they are going through. (You’ll see my sub 15 USD share price prediction is looking a lot more likely today (low of 15.64) than in Dec(20USD))

I’m still doing the Excel User conf in April, and I’ll probably get to Eusprig in July. (London and Paris don’t really count as travel do they?)

I cancelled my Microsoft subscriptions years ago (Codematic was  certified partner for years until they got silly with the criteria). In my opinion, in the Office client dev space these things are nigh on useless as Microsoft are about 5 years ahead of any fee paying customers. Its cheaper just to buy the licences you need and own them for ever.

I am also looking at technologies where working from home is a bit more realistic. I already moved back from .net/SQL Server to Excel as there is less need to be on site for spreadsheets. I am thinking more web based stuff may make more sense.

I’ve seen Flash dev rates working from home better than some Excel Dev rates in the city.

I am also keen to look at open source stuff – hence my magnificent Ubuntu Acer Aspire One – I eventually want to turn this into a (rather underpowered and cramped)(and noisy it has to be said!) PHP/MySQL dev machine.

I am ultra busy at the moment but when things drop off, probably in the summer I will do like Dennis and invest some time in learning, but probably in quite different technologies.

I’ll probably give OpenOffice a miss, not because I don’t think it will soon become a viable business opportunity – I do. But I guess its 12-24 months away. and I am after remote working opportunities. And culturally web and especially client stuff is more available from home. Tech wise almost anything can be done from home these days – but that doesn’t mean the client will go for it.

I had briefly contemplated a permie role to shelter from the next year or two of depression, but I can’t see it really.

Have you got any recession busting plans?



Excel and Microsoft Accounting

Monday, 2nd March, 2009

A few people have wondered why the Excel team don’t hook up with Microsoft accounting and finance to get a sense of what people in the real world do with Excel.

I think that is a fair point and I do think Excel could be better for closer links with power users. I suggested they recruit a couple of industry gurus to help with this ages ago.

Equally though I always get the feeling that Office has too much influence on Excel. And even if they had some great ideas/feedback/feature requests these is a chance that Office strategy would over rule them. (Office strategy == dumb down, tart up ™)

Anyway thats not my point here.

I just wanted to suggest that maybe MS finance has such good reporting systems they do not have the tangled mess of linked spreadsheet hell many other places have.

What I have seen is those orgs with Essbase, or another OLAP style tool with competent users make much less mess than those that have not invested in User based reporting systems.

I assume MS finances have some great Analysis Services based cubes with which to do all their hard work. so their spreadsheet layer is likely to be thinner than those places that are trying to manipulate some crappy transactional system to give them meaningful information.

Even places that have proper (user) access to SQL Server have less mess than those traditional places where the data is behind an impenetrable barrier of Oracle DBAs. (With 5-10 day response time SLAs, and an impersonal issue ticketing system.)

In fact I would go so far as the say over zealous IT barrier building is the number one cause of spreadsheet hell. If not number one, then top 3. (the number one I reckon is time pressure.)

I always get the feeling that MS invests heavily in using their own tech, and in some ways that puts them out of touch with some of the more penny pinching orgs.

Anyone else seen the positive impacts of decent reporting systems on spreadsheet hell?