Archive for June, 2009

Excel 2007 ate my work

Monday, 29th June, 2009

The call was from somebody senior, well respected, well paid, under pressure and now well chuffing annoyed.



Thus started one of the most amusing demonstrations of the Ribbon teams complete and utter lack of understanding of Office use in the real world.

Our user, lets call him Mister Angry from Fookin-Fumingville, had just been ‘upgraded’ (Microsofts term – not mine, not the preferred term of most experienced Excellers, and certainly not Mr Angry’s opinion) overnight to the latest Microsoft Office System ™.

He came in to work the next day, as usual updating his market price spreadsheet to reflect the previous days close. Except this wasn’t ‘usual’… not by a long way.

When you look at the Fail UI in Excel, do you see a file open icon? (probably THE most common first file operation on planet earth (certainly the corporate bit anyway).

Basci Ribbon home tab

Basic Ribbon home tab

Do you see anything that could be a file Icon?

Yep so did he, click the blue floppy button, browse to the file, try to ‘open’ it, overwrite it with the fresh new default blank file, call Simon and shout at him. (Act surprised when Simon turns and and pisses himself laughing)

Thank heavens for Shadow Copy is all I can say, revert to yesterdays saved version, open, update, job done.

Now, we could blame user error.  And perhaps if I thought the effluent UI offered anything of value to normal people I might try and defend it, but honestly? No obvious way to open previous work? I think its a perfect example of the gross skewing to inexperienced users in the misinformation they used to destroy a great productivity suite.

And this is not an isolated incident, plenty of other users, including me, have struggled to quickly and simply open existing files (ALT F O… (FO- how fitting ;-)), and plenty continue to not notice the save button up there in the title bar area, rather than down in the application user interface.

I have thought for a while that some of these common dialogs are too similar, especially when their usage is so different. On my VMs I colour each desktop a different vivid colour so I know which one I’m looking at. Maybe they could do the same with the File Open and file save as dialogs?

Why did they get it so wrong? Maybe they missed all those file open operations that get triggered from Explorer. Maybe the unrepresentative sample of beginners that allowed the Customer Experience program simply create their shopping lists, print it and close Excel, maybe they don’t know how to save?

Anyone else seen this accidental file overwrite?

Anyone else think the common dialogs are a bit too similar?



More ribbon posts tomorrow, and for the rest of the week…

Times really are hard

Thursday, 25th June, 2009

160 a day for extensive Excel VBA experience in central London.

I know the financial meltdown has left a few Excel/VBA devs spare but 160 a day won’t cover a travel pass and butties. And its only 3 weeks.

And there is another on 200, both claiming they want decent skill and experience.


Apart from these two aberrations though the market seems to be picking up, more jobs are getting posted and rates are recovering a little, although skillset requirements are still a bit silly.

What’s the market like where you are?

(not that London is where I am, but try searching Cumbria and Excel jobs and you’ll see why I keep an eye on London!)



Ribbon lovers week

Tuesday, 23rd June, 2009

Next week will be international ribbon lovers week here on sos.

I love the new interface so much I’m going to post every day on a different ‘feature’ that I think they could enhance ‘even more’.

If you have an opposing view point then please join in, or even if you agree please chip in. If your sole response is ‘you’re just scared of new stuff’ then do us all a favour and stay away next week.

Obviously there are only 7 days in a week and there are many many more than 7 cock ups in the effluent UI, so I may need to double up some days (/most days!). I have to steer clear of the bleedin’ obvious like the size of the thing and its inflexible nature as those are already mentioned on the Ribbon UI page.

To put this into context I’ve have just spent 6 months on a large scale Office 2007 migration, including a big chunk of user training and coaching at all levels. I have seen first hand some of the battles real world users have in the real world, fighting the blunderthon UI to get their jobs done.

I need to do it next week as I don’t currently have a working 2007 install to get  screen shots from.

To balance things up I also want to do some posts on the new features that people have found most useful.(hint – they are at the Excel level not the ribbon level)



Office 2010

Friday, 19th June, 2009

With the confirmation of name change from Office 14, I just wanted to make sure everyone knows that Office 2010 is pronounced twenty-ten. Or probably twenny-ten. Or maybe Microsoft Office System for Office productivity live service twenty-ten ™

Don’t get caught out calling it Office two thousand and ten, or even worse Office two oh one oh.



The Google Letter

Wednesday, 17th June, 2009


So finally Google saw sense and wrote to me to ask me to help them create an Excel-beater.

At least that’s what I first thought when I saw the letter.

Imagine my disappointment when I realised they were just offering Codematic the once in a lifetime opportunity of 30 quids worth of free advertising.

Does anyone here use ad-words to promote Excel based services?

does it work?

Personally I’m not that convinced that Excel based services is a viable business, but maybe I’m just doing it wrong.



VSTO job seen in the wild

Tuesday, 16th June, 2009

Gasp shock horror!, I think this is the first ever job that mentions VSTO that I have ever seen advertised.

Of course one swallow doesn’t make a spring, right?

And doubly of course they are looking for that well known skill set Excel/VBA/VSTO/C++/C#/Unix/Oracle – I happen to know both people with that skill set are busy at the moment.

If you do a jobserve search for VSTO its reassuring to see it still thinks its a typo and you are really looking for VSTS.

Anyone got active clients/projects using VSTO?



Expectations surpassed

Monday, 15th June, 2009

I needed to do some serious driving recently.

Some idiot had driven my scooby into the ground so it was in the garage for some serious (expensive) repairs. (Did you know new front brake calipers for Imprezas cost either an internal organ, a relative or a first born child?). I’ll look after it a bit better from now on.

So anyway, all that was left was the clunky old van. The fabled Dagenham Dustbin – my 10+ year old long wheelbase tranny van.

I was a bit apprehensive of driving it 1,000 miles, as it is usually just used for local runs to do with my joinery/house renovation work. Anyway, needs must so I set off. Of course the van has one critical advantage over a car:


Load capacity

Not many cars can carry a decent motorbike for a summer of fun in the sun.

Of course it never missed a beat, trundled along at 60-70, rattling like a rattly thing. The biggest drama was when my ipod ran out a batteries 6 hours from home. Luckily the next fuel stop sold cig lighter to USB converters so I was soon back up. two musical highlights were the Levellers and the Stranglers, I’d forgotten how good they both are.

I see a lot of similarities with my van and Excel/VBA – neither is sexy, neither would be first choice for many jobs, but critically both over deliver and surpass expectations.

When I had to process a few thousand files recently, I did it in Excel/VBA. Yes I could have chosen any of a bunch of different technologies, but Excel/VBA is tried and tested, easily adapted, source code is hard to lose (and easy to find with Google), fast enough etc etc.

Still now after all these years working with Excel/VBA I still find things that impress me, that turn out better than I have a right to expect.

I see a shift away from Excel/VBA in my future, I hope whatever techs I end up working with instead are as flexible.

Does Excel/VBA still impress you? or are you over it?

What other techs do you think match or surpass it?



ps – post rate should go up now as I have finished my overseas activities for the time being.

Recover my work and restart Excel

Tuesday, 9th June, 2009



Anyone know how to get that box unticked by default?

I have been doing a training course for some support staff and we have been looking at different ways to crash Excel.

I don’t generally find the recovered stuff much use and it seems to take a lifetime to load so I’d like to get that turned off by default. I can’t seem to find anything on Google (should I try Bing [edit sm – trying to change ‘possibly related posts’](Crosby? B0ng?)(Microsofts new name for its next search failure). And I haven’t seen any likely registry keys.

Any ideas?