Archive for the ‘quality’ Category

Excel 2016 Performance

Thursday, 2nd August, 2018

What’s your view on Excel 2016 performance and stability?

In particular Excel 2016 32bit on Win10 63 bit?

I’m talking about 365, so bang up to date, and what I am seeing is:

  • Excel or other Office apps freeze for around 4 minutes, once or twice most days
  • Too many styles will cause a workbook that would have dropped all formatting in 2010 will be unopenable and unrecoverable in 2016
  • Too many conditional format will crash 2016 completely, where 2010 would be bearable, but stable.
  • General calc speed seems slower
  • UI is laggy, even with all Win10 bullshit turned off
  • Excel VBA can completely freeze every running office application
  • Opening everything in the same Excel instance is a monumental ball ache
    • Opening everything in its own one is not much better
    • Why can’t we have the 2003 behaviour of opening in last activate instance??
    • debuggering from VS is pants, I don’t want all my dodgy xlls loading into my working Excel.¬† So back to run excel /e
  • Did YOU ask for cell selection change to be animated????????????
  • Can’t paste charts as live links any more?

So the intermittent freezes and the instability are my main issues, I’m back to saving my work every 2 to 3 minutes like in Excel 2000. And spending a fair chunk of my life waiting for stuff to calculate.

Overall I’m thoroughly underwhelmed, 2003 is still the best ever, but 2010 is starting to feel like a not too shabby vintage too (I never tried 2013, was it any good?). I reckon 2003 would utterly fly on my 16gb i7, well apart from the single threadedness.

(the 63 bit was a typo, but somehow seems appropriate as the odd bit seems to get dropped here and there on this combo.) Sadly I see Office gradually choking Excel, or as its new name Word(tables edition).

What are your experiences?

Which is your favourite Excel?

Is 64 bit more stable?

cheers

simon

lets discuss it at DevelopExcel in October!

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Apple Engineering

Sunday, 6th May, 2018

I watched a great video recently about Apples engineering ‘quality’.

Its not very complementary.

But as I have changed 3 hard drive cables on my Macbook estate, and two have screen hinge problems, and on this current one the letter F keeps falling off… I have some understanding of his point of view.

Talking of crap keyboards…

Anyone feel the need to sign this to encourage a recall (yeah right!) of the latest Macbook pro with the slimline fragile keyboard?

I had vaguely thought of updating my machine but I really don’t think Macbooks provide what I want these days. So I need to find another supplier, who doesn’t insist on installing (and charging for) Windows. And who supplies Europe sensibly, with a suitable keyboard. No rush though…

cheers

Spreadsheets ahead of the game

Monday, 19th March, 2018

I am fairly regularly bombarded with negative news about spreadsheets. Excel in multimillion pound error, Excel causes wrong contract choice, etc etc.

I get it, spreadsheets have errors…like most things.

Anyway, on my quest to understand why something as ridiculous as Object Oriented programming has pervaded our world I came across this, which paints spreadsheets in a much more positive light (IMO) .

A video where Simon P-J, (a Microsoft boffin), points outs something I have been bleating on about for a while – that Excel is the most widely used Functional programming language in the world.

If you don’t know what functional programming is, it’s the future. OO was vaguely useful for one or two specific use cases in the 80’s, but in the modern world, apart from those selling books or consulting on how to make OO less completely shit, most people are recognising Functional approaches as more useful.

Functional programming is what we do in a spreadsheet grid, a key tenant of which is no side effects, which is why UDFs have such limitations on what they can do. Although I notice Ms has opened these up a little in recent times.

So anyway, when all the propeller heads from IT are moaning about spreadsheets, its probably because they are locked into a 1980s paradigm and don’t understand our functional approach.

Bless…

Some Blog stats

Saturday, 7th October, 2017

Here are the top 10 or so pages on this blog over the last 10 years. Not perfect as some of these have probably been here for 10 years, some might be merely months old.

But still the focus on 2007 errors makes me laugh. Maybe I didn’t post much about 2010 errors (2003, as we know didn’t have any (ha ha)).

In fairness 2010 was much better than 2007 in almost every way. Well, except dev tools maybe (the bit we looked at ironically).

Home page / Archives 171,829
Excel 2007 workbook window not visible 75,716
Excel 2007 Error: Link source not found 15,901
R1C1 notation 13,728
The spreadsheet disadvantage 12,988
Excel 2007 screen lock up 10,373
Code execution has been interrupted 10,280
Excel 2007 =#N/A error 9,550
xlls With ExcelDNA 7,530
Excel 2007 screen / video issues 6,290

Delighted to see ExcelDNA in there too, it is an excellent tool.

And lo, what’s that? a spreadsheet quality post in the mix? Methinks a far sighted undergrad course may have pointed the students towards some research into the disadvantages of using spreadsheets (for everything).

I never started SOS to get big viewer numbers, I wanted to have a conversation about more advanced Excel development related topics. Somewhere where XLM would not be auto ‘corrected’ to XML, somewhere we could discuss the merits of the C API v the COM interface, or the merits of manual calc v auto calc without drowning in ‘my Excel stopped adding up’ cries.

I have always resisted going for the bulk beginner audience here. But I am contemplating developing a beginner level VBA course at the moment, so may have to revisit that. Although I would probs set up yet another blog I think.

So anyway there you go, at least 75,000 people came here because they could not find their Excel 2007 workbook window.

GoPro SD card problems

Sunday, 30th April, 2017

Bit random for a spreadsheet blog I know…

I am putting this here because I found a fix, and I know from my own searches other people have exactly the same issue: disc full, no sd, sd err on gopro.

One of the kids deleted some files from the GoPro SD card on the mac, but didn’t empty the ‘trash’ before ejecting the card.

What a fookin pain in the arse!!! (Thanks Apple.)

Not sure exactly what misery Apple inflict on the card in this case but it really upset the gopro, really.

Initially the gopro just kept saying disc full (because macs don’t delete files, they just reclassify them – until you clear the ‘trash’)..

I reformatted the card in disk utility on the mac, then the gopro kept cycling through the above errors, either disk full, no SD or SD error.

I reformatted it in Linux, same crap, tried Windows (normally a good bet) same shit.

Of course the card was fine in other devices – I think the gopro is a bit sensitive, and a bit incapable of formatting the cards for itself. Nomally I clear the cards on a tomputer then put it in the device to format – the gopro wasn’t able.

The SD card seemed to have picked up a second partition somehow, but even after removing that the gopro wasn’t happy, a few resets didn’t help.

Then I saw a post suggesting this. A specialist SD card format tool from the SD Association. Its a free tool that does what it says – formats SD cards – but seemingly better than everyone else. It took about 5 mins, instead of the 30 secs with all the other things I tried. But IT ACTUALLY WORKED! Yay.

The whole episode cost me a good few hours of buggering around, and I was on the verge of just retiring the SD card or saving it for a gadget with better formatting capabilities. I hate it when technology beats me so I was pleased to get it sorted.

So anyone else having SD card problems with their gopro check out the SD card formatter from the SD Association (I am assuming it hasn’t opened up some GCHQ/NSA backdoor on my pc!)

cheers

simon

Excel Conference in Amsterdam

Tuesday, 5th January, 2016

I just saw this (on linkedin of all places – I only go there twice a year).

Dunno much about it, except its being run by a gang of well known Excel experts so should be very excellent.

I won’t be going as Excel is basically dead to me these days.

If you are going, have fun.

cheers

simon

 

 

Has Eusprig increased spreadsheet risk?

Tuesday, 10th December, 2013

The European Spreadsheet Risk Interest Group is a collection of academic and business people with an interest in the risks in spreadsheet based systems.

They raise awareness of the risks associated with spreadsheets. The annual conference gives a platform to people and organisations to propose their solutions to the issue, as well to researchers working in the area.

I’ve been to the conference a few times, I’ve spoken there a few times, its a great bunch of people.

But I am starting to feel their influence may be having unanticipated negative consequences.

Raising awareness of the dangers of spreadsheets seems like a noble pursuit, but what I see now is fear of spreadsheets in organisations. Which might be ok, except that what really happens is all that budget for well built professional tactical spreadsheet based solutions is diverted to strategic systems. That pressing short term need? The user throws something together in their own time, under the IT radar. So less process, less control, more risk.

Thanks to Eusprig, SOX, Frank Dodd, etc spreadsheets have a bad name. A technology is being blamed for poor usage practices. Like blaming the car when a driver driving too fast crashes..

Eusprig has done a lot of warning, highlighting failures etc, but has always as a matter of principle avoided proposing good practice. They have (deliberately) left that field open for others to address, by presenting at their conference for example.

Avoiding spreadsheets because of the risk is ok if you replace them with something with less risk. But you know what? that thing doesn’t exist.

No technology can deliver many working tools as fast as spreadsheets. So just changing technologies creates a delivery delay during which the organisation is exposed. Not the IT department, but the business department, If they don’t mitigate that exposure (with whatever tools they have to hand) they could be breaching professional codes of conduct even (eg. fiduciary duties for beancounters). not good.

Yes spreadsheets aren’t as stable as forms/browser based CRUD apps, but they are easier to adapt to changing business needs so more likely to be up to date. Try adding a field to a productions database in a large company, and comment on how long that takes. Days or weeks. Add column in a live spreaddie? seconds. Accidentally delete a critical column? seconds also :-)

So I think a big chunk of spreadsheet work has disappeared for now into IT department work queues, and is being worked around (‘temporarily’) by the business, in part due to misplaced and misunderstood fearmongering about spreadsheet danger.

So for me, yes, I think spreadsheet risk is increasing, and I am even more certain that overall organisation risk is increasing as requirements go into IT work backlog queues and/or quick and very dirty end user created temporary workarounds.

Are you seeing this fear of spreadsheets? What do you think is happening to organisational risk?

cheers

simon

Responsibility

Monday, 9th December, 2013

“The post holder is responsible for explaining to the business how the software solution meets the business needs.”

Erm… Call me old fashioned but shouldn’t it be patently obvious to the customer how the software solves their pain?

This just stinks of requirement Rc.03 is completely met by feature F027…

Which is just another way of IT hitting the users over the head about changed or ambiguous requirements.

‘Here is the email (from 9 months ago) where you asked IT to include a date field, and here is the label that contains todays date. Done, requirement complete, tested correct, finished, this label here meets your need.’

‘What do you mean you want to edit the date? why? Your business process is wrong, You should have told us’… etc etc

Rapidly followed by

‘You asked for a date field, we provided one, if you want that to be editable that is an enhancement and is chargeable, and we can’t look at it for at least 3 months.’

That’s not the kind of role I am currently looking for. Thanks

Although maybe I shouldn’t be so picky, its pretty quiet out at the moment. Maybe I should stop emailing my CV and use the Elfmail instead. I’ll put a copy up the chimney tonight and see what happens. Seems to have worked for the kids.

cheers

simon

 

Some of that Excel development

Friday, 6th December, 2013

At one place I worked, the IT department were, you might say, not massively responsive to user needs.

User needs being rapid response (hours or days, rather than months or years) systems development.

The RAD team I was in was a battleground, Users wanting us to rush stuff into production as soon as it compiled, IT wanting us to stop development and start documenting from scratch on new improved word templates. (The improvement being a more consistent theme and styling rather than anything of business value.)

Then  a funny thing happened Рthe users stopped calling us.

They had been recruiting assistants with strong Excel VBA dev skills and were bypassing the whole IT rigmarole.

This is where I think a fair chunk of Excel dev work has gone – under the radar, out of IT control, and off the IT job boards.

And when I say strong skills I mean on a business scale rather than a developer scale. ie crap naming, global variables, no design, no testing, lots of macro recorder pap, etc etc.

Overall, I doubt this move will have a positive impact on long term delivery ability, or quality (compared to decent RAD input – you can’t compare to mainstream IT as they wouldn’t have delivered anything, so sure, they would have less production defects).

Anyone else seen this rise of the super user?

cheers

simon

 

 

Good Spreadsheet practice

Wednesday, 27th November, 2013

Something a bit more realistic and less dramatic than ‘don’t use them’, from the ICAEW.

Please have a read and make some (constructive) comments on that site.

I can think of a counter example to all of their suggestions but I guess in general they are mostly fair enough, if perhaps a little woolly.

Some of them read a little like workarounds for poor fundamental design (eg protection – I’m never a fan!).

cheers

simon