Archive for the ‘skill’ Category

Excel Modeling World Championships 2014

Wednesday, 27th August, 2014

I saw this last year and thought it was a great idea, and have just been prompted to mention it.

Here is all the info

Big wedge for the winner…

And the fame of course…

ciao, peeps

Video Somnolency

Tuesday, 28th January, 2014

As discussed previously I have concerns about the market viability of the old Excel/VBA/C# skill set, so I am developing other skills.

Part of this reskilling involves watching some very good videos.

Every time I put one on I get extreme head lolling syndrome.

I was watching one on the train last night and nearly missed my stop I was so flat out asleep.

I’m getting scared to put the videos on as they seem to just flick an off switch in my brain, and within 5 mins I’m snoring like a good-un.

As I mentioned they are good videos, so I really don’t think it is the fault of the producers.

I remember the same from years (decades!!) ago when I was learning Access 2.0, it seems I’m just not very good at learning from videos.

Maybe I should put them on my iplop and watch them whilst walking, although latest research suggests that using a smart device on the move is the cause of an increasing number of accidents. I have never fallen asleep whilst walking but I have dozed off whilst standing, so this could be risky.

I have some related books that are pretty heavy going too. Maybe I just need to start straightaway building something, even if it is very badly, and cobble it together as I go. But before I do that I was really wanting to get some perspective about what is possible. Maybe I just have to resign myself to building the same thing half a dozen times as I learn more and more…

Do you have the same video learning problems? (Maybe this is an important issue for all these MOOC’s)

What do you find is the best way to introduce new stuff for you?

cheers

simon

Competitive rate

Tuesday, 21st January, 2014

Why put this on the ad if it isn’t?

Do you really think you are going to trick us into accepting a crap paying job by telling us its competitive??

There has been a bit of a buzz the last couple of days about an apparently interesting job advertised. One of my buddies put me onto it so I applied. noting the ‘competitive rate’.

The agent was cagey when he phoned, wouldn’t say what the budget was, asked what I wanted etc – the usual shizzle. Eventually he fessed up – the client is a consultancy and known for paying low rates!

Why waste everyones time then?? dipshit.

Just put ‘crap paying job for desperate developer or substandard one’. You might drop lucky and find someone who can’t calculate day rate – accom – travel = 0 or less, but is still a great financial systems developer.

I notice it is now out with loads of agencies – a clear sign of desperation. The poor consultancy may have to give up some of their 200% margin to the actual worker. Unless they can find a local with the right experience and a low cost base.

These consultancies are weaselling in all over the market and charging a fortune for nothing (well maybe sue-ability). They take from both sides and provide nothing as far as I can tell. Unless you know different?

cheers

simon

 

GPH

Tuesday, 14th January, 2014

Googles per hour.

My new proposal for estimating developer toolset proficiency.

In Excel/VBA mine is pretty close to nack all these days, I spend more time on codematic trying to unforget stuff I once knew. C# is a bit higher as I always like to check if things have changed since the last time I opened VS.

In my more recent dabbling tools (Eclispe and xcode) I have a google window open all the time, and use it all the time too.

so

Excel/VBA 0.1 gph (roughly 1 a day)

C# 0.5 gph (1 every couple of hours)

xcode 10 gph (the rountrip time it take to find, copy a line and change the variables to the ones I am using). It might reach even higher if I start getting better search hits.

what about you?

cheers

simon

Excel Dev Book

Thursday, 19th December, 2013

I keep wondering about writing a book about Excel development.

It would be less technical than PED, perhaps a bit more like Code Complete for Excel. A bit more design based than code based. The target audience would be business folks wanting to improve their Excel clicking and IT folks needing to target Excel. It would be set in the context of the reality of working with Excel in big companies.

I did discuss it with a publisher a while ago, but at this stage I would probably do it as a self publish e-book, with maybe a print option.

It would be based on my couple of weeks Excel experience (cataloguing my CD collection), and would touch many complementary technologies like ADO, ExcelDNA, XLL+.

I’m thinking more of a 300 page wordy tome rather than a 1000 page screenshot fest.

The sort of chapters might be something like

  • strengths and weaknesses of Excel
  • The RAD process with Excel as the client
  • Excel dev models (workbook with VBA, Add-in etc)
  • Excel grid best practices
  • Excel facts and fallacies

The only thing stopping me is the apparent death of Excel as a serious business tool. I’d hate to invest all that effort and then find my mum is the only person willing to buy it. (Well, her and as an excellent stocking filler for my kids at Christmas (not this one of course!)).

There is no doubt in my mind that sensible use of Excel is good in every way for most organisations. Sadly its the bad use that is most common and gets all the bad press. One aim of the book would be to propose some of the smart ways of using Excel (including using some of the newer features).

So my question is:

If there were such a book do you think there would be a market for it? Do you know people who would buy it?

(I know, that’s two questions)

cheers

simon

Silverlight

Monday, 16th December, 2013

Some poor Fin Servs company in Zürich has been searching for a Silverlight developer for weeks now. 

That’s some ex-devs’ CV polishing hobby horse turning to bite them on the arse. The dev has probably moved on and is now doing this weeks flavour of the month tech (MVVM?), leaving the client dependent on this dead tech that no one wants to touch.

That said, I chucked my CV in for a VB6 job today, first one I have seen in a long time ( a decade???). Also a tech no self respecting modern .net clicker would want to touch… I still would though, at least VB6 had a point, more than can be said for SilverShight.

I’m still waiting for VSTO to go the same way, but at this stage I am beginning to wonder if MS are genuinely committed to it. I doubted it for a long time, but its there in VS2013, and they don’t have many other options, apart from the obvious helping to extend and improve ExcelDNA. Or buying Add-in Express. (jobserve still doesn’t recognise VSTO and changes it to VSTS, that’s better than Vista which it used to do).

Any of you seeing much client demand for VSTO?

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 – the 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

 

 

New book shop

Wednesday, 27th June, 2012

I have been a bit underwhelmed by Amazons price competitiveness for a while. Exacerbated by the sweeping 30% price increase on my pending basket a few months ago.

So now I have found a new book supplier (via Amazon ironically)

Its here the Book Depository.

Its not all peaches and cream but it did work out a good few quid cheaper for my last order. Slight scam though if you buy their books via Amazon they are 2.80 cheaper in the basket. But then they hammer you for postage at the end. On their site they are more expensive with ‘free delivery’. Works out about the same I think. It would be nice to get charged postage once, not per book. Especially if like me you have an insatiable book buying (and sometimes reading) habit.

I got paper ones rather than kindle as the thought of trying to make sense of a technical book on a kindle didn’t appeal. That and the fact Mrs Smurf is still happily using her kindle and hasn’t given it to me yet.

I only just ordered so I could well be back on here in a few days ranting about their crap delivery or summat.

Have you got any recommended book shops?

Or are you one of those ‘read it on-line’ types? (I really prefer working through a book to get to grips with new stuff, on-line is great for specifics and reference etc, but I’m not a fan of reading screens and screens of text. And videos make me drowsy!)

cheers

simon

Amazon Wiley price scam

Friday, 16th March, 2012

You might have noticed I havent been blogging much recently. Sorry about that.

I am currently busy reskilling in new areas.

Hence a bit of Amazon shopping for relevant reading material. I put a few relevant books in my basket a week or two ago, or maybe less. Imagine my surprise when I came to it today to buy and saw all the prices had shot up.

I don’t know if its just a money grab from Wiley or Amazon  ‘incentivising’ Kindle purchasing but the price rises are eye watering, Perhaps they are anticipating a new 30% book vat rate in the budget.

Looks like I will have to rely on other info sources. Or hope for a price pull back…

did they not hear about the recession?

did paper just triple in price?

Anyone else seen this? Anyone seen other publishers or topic areas (this is finance/trading)? or got an explanation?

Cheers

simon