UK Excel event 2018

Wednesday, 25th April, 2018

Just a quick update as I realise I have not followed up on my request for interest for an Excel event from a month or two ago.

I personally have decided to step back from organising an Excel event this year, I am happy to help anyone else who wants to take it on. And happy to speak if needed.

No giant single alarm bells reason, just a few things that would make it overly hard.

  • I am not that involved in Excel much any more (I had expected to be more so)
  • I am a good few years out of date (stuck on Office 2010 (and Classique) for the (very) odd time I fire up a windows machine)
  • I am mega busy working on Android apps-  – which brings a lot of things that an Excel career could have delivered but didn’t (like working from home/anywhere, decent toolset, the Play store)
  • I have finally found a language that is better than VBA for getting stuff done – Kotlin.
  • The VBA IDE is sadder than a wet weekend in Brid (out of season) compared to IntelliJ.
  • The London venue that cost a few hundred quid last time now want a few thousand!

So, sorry to get everyones hopes up, I think there was just about enough interest on here to make an event viable if a suitable venue could be found. And plenty of people happy to speak, but just not something I can realistically take on at the moment.

cheers

simon

Advertisements

Eventbrite warning

Sunday, 22nd April, 2018

Someone recently mentioned using Eventbrite or similar for organising the next Excel Conf (I have not heard more, so no idea if anything is in the offing or not).

Their latest agreement that you sign up to (after reading carefully I’m sure) grants them (amongst other stuff) the right to enter your event , and pre and post setup/teardowns, take as much video and photos as they like of anything they like, for them to use whenever, where ever they like for ever!!!

That also means you grant them right to publish photos of any and all attendees any time any where.

Dunno if it applies in the UK/EU

Fuller details here

What an outrageous rights grab

Office 2016 Migration issues

Monday, 16th April, 2018

I have been doing some Office migration stuff recently and came across a couple of issues I wondered if anyone else has seen. and perhaps has a solution?

Word 2016

From time to time gets very upset at docs with form fields in and scatters the text all over the screen, like toys from a pram. Seems to be related to printing, possibly quick print, but printed docs come out fine. So it looks like the printer driver is upsetting the screen driver somehow. Swapping printers ‘fixes’ the issue. Anyone seen this?

Excel 2016

Application.getfilename manages to get a filename Excel can’t use? I have had to go and add a file type to the file saveas stuff, fair enough. But the (non null) file name is not acceptable??

I thinks this might be related to server paths or something?

(this is a remote project so troubleshooting is a bit of a challenge – any ideas?)

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…

2018 UK Excel meet up/conference

Sunday, 25th February, 2018

Would anyone be interested in an Excel related conference in the UK this year?

Probably summer time, probably that London, probably one day (with pissups before and after hopefully). Cost – unclear, probably between 50 and 200 gbp depending on numbers and the type of event. (the room I hired in 2012 has gone up in price 1,000%!, for real – 10x more expensive now!!!)

It could be user focused or developer focused (state your preference)

It could be classic Excel, on stuff that works on every version for the past 15/20 years, or it could be on the new stuff in 2013 and 2016 (again state your preference)

No promises, but if there is enough interest a few of us might try to get something organised.

At this stage we are just trying to gauge interest (do we need a phone box or the Albert Hall?)

So if you might be interested please leave a comment. (no commitment (either way))

Venue suggestions welcome too.

ta muchly

 

Instagram

Friday, 9th February, 2018

On a more positive note (one of my teenage kids said I was acting like a stroppy teenager moaning about that recruitment process), one of my teenage kids (a different one) suggested I cross promote my Instagram here.

Bloody teenagers think they know everything!!

Anyway for 2018 I am aiming to post 1 pic per day to my instagram account. I am mainly doing black and white landscapes, if you are interested…

My account is here.

Here are a couple of my favourite images to give you an idea

Birds fly. Vevey. Infrared

A post shared by simon (@simurphyphoto) on

and

More infrared mountains

A post shared by simon (@simurphyphoto) on

Feel free to not bother

(There is no spreadsheet angle to this post at all)

cheers

VBA test exercise

Tuesday, 6th February, 2018

I have just been offered the opportunity to do a VBA test (“should take no more than 3 hours”!) for the chance to get an interview… for a 3 month contract!

I didn’t find out how many had been selected for the ‘opportunity’. I could have been 1 of 2 or 3, or 1 of 2-3,000. I would guess 10-20? that’s a lot of people wasting 3+ hours

I told them to do one obviously, but I couldn’t help taking a peek at the exercise and scoping it out (wasting a ton of time which I am annoyed at myself for doing, but there you go).

I could do a pretty half arsed job of it in 3 hours, but to do it properly and considering some of the ‘peripheral’ elements (date integrity, error handling etc) there is no way I could do it to what I would consider an acceptable standard in 3 hours. Add the fact that some of the specs were wrong (do I do as per spec or what I think is correct?) and it was at least a full days work.

Bearing in mind this is a test, that will be reviewed so needs to look the part not just functional.

Perhaps if I had ready to go VBA libraries and components I could cobble them together within the timescales. But who has loads of libraries they actually have the right to use? I have a lots of stuff from all the codematic and xlanalyst stuff, but the bulk of the code I have written belongs to clients. (and some of the more useful stuff appears to only be in C, C++ or C#)

The other red flag was advice to do it in a object oriented way. IN A NON OO LANGUAGE FFS!

This may be contentious, but Object Oriented in Excel VBA is utterly retarded. Fact!

(There may be some exceptions but if you are combining data and operations in VBA ‘objects’, what are you using the Excel grid for? Or are you duplicating all that data?)

So I have a few problems with this company’s recruitment process:

  1. Its unduly burdensome on the potential candidates
  2. The timescales are for an amateur standard hack
  3. pre-built components may not be owned by candidates
  4. OO approach smacks of boys playing at being men.
  5. Spec was vague and incorrect
  6. Required effort will put off many candidates
  7. Some of whom might be ideal but too busy to risk 3+ hours
  8. 3+ hours for a chance of an interview for a 3 month contract is a very poor risk return compared to the rest of the job market.
  9. 3+ hours feels more like they want hobbyists rather than professionals.
  10. lack of respect for candidates time doesn’t bode well for the future role

I mentioned it to one of my contractor mates: “for free? fuck that”.

precisely!

 

Freelancer sites

Friday, 22nd December, 2017

I had a little sniff around the freelancer sites again, as I do from time to time…

Previously I have excluded rentacoder as they wanted to install some spyware on my pc so ‘clients’ could check what I was doing.

This time I actually registered on PeoplePerHour a few days ago. I just deactivated, over my short residence I was unable to decide if it was just a giant scam or not.

I realise that as the service provider we are the ‘stock’ of these sites but when the freelancer site has more, and more onerous, terms and conditions than an investment banking employment contract, shits messed up. right? Their T&Cs maybe aren’t quite as long as Apples, but run it close.

On Pph you have to pay to send a proposal to a someone offering a project. You get a few credits initially, but then you have to pay real cash money. The proposal needs firm costs, unless its an hourly rate project. So…

When the full and complete project description is:

“I need android app developing”

How much would you quote? Would you pay money (even toy money) to apply? (I might be doing something wrong here – 30 other people have already applied)

Then pph take 25% of the fee you quote the seller (upto 500 per month, a bit less after – but its hard to see how you could earn more than 500, tbh. Maybe that’s a skillset thing?). Most UK agencies take less than that these days, and they provide a bit more (just) than a contacts website.

Like RAC, Pph are obsessed with keeping all comms on site – of course, it would be so easy for people to connect there and then take the project offsite and keep their 25% cut. But the downside of that is as a supplier its hard to leverage non pph resources to differentiate. For example I can’t point people to codematic to suggest I know a bit about Excel dev. The fragility of this particular point I think, dooms these sites to long term failure. Certainly on a 25% cut.

If it was 5 or 10% and they were offering useful workflow and customer management tools then maybe, but at 25% the benefits of moving offsite will be irresistible for too many I think.

I had been advising people to use these sites to build up experience and a visible portfolio, but now, having done so I don’t think I would again.

Do you have suggestions for better freelancer sites?

Define better? supplier friendly, reasonable rates, sustainable process, significant work opportunities, reasonable T&Cs.

cheers

simon

Agile

Wednesday, 20th December, 2017

If agile is so good, why do we need so many Agile coaches?

I see these roles advertised all the time and it makes me sad. Your development *process* is so involved you need a full time specialist just to show you how to do the *process*. Its mind numbing.

I have never seen a role for a RAD coach, waterfall coach, or an ad-hoc coach, or a slap-dash coach.

You have to be pretty sure your current process is beyond rubbish if you can justify a full-time equivalent overhead to coach your team in the new way. Will they really deliver so much better software so much faster than if you recruited another dev to your current process?

Plus the rates are amazing, nearly as good as SAP job-fer-lifing, another shitfest I aim to avoid.

I won’t mention scum master, or scam master because I just can’t bear to talk about scrum its so retarded. Well maybe it isn’t when properly applied to an appropriate project, I have seen more unicorns. Mind that’s another well paid zero value none job, of which there seems to be more and more.

Shame no one seems to want Rapid Application Development any more, even if it was sometime a bit more slow app dev. Hey ho.

Happy xmas if I can’t be arsed to post again before the big day. :-)

cheers

simon

Unicycle manager

Friday, 15th December, 2017

I REALLY need to update my glasses.

I do actually have a unicycle – but I am rubbish on it. Or more accurately near it, as I am rarely on it for long.

Anyway its not that relevant for a LIFEcycle manager role.

Good job I spotted that before sending my application!