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

Apple v Microsoft again

Tuesday, 7th January, 2014

Both Apple and Microsoft now make portable computing devices without keyboards, sometime called iPads or fake iPads.

Its Christmas (ish), both companies are trying to encourage sales (I think!!)

Apple have a lovely ad with cool music, lots of beautiful people (like our ExcelDevCon attendees:

rachdevconfvsml). Lots of narrow depth of field, cool lifestyle type shots. All in all quite aspirational.

Microsoft have got some unattractive grey bloke sitting in a grey office banging on about MS Office.

The contrast couldn’t be sharper.

Now I love MS Office – I’ve made a living from it since before the internet, but I don’t think its going to be the defining factor in Christmas tablet sales. Longer term, for IT departments, maybe, but for consumers for Xmas? no.

I really think MS need to sack off their advertising agency, and most of their margeting department and get some folks who know what they are doing. Like this guy, he could fix their image issues, probably.

Or at least they should sponsor my extreme spreadsheeting series.

Do you think Microsoft has an image problem?

cheers

simon

Job Hunt 2014

Monday, 6th January, 2014

I am still keeping half an eye out for an interesting contract. I didn’t bother over the hols because I drank and ate too much instead. Barely even turned my lapper on in fact.

I am now back perusing Jobserve from time to time. Its unfortunate that they can’t remember my search terms properly. But its very unfortunate that you can’t exclude certain agencies from search results. There are a couple I won’t have anything to do with, and it would be nice not to have my results polluted with their fake jobs, misleading descriptions and dodgy terms and conditions. Not to mention all the locum GP jobs my search for Excel or VBA or C# seems to throw up.

Then again, there aren’t that many results to search through…

cheers

simon

Excel Dev book

Monday, 6th January, 2014

Thanks for all the input folks.

I had a good think, and although it feels somewhat like a waste not to share some of my most useful experiences, I don’t think now is the time for the book I have in mind.

There are several factors depressing the Excel development market at the moment, some are permanent trends, some I think will reverse in a year or two. In particular there is a heavy regulatory downer on Excel just now, once people get caught messing up in the replacement technologies that focus will move off, allowing people to get back to the benefits of Excel.

Also IT departments currently have a big veto power, I think once people notice that that doesn’t actually move the business forward their influence will decline, allowing people to get back to the benefits of Excel.

maybe.

On the other hand the time may really be up for professional Excel development.

Either way I’ll still chip in here with points of interest.

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

Milk a joke

Wednesday, 18th December, 2013

Pen behind the ear…

Quant jobs

Wednesday, 18th December, 2013

Where have they all gone?

A couple of years ago Excel + VBA + C++ and a bit of maths and the world was your oyster.

Last year it was all HFT which is just nerd tastic engineering stuff.

This year it has been mainly risk and regulatory control.

Are there Quants any more? what tech are they using? how many mid and back office people are they carrying?

I keep wondering about doing a masters in financial chicanery, but I think that boat has sailed. Probably safer going back to furniture making.

Is the all the quant stuff really only done in Matlab, R or SAS now?

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 other Excel Jobs

Friday, 13th December, 2013

Lets say a decent permie rate for Excel work is 60k

Contractors are more efficient as they don’t have all the 1-1 reviews and career planning bullshit, and are paid a risk premium for being easily sackable so lets say 100k pa or 400 per day. (In this case, via a decent agency the client would probably pay less than 500 per day.)

A good contractor can work most of the year so can approach the 100k total, less holidays (no sick time – everyone know contractors are never sick).

Employment law in most countries is completely bolloxed up meaning the party that wants a flexible skilled resource and the person willing to provide that flexibility and shoulder some operational risk have to jump through all kinds on hoops to achieve their joint aim. Hence agencies and a whole other bunch of buggeration.

Worse than agencies are the body shops, these ‘consultancies’ exploit dysfunctional employment rules to weasel into these flexible requirement gaps.

In the above example, they will take on the ‘permie’ (on a fixed term contract normally) on the 60k, or most likely take a more junior person on say 40k. They then pimp them out to the client for 1,200 per day. They can do this because the only thing more fooked up than employment law is modern procurement practice and the cursed ‘preferred supplier’ scam.

If they can’t sucker someone into a fake permie role (of course they promise to pay you even when you are not charged out to a client, but that won’t last long before you are dumped), then they will try and sucker a contractor in by offering slightly better than the 40k pa, like 200-250 a day instead.

A normal agency adds no more than 20% to the workers rate, these clowns are adding 300% or more. I won’t mention any names, the evidence is clear on the jobsites.

It seems that a few of those missing 400 per day Excel contractor roles are now 200 per day roles so some body shop can make their kilo of flesh, and blood. (Bear in mind the cost to the client has increased in this scenario – and the quality of service has generally declined). But procurement are happy as they have less 2 pound supplier credit checks to do. The banks aren’t generally dumb enough to fall for this but government departments lap it up.

(Sadly this pointless bodyshop approach is the standard in Switzerland, hence why I am looking Europe wide (had a sniff of a Dublin job last week – Guinness at Keoghs every night? – tempting!!))

Are you consulting in the public sector carrying an astronomical, unjustifiable bodyshop overhead?

Have you seen these sort of job ads?

cheers

simon

Ipads and Sharepoint

Thursday, 12th December, 2013

I would say that iPads are good for content consumption, not so great for content creation. I’m thinking more of business type stuff rather than cat videos. Feel free to disagree and tell us why in the comments.

Sharepoint is ok for organising content but not so great at creating it. You can create apps for sure, and you can host Excel Services apps etc. But much of the list type functionality is related to organising existing resources like spreadsheets and word docs.

Both of these two are large growth stories.

Years ago at an Office Developer Advisory Council meeting (way back, when MS had a clue) Biggus Dickus made the point that they seemed to be focusing on managing content rather than creating it. And how was all this stuff for Sharepoint lists going to get created in the first place?

I understand the current fashion is collaboration and consumption. But surely at some point people will realise that there needs to be content creation too, or all you are sharing and consuming is old shit. Panda videos from 2004 are just as funny as current ones (as confirmed by you’ve been framed almost every night it seems). But that energy arbitrage opportunity? Bit different in 2013…

Maybe I am just missing all the ads for these content creator jobs, but most of what I see could be classed as re-presenting the same pap in a different way or different client (bloody browsers – I have even seen jobs for Silverlight – I thought that died years ago and both people who had used it had already migrated to Java?).

I realise that up and down the country there are people every day slogging away creating business insight with Excel/Access and even VBA. But I am just not seeing anything like the level of jobs there was say 1-2 years ago, and not enough to sustain the output. Maybe content creation has hit critical mass and the current creator workforce are creating enough to keep everyone consuming and collaborating for the foreseeable? (my, that sentence had a lot of c words in it)

Do you worry that creating (business) content to share in the future seems to be in terminal decline?

And if not, then what tools are they using? (because it sure as shit isn’t MS Office)

cheers

simon


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