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?




Jobs to Avoid

Friday, 17th January, 2014

Just saw an Excel dev job to consolidate a bunch of templates, easy enough, I’m sure lots of us have done it a millions times. The trouble is this was a 1 week contract, thats right 5 days! To understand the current 40 odd spreadsheets in the system, create a consolidation system, and presumably test it…

I would *test* something like that for more than 5 days, even after building it carefully and testing as I went along.

Reminds me of an irresistible job offer I had a while ago. The end client said ‘To be honest, you are here to take the blame when it goes wrong. We only have 2 weeks, we can’t do it in that time. So you will carry the can when we fail!’. I appreciated his honesty and was still up for the job until the agency started messing me around on rate. In the end I blew them out as they were squabbling over a few euros per day on something that had a client charge out rate in the thousands.

I can’t help thinking this is a similar set up…

stay safe…




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.


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?



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?



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…



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.


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.



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)



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?




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?