Monday, 22 June 2015

End of Blog

This is my last post on Blogger/blogspot. It is my 401st post, since I started blogging in November 2011.

I think it's fair to say that I have been disappointed with this service.

The most disappointing thing by far is that when I search my blog using the built-in search widget, it does not find all of the posts!

And Blogger is owned by Google!

My new blog is in WordPress on my own virtual server.

Check out

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Spreadsheets with Rulers

In a recent post I mentioned that I think that Excel should have better support for panes.

The backdrop to this is that you can only split Excel windows on the same workbook.

The backdrop to this is that when you set a column width, or hide a column, or set a background colour for a column, that setting applies to the whole column!

That was bad when a sheet could have  8K rows. It was worse when a sheet could have 64K rows. It is even worse now when a sheet can have 1M rows!

This limitation of columns is another thing which hasn't changed much since the far off days of VisiCalc! Another stark example of a lack of innovation.

Can you imaging a Word Processor where you could only have one ruler for a whole document? It's unthinkable!

So if we combine these two ideas, why couldn't we insert a new ruler at any point in a spreadsheet?

Then you could control columns widths, and hiding, and colours independently every time you have a new ruler.

The mock-up below shows how this might look. Notice that:
  • It's a single worksheet: the rows go from 1 to 19.
  • The background colour changes with each new ruler
  • The column widths change with each new ruler
  • Column B is hidden in the third section without affecting the first two sections.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Another Excel Limitation

Wouldn't it be great if you could easily arrange "panes" of content within Excel, each pane being taken from a different sheet.

And you could lock some of those panes so that they don't scroll.

So you have one pane which where the user enters data, and other panes where the effects of those changes are displayed.

Here's a simple mock-up of what I would like to achieve:

And when you reopen the workbook, the layout which you defined is redisplayed.

And if you resize the overall window, the panes resize as you prescribe.

And maybe you can even have a different "zoom" setting for different panes.

Basically it helps you to create an application within Excel.

Sounds reasonable?

Unbelievably after all these years of spreadsheets, the limitations of what you can do in terms of splitting a window seem to be more or less the same as was the case with VisiCalc!

BTW: I have played with "Windows" and "Workspaces" within Excel and have been unable to achieve the result I desire. Additionally "Save a Workspace" has been discontinued in Excel 2013.

Star Wars - The Force Awakens

Teaser Trailer 2 has been released.

You can hear Luke and you can see Han!

Roll on December (and fingers crossed this won't be a disappointment)

Triumph of the Nerds

I mentioned VisiCalc and Dan Bricklin in my last few posts.

Anyone wanting to know more about the birth of the personal computer industry should watch Robert Cringely's excellent three part documentary "Triumph of the Nerds":

Dan Bricklin

I mentioned Dan Bricklin (inventor of VisiCalc with Bob Frankston) in my last post.

Included below is a video where Dan discussed the rise and fall of VisiCalc along with lots of photos of his company and other people in the industry at that time. Obviously Lotus (where I used to work) is mentioned a number of times.

It's a nice walk-through of those times.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Excel - Using IF with multiple conditions

I mentioned Visicalc in my last post.

The Visicalc manual from 1981 has the following to say about the @IF function:
@IF takes three arguments . The first must be a logical value ; the second and third can be any value . The function evaluates to the value of the second or third argument, depending on the value of the first.
So fast forward to Microsoft Excel in 2015.

I tried to enter an IF function with multiple conditions into Excel today. Here is something similar to what I entered:
You get the idea:
IF cond1 THEN res1 ELSEIF cond2 THEN res2 ELSEIF cond3 THEN res3 ELSE res4
What could be simpler?

Guess what: after all of these years, the Excel IF function still only takes 3 arguments!!

So people have to resort to "nested ifs":
Unbelievable! Talk about a lack of innovation!!


I have been planning to do a post on Visicalc pretty much since I started blogging.

I have mentioned it in a couple of posts before, including one on the "Most Influential Software Programs".

In my opinion Visicalc was the most innovative software program of all time. It did not reproduce anything (although there may be some similarities to old ledgers). It did not build upon anything (as most software does). It was simply invented.

And then it was copied: 1-2-3, SuperPlan, Quattro, Multiplan, Excel, and others. And of these Excel is still in incredibly wide use today.

I have huge admiration for the accomplishment of Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston. In all of the years since they invented Visicalc in 1979, nobody has created anything in software which (IMHO) has that level of creativity and innovation. Truly remarkable.

The reason I mention it today is that I came across this video on the two guys and their achievement.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Bruce Lee versus Bruce Lee

I was taking a quick look at Vimeo today and I came across this video which shows Bruce Lee fighting himself.

It is very well done.

Watch it to the end - it is surprisingly moving.

Kudos to all involved.

BRUCE LEE VS BRUCE LEE from Antonio Maria Da Silva AMDSFILMS on Vimeo.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Leonard Nimoy/Spock

Before I leave the subject of Leonard Nimoy, I would like to add the following.

For me, Nimoy/Spock is the cornerstone of Star Trek. Here are some stats:

  • He appeared in all 80 episodes of TOS, which nobody else did.
  • He appeared (if that is the right word) in all 22 episodes of "The Animated Series".
  • He appeared in 2 episodes of "The Next Generation", which no other TOS actor did.
  • He appeared in 8 of the movies, including the two most recent movies.
  • He directed 2 of the movies, which no other Star Trek actor did.
  • His son, Adam, directed 2 TNG episodes.

The man is a legend.

Here is an interview he gave to Pharrell Williams. Towards the end, he had the following to say:
The Spock character opened up my life,  personally and creatively. It created great opportunities for me to do work that I chose to do, rather than work that I had to do to make a living. I had choices for the first time in many years. And still, to this day, I consider it a great opportunity and a blessing to live a creative life; to live a life that has to do with finding ideas and expressing ideas; and hopefully making a contribution to the human condition.