July 2010 Archives

Don't Say Biz

| No TrackBacks

Find yourself forgetting the score to your beer die games?

Forget no more with Don’t Say Biz! Just tap a stat’s number when it happens. (Works great on iPhone, too!) Little markers show up indicating each event, positioned horizontally according to when it happened:

Red markers correspond to the right side (like phono jacks) and are animated using CSS3. And, yes, before you ask: it is HTMLBiz.

♻ .xls excess

| No TrackBacks

I’d be remiss if I didn’t link to the great experiment “Microsoft Excel: Revolutionary 3D Game Engine?” suggesting that Excel’s non-sequential workflow should be given a shot for visualizing or prototyping complex procedures:

Thanks to its Autocalc function the editor, the compiler, the linker and the runtime environment are integrated on such a high level that is unpaired among current tools. After changing a formula in a cell the result is visible immediately without the need for performing the steps mentioned above. Programmers don’t have to save, compile, link and run the executable and there is no need even to switch the active window.

Now, normally, the words “Excel engine files” should send you running, but I appreciated the paradigm shift and the author trying to bring some sexy to the (decidedly unsexy) spreadsheets.

♻ Life of SQRTPI

| No TrackBacks

Browsing the list of Excel worksheet functions, compelled me to designate one the least necessary. Soon, one rose above the rest: SQRTPI

Returns the square root of (number * pi).

So trivial is SQRTPI’s implementation, I don’t know why it was ever included as a core worksheet function. Where is this function even useful? Tenth-grade geometry students’ spreadsheets?

Thinking more led me to the conclusion that these core functions must be:

  • Impossible to implement without the function (RAND),
  • used frequently enough in general computing, convenience compels an addition (RANDBETWEEN), or
  • not generally used, but used frequently in a supported field (POISSON).

I’m sure everyone on the Excel team agrees with me on this, too; SQRTPI has no business being in the core spreadsheet functions, yet I’m sure its justification is “backward compatibility.” Now the question is not, “Why is SQRTPI in Excel?” but, “When did SQRTPI first get added to spreadsheet applications’ repertoire?” Anybody know?

Some API writer has infected us with SQRTPI, probably without thinking twice about it. It’s not the worst outcome in the world, but now we have this to show for that programmer’s lack of forethought.


Recent Trash