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5 September, 2003

Glenn Wonders If I'm Black

My homey Glenn wonders if I'm black. OK, the secret's out. Here's a recent photo.

Posted on 5 September, 2003

I'm Done!

Break out the champagne and help me celebrate.

Twenty minutes ago I turned in the final chapters of Excel 2003 Power Programming With VBA. This was the third in a string of Excel book revisions (the others are Excel 2003 Bible and Excel 2003 Formulas . I've been working on these since January, and it feels damn good to be finished.

It's really unfortunate that these books don't have much new material to work with. Don't blame me. Fact is, Excel 2003 is a huge disappointment, and I can't wait to uninstall it. The new Help system drives me crazy.

Of the three, I think Excel 2003 Bible benefits most from the revision. The previous edition was actually done by a co-author, and I was not at all happy with the result. The co-author is now out of the picture, and the new edition of the Bible has lots of new material (much of which was adapted from other books of mine).

Posted on 5 September, 2003

Microsoft Office Suggestions

David Pogue at the New York Times: Suggestions for the New Version of Microsoft Office (fake name registration required).

To my mind, great software speeds you up instead of slowing you down. It reduces steps rather than increasing them. Those aren't always Microsoft's priorities.

I don't think any of his suggestion made it into Office 2003.

While we're on the subject, here are a few Excel suggestions off the top of my head (and none of these made it into Excel 2003):

  • Add some new chart types. Read the newsgroups and find out what charts types people are asking for.
  • Improve the quality of charts. They looked pretty good in 1995, but graphic technology has changed.
  • Organize all of the options dialog boxes. There are far too many, and they are all extremely confusing. If you don't believe me, see this.
  • Improve the "3D worksheet" model. A good start would be making all of the worksheet functions work correctly across multiple worksheets.
  • Allow the user to use an arbitrary range of cells for data labels in a chart.
  • Make it possible to identify file links without using a 3rd-party utility.
  • Let the user specify how large the worksheet should be, in terms of number of rows and columns. The 256-column limit is absurd.
  • Fix the pivot chart feature so you don't have to reformat the chart after you refresh the data.
  • Revamp the names feature. For example, it would be nice to be able to delete a name without having your formulas return an error.
  • Add some new functions so users don't have to resort to complicated array formulas to perform common tasks.
  • Modernize some of the old commands -- for example, the Data Table dialog box hasn't changed in 12 years. It was confusing then, and it's confusing now.

I could go on and on...

The main problem with Excel is that it's a very old program, and there's only so much that can be done with it. Last year, I proposed that Microsoft should retire Excel, and design a new spreadsheet product. It ain't gonna happen soon, but I still think it's a good idea.

Posted on 5 September, 2003

Vintage Shanghai Posters

Advertising posters, from Shanghai in the 1930's.

Shown here is a cigarette ad.

This Hatamen cigarette advertisement poster was likely produced prior to 1930 judging by the type of the outfit this cigarette girl has on. The Chinese characters just below the image stated the following: "taste good, excellent quality, and inexpensively priced".

Posted on 5 September, 2003

Legal Music Downloads

From Kuro5hin: Links to Tens of Thousands of Legal Music Downloads

If everyone started downloading legal music instead of violating copyright with the file sharing programs, we would make short work of the RIAA, because people would start buying CDs directly from the artists and seeing their shows instead of enriching the major labels by buying CDs from the bands the labels have chosen for us to listen to. The RIAA would also have no cause to complain - these music downloads do not infringe copyright because the artists give you permission to download them.

This is an excellent overview of the current state of the music industry.

(via The Lost Olive)

Posted on 5 September, 2003

Vintage Commercial Art

If you're as old as I am, you may remember some of this vintage commercial art.

This collection of art and photos all came from the Ray Patin Studios. They produced hundreds of amazing black and white TV commericals all through the 50's and early 60's.

It's definitely a unique style.

(via Scrubbles)

Posted on 5 September, 2003

Shopping At Goodwill

Goodwill has an online store.

shopgoodwill.com offers a wide array of antiques and collectibles pulled from Goodwill's vast inventory of donated goods. From unique one-of-a-kind items to estate pieces, the depth of resources is enormous. Revenues from auction sales fund education, job training and job placement programs for people with disabilities and other barriers to independence.

Posted on 5 September, 2003

Lynching In America

Lots of lynching photos at Without Sanctuary.

Searching through America's past for the last 25 years, collector James Allen uncovered an extraordinary visual legacy: photographs and postcards taken as souvenirs at lynchings throughout America. With essays by Hilton Als, Leon Litwack, Congressman John Lewis and James Allen, these photographs have been published as a book - "Without Sanctuary" by Twin Palms Publishers.

Please be aware before entering the site that much of the material is very disturbing.

Posted on 5 September, 2003


HTML/CSS fans might be interested in Listamatic.

Can you take a simple list and use different Cascading Style Sheets to create radically different list options? The Listamatic shows the power of CSS when applied to one simple list using samples from Eric Meyer, ProjectSeven, SimpleBits and others.

Posted on 5 September, 2003

The Funny Side of Celine Dion

I've always hated Celine Dion. I'm not sure why, exactly. Maybe it's her voice. Or maybe it's the songs she chooses to sing. Or maybe it's her looks. Or maybe all of the above.

But, it turns out, Celine Dion has a funny side. Here's a collection of Celine Dion photos that show her having some fun.

Posted on 5 September, 2003


RadioAid has non-stop streaming indie music. I gave it a try, and found three things wrong:

  1. It doesn't work with Mozilla Firebird
  2. The music variety isn't all that great
  3. The artists must pay to be played.

If you're looking for the best source to hear indie music, there is no better place than Whole Wheat Radio. It has a great variety of music, it's interactive, and it has actual live people at the controls -- who are often incredibly funny.

Posted on 5 September, 2003

Celebrity Tongues

A modest collection of photos of female celebrities sticking out their tongues.

Posted on 5 September, 2003

About That CD Price Cut

The Register manages to find some humor in the recent CD price reduction announcement: Universal's CD price cut comedy gets five stars

Step back, take a deep breath, gather some courage and then let out the deepest, abdominal-wrenching gut laugh you've ever experienced. Universal Music Group has lowered CD prices. The hilarity of the situation has gone unnoticed by most media outlets. They've portrayed Universal as a brave white knight taking a bold stand to try and correct a very wrong situation.

Posted on 5 September, 2003

Intro To Excel Programming

A new article by Frank C. Rice at MSDN: Super-Easy Guide to the Microsoft Excel 2003 Object Model

It's a decent introduction to Excel programming, but the title is very misleading. It just barely scrapes the surface of the object model, and nothing in the article is unique to Excel 2003.

Posted on 5 September, 2003