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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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So I still hate Excel, but I have come to see the beauty of pivot tables. You can do magic with pivot tables. That said, it seems like I keep seeing pivot tables being used where we should just have data in a relational database, and query it as God intended.

We are in a situation where we have a client who wants a daily report with history of model runtimes and throughput. We are not in the sort of environment where I am just allowed to produce a reasonable solution … perhaps a web site that lets you view a report for a particular day, or look at time-series data in tabular and graphical form (at this level, even a small file-based back-end would be a treat). I have done that sort of cookie-cutter reporting before; we’re talking child’s play. However, that is considered “development” and development, unlike scripting, is a big no-no.

As such, the way we are allowed to produce this report to the satisfaction of this internal client is to send them an excel spreadsheet (that way they can “play” with the data. While I have automated the production of said sheet in perl as much as possible, certain portions must be implemented in VBA. Yes, it hurts. Weep for me.

In any event, the moral of this story is that pivot tables made some of the work easier, and that was nice, but I still hate excel. I think I said that already. What remains a mystery, however, is that adding a simple pivot table and chart to my workbook changed it from 27 kilobytes to 2.8 megabytes. I don’t get it.

Enough bitching. Sarah and I went to The Westchester to get some Christmas shopping done last week, and happened to visit the Apple store. The 30" screen is beautiful. I found the experience similar to using multiple LCD panels, except so much better. With that screen and OS X and a lot of windows open, it feels an awful lot like what X11 was supposed to facilitate. After using that for a few minutes, the top-of-the-line new iMac looked terrible, and felt very cramped. This was reminiscent of many other experiences that have ruined me to normal life, such as:

  • Drinking some of the best single malt scotch, and then suffering through blended whiskey
  • Drinking the best Champagne on earth, and then trying some “exceptional” sparkling wine from Oregon
  • Trying fantastic caviar, and then choking down some cheap roe
  • Driving an M3 and a 911, and then returning to anything less
  • Having fantastic European bread and pastries, and then having to suffer with a town that doesn’t seem to have a good bakery to save its soul
  • Learning with geniuses and marrying somebody brilliant and then ending up in a job with a bunch of average people

You get the idea. I am becoming a mac fanatic, without even owning one, and I think it will ruin me.