Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

High-Clast Rock and Roll

One of the reasons I know the Kindle is an exciting thing for me is that it makes my existing data and thoughts more valuable. I think this is a good metric for any life-changing tool. It does mean that I need to spend a lot more time organising my documents, and possibly writing tools to sanely manage device import/export, but that's worthwhile.

There has been Carnival, with pictures that I will put up soonish.

  • Thursday: First walk around carnival, a few conversations with people I don't see much anymore.
  • Friday: Took a lot of pictures, saw most booths, did some hanging out. Not being depressed anymore seems to make it easier to socialise, although perhaps some of the people I would socialise with are also a bit older and more with-the-social-graces.
  • Today: Woke up late, saw a bit more Carnival but it was heavily raining and most of the booths decided to cut power and were understaffed. Oh well.
No invites to parties or anything but random hanging-out, but that's really more of a symptom of the friendships I failed to make than where I am now. Oh well. It'll just make it easier to leave Pgh without looking back so much.

After Carnival: Fondue downtown at the Melting Pot, where I had to sit at an uncomfortable booth but the fondue was predictably good. I might go back to Carnival for the fireworks later tonight.

This morning I was reflecting on spreadsheets, namely how nice it would be to have a CLI for them. It's nice that they're programmable on the cell-level, but what if I often need to sort specified ranges of cells, or simiar? Why isn't there a command window where I can say SORT(B20:F99,arg1,arg2,make_sortspec(D,E,F)) or something like that?

This ties to a general problem in spreadsheets; most of them are based on the VisiCalc model, and while they've gotten better of the years, their quality is near a local optima. The good stuff in spreadsheet theory isn't nearby; some of it is in more experimental prodocuts (like Lotus Improv or Apple Numbers), some of it probably hasn't been thought of because we're too used to what we have.

Over the years, I've slowly grown reasonably proficient at spreadsheets; I think of them like a low-quality version of SQL (FWIW, I like SQL), and I can do complex things with them. Still, there usually comes a point in each spreadsheet's life where I want to turn it into a web app, redoing all the queries and interface to do what I actually want without the hoop-jumping.

Maybe what this means is that the spreadsheet of my dreams (which hasn't been written yet, I'm sure) uses SQL behind the scenes and can spit out a mod_perl app that's ready to be refactored to take things to the next level.

More ideas to blog about, and lieky Carnival pics to share, soon.


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