Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

I absolutely love the idea of StartUpWeekend and I followed the first event’s blog very closely. My interest went as far as contacting Andrew Hyde; the man behind StartUpWeekend about organising something in the UK. I never took it any further than that.

Mark Butcher of TechCrunch UK, has a well researched write up about how StartUpWeekend has progressed since then. It’s well worth a read.  After reading the article and parts of the blogosphere (see article for lots of links) I thought I’d throw in my 2p on the subject.

There is an interesting paradox here: it strikes me that the founders (the participants at each event) are expected to give their best ideas for the other founders to judge, select and to eventually build. Yet, StartUpWeekend is Andrew’s baby – from what I can tell he’s not taking undue credit for any of the companies founded. But I get the impression that the tension is down to the ownership of the weekend. I think the community expects Andrew to explicitly give his idea to the StartUpWeekend community at large.

Now, Andrew might feel that he’s already done this, and I concede I might not have read enough about it. Reading between the lines it seems to me that there is an expectation there that comes from BarCamp. It’s what the idea needs to spread further.


Make Your Excel Area Charts Beautiful!

Excel is one of my favorite applications. So I was a little disappointed when Excel didn’t quite behave as I had expected when I created an Excel Area Chart.

Step One

Here is some sample data that I’ve loaded up in Excel to illustrate the point.

Step One

Step Two

Select the Chart Wizard and pick any of the Area Charts. For this example I’ve picked a 100% Stacked Area Chart.

Step Two

Step Three

We can see already from the preview that the Area Chart shows a “drop off” from 2007 to 2008. That’s not quite what I had expected.

Step Three

Step Four

Note the X-Axis setting – we’ll revisit this shortly.

Step Four

Step Five

We need to change the X-Axis to a date and insert a duplicate entry for the last bits of data.

Step Six

Step Six

By applying a custom format to the range of cells, we’ve changed the data back to the original four digit year. However, Excel clearly understands the data it’s working with.

Step 7

Step Seven

We now need to go back and edit some of the Chart Options. Notice in the screenshot below the duplicate entry is shown.

Step Eight

Step Eight

By changing the X-Axis to time-scale that ugly drop-off is removed.
Step Nine

Step Nine

Now admire the finished product – sans ugly drop off 🙂

Step Ten


Great news, this advert has now been banned.

Importing a GoDaddy QuickBlog to WordPress

I finally moved my son’s blog onto WordPress today after encountering an issue that others have encountered. I managed to get an export file from a GoDaddy QuickBlog but when I imported it to WordPress I experienced some weird behaviour.

The comments and posts appeared in the WordPress “Dashboard” but I couldn’t get to them by any other means, i.e. I would have expected them to appear in the blog and the “Manage Posts” area.

When I started to copy/paste the posts with the intention of editing the timestamp, I noticed that the URL ended “post.php?action=edit&post=10”. A URL hack later and I was able to get to the older posts, I noticed that they were had been imported and left unpublished. A couple of clicks later and the migration is now complete.

Mobile Users = Second Class Citizen

I’ve came to the conclusion that the reason I don’t blog more than a couple of times a month is because of wordpress. Now while I’m infinitely more impressed with WordPress than GoDaddy’s QuickBlog. I think I’d blog more if WordPress’ mobile interface didn’t suck – please will you let me edit existing drafts on my mobile?

While I was pleased that Google Reader finally allowed us to share items on our Mobile’s why do we still not have search? Get on with it already!

PS. Plaxo, if you want me to try your product why don’t you offer proper syncing to my Blackberry 8800 too?

Nothing Worse!

The only thing that astonishes me more about how much I’ve learned over my life, is how much I’ve forgotten. Until last year this list included bitmasks and bitwise operations. (Fleming’s right hand and left hand rules are still on the list!)

Only when faced with a particular problem did my I remind myself that “bitwise and bitmasks are my friend!”. At the time, I became frustrated with .NET, I knew what I wanted to do and even with the aid of Google it didn’t feel right. It felt clumsy and unsatisfying.

12 months plus later, I finally came across the FlagsAttribute class. I don’t even recall how I came across it, at the time I knew I had to commit it to memory and on further investigation I think it is awesome. So, in the spirit of good will to all men (well anyone who deals with .NET), I’d recommend having a look at the MSDN code sample and this article from dotnet slackers about it. Sure, it’s a bit old school, but bitwise is your friend!