Tuesday, October 18, 2005

This past week, I was working on a problem that was a little puzzling. we have this application that exports a set of records to excel. The problem that we were having was that halfway down the export, suddenly, dates and numbers were being converted as text. So we had this wierd mixture of a half number, half text export. - not a very good situation for our users who were using this to key off of for other systems. Why, you ask, were they not just getting a database dump? Well, that's a question for a different time and place where rational thinking holds sway and time is more plentiful than flowing rivers of milk and honey.

Anyway, I found the issue and made the corrections. So now, here's the answer should you ever really find yourself facing the same perplexing situation. What happened was that my export script wasn't trapping for certain types of information. now normally, you might think, hey, i'm exporting stuff into a format that excel can read, normally everthing that's coming out of the system should be text, and it should be easy for excel to understand this and interpret it in a proper fashion.

Well, i gotta tell ya, that thinking will work for about 99% of the cases, but then out of the blue excel pulls a fast one on you. What I found is that if you have special characters at the start of a cell export, it will actually try to interpret that information as a formula. So for example, if you have the unfortunate occurance that one of your users decides to try and add text bullets to their text, excel tries to be helpful and interpret that as a formula.

For example:

- a22 is the id of the new system
- i just wanted to add this as a test

Should both be interpreted as a function when importing them into excel. As a consequence, excell doesn't know how to interpret the function, which creates an issue with all the rest of the imported cells that follow the offending text. I'm not sure why this happens, but it does....

Therefore, I offer you this updated version of a function that i found for use on http:///www.cflib.org to export queries to excel to include some filtering information just to strip out the offending characters.

it's not beautiful, but it works... (click link to download code)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

So, it's been a big week. At work, my main man Tarik has decided to leave for greener pastures. The guy is good, and an awesome friend. I'm really going to miss commuting with him and having conversations about the state of the union and such. He's been a huge influence at eBay. If anybody ever needs a top notch web application architect, he's your man.

This blog is supposed to be about toys and web development and such, but you know, at this moment, that stuff isn't on my mind. I've been pondering about a different topic since this morning when I found out about the supreme court nominee that Mr bush has nominated. I gotta say I don't know anything about her qualifications or anything about what she has done, but I keep thinking about two facts. 1. She has worked for the president before and been a lobbyist in Texas. 2. She has never been a judge before. Now, I have a conservative bent to me, no doubt about it, but I definitely don't rubberstamp everything that Mr bush or the republican senators do. And I gotta say that this nomination strikes me as an incredible display of cronyism and favoritism. You'd think bush would have learned his lesson from the Fema affair, but apparently not.

Sheesh George, how about hiring someone who at least has had some judge experience... You know you could probably get whatever justice through that you wanted. I have to think that there are more qualified candidates out there....

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

So it appears that the takeover of Skype by eBay has taken place. eBay is touting it as the new communication wave and i think they are expecting that it will accelerate business on the site. Seems like I can see how they will fit together now, but honestly.... I think eBay overpaid.

Yup, I said it. I think they paid quite a premium for a company that has shaky financials. Just because they have a ton of people signing on to the system, doesn't mean that they are going to be the dominant force in voip technology. I mean, look at ICQ. Back in the day, they were the thing, now they are the dog of the im world. How much more low can you get than ICQ... I can't think of anyone that still uses it... I've migrated to other ims, and i'm much happier for it. Just hope that skype doesn't come down with the same kind of malady that affected ICQ. And cross your fingers that MSN or YAHOO don't blow them out of the water by turning all of their IM clients into online voip users...

On a completely different note, have you seen the new pen computer that leap frog has come out with? How much more cool can you get than that? I think it's an awesome step forward to capture that elusive 8-13 year old group of kids. for toys anyway. Have you noticed, there just aren't that many toys for kids that age.. why? because they've all moved on to grown-up toys... iPods, xbox, playstation, that's the way to your teenager's heart... even if it does mean that they are glued to the television and completely oblivious to you at any other time of the day.

so check it out... the demo is awesome The fly pen top computer.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I heard today that eBay's in talks to purchase skype for somewhere between 2 and 5 billion dollars. What's that all about and why on earth would they pay so much for a company that makes sooooo little? Is it that skype is expected to revolutionize the international trade community by allowing you to talk to someone on the other side of the world virtually for free? is it that skype has the potential to dominate the voip market in a few years by being the low cost leader? i'm not sure at this point. There's absolutely no indication that it's even a viable company at this point.

Well, i'm up in the air on this one. While i think that eBay is a great company that has a ton of potential, I think that the hype around skype might just be smoke out of a pipe.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

So i thought I'd initiate this blog by letting you know a little about myself and what's going on in wokits world. First off, I'm a web programmer, haven't gotten into the whole blogging thing until now because I've been very busy with a lot of other things and I haven't felt the need to start a blog... why am i starting now you might ask? I have no earthly idea. Things haven't slowed down any, but I think this should give me a good place to put my thoughts down. So, that said, let's get on to the important stuff, like what the heck do I do. I'm a programmer, a web programmer, like so many other guys out here on the web. I program in coldfusion, developed by macromedia but soon to be Adobe after they announced their merger about a month or two ago. I am currently employed by ebay, and I work on web programming for them. Along with my incredibly talented friend , we built an internal website that runs on coldfusion and allows for easy content/knowledge management. We've also started getting into a new technology called flex. so from time to time I'll be adding coldfusion and flex related stuff. In my off time, I work on my online business, selling toys on the internet. It's a site that we created that allows my wife to work at home and take care of our kids and allows me to dabble in my other interest which is business and all of the facets of running an organization. so time to time, i'll be posting business comments, comments about toys, and comments about programming. So, thanks for stopping by if you're reading this. hopefully, i'll post more. ;)