Archive for September, 2005

Be nice to Excel

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Jim Minatel is, as always, right. No one should use Excel as a database! If you are one of those people who are really looking forward to having 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns (that’s a whopping 1,500% more rows and 6,300% more columns than Excel 2003 has!) in [tag]Excel 12[/tag] (when do they show us how to navigate through that?) then chances are you're abusing [tag]Excel[/tag] and need to use a database instead.

I guess [tag]Microsoft[/tag] are add this to Excel because people have asked for it but I really to wonder how many people actually need this and will actually find ti useful (or will it just encourage people to make crazy spreadsheets and then expect you to understand the significance of one particular number in a sea (17,179,869,183 to be exact) of other numbers? That would be one scary spreadsheet and I never want to see one!

Most US adults think Internet is dangerous for children

Friday, September 30th, 2005

ZDNet is reporting on a survey carried out for Zone Labs (the makers of Zone Alarm) which shows that most US adults (94% of 2,322 men and women, for those of you who like numbers) think that the internet is a dangerous place for children.

At the top of the list is predators in chat rooms (61%) with pornographic websites second (16%) with phishing, spyware and viruses also making the list.

Parents are right to be concerned about the dangers posed by the internet - it's a conduit into your home and to your children that can be abused by people who you otherwise wouldn't allow past the door. Just in the same way that you lock your doors, guarding who is allowed to communicate with your family over the internet is just as important.

I'm glad to see that Zone Labs isn't using this survey as fuel to push a new product. In fact, they are open about the fact that technology isn't the answer, instead good parenting is the first and best line of defense.

Zone Labs have a a free guide called "How to Protect your Family Online" on that parents can download. It contains some very sensible advice, such as having the internet-connected PC in the family room rather than in a bedroom or behind a closed door. Internet and chat room behaviour is going to be very different in full view of everyone else than it is going to be locked away in a room. It also highlights other possible dangers that face kids from the increasing popularity of cell phones.

I think though that while "stranger danger" is indeed real, it's not the only source of dangers and parents also need to keep an eye out for non-strangers too.

Stay safe out there and keep your family safe too!

Weekend fun – Annular eclipse

Friday, September 30th, 2005

OK, not really the weekend but ...

Monday, the moon will glide in front of the sun, producing a solar eclipse that's visible from Europe, Africa and the Middle East (it's not visible from the US).

The eclipse won't be total, but rather annular, meaning that the moon won't be big enough to completely cover the sun.

For more details visit and you can see an animated map at


MSN Search Plugins for Firefox

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Am I the only one surprised to see [tag]MSN[/tag] [tag]Search[/tag] blog mentioning a add-on for [tag]Firefox[/tag]? Am I the only one surprised by this statement on the MSN Search blog:

some of our customers prefer using Firefox and we respect that choice.

Is this part of Microsoft's plan to win the web? Either way, I agree with Shel Israel, it's a smart move on Microsoft's part!

Edited to add that based on what Ed Bott says, maybe Microsoft has developed an acceptance for Firefox ... they'ed better watch out!


Seriously, I think that it's a good thing all round.

The case for changing software licenses

Friday, September 30th, 2005

If you buy hardware and it turns out to be a dud you have a number of avenues open to you for redress. The same is not true for [tag]software[/tag].

Technology analyst Bill Thompson thinks it is time for software vendors to accept their liability.

I agree - the idea that you accept a [tag]software license[/tag] by installing a software package and that by accepting the license you accept it "'as is' with all faults" sounds a lot to me like "heads I win, tails you lose". Yes, it would bring liability to the software world and corporations and open source projects would have to come to terms with this (some companies are bound to be adversly affected - but that wold only be because of serious software issues causing a flood of [tag]liability[/tag] claims). In the face of constant [tag]security[/tag] [tag]vulnerabilities[/tag] that liability is what's needed to give companies the motivation they need to tighten up security, fix bugs and give YOU, the user, the respect you deserve. The tools that we currently use for business and leisure on out [tag]PC[/tag] have been developed and released with no vendor liability - we can see where that's taken us. It's time for things to change.