Rant: People who take things for granted

Over the past few days, I’ve seen this happen more than once, and it never ceases to amaze me.

For years, there has been a story passed around at work where one of our members came to a wine & cheese party.  She proceeded to stuff her pockets with cheese, so she could take it home for later.  Based on where I’m hearing this story from, I have absolutely no doubt that it happened, but it was always good for a laugh.  First off, the folks that are members at our resort are fairly well to do, so it’s not like she couldn’t afford her cheese.  For her sake, she just seemed to think she was entitled to take as much stuff as she could, and that was that.

So last week we had the grand opening of our new showhome.  There was a big VIP event on the Thursday, and it opened to the residents of the area on Saturday.  We’re pretty proud of the place, so we made a bit of to-do about it, and even provided sandwiches at lunch time.  So then, one of our staff sees this guy drive up in his fancy car, park, and go in to the house.  30 seconds later he comes out with a couple of sandwiches, gets back in his car and drives away.  Now granted, he could have sprinted through the entire house, or maybe he even managed to see it before the opening somehow.  Regardless, I think the guy missed the point.  We weren’t trying to cater a free lunch for the area residents, (to be fair this is the only guy I heard of who did this,) but were rather trying to provide lunch for those who were genuinely interested in the place.  Again, a sense of entitlement that I just can’t identify with.

Now, lest you think this is all a complaint on behalf of the company I work for, it’s not.  Last night I saw this again “in the wild”…

My daughter was a pretty good kid this week, so we took her to her favourite video store so that she could rent a video on Friday night.  Now this video store is pretty cool in that they provide free popcorn and paper bags, so you can munch popcorn as you browse.  Everyone’s first stop is at the popcorn machine where you grab a bag, and then start shopping for the flick you want to see.  Actually, the popcorn is very good too, so another reason to go there.  :)

Now, the popcorn stand is in the very middle of the store and bears a sign that says “for customer consumption only” or some such verbiage.  Naturally, I figured that this was to stop the teen-agers from taking advantage of it.  What I saw last night shocked me though…

As we’re browsing the videos with our bag, (we share one between the three of us,) this couple walks in.  I’m going to hazard a guess and put them in their later 30’s.  At any rate, they head straight past the clerks to the popcorn machine, grab a bag each, and fill them up to heaping over the rim.  Then they turn around, walk right past the clerks, out the door, jump in their shiny blue Audi and drive off.  That car is not cheap, but obviously they were.

Why does this bother me?  We culled the sandwiches at our opening.  No more, as we felt that it was abused.  How long before the popcorn goes away?  I honestly wonder if these people think about, or even care, that they might ruin things for everyone.  We love that little perk, and would be very dissapointed if it were pulled.

I honestly don’t get it.  Where does this sense of entitlement come from?  I mean honestly, if you really wanted to get free popcorn, couldn’t you at least put on a show of browsing for a few minutes?  Who knows, you might see something you liked!  THAT is exactly why it’s free.  It’s a hook to get you looking at their stuff, and the least you can do is play the game with the vendor.  Anything less is ignorance, as far as I’m concerned.  And if you don’t like putting up a show, then go buy it elsewhere and don’t take the freebies.

Oh… and lastly, a jumbo sized bag of popcorn is available for sale for a whole $2.00.  Somehow, based on the car that they were driving, I think that they could have afforded that.

What text editor do you use?

Recently, I’ve been doing more work with modifying RibbonX (XML) code.  I started off in the CustomUI editor, which is essentially just a text editor that links to Office’s XML schema for validation.  As the files got longer, and scrolled off the screen, however, this great little program started to get really annoying.  It started flashing… a lot.

When your code does not all fit in one screen, and the top line has scrolled off the screen, the editor keeps refreshing to put your cursor on the last visible line of code.  So if you’re editing and want to read something five lines below, you need to type, scroll down, type, scroll down.  Every time you start hitting keystrokes, it refreshes with a flash to make sure the line of code you are writing is at the bottom of the screen.  Honestly, it’s enough to give you a headached.

Another shortcoming of the program is that there is no Find/Replace ability in it.  Personally, I’m not so used to XML that I write everything correctly the first time, and I’m also not totally used to my naming conventions either.  I frequently go back to update things to make them conform to what I want.

My solution is to copy all my XML to Notepad, edit it there, then copy it back to the CustomUI editor for validation and saving.  It’s painful, but it does work.  Notepad, of course, leaves some wants there as well.
Does anyone use other text editors?  Can you link it to validate the XML right in the editor?  I’m curious to know if I could get one (free) full featured program to do all of my editing, and just paste it back to the CustomUI editor for saving.

My code has been used by NASA…

Now this is straight out of the “How cool is that?” file. :)

Last week, I got an email asking a question about adapting the Print Multiple Worksheets to a PDF article that I have on my site so that it would print only the selected worksheets (instead of all of them.) At the time I remarked to my wife that it came form a nasa.gov email address, and that I thought it was pretty cool that someone from NASA was browsing my site. I sent back a code suggestion, and received the following reply from him:

Hey Ken,

There was definitely no way that I would have been able to do this without your code, so thanks a million, we appreciate it.

The guy who usually writes our macros is going to integrate this into our existing tools so that you can input your own path for file saving and this routine should become an integral part of our group’s (Electrical Power Systems for the International Space Station) existing tools. So, you’re a part of NASA now!!!

Again, thanks a million for the code.

J Yimin
JSC DF75[USA]
ISS Power Systems
Power Resource Office

To say “wow” is about the understatement of my life, I think. I worked on this code to create a redistributable package of financial statements that I knew would always come out looking exactly the same, no matter who printed them. I put it on my site because there were no examples available on the internet, and I could see the great potential that this would have for other users. Never in a million years though, would I have expected some of my work to be used in the International Space Station project.

After being speechless for a day, I finally emailed Mr Yimin back, asking if I could use the above as a testimonial on my site. He graciously agreed, and also shared a bit more of how they are using the code in their work.

Mr Yimin is in the team of Power Resource Officers (PROs) Flight Controllers, who create a wide array of analysis that pertains to the power channels on the International Space Station. It’s a pretty important job, as without this work, no one would know how much power is available for the upcoming weeks. (I can’t even begin to think of just how many things must have to be monitored to keep the station running and safe, but I don’t think it takes too much thought to realize that running out of power could have some catastrophic results.)

The team has created a tool that takes their analysis info and puts it all into excel. This has allowed them to chart their information, making it much more readable when reported to the entire team of flight controllers. The tool is essentially a one touch button that completely automates the process from start to finish. One stumbling block for them, however, was that they had no way to easily put it into a static report, so the PROs had been exporting the excel charts to GIF files. Needless to say, these didn’t scale well and could become difficult to read.

They are now using a modified version of my code to automate the process of printing all of their chart sheets to PDF files, getting their reports out in better detail, and little hassle.

So I’ve been telling everyone at work now… “See! It really IS rocket science!” :)

List of Office Control ID’s

Hello folks,

Here’s another resource that I’m going to add to my RibbonX table of contents… it’s the list of Office 2007 Control ID’s. This is a package of 24 Excel spreadsheets that list all of the Ribbon control names, types and even the tabs and groups that they reside in (if any). There’s one file each for Excel, Access, Word, Powerpoint and the RTM updates, and the rest are all for Outlook.

If you are trying to figure out what a control’s idMso is for Ribbon customization, these files will be invaluable to you. Just open them up, and start working through them with the filters to narrow down what tab your control is on, what group, etc… Very handy.

You may need to pass the Windows Genuine Advantage validation to get it, and be aware that it is an exe file that extracts into the goods. (Go figure that. You’d think they could just give you a zip file, but whatever.)

The file can be downloaded from this page on Microsoft’s site.

Just news

Hello everyone,

You may have noticed that my blog has been a little quiet lately.  I’m still here, it’s just that I’ve been working on other projects since returning from the summit.

A week ago, I delivered three days of Excel classes.  The first two days were for training the staff where I work, and were delivered as beginner and intermediate level training. The final day, however, was a course delivered to our local chapter of Certified Management Accountants, on how to create a re-usable spreadsheet.  This is one of my favourite areas to talk about, as you don’t need high level skill to do it, just a lot of thought into how your users will work with your project.  A brief synopsis of what the course covered is below:

  • Types of errors
  • Using the auditor toolbar
  • Laying out data
  • Using styles
  • Named ranges
  • Looking up data in tables
  • Proactive data validation
  • Reactive data validation
  • Spreadsheet protection (and it’s limitations)
  • Template creation

I’m happy to say that the course went off really well, and that the chapter may be interested in running some other Excel courses in the future.  :)

In addition to that, I have also joined up with a couple of other MVP’s and am working on a book about the Ribbon.  I can’t give any details on it at this point, but that is where I will be spending most of my free time for the next while.

I do plan to keep on posting, but if there is a long lag between posts, you know why.