[clug] Pointless time-wasting bash questions (and time-wasting that the average Linux user avoids)

Scott Ferguson scott.ferguson.clug at gmail.com
Fri Jun 26 03:47:34 MDT 2015

On 26/06/15 19:00, Hal Ashburner wrote:
> On 26 June 2015 at 18:12, Eyal Lebedinsky <eyal at eyal.emu.id.au> wrote:
>> Oh boy! My experience is that in the business world a person learns *one*
>> tool and uses
>> it for everything. When you have a hammer and all that.
>> I knew people doing doco, meetings, discussions, presos and whatnot in
>> excel.
>> Most emails were an embedded excel that held the actual content. Really.
>> Just saying.
> /me looks a bit sheepish and mutters something about having written a
> bodgy webserserver in excel that was used in production at a pretty
> large company for pretty core stats gathering - presenting a data
> entry webform to various department heads. This is only one example of
> sick, awful, twisted crap I did because I was not allowed to use perl,
> python, bash, java, C or anything else on a locked down windows
> system. "Get those guys to quote an internal charge of $1m and 5
> months or go to the weird nerdy guy with the spreadsheets who makes
> them do all sorts of things?" I was being paid to extensive financial
> analysis of potential takeover targets at the time but a lot of the
> core software just didn't work. Play "guess the consulting firm who
> took $50m to produce rubbish" at this point if you like, I won't
> comment.
> When you're stuck in one of these places and you're not employed to
> hack but refuse to follow the official process of, no s***t, "print it
> out, then open this other program, and type in the contents on the
> paper" excel is one of the few things that is almost always present
> and is usually not locked down. Or that's how it was last time I had
> to deal with windows on my desktop - about 10 years ago. VBA is what
> it is, sure, but it's literally so much better than nothing. Spare a
> thought for "users" it's pretty horrific out there in the pod farm.

1++ (likewise Eyal's comments).

Sadly, the same management who want everything in an Excel spreadsheet
so they can see it in a "table" - then have trouble when they print it
out and stick all the pages together so they can "read" it (sigh - even
emails get printed - and multi-page guides that they then can't "search"
for the relevant info).
Suggestions like, um, an index on the first sheet with links to the
relevant pages, locked cells, named ranges and cells, separate data
source sheets at the back with (blasphemy!) lookups - are all rejected
(too easy to maintain?). Input masks and validation? Error checking and
helpful feedback? No again (why too complicated if *you* are not going
to do the work?).
IT is something that help desk do (it involves fixing PEBCAK and
plugging thingies in), administration is something that everyone with a
computer on their desk does (actual work is what they do in their free

I've put small "tables" (you know - columns and rows) into Word docs...
didn't stick.

I've put the data that usually populates big spreadsheets (that do *no*
data manipulation) into Access (good for RAD, bad for multi-user) and
setup reports behind friendly gui screens, only to have every Excel
"designeer" put pictures of me on their dart boards. In one instance
someone spent days taking the data from the reports - into a spreadsheet
(so he could get the "big picture").

Desktop publishing should *not* take longer to create than the sum total
of the time spent by all the people reading it - but... not in some
places. And don't get me started on bloody Powerpoint presentations.
(OK, some might be useful - otherwise just email me the text and I'll do
something useful with the meeting time - like sleep).

Faxes? A law firm who I won't name, but who are "experts" on the law
relating to digital rights - insisted that only faxes could be used as
evidence in court. They refused to entertain the idea of digital
signatures - and the office still uses an email server that anyone with
minimal skills can spoof in minutes (no SPF or DKIM). I suspect the fax
thing is less a love for transcription (they, like many won't plug a
phone line into modem card so they print/scan/type instead) than
conservatism, calcification, and the nice fee for processing a fax
($25). Online contracts using digital signatures? No way - it's couriers
(witnessed by ??) or conferences ($$). They still paid me for showing
them how to save a *lot* of money. By cheque. Go figure.

I'll stop now.

Kind regards

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