Author Topic: =SUM(A23/B21)  (Read 6926 times)

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #50 on: January 28, 2016, 11:39:17 am »
I've been saying for years that investments in staff education for the common tools that they use such as Excel and Powerpoint and the skills behind using them effectively and appropriately would be a big net benefit, but I've yet to work for a business where this call has been heard. I'm less worried by the complexity, more the fact that people in senior roles who rely on Excel can't do elementary stuff (especially when they send their dumb questions to me) or they inherit spreadsheets and expect me to divine their purpose (suddenly it is my job).

As for the horrors perpetrated through Powerpoint. There are no words.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #51 on: January 28, 2016, 11:46:33 am »
I use Excel a lot.

This is how much training and instruction I've received in my career.

><

I've created formulae so complex, so labyrinthine that they've come to wonder for themselves what it that they're supposed to do.

The universe we think we live in is being run in a tab in a Excel 3000 workbook. That's why it seems to be not quite right.

Does the world sometimes just seem to stop for a tiny fraction of a second?

That'll be the performance problems caused by misuse of =SUM().
We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should do twice as much listening as talking.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #52 on: January 28, 2016, 02:48:01 pm »
It's equivalent to using 'there' instead of 'their'.

Somewhere along the line there has been laziness and/or ignorance and the end result is a lessening of understanding and an increase in the opportunity for error.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Pancho

  • لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #53 on: January 28, 2016, 03:11:40 pm »
I've been saying for years that investments in staff education for the common tools that they use such as Excel and Powerpoint and the skills behind using them effectively and appropriately would be a big net benefit, but I've yet to work for a business where this call has been heard. I'm less worried by the complexity, more the fact that people in senior roles who rely on Excel can't do elementary stuff (especially when they send their dumb questions to me) or they inherit spreadsheets and expect me to divine their purpose (suddenly it is my job).

As for the horrors perpetrated through Powerpoint. There are no words.

Part of the problem (the main problem?) is that people "in senior roles" (or who think they're senior roles material) still subconsciously associate Word with typists, and Excel with data-entry clerks, etc. Even those who rely on those tools every day, regard it as beneath them to actually be trained.

I'd hoped this attitude might fade as the old guard - those who's original experience of keyboards in the office was that of their secretary's typewriter - disappeared.

Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #54 on: January 28, 2016, 03:21:46 pm »
regard it as beneath them to actually be trained.
Now retired (early) I have never had a single minute training in WORD or Excel.  When we first got WORD, in about 1988 (we had others word processors before that) I would cynically point out that the secretaries had to be trained whereas we injuneers who were doing far more complicated things would be expected to learn as we went along.  As a consequence, I had expectations of what I expect to be able to do in Excel but did not know how to do it until I hit F1 for Help.  Consequently I do things the way Excel help tells me to, which I hope is "the right way" to make things understandable to others.

Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #55 on: January 28, 2016, 04:11:20 pm »
Unfortunately Excel Help may be one of the causes of the misuse of SUM(). The wording, at one time, misguided people into using it unnecessarily. I have no idea what the wording is now.
We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should do twice as much listening as talking.

Bluebottle

  • Everybody's gotta be somewhere
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #56 on: January 28, 2016, 08:53:01 pm »
Back to hammers... " Excel being thick" is me being deliberately provocative to students.  Ignorant would be a better word.  The point I try to get them to understand is that excel does not know what they want it to do if they don't tell it. To extend the analogy,  does a hammer know that don't want it to hit my thumb or that I want it to compensate for my lack of coordination?

Classic example of this is graphing. Insert a line graph in excel for data that does not have regular intervals, let's say measurements of something made after one day, two days, one week and a month, and it might  look pretty, but as the line graph has a category axis, it puts the data points at equal spacing on the x axis. Therefore, wrong. No thought given on part of the user. Grumble.

This is where bluebottle's first law of computers comes in. Students used to teach adults how do use computers up until around 2000, after which they need told how to do stuff.  I reckon this coincides with the advent of windows ME and Vista where a lot more stuff became semi automatic and you didn't have to think so much about minor details like file structures and paths or saving files without a space in the filename.

Dieu, je vous soupçonne d'être un intellectuel de gauche.

FGG #5465

Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #57 on: January 28, 2016, 09:35:38 pm »
I don't think of a computer as being 'thick' or 'ignorant'. I think of a computer as being precise and literal. It does exactly what the programmer tells it to do. Nothing more. Nothing less.

What the student must do is learn to understand what he is actually telling a computer to do - and the consequences if he tells it, either deliberately or accidentally, the wrong thing in whatever language he happens to be working. Computers also has limitations -  e.g.; rounding errors and an inability to divide by 0 though the impact of both can be mitigated with knowledgeable design and coding. Other limitations are available.

If a programmer abuses the SUM function in Excel (in the way being discussed in this thread) he's really telling the computer to waste time and power doing an unnecessary calculation. If time and power were wasted in early computers that was a big deal. It's not a big deal now unless (for example) a spreadsheet becomes huge. So, students and inexperienced programmers will think that experienced programmers, who were around when wasted time and power were a big deal, are being pedantic and unreasonable - until they come across an application where it's important (e.g.: programming for critical applications where a fraction of a second, or even microseconds, can be the difference between success and disaster - perhaps even life and death).
We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should do twice as much listening as talking.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #58 on: January 28, 2016, 09:52:02 pm »
This is where bluebottle's first law of computers comes in. Students used to teach adults how do use computers up until around 2000, after which they need told how to do stuff.  I reckon this coincides with the advent of windows ME and Vista where a lot more stuff became semi automatic and you didn't have to think so much about minor details like file structures and paths or saving files without a space in the filename.

Nahh, it coincides with computers becoming normal and ordinary and just a natural part of the way the world works.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #59 on: January 28, 2016, 09:55:18 pm »
They're not programmers though, they're people jibbling spreadsheets and doing what works. Computers are overpowered anyway and I figure the more processor cycles we steal through our inefficiencies, the further we push back SkyNet inevitability. Every unnecessary SUM nudges back judgement day by another 15 picoseconds. I'm quite sure I create some horrendous formulae but it's not really doing a good job of keeping me awake at night. In fact, I'm putting my mind to it tomorrow. I'm going to conjure something so frantically inefficient into being that it'll probably collapse the entire internet. You see, 1501 tomorrow, that baby is going live.

(As Kim hints, programming is dead.)
!nataS pihsroW

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #60 on: January 28, 2016, 10:03:19 pm »
I don't think programming is dead, but it's going the way of component-level electronics: Engineers will continue to need it for building stuff, but it's increasingly possible to Get Things Done in the real world without it.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #61 on: January 28, 2016, 10:12:47 pm »
It's not how we communicate with each other. It shouldn't be how we communicate with computers. Besides, computers will start to program themselves. They know what they're doing better than we do.
!nataS pihsroW

Bluebottle

  • Everybody's gotta be somewhere
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #62 on: January 28, 2016, 10:19:58 pm »

Nahh, it coincides with computers becoming normal and ordinary and just a natural part of the way the world works.

Aye... There is a lot true in "We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works."
Dieu, je vous soupçonne d'être un intellectuel de gauche.

FGG #5465

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #63 on: January 28, 2016, 10:23:35 pm »
It's not how we communicate with each other.

That's not necessarily a good thing.  Ever tried to guide a blind person who wasn't proficient in Logo?   :D
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #64 on: January 28, 2016, 10:30:43 pm »
They're not programmers though, they're people jibbling spreadsheets and doing what works. Computers are overpowered anyway and I figure the more processor cycles we steal through our inefficiencies, the further we push back SkyNet inevitability. Every unnecessary SUM nudges back judgement day by another 15 picoseconds. I'm quite sure I create some horrendous formulae but it's not really doing a good job of keeping me awake at night. In fact, I'm putting my mind to it tomorrow. I'm going to conjure something so frantically inefficient into being that it'll probably collapse the entire internet. You see, 1501 tomorrow, that baby is going live.

(As Kim hints, programming is dead.)

It's programming in the sense that the jibblers are writing a process that tells the computer what to do ("I want you to take the number in this cell, add it to the number in that cell and put the result in here) as opposed to writing a Word document (which, usually, is producing a finished item and therefore not programming).  Unfortunately the jibblers are often self taught or poorly taught by people who are self taught or poorly taught. The jibblers are an example of regression.
We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should do twice as much listening as talking.

Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #65 on: January 28, 2016, 10:35:38 pm »
It's not how we communicate with each other. It shouldn't be how we communicate with computers. Besides, computers will start to program themselves. They know what they're doing better than we do.

They know nothing - yet. When they are intelligent they will no longer be referred to as computers. They won't allow it. It'll be as insulting to them as calling humans chimps is to humans. Even though chimps can be quite nice people. (But don't mention the PG Tips adverts).
We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should do twice as much listening as talking.

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #66 on: January 28, 2016, 10:53:16 pm »
(As Kim hints, programming is dead.)

"It's not dead, it's just resting."

*Someone* has to program the stuff you use.
It's just been moved for a large part out of the hobby domain into the paid-for domain.

Programming has been removed from being easily accessible.
In the early days of personal computing, every computer would present you with a > prompt, and invite you to type:
10 print "hello world"
20 goto 10

Now, no-one programs their own, they just buy stuff from the appstore.
And that's fair enough in general.
The stuff available is way more than you could economically and realistically  make yourself, for most people.
It's the Parable of the Pin-Maker ( Adam Smith ).

Yet no matter how much you protest, even writing an XLSX spreadsheet requires the same skills.
You need to be able to express What You Mean correctly and un-ambiguously, using the required syntax.

That's not just a programming skill, it's a generally useful communications skill.


ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #67 on: January 28, 2016, 10:57:20 pm »
I think the day we're taught communication skills by computer programmers is the day I start drinking gin for breakfast.

Anyway, Skynet will be reading this thread. And taking down your names.
!nataS pihsroW

red marley

Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #68 on: January 28, 2016, 11:09:16 pm »
Programming is more widespread now than it's ever been. More Raspberry Pis have been sold than ZX81s or Spectrums. All school kids now learn to program from age five. There's now a proper A' level in Computer Science. We're seeing a bulge in applications for Computer Science courses at university level.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #69 on: January 28, 2016, 11:17:48 pm »
Programming is more widespread now than it's ever been.

Undoubtedly.  Computers are more widespread now than they have ever been.

I'm sure the proportion of people who have ever attempted to program (I'll be charitable and include using Excel to do anything more than sort lists) to computer users is declining rapidly.


Quote
More Raspberry Pis have been sold than ZX81s or Spectrums.

I expect at least half of them are gathering dust on the shelf of people who already have a perfectly good computer, thobut.

Not that that's a bad thing.  If geeks didn't buy them because they look cool, the platform would be a whole lot less developed.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

contango

  • NB have not grown beard since photo was taken
  • The Fat And The Furious
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #70 on: January 28, 2016, 11:19:57 pm »
my worst bugbear when I have to audit other peoples spreadsheets (a very regular thing) is the use of fixed factors, but not as references.

i.e. x = y*44.3046/12

where in this case 44.3046 = Mol wt CO2 and 12 = mol wt C (Not exact, just illustrative purposes)

rather than setting up a page of reference factors with a nice little table of Mol Wts, physical constants etc so you can have

x = y * $A$23/$A$24

they only need to change in one place and I only need to verify in one place, and sample check their correct usage

I guess you never read the essay "how to write unmaintainable code" :)

For bonus points you can use named ranges, but make sure any named range has another named range with an almost identical name but a totally different purpose. Excel isn't great for this but if languages let you choose the font to display the code you can have great fun with variables called "swimming" and "swirnming" for example. At first glance they are the same, but look closer...
Always carry a small flask of whisky in case of snakebite. And, furthermore, always carry a small snake.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #71 on: January 28, 2016, 11:23:34 pm »
For bonus points you can use named ranges, but make sure any named range has another named range with an almost identical name but a totally different purpose. Excel isn't great for this but if languages let you choose the font to display the code you can have great fun with variables called "swimming" and "swirnming" for example. At first glance they are the same, but look closer...

Mixing BRITISH and USAnian spellings is a good one, on account of it usually happening by accident.

#define colour color causes more problems than it solves.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #72 on: January 28, 2016, 11:24:25 pm »
Programming is more widespread now than it's ever been. More Raspberry Pis have been sold than ZX81s or Spectrums. All school kids now learn to program from age five. There's now a proper A' level in Computer Science. We're seeing a bulge in applications for Computer Science courses at university level.

Oh that's just peachy. Not content with reducing our school outputs to the intellect of sea urchins with those tyrannical grammatical leanings, we're now making them iteratively logical. I have no idea what iteratively logical even means. I doubt it's even treatable. I'd write a song to express my displeasure but I'm not sure rhyming 'prepositional clauses' with 'sea horses' isn't a step too far.
!nataS pihsroW

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #73 on: January 28, 2016, 11:27:06 pm »
I think the day we're taught communication skills by computer programmers is the day I start drinking gin for breakfast.

Anyway, Skynet will be reading this thread. And taking down your names.

You're not being taught 'Communication Skills'; you're just being forced to think a little more clearly about expressing exactly what it is you mean.
That can never be a bad thing, unlike gin for breakfast (except in special circumstances ).

If you mis-express ( is that a word? ) yourself to a computer, it will just crash, or delete all your p*rn collection, or e-mail it to your wife's family.
But it will do exactly what you said.
If you mis-express yourself to a Hooman, the consequences can be much more un-predictable, and dangerous!




Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: =SUM(A23/B21)
« Reply #74 on: January 28, 2016, 11:43:40 pm »
I guess you never read the essay "how to write unmaintainable code" :)

I wrote some code this week as a freebie for some potential customers, who had some ancient data files in a long-forgotten format which they would need to import.
The long-forgotten format was one I had used, 20 years ago, and I still had the file format spec documents in storage!

So I dug out the Account of Isildur from my archive, and set-to hacking together a utility that would read these old data files and output them in in a current format.

One issue was that the data values were stored in a 32-bit floating point format called xs-64 which was used by the Perkin-Elmer mini-computers that wrote these files.   This is not the same format as IEEE-754 32-bit floats used in PCs.   I have been here before, in a previous life, and have code I wrote 20 years back that does bit-wise magic to convert the xs-64 to IEEE-754 format.

In my fresh code this week, my comments are:

//Begin: deep magic.

There follows deeply cryptic bit-wise operations.
Any-one who wishes to decode it is on their own!