Monthly Archives: June 2013

Whither or wither Spreadsheets?

Adding my voice to the many past considering the future direction for spreadsheets…


Good question! Well it follows from the thoughts in an earlier post about user interfaces, and I am an avid user of spreadsheets and numerical modelling tools

And what does “spreadsheet” mean anyway?  It doesn’t spread anything? Not like a “word processor” processes words

The term is related to an archaic way of keeping your accounts, on a big analysis sheet. I used to get them from Stores when I was a young engineer, and we would use them as desk covers, to scribble random notes, hold our coffee cups, but never added a number up on one (we had already moved from slide rules to calculators with memories, maybe one or two).  You can still buy analysis sheets at Ryman (or maybe you can’t, if you use analysis sheets you might not have a computer…or Interweb)


Why are you so angry? Get out of my post!

So what should spreadsheets look like in a touch world with rich mobile clients on tablets?

Aside; I once tried a fully laptop-less day out with just an iPaq, Excel Mobile and virtual laser keyboard.  Suffice it to say what with a bouncy train, small tray table and tiny screen I did no useful work that day! (well it was a corporate karting day so I did some bonding instead…)

Excel and similar don’t really work on a small screen, and even in the touch enabled Office 2013 instantiation the interface is just too clunky, and the analysis pad metaphor becomes less appropriate for useful modelling, when you only have fingers and the on-screen keyboard takes up most of your screen real estate making formula entry a royal pain.

Also spreadsheets do just spread… so you need all the screen you can get.  I have a two screen setup with combined width of nearly a metre.   That’s 350 thousand square millimetres, right there, just for numbers…

Looking at developments you now have hipster ‘sheets like Grid.  So hip, in fact, it does not do any calculations!

Lets just step out of the room for a moment and imagine how that VC pitch went…

  • Pitcher: I’ve got this great idea for a new spreadsheet
  • VC guy: OK.  Tell me something good about it.
  • Pitcher: Well, it’s a grid thing that you can put numbers and text into so that you can organise the page really well…like, in straight lines up and down and across the page…
  • VC Guy: So…it’s a table…
  • Pitcher: (breathlessly, jumping up and down in seat) And what is really exciting is that you can paste pictures of all your friends into it too!
  • VC Guy: So…how do you add up pictures then?  (Said languidly but with a raised eyebrow; you see VC guy does know spreadsheets)
  • Pitcher: Oh, it doesn’t do any calculations, but you can put pictures of your friends it!
  • VC Guy: So…it’s a table…tell me something that is great about it…
  • Pitcher: You can put pictures of your friends in it!
  • VC Guy: So…tell me something else great about it
  • Pitcher: Mrmrmmble…you can put pictures of your friends in it
  • VC Guy: So…WHAT? (stands up, preparing to throw Pitcher into a nearby pit of hungry wolves)
  • Pitcher: Did I say it runs on an iPad?
  • VC Guy: Brilliant!  I’m in, put me down for $25 million! (choir of angels sings, sunshine beams down from the sky)

Well maybe, then maybe not, but we can wonder

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Anago Assemble which has the modelling studio interface down pat (pat-ented, too, according to the website), but it is a previous generation web-only, non-touch system and comes with consulting attached, and no downloadable version.

So a touch “spreadsheet” might actually look something like this scribble below…

Touch spreadsheet scribble

…with two views: a model view where you can fondle and dab to make set up the calculations with some nice radial menus, finger friendly szzyzzhing and szzuzzhing of the on-screen objects, carousel effects, and such like, and a page view where you position the output displays (cue more szzyzzhing and szzuzzhing)…but overall it would have to be different, of course, from any patented concepts, which makes it harder…

Not really like the spreadsheets of old, though.  Nuff said.


Well not really, one last thing, just down the page here is a whacky idea which is only very peripherally related to the topic of this post and that I once sent to Mindjet in a geeky outburst to help them add a new feature to Mind Manager…a sort of pivot table for Mind Maps.  It would probably have Tony Buzan turning in his grave, but it did get a bee out of my bonnet.  You saw it here first, everybody will want this…

Mind Map Pivot Table concept

On Bullets …

    • In the world of consultancy, of bullets there should be three
    • Except in Europe: France and Germany, where there may be five or seven, you see
    • So all the rest of your good thoughts should cluster under, all MECE…

    With apologies to everybody everywhere

    So that was my first attempt to write a blog post on my Samsung Note 10.1 whilst mobile.

    What did I learn?

    1. Getting used to hand writing recognition on a non – Windows device takes a little while – still not yet really as good as Windows 7/8;
    2. WordPress for Android is not very good at handling anything but basic text – had to enter HTML tags just to have some bullets, ugh!
    3. WordPress for Windows phone is much prettier and even has a visual editor;
    4. Windows Live Writer is hard to beat and generally sets the benchmark- although I have not yet tried anything heavyweight;
    5. Zoundry Raven does not seem stable enough to rely on
    6. Poetry (or even Poetree) is not my bag at all!

How Does The New iOS 7 Stacks Up Against Windows Phone 8?

Hmm….some quite similar looks…I’ve been a long time fan of Windows Phone. Good to see that Apple is catching up.

How Does The New iOS 7 Stacks Up Against Windows Phone 8? –

Posted from WordPress for Android

The Bluetooth Boy is now powered by WordPress!


After some thought and consideration, the Bluetooth Boy and the 6log blog have now moved to a new blogging platform.

6log used to run on the Simple PHP Blog, which was, well, simple, indeed, one of its best points.  But alas, some of the fancier features of the blogging world have passed it by, like mobile access, social network sharing and such sorts of goodies.  And with pressure of life and stuff I have been finding that the hand-cranked way I was loading HTML formatted blog posts, was just too time-consuming, so that my blog-rate had reduced to a crawl.


So, Single Retail Banana, Unhappy Voucher and the Crunchy Octopus have now found a home on an upgraded service based on WordPress 3.5.1.  The migration was aided by various bits that other people have left lying around the Web after their own efforts, mainly a migration script by Miguel Herrero (with significant mods to cope with the new WP term tag/category structure), and an SPHP permalink plug-in from Florian Klien.

So we shall see now, if I can fight my way through the comment spam…

comment spam seems to be endemic to WordPress linked blogs, compared to good old SPHPBlog – the first arrived as I was writing this post!

…and post a bit more frequently