Archive for the 'Off Topic' Category



My new non-existant employee

Saturday 8 December 2012 @ 7:54 pm

I got a really strange call yesterday. Someone called my office asking to speak to Crystal Coral. When I told them that there wasn’t a person by that name they asked if they had reached Ken Hamady, LLC. When I said,  “yes” they insisted that there was a person by that name who worked here, and that Crystal was the ‘Report Manager’.  When I asked them to spell the last name I realized they were talking about Crystal Corral. I explained to them that this was the name of a software package listed on my site, not the name of a person.  We both had a good laugh and he went on to his next cold call.

But today I tried to find the web page that might be confusing people.  I did a web search and was surprised to find a site called Jigsaw hosting a business card for Crystal Corral.  She apparently works for me as my “Report Manager” and her address and phone number match my business. I think someone’s data scraper software might need some tuning.

Below the card there is some marketing text to explain why you should sign up for Jigsaw:

“… Jigsaw has the business contacts found nowhere else.”

Well at least they are telling the truth. This contact is certainly not found anywhere else.

[update 12/19/2012 – apparently they have removed Crystal’s business card from the site, but it still shows up in a Google search. ]




Five intangible metrics

Saturday 24 December 2011 @ 9:59 am

People who create reports are always interested in metrics. This article in Forbes suggests five metrics that you will probably never see on one of your reports – but they still got some gears turning in my head.  Thought I would share.




Ninite.com installs and updates free software applications.

Thursday 4 August 2011 @ 10:48 pm

This isn’t strictly a Crystal topic, but it is a website that immediately earned a warm spot in my heart.   I was working with a customer who needed a PDF printer driver for extra wide exports, and I suggested CutePDF.  But instead of going to their site he went to ninite.com.  He checked off “CutePDF” from a list of about 90 free applications, downloaded an installer and then installed it in one click. I was impressed.

So I looked at the list of free applications and noticed several tools that I use were on that list, along with a few I have been meaning to try.  So I went to Ninite.com myself, checked off a dozen or so items and downloaded my own automated installer.  That installed all 12 of the applications in one click.  Those that were already installed were automatically updated to the latest version.  I was even more impressed.  No extra clicks, no extra tool bars, no figuring out which version you need and it is all on one site.  And I can rerun the same installer next month to see if any of these tools have an update or a later version.  If so it will be installed automatically.  Simple, elegant, free and effective.

And, thanks to Ron Ross, a Software Engineering Specialist at SPK and Associates for the heads up on this site.




Doing a “distinct count” in Excel

Tuesday 7 June 2011 @ 6:00 am

The Distinct Count summary function in Crystal Reports is pretty handy.  It allows you to count the number of unique values in a column.  It can eliminate duplicates from the count, even when the duplicates are NOT consecutive.

One of my customers wanted to do the same type of summary in an Excel spreadsheet.  We were both surprised that there was no function like this in Excel.  But after a few Google searches I came up with a workaround that lets an Excel formula do the same thing as the Distinct Count summary function in Crystal:

=SUMPRODUCT((A1:A99<>"")/COUNTIF(A1:A99,A1:A99&""))

You replace the three sample ranges “A1: A99” with  whatever your data range is.  I am not sure I could explain why it works, but it does.




The case against changing your password

Friday 23 April 2010 @ 2:07 pm

I don’t go off-topic much, but this article is one I thought worthwhile.  It is because I am constantly amazed at how little value people put on their time (or their employee’s time) when making decisions.  Maybe because I am self employed and bill by the hour I am more sensitive to wasted time than most people.

This article from the Boston Globe covers a study that shows that sometimes the security measures we are forced to follow aren’t worth the time they cost us, which is probably why compliance isn’t always complete.




So when does Winter start again (or end)?

Sunday 20 December 2009 @ 11:04 am

I had surgery on Friday 12/18.  Nothing serious, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to shovel any snow for a week or so after my surgery. So I intentionally scheduled the procedure before winter snow was likely to be serious.  Heavy snow isn’t common in Virginia in mid-December   Well, as many of you know, this area was hit with a record setting snowfall that started Friday night.  Here is a shot of the snow piled up on my deck.  I think the table (or the “birthday cake” according to my kids) is about 18″ deep.  Fortunately the driveway is  ‘only’ at about 13″.

==========
Added 2/6/2010:

We got another one, and this one is literally twice as deep as the one above.  It may be the all time record snowstorm for many areas here.  I shoveled  three times today while it was snowing and was able to bring the driveway down from 22 inches to about 4 inches but it was still coming down when I quit.

Our deck is even deeper than last time, with a 27″  birthday cake.  The funny part is the hand rail you see behind it.  This is only a few inches wide yet it has a 20″ wedge of snow balanced on it, making little walls on 2 sides of the deck.




The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code

Thursday 19 November 2009 @ 1:19 pm

I recently stumbled on an article on the site “Joel on Software” that I found interesting.  He lists 12 questions to help you rate the quality of a software team.  It is in response to what he considers the overly complex, time consuming methods that are often used to try and measure quality.   I thought some of you would find it interesting.




Calculate your share of a billion dollar expenditure

Thursday 9 April 2009 @ 10:34 pm

This article isn’t about Crystal Reports, but instead is for all of you who are doing your taxes this week.  I have a simple exercise you can do while you have your tax forms out.  And then the next time you read about a federal outlay in the billions or trillions, you will be able to calculate your exact share as easily as calculating a tip on a dinner check.

All you need to know is how much your tax bill was for last year.  It doesn’t matter if you got a refund or had to Continue Reading »
Calculate your share of a billion dollar expenditure




Email Hoaxes

Sunday 16 November 2008 @ 9:58 pm

I am surprised at how many of these get forwarded to me. They are easy to spot because they usually:
1) Arrive with a half page of CC Email addresses at top.
2) Urge you to forward the message to all of your contacts.
3) Describes some emergency or noble cause that needs everyone’s immediate attention.

I can assure you that ANY message that asks to be forwarded to everyone on your contact list is a hoax. (So is every request for UPC codes, pull tabs, post cards, etc – but that is another story.) So if you are ever tempted to click “forward”, first copy the key phrase from the message and Google it along with the word “hoax”. There are lists of hoaxes out there just for this purpose.




“Free” vendor management from Vendormate

Wednesday 12 March 2008 @ 10:39 am

This has nothing to do with Crystal Reports directly but I think it is important for my customers and other consultants to be aware of. Before you give your next fixed price quote to a large organization, ask them what paperwork and fees (if any) are involved in becoming a new vendor. Normally a w-9 tax form is all I am asked for. Some customers require an insurance certificate and a few have a special form to fill out.

But some companies are starting to have all of their vendors managed through a new and rapidly growing company called Vendormate. Continue Reading »
“Free” vendor management from Vendormate




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