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. 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  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 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:


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 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

Best FREE utilities recommended by Ian “Gizmo” Richards

Sunday 8 October 2006 @ 8:42 pm

I just found this link in the past week and I wish I had found it long ago.

I have been impressed several times, just in the past month, by free software. I know that there is plenty of bad ‘free’ software that contains advertising, spyware or even worse junk. It takes time to sort the good from the bad. So when I found a site dedicated to evaluating and comparing these products, I couldn’t resist. Continue Reading »
Best FREE utilities recommended by Ian “Gizmo” Richards

Craigs List (free regional classifieds)

Monday 2 October 2006 @ 10:20 am

Craig’s list is an example of how the Internet can change the way business is done. It is a totally free classified’s service that is set up by geographical region, so it works well for listings where geography is an important factor – like selling furniture, jobs or used cars. I knew about Craig’s List but hadn’t given it much thought until my daughter was born last Fall. She didn’t sleep well as an infant and I wanted to find an overnight nanny who could help my wife during one of my short business trips. Continue Reading »
Craigs List (free regional classifieds)

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