Posts by Karebac

    Today, I remembered a mail order house, popular in the 1980s, where one might order specialized books on Cobol and Assembler. All I could think of was the name Dan McCracken, who wrote on Cobol and Fortran. But persistant search in google revealed a website which boasts old computer books, and on that page, I found the magic word MURACH:

    I remembered that it was Mike Murach who offered those books. I could swear that, years ago I saw that one of his books was on the predicted decline of the programmer.

    Perhaps the book was

    The Decline and Fall of the American Programmer by Edward Yourdon

    Yes, Yourdon was another popular author then.

    When I saw that title, I thought it was foolishness. I never read the book, but now I see that it was not so foolish after all, but rather prophetic.


    " In 1992, Yourdon wrote The Decline and Fall of the American Programmer, warning of impending loss of leadership by American software engineers. But a great deal has changed in three years, and Yourdon now sees a complete reversal of many of the trends he previously documented, as well as new trends such as the WWW, Java, "Good Enough" Software, and the enormous impact of Microsoft on the world of software and computing, that together signify the Resurrection of American software engineering. "

    So in 1996, Yourdon wrote
    The Rise & Resurrection of the American Programmer

    Different recollection:

    In the early 90's, I served as a beta tester for a firewall product called LOCKDOWN, which protected one's computer from netbus trojans, who would access your computer while you are on line, and install a trojan.

    I had some conversations with the author of LOCKDOWN. He said the whole thing was written in Delphi. He said that one could not afford to develop in Delphi without a fast T1 connection to the internet, for the simple reason that the product, off the shelf, shrink-wrapped, was obsolete until one downloaded all the updates, which he said were massive downloads. His point was that, without fast T1, one would not be able to keep current with compiler updates.

    I became involved with LOCKDOWN because I was the victim of a totally new trojan designed to be specific to AOL, and to imitate various AOL screens. The Lockdown programmer spend an hour on the phone with me, talking me through the removal of the trojan (he did not use any remote log in program). Then, he had me email him the trojan to study. He used a powerful disassembler to convert the trojan back into its original code. He said it was a mixture of Delphi and Visual Basic. It had menus to do destructive things to the registry and to reformat the hard drive, etc.

    LOCKDOWN would sound an alarm everytime there was an intruder attack, and would then allow you to trace the intruder's IP address, and do a WHOIS on their provider.

    It used to be rather fun to trace intruders, and email their provider with a log which would help identify the hacker.

    Re: Counting To Column G

    Here is another true story from the early days of data processing. These were the days when everything was punched on to 80 column cards, and fed into a card reader. Bevys of keypunchers would enter the data all day long, and then verifyers would verify that all was correct.

    For a period of weeks, a very strange error would occur. At night, all the trays of cards would be in perfect balance. But in the morning, when they were run through card reader and processed by the computer, the batch would be off EXACTLY TWO RECORDS (cards). A team of programmers and systems analysts was given the task to solve this problem. One programmer was so involved, that he found it necessary to work late one evening. As he poured over program listings, he noticed a cleaning woman come into the computer room to sweep. She dutifully swept all the dust into a neat pile in the center of the floor. Then she went to a tray of cards, pulled one from each end, bend down, gathered the sweepings with the two cards, and tossed the sweepings and the two cards into the garbage can.

    Problem solved!

    Re: Counting To Column G

    Here is another amusing "fix" story.

    I had programmed a small family business (doing 3 million per year in the 1980s) in a language called Revelation (which was an implimentation of Pick Basic for MSDOS). The month end reports would run from 6pm until 5am the next day, and print 3 feet of reports on a dot matrix printer. I would usually come in at midnight, to check on the progress, since business could not resume until the run came to completion. At midnight I found a strange glitch which I had seen occasionally in the past. There was a DOS error message, but if you pressed the enter key, the computer would process another record, and give the same message. So, I went into the factory, fetched a heavy wrench, and rested it on the enter key, on top of a stack of quarters.
    The program sucessfully ran all night long in that fashion, with error messages from some keyboard problem, flying across the screen. This was perhaps the only time in computer programming history when an actually monkey wrench saved the day!

    Re: Counting To Column G

    I am reminded of two other, similar stories, of someone having sudden insight into a computer problem.

    An IBM system 34 would not boot up, no matter what anyone did. Suddenly someone present remembered something obscure during the SYSGEN phase, where you tell the computer how to configure itself. You can specify that a damaged spool queue can attempt to repair itself. The machine was in a hopeless loop trying to reconstruct a spool queue which was hoplessly corrupted.

    Another story. I had an RPGII programmer boss who absolutely despised the BLANK AFTER feature in printing, which is a way to zero out an accumulater buck at total/subtotal time. He said that it was dangerous to use, because it might at times fire off when you dont want it to.

    Several years later, a programmer came to me, with a payroll report of 10,000 employees (Stone & Webster's Engineering), that was OFF BY ONE PENNY. I took one look at the program, saw blank after, and said, "I bet this is your problem, and you have a one penny record in the batch"). Several hours later, he came back, astounded, and said that this was precisely the problem. He thought I was a wizard practicing voodoo. "How could you possibly know." But it was just a lucky hunch.

    Re: Counting To Column G

    Terrific story! I am reminded of my first computer operators job, when I was starting to do some programing in RPGII, on an IBM SYS3. We had hired a second computer operator, who often seemed not so smart. But he was the one who saved the day once. We were in parallel, with a newer model of IBM, against the old model it was replacing. All of a sudden, none of the orders were tying in. It seemed like a disaster. Two very experienced programmers and myself were scratching our heads. But the new operator pointed out that the invoice numbers were generated on the fly, depending on the order the cards were fed into the card reader. Voids were based on Invoice number. There were many that did not match.

    I feel the urge to post somewhere on this forum and share my experiences working through Dave Hawley's excellent tutorial. I feel the safest place to post is in this "Have A Chat" forum since I fear breaking the rules in some fashion by posting elsewhere. This is actually the sort of topic I have the urge to chat about, even though it might appear to be a technical Excel/VBA question posted.

    I am very curious about VBA for Excel, so I started first to work through the many VBA exercises. I was rather startled, at the end of Lesson 1, to see that I was invited to email my exercises to Dave Hawley. This is a pleasing personal touch. Within a day, I received answers to the exercises which contained some additional useful tips.

    Here is my tip for the utter beginner (which is what I am). This morning, I realized that I should cut and paste all the commands from the first two VBA exercises, print them onto a page, and then insert the page in plastic, so that I may carry it during the day, and gradually familiarize/memorize them. I feel I shall only make progress in these studies if I become very fluent in the command syntax, so that it comes naturally to me without some great struggle to look them up each time.

    I am particularly interested in learning to create user forms. Attached is my first experiment with a very simple user form which allows you to see the underlying spreadsheet activity/navigation as you issue various commands. I do hope it is O.K. if I attach my first attempt, in case it will prove useful or encouraging to other utter beginners.

    I was confused regarding spaces, zero-length strings (""), and numeric tests, so I added a command button to display LEN() as a msgbox. I know in some languages, the TRIM() command, when given a string of spaces, will return one space. My experiments seem to indicate that VBA TRIM will convert a string of spaces into a zero-length space "" (which I imagine is different from the actual (NULL) value.

    My goal is to increase in user form skills to the point that I can create a useful Order form for my employer. The salespersons fill out manual order forms by hand and fax them in. And they hate to use a calculator.

    I already created a fairly useful Excel spreadsheet, which contains a named range of SKU# product codes, descriptions, and two different price-breaks. The SKU Part # field is restricted to validate to the range of part numbers in the named range, and has a drop down arrow to allow a sort of pick-list, if one cannot remember the exact part number. I am trying to get case weights for all the products, so that the order form will compute the weight of the order for shipping. But my feeling is that I can enhance this order spreadsheet by creating a userform, with all the necessary input fields. I feel that I can handle multipage orders if I have a field for balance forward from previous pages, and page-up page-down command buttons to allow navigation between different pages of a multi-page order. I am planning to have the form initialize some type of combo box with all the part numbers.

    I should mention that we sell only abrasives (sandpaper) for the automotive industry. But we have perhaps two hundred part numbers, because each type of abrasive has a range of grits (the lower number indicating a coarser grit, and higher numbers denoting increasingly finer grits). I mention this because, obviously, if we had 10000 intentory items, then such a drop down list would perhaps be impractical. But the people who write the orders are highly specialized and familiar with the line, so they may not even need to reference the drop-down combo box.

    I am trying very hard to answer myself as many questions as I run into, and I reserve posting here for only those questions where I am truly baffled.

    Here is a bit of nostalgia:

    As a small note of interest, I started using microcomputers around 1978. I purchased a Radioshack Model I and had possibly one of the earliest versions of Visicalc on it. My family had a business, in need of some kind of automation, so we purchased the more powerful Model III (running at a blazing 4 mhz as opposed to the .5 mhz of the Model I). After some months, I began to realize that we should have some kind of IBM clone (I always found IBM itself too expensive, when one might get a Leading Edge clone, for much less). I called the number at the back of my Visicalc manual, and asked the person who answered the phone if he might recommend something more powerful for my needs, but "like Visicalc". The man on the phone emphatically stated "NOTHING is like Visicalc." That man was Dan Brinklin, the inventor of the Visicalc spreadsheet. I happened to call in the final weeks of his business, before he sold out to Lotus (and closed with a huge profit on the books, having been "in the red" only weeks before).

    In the 1970's I greately coveted a suitcase sized computer called the Osborne, which ran on the CP-M operating system.

    In the 1980s, I attended a computer show in Boston at the Hines Auditorium. A gentleman behind one booth, selling books for Sofware Garden (I think), had a name tag which read "OSBORNE". I questioned him, and sure enough, he was the gentleman who had founded that portable (luggable) computer company. I felt honored and privileged to come in some brief contact with two of the early legends in computer history.

    I remember, around 1978, walking into a RadioShack store, and seeing a model one with only an angular bracketed cursor blinking at the middle of the screen. I asked the salesperson what it was, and he said, "Oh, that is Visicalc." I felt quite puzzled. I couldnt for the life of me imagine what one might do with a blank screen and a large blinking cursor. I did not know what a spreadsheet was or what it could do for me. It was only when I saw friends using it for accounting purposes that I realized what it is good for and why I might want to use it.

    Re: Ozgrid.css Missing In Vba Tutorial

    I am very pleased with the Excel tutorial. The offer for members who join this forum was too good to pass up.

    I am age 58, and started using Visicalc on Radio Shack Model I around 1980.

    Yesterday, I became curious as to how I might convert a column of formulas into values. I searched in Google, and landed at a very clear tutorial on PASTE SPECIAL at this forum. I was so impressed with the forum, and the clarity of the tutorial, that I joined, and sampled the free tutorial.

    The week before, I was looking over our accountant's shoulder as she dashed off a profit and loss spreadsheet. She worked so quickly, that it seemed to me like magic. When I tried the formula here on FORMAT PAINT, I realized that this must be what I saw her doing which seemed so magical.

    I now have the tutorial on my 4 gig Sancor memory stick, which I always wear around my neck, along with the token number generator for our Company bank account.

    This forum reminds me, in depth and intensity and membership, of I had posed one or two questions there on Excel, but their real strength and interest is in Access.

    So, now all I need to do is find an analogous forum for Microsoft Word, and I shall be all set.

    The only difficulty I had with the installation of the Excel Tutorial was due to my ineptitude in using my unzip program WinAce. Apparently, the downloaded zip, once unzipped, contains OTHER ZIPPED file. This initially confused me. I felt something must be wrong, and that every unzip was producing another zip file. Once I realized what was going on, and became more familiar with the options regarding WHERE to extract files, which are not intuitively obvious in WinAce, then I was all set. My final task was to click on the DOWNLOAD LESSON EXAMPLES link which appears in most lessons.

    Re: Alternate email site to yahoo

    If your company is terribly strict, then perhaps they will block other sites that you try to access. But, my thought is, that if you can have your yahoo account FORWARD emails to some other account, that your company will not block, then perhaps you could still read your emails from work. I believe that one must have a paid yahoo account to have that forwarding ability, but it is only a small yearly sum. There are free email accounts such as . Try to get one of those accounts first, and then see if you can access it at work. If that too is blocked, then you will know that forwarding is not the answer. If it is not blocked then have your yahoo account forward emails to the account. Hope this helps!

    Re: Ozgrid.css Missing In Vba Tutorial

    Thanks! After I posted this, I once again opened the first VBA lesson, and click on OK to the message regarding the missing ozgrid.css, and the lesson seems perfectly readible, so I am sure that the reference to the css file is some minor oversight, and would make only some slight cosmetic difference.

    I just joined today. This is my first post. I took advantage of the offer for new members to purchase the training package.

    When I try to open the VBA lessions, I get an error message which says

    ozgrid.css missing.

    How may I acquire this file.

    I did a google search, and also a forum search before I posted this, but no luck.
    Thanks for your help!