June 24, 2004

Excelling in Interference

Performing a reasonably simple task yesterday, ended up taking far too long, and left me very frustrated. I know what you might be thinking, but in fact I am talking about moving data from one Excel spreadsheet to another.
Things started badly when I typed the word 'NULL' into a column. 'It looks like you are making a list', said Excel. 'No it fucking doesn't', I said, 'How can the word NULL look like a list?'
Excel didn't reply, because it knew I was right, but began hatching a subtle plan to get it's own back. I copied a date, '4/6/2004', and pasted it into my new spreadsheet. '5/6/2008' appeared on the screen. I tried a few more dates. Each time I pasted a date into the new sheet, it added on 4 years and one day.
I began wondering if it was a sign from God that the world would end in exactly 4 years and one day. Perhaps it was the amount of time you had to use Excel, before you stopped wanting to smash in the screen.
Anyway, I tried the logical approach, and spent ten minutes pissing around trying to find the bit where you format the cell with the date in. After great effort, I managed to format both sheets the same way, and hey presto, abracadabra, I wanna reach out and grab you, you guessed it, it didn't make any difference.
By now, much swearing and banging the desk had gone on, and I was about to give up, when I discovered what should have been blindingly obvious in the first place - After you copy the date, you don't just go ahead and willy nilly paste it into the new spreadsheet. Oh no, before you paste, you obviously go to the FORMAT menu, and when it asks you what kind of formatting you want, you hit CANCEL. This enables Excel to paste the date in, without adding on 4 years and one day. Brilliant. So obvious - just hit CANCEL. I guess people who change their minds a lot never have any problem with Excel, because they use the CANCEL button all the time.
I'm assuming that this is some kind of bug, but the point is, that Excel and Word are incredibly frustrating a lot of the time, because they THINK THEY ARE CLEVER, WHEN THEY ARE NOT.
What I mean is, that all these silly devices, and prompts, and trying to guess if you are writing a list, and reformatting your dates without asking, and correcting your spelling, and putting capital letters in for you, and making anything with www in it a link etc etc, are ALL turned on by default. They should all be OFF, and turned on only if we want the benefit of their help. You'd think Microsoft would have learned from the great paperclip debacle.

Posted by paul at June 24, 2004 12:06 PM


You've lost it Paul.

Sorry to say it, but I completely drifted off during that, and didn't finish it.

We want proper Angry back!

Posted by: Kev at June 24, 2004 06:17 PM