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sexta-feira, 25 de setembro de 1998

Opening the gates of Mr. Gates

Rio de Janeiro,  May 10th, 1998

To:    Microsoft
Att.: Mr. William Gates

Dear Mr. Gates or, most  probably, Mr. Support:

         First, let me introduce myself: I am an economic analyst, 40 years old, married with two kids, and ....  a devoted user of Lotus 123. As a Brazilian citizen, English is my second language, so I apologize for some mistakes in my phrasing that may occur although I believe they will not lead to misinterpretation on what I have to say.
         I work for the international branch of a Brazilian petroleum company. While our mother company insisted on using the Main Frame approach, we, small as we were, began to use the desktop approach by mid 1982. I began to use Lotus in 1986. When our mother company finally began to open its eyes and decided to start using microcomputers by the end of the 80´s, they decided to take a ride on the leading train at that time, the famous Microsoft Office.
         That’s right, I belong to the old generation of spreadsheet users, those who didn’t have a mouse to "facilitate" their navigation along the spreadsheet. I had to learn and memorize some commands activated by the magic “ / ” (slash). However, I am very proud of having gone through this era and this fact made me very fast at implementing my job. Even when the good old DOS Lotus was buried by the appearance of the Windows version, I could not stop using the slash commands, although I assimilated some of the advantages of using a mouse as well. I´m sure I made an optimized mix of both techniques.
         With the integration of the work with our mother company, 3 or 4 years ago, I had to seriously consider migrating my work to Excel. How could David beat Goliath, at the end? I knew I belonged to the 10% slice of the spreadsheet users, those romantic users of Lotus, while the other 90% were happy users of Excel, showing smiles from ear to ear. Every single colleague who eventually came to know my preferences would express his amazement and say: "Lotus whaaaaattt???!!!!". However, by spending a few minutes by my side, observing the speed with which I carried out my tasks, they would immediately turn their surprise into acceptance.
         But, after several internal battles (inside me!), I said:
         "OK, YOU WON!!!  I will try it, at least!"
         However, I put only one restriction: I would accept the migration if, and only if, I could be at least as fast in Excel as I was in Lotus, for I could not admit losing efficiency!
         Then, I patiently began to try to use Excel. And I immediately realized that I had a long way to go!
         When someone (Microsoft) has a firm intention of improving a winner’s product  (Lotus), it has to begin with an exact copy of this product and then to modify that copy by introducing the required improvements. That definitely did not happen in the Lotus-to-Excel transformation. Your developers indeed managed to introduce some amazing facilities, mainly in graphics, and with the integration with the gorgeous Visual Basic, and an improved Macro Management. And I do know from friends that there are several other improvements that are beyond my Jurassic Lotus-oriented imagination. Otherwise, Excel would not have turned into this magnificent worldwide success. But, I can say, you certainly forgot to keep the base that worked so well in Lotus.
         I have prepared a list of features of Excel that are, in my modest opinion, a real pain in the ass, preventing me from definitely migrate to this splendid application. Some of them are clear faults of Excel, and it would be advisable to correct them in future versions. Others are mere complaints of an Educated-Lotus-User-Trying-To-Smoothly-Migrate-To-Excel that cannot understand why the Excel developers thought that way, instead of keeping the good old Lotus-Way-Of-Spreadsheeting.
         Are you interested in reading this kind of stuff? In positive case, have fun! The features are not ranked by level of importance or level of annoyance. In the middle of the list, you might find a very important one that should consist a clear need for change in Excel, after having gone through some others of minor importance.
         Please take my words as a contribution to the development of Excel! I´m just trying to get some help from you to join the winning team, without losing a single piece of my efficiency.
Homero Ventura 

quinta-feira, 25 de junho de 1998

5 de Outubro de 1962 ... Que dia!

Outubro é um mês marcante para mim
... e todos os Beatle&Bond maníacos como eu!
_________________________
         Foi em Outubro de 1962, no dia 5, que foi lançado o primeiro single (lembram-se dos antigos compactos?) de um grupo com um nome estranho que se assemelhava a "Os Besouros", composto por 4 jovens entre 19 e 22 anos de idade, vindos de Liverpool, cidade portuária do noroeste da Inglaterra, liderados por um tal de John Winston Lennon, um tanto quanto narigudo.

         A gravadora era a EMI, em seus estúdios da Abbey Road. O selo era o Parlophone, comandado por George Martin, um selo até então dedicado a músicas orquestradas e a gravações de peças teatrais. Martin, um maestro de mancheias, sentiu nos rapazes um potencial enorme, tanto que assinou um contrato antes de ouvir o primeiro teste ao vivo, só baseado em gravações em fita e no carisma pessoal percebido na primeira entrevista. Os chefes da EMI não entenderam muito bem aquele procedimento, nunca dantes visto, mas acreditaram no feeling do maestro.
         Por aí se vê a diferença entre um visionário e um burocrata! Pouco mais de 9 meses antes, mais precisamente em 1º de Janeiro de 1962 (isso mesmo, no  primeiro feriado do ano!), os rapazes, ainda com Pete Best na bateria, haviam feito um extensivo teste de estúdio na Decca Records, principal concorrente da EMI naquela época.
Os rapazes, apesar de não disporem dos próprios instrumentos, tocaram 15 músicas e mostraram toda sua cancha de palco de quem está há 4 anos na estrada, . Estavam um pouco nervosos, mas deram um bom recado, tendo mostrado sucessos de Chuck Berry, Little Richards e outros maiorais da época mas, principalmente, e diferentemente de todos os grupos da época, apresentaram material próprio, composto por Lennon e McCartney.  No entanto, o burocrata de plantão ouviu tudo com aquela cara de tacho e sacramentou: "Esses grupos com guitarras estão com os dias contados!" e rejeitou o grupo! Claro que o "gênio" perdeu o emprego alguns meses depois, apesar de ele estar intrinsecamente certo, pois os dias estavam realmente contados: só que o contador já está em 16800 e crescendo!
         Este teste na Decca se constitui num dos mais procurados discos piratas de todos os tempos, os famosos "Decca Tapes".
         Os rapazes ficaram desanimados, mas Brian Epstein, seu empresário, continuou a luta, tentando vender o grupo, viajando com as fitas debaixo do braço até que bateu à porta da EMI, conversou com George Martin e marcou uma entrevista. Nela, sem segurar um instrumento, eles conquistaram Martin: John Lennon mostrou seu proverbial e cínico humor inglês, Paul McCartney não ficou muito atrás com seu charme pessoal e George Harrison, o mais novinho do grupo, mesmo que já merecedor da alcunha de "The Quiet Beatle", fez uma piadinha sobre a gravata de George Martin. Pete Best permaneceu mudo como uma porta de mogno! O comportamento deste último, associado à sua batida burocrática da bateria, fez com que Martin se dirigisse a Brian Epstein com a histórica pedida: "Tudo bem! Eu assino um contrato com os rapazes, mas que eles venham com outro bateirista!" Esta foi a porta de entrada de Ringo na banda, que veio a se mostrar fundamental para o sucesso do grupo, anos depois! 
                                                                                                                                                          O compacto tinha, no lado A, "Love Me Do". Aquela antológica gaitinha de Lennon na introdução, a perfeita harmonia vocal entre Lennon e McCartney, a parada total para a entrada do solo vocal de McCartney, eram coisas novas no mercado fonográfico, apesar de a música ser simplíssima na letra e mais ainda nos acordes, os tradicionais C/D/G (Dó Maior / Ré Maior / Sol Maior). No lado B, "P.S. I Love You", uma típica McCartney, mostrando a mesma afinada harmonia vocal, uma ainda bobinha e adolescente carta de amor. No entanto a letra era um pouco mais bem elaborada e a estrutura de acordes um pouco mais complexa (continha mais de 3 acordes!).
         Eles conseguiram chegar ao 17º lugar na parada nacional inglesa, feito nunca antes alcançado por nenhum outro artista em seu compacto de estréia. Dizem as más línguas que, na verdade, boa parte daquele sucesso inicial fora garantido por Brian Epstein que, no afã de conseguir uma boa estréia teria comprado uma quantidade obscena (Remember  Richard Gere em Pretty Woman!) de discos para a NEMS, uma rede de lojas de disco de sua propriedade em Liverpool. Verdade ou não, o intuito foi alcançado, o compacto foi muito tocado na BBC e em outras rádios menos cotadas e logo eles foram chamados para a gravação do segundo compacto, com "Please Please Me" e "Ask Me Why" que chegou rapidamente ao topo das paradas, feito que os Beatles repetiriam por incontáveis vezes nos anos seguintes, seja com compactos ou LP's.  
___________________________
         Foi também em Outubro de 1962, e também no dia 5, que foi lançado na Inglaterra o primeiro filme de James Bond,  Dr. No, no Brasil lançado como 007 Contra o Satânico Dr. No, com Sean Connery no papel título e a estonteante Ursula Andress (aaaaahhh!) no papel de Honey Rider, como a primeira Bond Girl!
      Também, como os Beatles, Sean Connery foi admitido no papel do mais famoso agente secreto de todos os tempos sem teste de câmera só que, neste caso, o teste não foi feito pois ele "peitou" Albert Brocolli, o produtor da série, dizendo que não admitia ter que se submeter a teste, já tendo alguns anos de estrada. Este comportamento, que mostrou sua personalidade, bem como o voto decisivo da esposa de Brocolli, que o considerou o mais charmoso para o papel, foram fundamentais para sua escolha.
         Neste filme foi proferida pela primeira vez a frase recentemente eleita pelo Guinness Book como "A Mais Famosa Frase Cinematográfica de Todos os Tempos". O mais interessante foi a forma como ela foi dita no filme.
         A primeira cena do filme foi centrada nos vilões e não teve a presença de Bond.
         . A segunda cena é passada num cassino.
          . Numa mesa redonda, várias pessoas jogam poker.
           . A câmera é posicionada por trás de um cavalheiro.
            . À frente dele, uma mulher dispara olhares
                  mistos de admiração feminina
                    e raiva pelo dito cujo, que ganhava todas.
                   Até que ela se dirige a ele:
                      -   You are very lucky today, Mr. ......
                                foco nas mãos do cavalheiro,
                                acendendo um isqueiro e,
                                logo a seguir, foco nele,
                                que complementa, após uma tragada:
                       -  .... Bond, James Bond!
                                (entra a música tema .....)

         Esta frase foi repetida em outros 20 filmes do agente, com pequenas variações como:
     -       My name is Bond, James Bond!        ou
      -       The name is Bond, James Bond!       ou
      -       Name is Bond, James Bond!             
_____________________________
            É........ naquele dia 5 de Outubro de 1962, os deuses do entretenimento estavam inspirados! Ambos os fenômenos continuam vivos e faturando horrores até hoje, mais de 4 décadas depois!      

segunda-feira, 25 de maio de 1998

Lotus x Excel - Complaints to Mr Gates


This list is an attachment to this letter:
http://blogdohomerix.blogspot.com.br/2010/12/opening-gates-of-mr-gates-1998.html
 
______________________________________
Complaints about the Marvelous Excel when compared to Lotus 123

Page 1

The Lotus Way
The Excel Way
My Complaint
1. Whenever you cut or copy a range, the clipboard contents are kept there until another range is sent to the clipboard
1. Whenever you cut or copy a range, the clipboard contents are kept there only until the user makes any single operation with other cells
1. You have to re-cut or re-copy the same range several times, if needed.
2. The Window facility allows the user to independently command both windows in an unsynchronized way, horizontally or vertically; in other words row and column lists are created in both windows
2. The window facility does  not open control of row and column cursor movement in both windows. The only advantage of this way is to create a freezing-like facility, already available in freezing panel facility
2. The only way to create independent moves is by opening New Windows :1 :2, etc. Very strange, indeed!
3. The TAB and Shift TAB allow you to pan to right and left pages
3. The TAB and Shift TAB allow you move the cursor to the right or left cells
3. What is the use of having the TAB and the Cursor Right providing the same movement? The same for the Shift TAB and Cursor Left?
4. The @INDEX function has 3 degrees of indexing: row, column and sheet
4. The INDEX function has only 2 degrees of indexing: row and column
4. This absence of the sheet selection makes some data operations impossible.
5. When you save a file you are able to UNDO the Save operation
5. When you save a file and you try to UNDO it,  you receive a CAN'T UNDO as response
5. You are not allowed to regret having saved a file.
6. When you cut a range, it immediately disappears from display and you may or not move it to another location
6.When you cut a range, it stays there until you copy it to another place, as a move facility
6. I may desire to cut a range and no to copy it anywhere else. It forces me to make a triple command to perform same function: Edit Clear All .
7. When you punch a formula starting with a number, Lotus immediately understands you are punching a formula
7. When you try to punch a formula starting with a number, Excel immediately understands you are punching a label
7. Since spreadsheets are basically designed for mathematical operations, the Lotus triggering should be the default
8. HOME key leads to cell A1 of the same sheet

8.  HOME key leads to first cell  of a given row

8. Why do you consider HOME key as row-ward move instead of column-ward move? It configures a clear discrimination with the columns!
9. Ctrl-HOME key leads to Cell A1 of the first sheet on a multiple sheet file
9. Ctrl-HOME key leads to Cell A1 of the  same sheet on a multiple sheet file
9. How the hell you go to Cell A1 of the first sheet, using a key?
10. When you have a doubt in a @Function while you are punching it,  you may position the mouse in any letter of its name and press F1 and the help facility leads you the its  syntax explanation
10. When you have a doubt in a Function while you are punching it,  and you try to do the same, that "professor" appears and you have a long way to go
10. There is not a fast way to have your straight doubt cleared. That professor is not very smart.





Page 2

The Lotus Way

The Excel Way
My Complaint
11. Lotus allows you to combine a file or part of a file into a specific cell of  the current worksheet by using a simple File-Open-Combine command
11. Excel allows the same operation but using a 7-step-command sequence after the primary File-Open, using Copy and Paste Special , thus needing the punch of more than 15 keys
11. The Excel way is much more subject to mistakes.
12. The PRINT button leads you to the Print options screen
12. The PRINT button prints last selection
12. The PRINT screen is accessed only with a double File Print command.
13. To print a new range, you only selects it and punch the PRINT button
13. To print a new range you have to use a unnecessary Set Print Area command and, then, proceed
13. Why simplifying if we can complicate!
14. Lotus identifies a file by its long name (complete path), thus allowing the simultaneous opening of files with the same short name in different directories
14. Excel does not allow the simultaneous opening of files with the same short name even though they are located in different directories
14. Sometimes we need to jointly work with files of the same type named with the same name but appropriately located in different sub-directories
15. @XINDEX function allows the user to locate a cell in a range at the intersection specified by row/column/sheet headings
15. There is not an Excel function to do that
17. This absence limits a wide number of data base operations.
16. Lotus has no kind of restriction for a Paste-Special-Formulas-as-Values command
16. Excel does not allow a Paste-Special-Formulas-as-Values command if the source range presents merged cells
16. This kind of operation should be free of restrictions.
17. When you click the right/bottom corner of a cell and drag it both horizontally and vertically, you copy the cell contents to this new bi-dimensional range
17. When you click the right/bottom corner of a cell and drag it horizontally for instance you are not allowed to drag it vertically as well to  copy the cell contents to this new range
17. Excel requires a double operation instead of the single one required by Lotus.
18. Style, Lines & Color,  in Background color and Text color  have options of  15 base colors and 16 different tonalities.
18. Format, Cells, in Patterns and Fonts offer fewer options of colors and  tonalities.
18. Excel should turn up his options of  colors and tonalities in order to provide a wide range of possibilities.
19. @SUM, @SUMPRODUCT and other mathematical functions can search ranges in more then one sheet simultaneously
19. SUM,SUMPRODUCT and other mathematical functions  search only ranges within a same sheet
19. This limitation prevents the use of a frequently appropriate sheet-by-sheet data organization.
20. When you copy a column-range or a row-range to the clipboard, you can paste its format (Edit-PasteSpecial-StilesOnly) in a series of other columns / rows, simultaneously
20. Excel lets you paste the formats (Edit-PasteSpecial-Formats) to just ONE other column or row by time
20. Excel is obliging me to repeat a paste special operation as many times as are the columns or rows to paste.

Page 3
The Lotus Way
The Excel Way
My Complaint
21. You are able to increase or decrease decimals of cells in a range composed by numbers AND labels using a single button
21. The buttons for increasing/ decreasing decimals don’t work when the range is composed by numbers AND labels, only when there are only numbers
21. You are obliged to make the long way of Format-Cells-Number and so on.
22. The Shift-Ctrl-PgUp and the Shift-Ctrl-PgDn  keys allow you to select a range that crosses several sheets keeping the same source cell in every sheet
22. The Shift-Ctrl-PgUp and the Shift-Ctrl-PgDn  keys don’t allow you to do the same because they only send you to other sheets in the last cell you were
22. The absence of this feature prevents you, for example, to copy the same range to several sheets by using a single command, simultaneously.
23. When you use the {GOTO} key, Lotus opens a dialog box presenting the whole list of range names. When you punch the first letter of the name to go, it spans the list down to the first occurrence of that letter in the list
23. When you use the {GOTO} key, Excel also opens a dialog box presenting the whole list of range names but it remains static as you punch the letters
23. Sometimes you do not remember the exact name of the range an the Lotus span gives you a clue on that.
24. Any cell being referred to by another cell only gains status of absolute address when associated with a $ signal to the left of its row and column definitions or to the left of its name. Otherwise it is treated as a relative address
24. If the cell has a name and you refer to it by its name, from another cell, said cell is treated as an absolute address no matter if it has or not a $ signal to the left of its name
24. I usually name the top cells of columns in order to explain the main operations I am doing. Then, when I copy a formula using such cell to other cells in the same column, Excel keeps, unwillingly for me, the absolute reference! 
25. When you cut or copy a range to the clipboard and for any reason decides to close this file, saving it or not, the clipboard contents can be pasted in other files
25. When you cut or copy a range to the clipboard and for any reason decides to close this file, saving it or not, you will never paste it again, because the clipboard contents are cleared
25. The clipboards contents should be preserved independently of the status of its source file.
26. The @CELL function returns not less than 40 attributes of a given cell. Row, Col, Sheet , etc
26. The CELL Excel function returns not more than 12 attributes of a given cell. The Sheet attribute is missing, amongst other 30
26. The absence of the Sheet attribute is unforgivable, since it is part of the Cell location!
27. The @CELLPOINTER Lotus function returns not less than 40 attributes of the cell pointer.
27. The @CELLPOINTER Excel function  …   didn’t come into existence!
27. No words!
28. Lotus allows you to choose where to create a new sheet, if after or before a current sheet
28. Excel always understands your desire for a new sheet as if it you wished it to be inserted before the current sheet
28. No freedom of choice is left!
29. The @DATEDIF Lotus function is able to interpret the distance between two dates in 6 different ways
29. There is not such a cool function in Excel
29. The only positive point of such absence is that the user is obliged to exercise his mind in complex date conversions.
30. The @DATEINFO Lotus function is able to display a date or an information about a date in 13 different ways
30. There is not such a practical function in Excel
30. The only positive point of such absence is that the user is obliged to create macros and/or formulas to get the same result.



Page 4
The Lotus Way
The Excel Way
My Complaint
31. The @DATESTRING Lotus function transforms a date number on a date string
31. There is not such an useful function in Excel
31. It is very common for me to include a date in a string formula.
32. The @ROUNDDOWN and @ROUNDUP Lotus functions rounds a number down or up to the nearest multiple of 10
32. There is not such a function in Excel. But anyway  ..... they are not that useful at all
32. No complaints!
33. The @RADTODEG and @DEGTORAD Lotus functions are built-in within the spreadsheet to convert radians to degrees and vice-versa
33. For Excel, the RADIANS and DEGREES functions are Add-ins stored on an external library in the Program Files Directory
33. If, by an accident, such library is cleared, you have your spreadsheet full of  #VALUEs!
34. The @WEIGHTAVG returns the weighted average of a data-range over a weights range
34. You can get the same result by the combination of SUM and SUMPRODUCT Excel functions
34. Just a matter of optimization!
35. The @SHEET Lotus function returns the number of sheets of a given range
35. I could not find out what is the Excel way for that
35. Now I know! Excel has serious troubles with the management of sheets!
36. The @CHOOSE Lotus Function returns the value or label of  list of cells, given its offset number
36. I could not find out what is the Excel way for that
36. Good substitute of @INDEX when list of values are not grouped in a range!
37. The @MAXLOOKUP and @MINLOOKUP Lotus functions return the cell reference of a max/min value in a range
37. I could not find out what is the Excel way for that
37. Excellent in some search procedure in macros!
38. You can give a Name for a Range that crosses 2 or more sheets
38. You are not allowed to do the same. Ranges in Excel should not exceed the limits of a single sheet
38. This reduces an enormous  number of the advantages of having a multiple sheet data organization!
39. @SUM & @SUMPRODUCT Lotus functions can easily perform their tasks even if the ranges are spread beyond one single sheet
39. SUM & SUMPRODUCT Excel functions  are restricted to perform their tasks within a single sheet
39. The old already detected problem of Excel with sheet management!
40. Tables can be assembled to show a variable value according to up to 3 dimensions: row, column and sheet
40. Tables can be assembled to show a variable value according to up to 2 dimensions only: row and column
40. That’s it again. The sheet trouble!
41. A data table keeps the result values up to another table command is performed.
41. A data table has its values constantly changed with any change in a parameter that affects the table variable
41. Sometimes I am performing tests in the variable and this automatic change is not desired.
I prefer to recalculate tables at my will!
42. This last complaint presents a wider dimension so I decided to change the form. In Lotus, the Jurassic Slash commands allow the user to perform macros that interact with the contents of the spreadsheet. Please try the very simple Lotus Macro \A of the file named Challeng.WK4 attached to the message. It is only a sample of what I am trying to say. This macro saves a portion of the current spreadsheet (File Xtract) given a different file name that is defined in a cell of the same spreadsheet after a choice of oil and gas prices scenario over a price list. The example might seem naive but be sure that I use this technique in much more noble tasks. I would be very pleased if you could teach me how Excel would perform the same, let’s say, trick! I know that even Lotus can not perform such task without the use of the Slash commands so I imagine that Excel will not do it, too!