Numbers: The Spreadsheet for the rest of us

So, 24 hours have passed since the Apples ``big announcements" yesterday. Although the iMacs look nice, in many respects they were just more of the same; an evolutionary step instead of a revolutionary one. I like the look of the new iPhoto and might be able to move from Aperture over to it in the near future, I hope it gives me everything I need.

The announcement I'm really excited about is Numbers, the new spreadsheet program in iWork '08. I picked up a copy of iWork (as well as the new iLife) on the way home last night and stared playing with the software when I got home. I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by Numbers.

First off, some background. I'm not an excel maven. I have a number of (smaller) spreadsheet, basically personal and business budgeting, hours tracking, and invoicing. I suspect like 80% of excel users, it's a more advanced checkbook program. I don't even know what a pivot table is, other then the thing you use in conversion to sound like you know more about excel then everyone else in the room. Generally speaking if something is that complex I write a program or use mathematica.

In the little bit I've played with it I've been impressed. The standard syntax is there (=D3*b5) but you can use row and column headers instead (=Hours Monday * Rate Hourly) making your spreadsheet more readable and workable. Adding charts and such seem to be a snap.

To be honest, this is not a program for folks that need to do modeling. If you are predicting stock movements, rating mutual funds or figuring out the next digit of PI, this is not the tool for you. However if you're in the 80% of folks who use a spreadsheet for simpler tasks, I'd suggest giving it a look. In a week or so I'll post a followup article telling you how it's working out for me.

    Posted: Aug 8, 2007

Cloverfield (1-18-08) Trailer

For those people who didn't see it... here is the trailer to the JJ Abrams Untitled/Cloverfield/1-18-08

    Posted: Aug 2, 2007

Spam, Contact Information and Contact Forms

Earlier today I had to point my co-worker at my site to show him some how I'm mashing up my and google reader feeds into my "interesting links" box on the side bar. When he got here he surfed around and was surprised when he got to my contact information page.

When he asked why I'm so free with my contact information, I explained that I put the page together when I was looking for work and as no one inappropriate contacted me I decided to keep it up. My phone calls run through grand central, so I don't get calls pushed to my phone unless it's someone I know. No one has ever shown up at my house to meet me who wasn't invited. Anyway all that information as been available on my whois records for over 10 years as well as via the phone book for longer then that. I don't want to make it hard to contact me.

Then he asked about email and spam and why I didn't use a contact form. I based this decision on my experiences as a user. I hate contact forms. I want to be able to catalog and archive my communication as I see fit, most contact forms don't let me do that. I want to give my users the same capabilities.

As far as spam is concerned. I'm going to say something that will cause some controversy, other then the couple of days where i was doping out the blackberry I really am never impacted by spam. After spamassassin gets through with my inbox and my personal filters run on it, if I get one or 2 messages a day, it's a lot. i don't really get false positives. I'm not trying to sound like John C Dvorak ( but spam doesn't get in my way. Actually bots posting spam in the comments on the site is a larger problem then spam in my in box.

Some other thoughts are posted on neonscent here

    Posted: Jul 31, 2007

It's because that's where the kids are!

Silicon Alley is running an article ( about Ct Attorney General Richard Blumenthal looking into Facebook and "three or more" cases of convicted sex offenders registering on the site. Where I support the protection of our children, before Facebook gets villainized here (as Myspace and livejournal have been in the past), I'd like to point some things out.

In my younger days my family spent a lot of time at the local park and pool over the summer. Every now and then there was a problem with an "odd person" as my mother would call him. This adult would seem "cool" to us younger kids but we were told to stay away from him by our parents' and as a parent was always around, it was hard to do anything else. Eventually the police would be called and the problem forgotten. Now that I'm older and wiser I realize that "odd person" was my mother's euphemism for "child molester".

I can site examples with Malls, Scouting, Churches, Schools, etc but what it boils down to is that these creeps go to wherever the children are.

It would be idiotic to vilify the local mall because child molesters go there. Many of us have been guilty of saying these things about myspace. (When asked why I'm not active on myspace my boiler plate answer happens to be "because I'm not a band, teenager or child molester".

At the end of the day, any site that allows children to sign up is going to attract child molesters, end of story. So what can we do?

Luckily the solution is also in my story.

This adult would seem "cool" to us younger kids but we were told to stay away from him by our parents' and as a parent was always around, it was hard to do anything else.

So move the computer into the living room and "always be around". This will do more to stop this then any regulation, investigation

    Posted: Jul 30, 2007

Followup to the NYC photography permit issue

Just a quick followup to the photography permit issue from last week (

The article hit the front page of Slashdot today, I'm proud to announce that the server has survived the pounding with minimal change (I turned off some tracking features in Drupal to keep the DB load down). Nothing like waking up, checking your server finding that your webpage which normally gets like 50 hits per story and finding 800 active connections. I'll have to look into bluehost's referral program because after this I can recommend them happily.

I've received a letter from Chris Dunn, a lawyer with the NYCLU thanking me for passing this on.. He asked me to pass out this document. Please pass it out wherever you feel it would be useful.

We're in the home stretch. Let the Mayor's office know how you think. Talk about the issue. Pass it on.

Some places the first article was linked, I thank everyone:…

    Posted: Jul 30, 2007