Don’t use the cell color in Excel; add column values instead

Pro tip: When using Excel as a poor man’s database, don’t use the cell color to highlight rows. Instead, add a column and populate each cell in that column with some meaningful value where needed. You can sort by column, but you can’t (easily as far as I know) sort by cell color. It’s a little extra work with a lot of utility.

That is all.

Let the Game of Thrones Excuses Begin

No, I have not started watching the new season of Game of Thrones.

No, I am not busy; I’ve had time. I’ve chosen to do other things with it.

I don’t know. Next week, maybe? Probably just before Verizon and HBO decide to charging me to watch episodes. How long is that? Two weeks?

Yes, you can talk about it in front of me. No, I don’t care.

No, I am not the person who reads the last pages of a book first. My life simply does not revolve around TV shows. I have other things that I do, too.

The best argument for Net Neutrality I’ve read so far.

Found on Hacker News (all highlighting mine):

Assume for a moment that we had effective competition for ISPs, and almost everyone in the country could select among three or more ISPs. In a world that looked like that, restricting how ISPs can structure their networks is both unnecessary and potentially harmful, given the historical precedents of law tending to encode outdated assumptions about technology. (As a random example, some proposed versions of Network Neutrality rules I’ve seen would also stop CDNs from handing ISPs a box full of content or arranging fast links to their caching servers.) If we had effective competition for ISPs, any ISP engaging in any of the terrible behaviors NN advocates are genuinely concerned about would find themselves with an abrupt loss of customers.

The main problem is that we don’t have effective competition for ISPs; many people have only one choice, or two choices where one is also incredibly terrible for other reasons.

Personally, I’d like to see some focus on regulations to break ISP monopolies, and in particular to ensure that there’s an independent source of fiber to everyone’s door, with a wide selection of ISPs willing to light up that fiber. But until we have that, we need Network Neutrality to stop abuses by the current ISP monopolies.

And a follow-up comment summarizes it even more neatly:

Competition would fix this more effectively than net neutrality regs, but competition in ISPs is typically blocked by state-enforced monopoly laws or by the technical and economic challenge of deploying an ISP.

Wired ISPs are what is often termed a natural monopoly.

One solution would be to open up a lot more wireless spectrum to ISP use and license it to many upstarts. This would allow wireless alternatives to last-mile wired connectivity such as what would amount to neighborhood-scale WiFi. That would dramatically reduce cost of entry for the ISP business.

Until or unless we can find a way to open the ISP business to a lot more competition, net neutrality regulations are absolutely essential to preserve the Internet as a medium for open innovation.

It’s so simple, it’s brilliant: Until we have more and better competition between ISPs, we need Net Neutrality. That’s it. One thing that is important to not gloss over is the problems presented by state-enforced monopoly laws and the technical and economic challenges of deploying an ISP.

If your city or state government was stupid enough to sign some exclusive contract with an ISP, call your representative and remind them of the importance of free market competition. Fairly straightforward.

But the issue of the economic burden of establishing an ISP is a tougher nut to crack. Until someone else comes along offering a choice, to simply surrender control over your media access to companies in such a way that they would have no obligation to your rights as a customer and citizen is just as irrational as your local government forcing an ISP on you that you did not choose. If you believe in your right to choose in open markets, then net neutrality is the best, and so far only, place to start.

Blake Watson: Why I deleted my Facebook account

Great article on quitting Facebook by Blake Watson. It came down to two reasons: Privacy concerns and the “unhealthy addiction” of getting notifications.

Over time, we’ve become hooked on the social validation Facebook (and other services) provide. Before I hit the delete button on my account, one of the last things that kept me on Facebook—after I had largely stopped posting and reading the News Feed—was simply checking my notifications. I unconsciously craved that little hit of happiness one gets when they see, So-and-so liked your post. But that’s not real happiness. It’s an unhealthy addiction.

I’ll admit I have two Facebook accounts: one I share with my family—photos and events—and one I established for when I was going to school, and a lot of stuff being posted was irrelevant to my family. My use of both have sputtered to almost nothing since most people I know maintain a passive use of it that is similar to my own: generally, curious to see what other people are doing, but not really interested in posting anything themselves, which I totally get. I’d post, but I’d get few, if any, likes, which again I totally get.

But the comments on Hacker News, where I found the article, really hit the nail on the head in terms of my real problem: the complete time sink Facebook represented. It hits all my ADD receptors and I had to delete it off my phone and remove all traces from my primary browser to get away from it. Even as I stripped my feed to nothing but Reuters and AP articles, Facebook still mixes in all sorts of other stuff in there. It’s maddening. The privacy issues concern me, but the time sink created by its ability to manipulate is what really hit home. I just can’t use it anymore.

Two problems

Today on the BBC Radio 4 website, a regex crossword puzzle.

“Instead of a word or phrase, each clue is a regular expression (or a ‘regex’). To complete the puzzle, find the letter matching both the horizontal and vertical regex for each square.”

Great idea for a puzzle, and which reminds of this quote:

“Some people, when confronted with a problem, think ‘I know,

I’ll use regular expressions.’ Now they have two problems.”

—Jamie Zawinski

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that “I know, I’ll use regular expressions” can be replaced with just about anything obviously difficult, like “Let’s ask the officers” in a military context.


The world is rudderless.

“The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory, is that conspiracy theorists believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is actually chaotic. The truth is that it is not The Illuminati, or The Jewish Banking Conspiracy, or the Gray Alien Theory. The truth is far more frightening—Nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.”

—Alan Moore

Agile and Stack Overflow: Not all that and a bag of chips.

“Agile methods, however, make sure that the programmer is not allowed to do programming or think too much about how to design or change a technical solution. Everything must be done fast, with only the next two weeks in mind, and you are not allowed to think about a solution, you must delegate thinking to other people. And you have a chain of people that delegate stuff from one to another in a complete mess in which hopefully nobody will ever take responsibility fully for anything.”

“While Stack Overflow solves the technical problem, it doesn’t solve the moral issue. Stack Overflow is like the dude gives you instructions on building a noose when you ask for advice on how not to fall on the floor from a chair. Very helpful and technically sound detail, but perhaps not your intention. However, Stack Overflow, like Javascript, is pushed automatically, as THE SOLUTION. I know places where people are systematically disallowed to think and forced to use Stack Overflow instead. Almost every web-development course starts with ‘the way people solve problems: they search for them on Stack Overflow’.”

Dorin Lazăr: The sorry state of the programming world as of the end of 2016 AD

The former I agree with, if only because I see it all the time. Agile is not the end all be all answer to Getting Things Done.

The latter, not so much. It’s a great point about the morality of using Stack Overflow, but ultimately, the responsibility lies on the person posting the question or searching for an answer on Stack Overflow, not the person answering the question. Not encountering Stack Overflow in search of answers is hard, which makes it appear as if its “THE SOLUTION.” I get that. But there is nothing that compels someone to use the answers found there, especially as presented. Any programmer has to view the answers on Stack Overflow through the lens of their own entire context, not just the focused question being asked. No one answering a question is going to have that lens, and Stack Overflow doesn’t make providing that lens an easy task.

I have found and received a lot of great answers on Stack Overflow over the years, and given a few answers myself. But I was never foolish enough to think that I could plug-and-play an answer found there, nor has it been the only source of answers to my questions. Anyone who thinks Stack Overflow answers are the only solution needs to level up their programming skills. Blindly accepting arbitrary advice from arbitrary people  is just a bad idea in any context, not just Stack Overflow.

To err is human…

“To err is human. To fuck up a million times in a second you need a computer.”


“Do you know what you don’t know and therefore what you should know?”

“Have you yet recognized that you are and always have been your own teacher? Amidst all the noise and furor about education in this country at present, I have yet to hear this question raised. But it is basic. Liberal education has as its end the free mind, and the free mind must be its own teacher. Intellectual freedom begins when one says with Socrates that he knows that he knows nothing, and then goes on to add: I know what it is that I don’t know. My question then is: Do you know what you don’t know and therefore what you should know? If your answer is affirmative and humble, then you are your own teacher, you are making your own assignment, and you will be your own best critic. You will not need externally imposed courses, nor marks, nor diplomas, nor a nod from your boss . . . in business or in politics.”—Scott Buchanan, 1958