Friday, November 04, 2005

Chop Wood, Carry Water, Translate

As a translator I am never above doing other office stuff such as regular correspondence, Powerpoint presentations, labelling folders with neat little stickers and so on. Usually there isn't that much translation work at a job and so last time I got deeply involved with Excel.

What astounded me was, that none of my previous experience in Web development, office administration and light accounting with Excel had prepared me for the uneasy feeling of not really knowing for sure, where the calculations and data models I was supposed to work on, were coming from, or, for that matter going to end up.

They had passed from one department to another to yet another and I was extremely uncomfortable with discrepancies of any kind because I did not know what they meant.

Turns out this feeling is not unusual:

"Microsoft Excel – and other spreadsheet programmes – allows the creation of models of infinite complexity. The main advantage of Excel - an easy-to-use, almost intuitive, “programming” interface – is potentially its main disadvantage. Spreadsheets get started quickly and may or may not be properly maintained. Complex calculations can be resolved in a cell-by-cell iterative manner, making error location difficult. Solutions tend to be extended over time – often by different people – which compounds the problem. A myriad of pre-packaged functions is available, but the choice of the appropriate – or inappropriate – function is entirely at the developer’s discretion."
Writes Colm Toolan, Business Architect, recommending

Spreadsheet Check and Control: detect and prevent errors 29.95EUR

Author: Patrick O'Beirne BSc, MA, FICS
Publisher: Systems Publishing
ISBN 1-905404-00-X

Chop Wood, carry cater, translate, and well, excel!

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