February 28th, 2006


Hack On

The past few days at work, I've been hacking. Updating the paperwork we use for upwards reporting, making the whole thing an Excel sheet with macros on the back-end coming out of its arse. I got given this gloriou duty because I knew how to program.

Hacking Excel 97. In VBA. On an NT platform with only the hlp files and the Internet for research purposes. I was less than enthusiastic.

And I'm loving it.

I feel like some kind of freak, but this is a change of tack. Rather than summarising data and running existing jobs and reviewing documentation, I'm doing something that only really I have the skills to do. I can prototype and throw up UI elements and work in a real IDE and... it's both so different and strangely beautiful.

Not everything has changed, of course. I still swear like a bastard when I'm programming. "Fucker, you will run what I tell you to when I tell you to! I made you and I can break you just as easily, you worthless pile of badger faeces." and so on. Complex things work[0], simple things take hours[1]. It's firing my brain. I've been using Excel for the past year, and only now do I find myself fucking with the toolbars to reflect what I actually use, and writing tools that help me day-to-day, as well as with the programming[2].

The really worrying thing is that I'm considering what I can do ike that at home, breaking out the tools and programming like I used to, so long ago. Not having Linux around stopped me in part, and the rest has been simple apathy. But for now, I've not only got the urge to write but the urge to hack.

On a slightly related note, between this project and the web stuff at work, I've been thinking about usability and desgn. Much as I hate to say it, Office 12 really does look like it may be a reason to keep Windows around, simplyfrom a usability standpoint. Anyone else who's seen it have any toughts on it? On the bus, so my link-fu is weak, I'm afraid.

[0]: Two-level heap sort in Vba? You're having a laugh, son.
[1]: The aforementioned toolbar hooks.
[2]: Including an aborted attempt to write the Office 12 Statusbar as a bottom-docked toolbar... If there was a slider control for the zoom, I'd be able to do it. Listboxes are too clunky.