Posts for 12/2007

30 December 2007 - 17:34

Screen Recording Software

If ever you’re looking for some screen recording software, here are some places to start evaluating:



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The difference between purple and violet

violet spectrum

Visiting the Planetarium today brought an interesting discussion back home: what's exactly the difference between purple and violet?
The explanation in the exhibit stated violet as a 'spectral' colour, i.e. a color on the visible spectrum you get a result of the breaking of light through a prism - to realize violet it's good enough to look at a rainbow... when you can grasp one of course :-)

Purple refers to a 'non-spectral' colour, i.e. made by a mixing colours ; so in color theory 'a Purple' is defined as any non-spectral color between violet and red. But how do those colours look like next to each other? And apparently listening to my daughters' experience at school she's taught that violet looks like purple and vice-versa. Googeling it seem to confirm the confusion as to how these colours are/should be named | labeled exactly... So good there's Wikipedia to put things in perspective.

Wikipedia

I've found this helpful too: theory for artists, just as this : color matters. And especially in respect to webdesign: Spectral violet is outside the gamut of typical RGB color spaces, and therefore it can be approximated but cannot be reproduced exactly on a computer screen !

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CSS and web browser support

As web developer one of the main concerns you have of course is how different browsers are going to render you code - especially in regard to CSS.
I stumbled across the work of this young man with the name David Hammond, who truly did a beautiful job and made one of the best and most complete overviews of ’Web Browser CSS Support‘ I’ve ever seen.  You can even choose the browser against which you want the checking to happen.

As a bonus he also published a page with a handy overview of the rates in which the main browsers support web standards for HTML, CSS and even the DOM model as such.

Nothing to add ! Just thanks for making this available !

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29 December 2007 - 13:30

Excel pivottables and subtotals in % relative to row-values

Something I had noticed already before and was presented in a recent course: how to get pivot tables in Excel to show subtotals for subitems in %, relative to values of the parent group, also ordered in rows?

Because the point here is the following: you can organise two grouped values, lets say 'manufacturers' and 'productfamilies', easily in rows and columns, and then for the calculated data (eg total number of products) request Excel to plot data in percentages (%) relative to row totals.... In case you were not aware: just look for 'field settings' and choose 'advanced options' to explore and discover this beauty.

However most users - and that includes myself - find working in rows 'only' much more handier. This gives you a great and very readible overview of your 'manufacturers' and 'productfamilies'. Now if you'd like to see the results in percentages, ... well that doesn't seem to be possible. Plotting against 'total of rows' gives you 100% for each row ; plotting against 'grand total' gives you the total of each individual line against the 'grand total' and not against the 'subtotal' (see rectangle in red).

pivot table with subtotals in rows and in percentages [Read more on Excel pivottables and subtotals in % relative to row-values...]
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27 December 2007 - 16:10

Expression Engine and Veerle’s blog

I’ve been going into more depths regarding the use of Expression Engine -
It hadn’t taken me lots of moments to appreciate the code it renders, especially in terms of xhtml and CSS - and I could immediately see the power of its template system, as well as it robust nature.  It took me a while dough to really get to the point of certain aspects like the URL building, where the public member template is (still haven’t found it, but I suppose it’s in the licenced version only; also the documentation is not always helpful), or how to build conditional references to categories - and why certain code in my php includes wouldn’t render properly. 
It’s really things like this last topic which impressed me most - this is the first tool e.g. I discover where you can decide if php will be taken into account or not on a template page and moreover if the php code needs to parsed ‘before’ or ‘after’.  And so many more luxury throughout the control panel.  I had made up my mind already to take the EE direction from 2008 onwards - looking forward to discover its further potential.

Speaking about Categories and EE: this brings me to this useful resource I went through today, about Categories and paths in EE. Many other interesting resources on this beautifully designed and world famous web-blog of this Belgian designer and developer Veerle Duoh - a fellow country woman indeed !

Which closes the circle beautifully as it was this very blog actually which brought me on the track of EE, so - even if she might never read this and gets about two dozains blessings for her work from all over the world every day anyway - a sincere thanks Veerle. 
As thoughts anyway reach their destination at the very moment you think them :-)

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Installation of Excel add-ins

Funny how everything passes in ‘seasons’ - even software training !
The first part of 2007 was really coloured by Project Management training; over the last month Excel really was a champion. All kind of questions kept on coming in ...
So as a nice ‘add-on’ to a recent previous post (on excel charts), a question on Add-ins installation.
If it can be done automatically?

Well manually for sure via Tools / Add-ins / Add in Excel 2003 and before; from Excel 2007 onwards of course everything changed: press the Office Button (alt-F), go to Excel Options at the bottom, then click Add-Ins, go to the ‘Manage’ combo at the bottom, choose Excel Add-ins and you finally get what before took 2 clicks ... (now 5 or 6...ahhh I’m getting side-tracked...)

Automatically?
Well I’ve found this link to a freeware tool which you deploy during installation and updates the registry.
And a VBA road allowing you to automize with following code taken from a VBA blog

Sub Add_an_Addin()

Dim oAddin As AddIn
Dim oTempBk As Workbook

Set oTempBk = Workbooks.Add

Set oAddin = oXL.AddIns.Add("E:\yourAddInn.xla", True)
oAddin.Installed = True

oTempBk.Close

End Sub

The temporary workbook is added because at least one workbook needs to be open, before the Add-In install section is accessible.

25 December 2007 - 11:11

CSS resources

So many resources are available when it comes to getting into CSS - not always clear where to start though, unless you know exactly what you’re after… and even then…
Following document contains the links I share with participants to CSS courses : CSS resources
- I do try to update them every now and then…
Don’t hesitate in adding your two cents too…

CSS
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24 December 2007 - 10:05

Dynamic Data Ranges in Excel

This is a question I get asked regularly when giving Excel courses: how to make a range of cells dynamic, so that when data change the range gets updated automatically?
Very useful indeed in pivot tables, vlookup scenarios, charts etc.
The answer lies in the combined use of a name for the range and the offset() formula, which creates a new range, but which you can feed with the count() or counta() formula.
First create your range name, then insert following formula:

=OFFSET(Prices!$A$1;0;0;COUNTA(Prices!$A:$A);COUNTA(Prices!$2:$2))

The first argument is the set off point, second and third arguments stand for the number of rows or columns the set off point should be calculated - in the example the cell A1, as no relocation takes place.
The fourth and fifth argument do the magic: use a simple count(), for numbers, or counta() for anything else, to dynamically calculate the number of rows and/or columns should be taken on board of your named range. You can take a whole column or row on board, as in the example, or just define a range big enough to contain all possible future values.
And that’s it basically…

PS Use commas or semicolons for the separation of the arguments asper your settings !

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23 December 2007 - 16:11

Map of Consciousness

A mini site with some word art, made in the time when Altavista was the main search engine around -
it was also a time when pro and contra regarding the use of frames created lots of ‘strong’ debate.  So at the time I choose frames to experiment a bit with the technique.  And it was also the very beginning when I started using of CSS ...
So a bit of nostalgia along this post I suppose :-)

Rereading the small poetic impressions on the topic of Consciousness I wrote when living in a rural area on the frontiers between Flanders and the Walloon region (that’s Belgium, in case you wonder), just gave me the feeling to link these pages back in.
They’re in French and in English, with background photographs from the region… The impressions are timeless though, so enjoy the excursion !

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19 December 2007 - 15:54

Synchronicity

We all have metaphysical experiences in one way or another : déjà-vu, sudden insights, clearvoyance, an inner voice speaking, sudden unexpected help, ... the list goes on.
Often they might be very subtle to notice. Sometimes they might be very striking and life transforming.
They are 3eye openers towards the logics and laws governing the world beyond matter.

A long time ago I’ve found and published this story from Deepak Chopra, a famous philiosopher, lecturer, writer and consciousness researcher.  He’s one of the many dedicating fully to the exploration of the metaphysical, having realised many of it’s principles.
I’m reposting his ‘particular’ story here, and as ‘Synchronicity’ wants, he just posted a video on his website of his lecture at the UN headquarters yesterday, so you might be interested in that too, after reading this.

[Read more on Synchronicity...]
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14 December 2007 - 13:57

The School of Tomorrow

Tomorrow will be a new age. With refined technology, ecological balance and a higher sense of value.
The school of tomorrow prepares for that.

Think about it as a family. A family where one can learn to discover the power of visualisation. A laboratory where the potential of one’s creativity can be discovered. A place to be. Fine-tuned and well conceived playing is the main methodology to develop and polish the intellect into diamond.

The school of tomorrow offers insight in the broader link between the aims we envisage and what we encounter. It harmonizes science and meta-science into a new reality. It channels pioneering work into valuable alternatives.

The school of tomorrow needs pioneers and youngsters to stand up.

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12 December 2007 - 15:48

Time

In this time of constant change, two great currents form a constancy. One is a destructive current. And if you look at a more subtle level you’ll discern the other one as creative power.

By now, anyone must be realizing that we are ahead of immense global changes. Above all negative and apocalyptic approaches, and theories of total destruction, global change at the beginning of this new millennium invokes an intense preparation for a new society based on value and renewed harmony of men with planet earth - mother Gaia.
Some call this a new age, but beyond therapy, alternative approaches, sects, cults and inner transformation, we are writing ‘history’. History repeats - itself. And thus is our Future.

Cyclic time and cyclic history comprehension help us see where we are going ... by looking to the Past we see the Future and understand what to do in the Now.

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11 December 2007 - 12:20

Excel charts issues, like the XYZ scattering and Cie

The beauty of teaching is actually that you learn yourself all the time. Each new course always has the potential of new discoveries, sometimes very obvious ones, sometimes at levels you’d never imagine beforehand.
I’ll leave the less obvious for another time now, but on the obvious side it’s quite simple: people ask questions ! (and I tend to provoke them a lot as I’m convinced is the best tool you have when teaching ).  Of course you don’t alway have the answer immediately and so of you go into some research…

The other day; one of my participants in an Excel course wondered about the possibility to have a third dimension in a XY scatter chart.... Oeps not immediately clear that was: how to create a XYZ scattered one?
So off I went onto the net, which brought me to a very interesting set of chart samples from someone called Andy Pope, a MVP - a most valuable professional indeed: http://andypope.info/charts.htm. He has an alternative for the XYZ scatter, as apparently Excel has some 3D charting deficiencies - and the XYZ scatter seems to be one of them. Learned this here actually, from the hand of another MVP, Jon Peltier, who ‘en passant’ also offers a world of valuable stuff on Microsoft Excel Charting FAQs .

And as one never comes along: another questioned concerned an issue with better management of labels on charts - suppose you just want to determine your own logic on labels.... well on the internet you’re never alone, wondering - and chances are real someone even has a solution for it: http://appspro.com/Utilities/ChartLabeler.htm (there are several actually, but just like this one and also works in Excel 2007).

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05 December 2007 - 14:03

Royalty

You understand everyone deserves utmost respect.
So you give respect.

Your attitude is elevated.
Because you feel nobility is the most appropriate way to give what is each and every-one’s basic right.

Your natural way of having integrated
the understanding that consciousness is what truly matters, automatically makes you being respected.

Most of the time.

And when that doesn’t happen, you keep on enjoying
the taste of the simplicity of royalty.

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04 December 2007 - 04:00

Nothing New

The question: “free choice or everything fixed?” is not new.
However, new might be to realize that both are equally valid.

Departing from a correct understanding of the law of action and reaction, the ‘law of karma’, we come to comprehend all events as actions, re-actions and interactions. Each action leads to a re-action, thus triggering off a cyclic movement, whereby re-action introduces another action/re-action cycle, creating yet another cycle of action/re-action etc etc ...
Ultimately this forms an immense web or ‘wheel’ of happenings, all linked up with sense. This concept of a ‘world drama cycle’ was not only known by old Indian traditions, but also by pre-Mayan civilisations.

Considered from outside this ‘drama’ or ‘big wheel’, there is no hazard; every possible outcome or result, has been triggered off, is thus already determined and fixed. It’s like looking at a film, repeating itself again and again in loop mode ...
Considered from within this ‘drama’ or ‘big wheel’, we are all actors in front of innumerable choices at each and every second. Each and every moment, we determine our actions (and re-actions...) on the basis of our education, motivations, inner dispositions, environment etc. Our choices create our reality and determine the quality of our being. Looking from this side, we are all unique beings, playing an unique role and having opportunity to act.

We can transform each second to be a co-operative one in the creation of new values and systems for a future golden aged society.

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