Friday, December 17, 2010

Back in Laptopistan

At Port City Java in Capitol Hill today, just up the street from Peregrine, where I was last week, and there's a fair concentration of laptop users, but certainly not the packed house that there was at Peregrine. I'm guessing that's correlated to Port City's 3 stars on Yelp vs Peregrine's 4. But the WiFi is fast and there are some comfy chairs. Judgement on coffee still forthcoming.

One of the difficulties of working remotely in a shared environment is phone calls. I had a meeting today which is often cancelled, so I was hoping that it would be again today. But it wasn't, so I had to fire up Skype (which, thankfully, worked fine here), dial up the conference line, and participate in the call, wincing every time I had to speak from fear of offending the people around me. Fortunately, there was only one other person besides my girlfriend sitting nearby, so I wasn't as concerned as I would have been, but in a tighter space like Peregrine, it would be impossible to take a phone call without bothering people. The alternative would be to go outside or sit in one's car, both of which I've done in the past, but it's below freezing outside and my car is more than a block away, making neither of those options particularly palatable.

I suppose that in a true co-working space, phone calls would be expected and unavoidable, so both my concern and others' irritation would be lower. But I have yet to identify a suitable co-working facility in DC, and it's nice to get to change scenery each time I go to a new cafe, so for now I'll just live with the minor difficulties and keep hunting for the best WiFi and coffee.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More notes on Resolver One

Still generally liking Resolver One, but there are some limitations that are bothering me and associated requests I'd like to make.

1) Sorting!

How is there no sorting in place yet? They implemented CHITEST before sorting-in-place!?

2) Assignment

Some more "magic" assignment methods would be welcome. Something like

myCellRange = myListOfLists # aka 2D array


myRow = myList

That seems like a straightforward thing to implement, but instead I have to iterate over both and assign each value manually.

3) Row and Column Numbers

It would be very helpful if the code editor had a display with row and column numbers at the bottom.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Notes from Laptopistan

Credit to David Sax of the NYT for the name. Trying the working mode advocated in the article and occupying a spot in a cafe once a week or so. Clearly it requires some technique, however...

This afternoon, I worked out of Peregrine Espresso in Capitol Hill. It's a nice place, with good tea and coffee, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that it would be full of laptoppers. Every seat was full when I walked in. Fortunately, one person was packing up, so I got the table he vacated, but then gave it up to some people who were trying to have a conversation in favor of a seat at a bar. But after about an hour my back ached, and I didn't like fighting for elbow space with the people on either side. Plus, it's distracting to have two bright laptop screens on either side of you - I kept glancing over at each without meaning to, and alternated between feeling superior and jealous when noting that they were not doing any actual work.

Additional gear for the cafe survival kit for next time: headphones and an extension cord.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Resolver One CellRange oddities

I've started working on a project in which we're using Resolver One as a dashboard. The workbook consumes multiple data sources (services, DB, YAML files, etc.), collates and formats, and may eventually do other cool stuff like kick off simulations or generate charts. But we're still in the early stages, so I'm just fleshing out the configuration routines and table displays.

What I've found so far is that Resolver One is a cool package, but seems to have some weak points. The documentation is okay, but the layout seems less than intuitive, and the volume of documentation is somewhat lacking in comparison to The Enterprise Spreadsheet app. That's to be expected, so it doesn't bother me much.

The thing that does bother me is an apparent code deficiency in combination with my inability to log into their support forums to ask questions. I assume the forum issue is temporary and will be resolved (ha) shortly, but the code issue seems like a bug.

Basically, my problem is that CellRanges don't act Pythonically, or even correctly, it would seem. For one, you can't do this:

cellrange.HeaderRow = worksheet.HeaderRow

Why not? That seems like the most logical (and Pythonic) operation you could perform. I actually couldn't set the HeaderRow through any means, no matter what sort of value I passed in.

I had a second issue, but I just determined that it was user error and fixed it. Will continue this post if I come across something else...