Daily Archives: June 8, 2006

Who are you?

I was reading an old posting by Lorelle the other day, and realised that although I had an About page, it was not very descriptive or helpful.

I’ve now expanded the information on that page to include a bio and some history. Maybe it will help you to get your head around what I’m doing here, and what on earth I’m babbling on about.

Lotus is opening a greenhouse

Luis made me aware of a new site from IBM alphaworks – the Lotus Greenhouse. Although it is very much still in the making, it already lists several of the cool new collaborative technologies that we have been playing with internally – including dogear, our social bookmarking and tagging system. There's likely to be some more about Sametime 7.5 at some stage, too.

Update: the site is currently not fully open. Expect to see some changes while they get it up-and-running. As I type this, I can't actually log in to the site at all. I'm sure all this will change soon.

Google does Spreadsheets

I received my invitation to trial Google Spreadsheets today (previously mentioned by Anton)

I immediately logged on, and was presented with a nice-looking blank sheet. I can’t be bothered to fill in a whole load of cells manually, so I thought I’d start out by importing an Excel file from my local disk – I suspect a fair number of first-time users will go down this route.


Once uploaded, it displayed without any obvious problems.


Scrolling through the sheet, it turned out that a few Excel features are not supported:

  • vertical text was replaced with horizontal text
  • drop down lists don’t appear
  • images were not imported
  • hyperlinks between cells and to other files are converted to plain text, and no longer work

I guess these are not going to be widely used by a basic user, and it is certainly no big deal for me – I’m just a curious techie 😉

One of the Excel features I do miss is that creation of a series by dragging down on the bottom right-hand corner of a cell doesn’t seem to work, and I can’t see any obvious way of achieving this.

Interesting that the OpenOffice.org spreadsheet format is not supported as an import option, although of course you could export from OO.o as .xls or .csv and import from one of those.

In general, the user interface is consistent with other Google offerings like GMail, and works well – and it is reasonably fast.

Of course, I’ve failed to mention the key features:

  • Google will store your data for you. This could be dangerous for corporate users – I’m certainly not going to be importing any of my work-related spreadsheets.
  • Data sharing. I can invite others to view or edit my spreadsheet, based on their email addresses. This is cool, but again, I’m nervous about what data I could reasonably share over the Internet.

So, there’s a brief review. It seems like this is a handy (if basic) tool, if you don’t already have OpenOffice, Excel, or some other desktop spreadsheet program.

Blog twin

My friend and ISSW colleague Simon emailed me to point out that there’s another Andy Piper who blogs on technical (and Java-related) topics. I’ve actually known about this for some time – who hasn’t Googled their own name before?

The other guy contributed to XEmacs, and is relatively “famous” in some techie circles. On the second services engagement I ever went on for IBM, 5 years ago now, I introduced myself, and a star-struck techie at the customer said “not THE Andy Piper? the one who wrote emacs?”. I was slightly taken aback!

The slightly unfortunate aspect of the situation is that he works for BEA, and has even written a book on Weblogic… which can lead to confusion… he doesn’t actually seem to blog much, though.

So no, I’m not that one.

Who am I? See the About page 🙂