Sunday, November 9, 2008

Open Office: Is there an easier way?

Question for any OpenOffice/StarOffice spreadsheet users (and perhaps Excel users):

Q: I want to format an entire row based on the value of one cell in that row. I found one way, but is there an easier way?

I'm using the Conditional Formatting feature. By default it only formats a single cell based on that cell's value, but I made the following changes to format the entire row based on the value in COLUMN "Q".
In this example, if the cell value in COLUMN "Q" is "yes" then I change the style for the whole row to "My Style."
  1. Go to Styles and Formatting from Format menu.
  2. Define style "MyStyle"
  3. Select all of the rows I want this to affect.
  4. Go to Conditional Formatting from Format menu.
  5. Change condition to "Formula is"
  6. Use the following formula:
  7. Set the style to "MyStyle"
This works but hard codes the column value of "Q." If I add or delete any columns before Q then the formatting turns off and I have to go in and change the value. Not a huge problem but this doesn't seem very elegant. Also, you can only have up to three conditions per cell, so that makes for a maximum of only four possible states (formats).

So, are there any better ways of doing this?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kid on Fund Raising

News: Story about politicians raising money.

Kid: How do you raise money? Just lift it in the air?

Me: Ha ha. No, it means they are asking people to give them money.

Kid: That's kind of like stealing, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yoda Drawing

Yoda Drawing, originally uploaded by K Chu.

Kid drew this picture of Yoda holding his light sabre and a cup.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ironic Juxtaposition

People stealing food in Greece while people in Spain waste it.

stealing and wasting food

Sunday, August 24, 2008

TIE Footer

TIE Footer, originally uploaded by K Chu.

Hayley put the ball between her feet and said "Daddy! TIE Fighter!"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - A Review

Star Wars: The Clone Wars : 2/4 stars

Star Wars fans will know they are in trouble during the opening few minutes of the movie.

First, since this movie is released by Warner Brothers, there is no 20th Century Fox opening. That's forgivable until the opening where the John Williams Star Wars score IS NOT USED. Star Wars without the music is not Star Wars. Even Star Wars video games get this right and play the opening theme to get you into the mood. So, from the get go, you know this isn't your father's Star Wars.

There is also no crawl that explains the movie's set up. It's just another sign that this movie is aimed at kids who might not even be old enough to read yet. Instead, we have a World War II news reel announcer explain the situation. So, "a long time ago" is apparently 1942.

Additionally, the animation is relatively poor, even by TV standards (since this is all setting up a TV show). Think Veggie Tales with light sabres. It's like a 98 minute computer game cut screen. Technically, they just stretched a 2D drawing over a 3D frame. Even though it's a computer generated 3D world, it still has a very 2D feel to it, like playing Doom.

BTW, this movie should not be confused with Genndy Tartakovsky's Star Wars: Clone Wars from 2003, the other animated story about the time between Episode II and Episode III. Apparently, that "The" makes all the difference.

While the 2003 Clone Wars was a TV series turned into a movie, the new 2008 The Clone Wars is a movie setting up a TV show, and that can't be good. 2003CloneWars set up the events in Episode III so its plot was important. 2008TheCloneWars' plot is of no importance whatsoever, and I doubt that the TV show will do any better. Likewise, 2003CloneWars showed more of Anakin's dark side so his eventual turn in Episode III made more sense. 2008TheCloneWars is almost contradictory in its handling of Anakin's dark side.

The two Clone War movies are mutually exclusive. They can't both exist and be canon because they already contradict each other. Who knows what the TV show will do? Sci Fi fans don't like this kind of incompatability.

Stop reading here unless you really want to take a path down Nerd Street.

[Warning: Small spoilers that are also revealed in the commercials]

Most older Star Wars fans are going to have trouble with some of the new characters they've added. Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's new padawan (Jedi in training) is basically Hannah Montana, Jedi Knight. Even more annoying, however, is Jabba the Hutt's uncle Ziro. Imagine Jabba combined with Truman Capote and Colonel Sanders. He looks and sounds like a southern, transvestite slug and belongs in Star Wars as much as Bugs Bunny or a teenage mutant ninja turtle.

Most of my objections so far can be categorized as "This movie isn't for you, Generation X, it's for your kids." And that's correct. My kid did like the movie, and she's five. Kids will like this movie because most kids don't care about more than what's on the screen. But you'd think the film makers would, right? Perhaps not.

Ahsoka bothers me, and more than her being a teenybopper jedi. What's going to become of her? She doesn't exist outside of this series. Ultimately, she's going to be killed along with all of the other jedi, if not sooner. Hey kids! Meet Ahsoka! She's fun, carefree and not long for this world! Watch her put her trust in Anakin and then watch him betray and murder her later! Good times! Maybe she dies during the Clone Wars, so that's going to be a "very special" episode.

There are some "meta" issues that bother me about this movie (here comes the nerdy part) and they are that this movie doesn't fit into the existing Star Wars universe. It's as if George Lucas said "we gave you the first 2003CloneWars, and that's what really happened, but here's an alternative 2008TheCloneWars version. And we're making a TV show about it. It doesn't really count so we're going to change things around and not worry that it doesn't make sense."

The term for this is "retcon" or retroactive continuity. This is when you write something that contradicts existing facts of your mythology, so you then change everything to make it fit. Sci Fi fans hate this.

[Warning: Spoilers get bigger here]

The first retcon example is a light sabre fight between Count Dooku (I hate that name) and Anakin. In Episode III they sure act like they haven't seen each other since their face to face fight in Episode II. They even reused some of Episode III dialog like "your skills have improved" in this movie.

Secondly, Tatooine (Jabba's, Anakin's, and Luke's home planet) is supposed to be an out-of-the-way craphole of a planet. Jabba is also supposed to be just a small-sized gangster who only has influence over the immediate area (like Tony Soprano only being in charge of New Jersey's mafia). But in this movie, Jabba is the main guy, in charge of ALL outer rim trade routes. He's calling the Supreme Chancellor directly and making demands! Not only is he way more important now, but he's more powerful than the entire Republic.

Third, the whole "kidnap Jabba's son" idea is part of Dooku's and Sidious/Palpatine's plan. Why? If you've actually read this far, you probably know that Palpatine is controlling both sides of the war. He created an enemy to fight so he could oust the previous chancellor and make himself a stronger chancellor with more executive powers. So then, what is the point of this plot to turn the hutts against the jedi and the Republic? Ultimately, he wants the Republic to "win" because he already holds power there. Adding the hutts to the Separatists would only make that endgame harder.

That said, the movie has some bright spots. The battle sequences are fairly well done and people actually die (bloodless). One of my complaints about all of the prequels is that the battle sequences were just chaotic and you really could't tell what was going on. At least in this movie there are objectives and you can see what's going on.

Like I said, my kid did like the movie, and that was ultimately the most important thing. We had fun seeing the movie together as a family and it's always great for a dad to have his daughter hold his arm for the entire movie. That's worth at least one star.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympic Medal Theory

I have a theory about Olympic medal winners:
Bronze medal winners are happier than silver medal winners.
OK, maybe not every time, but I'll bet it's true more often than not.

Gold medal winners, of course, are the happiest, but the silver medal winner is usually settling for the silver. They wanted the gold and didn't get it. They are disappointed. For head-to-head competition (like soccer/fĂștbol) the silver medal means you lost in the final game.

The bronze medal winner, by contrast, probably wasn't in the running for the gold, an maybe not even the silver. Their alternative was nothing. 4th place? That's the unhappiest place of all. Again, for sports like soccer the bronze medal means you won your last game. The bronze medal winner still gets a medal and gets to be on the podium. I expect that they are just grateful to be there.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Go Sharks!

Go Sharks!, originally uploaded by K Chu.

Is it hockey season yet?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fatherly Wisdom

Dad: Stop playing in the dirt.

Kid: I'm just playing with rocks.

Dad: Rocks are just big dirt.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Call of Cuilthulhu

I'm going to add to the dog pile already on top of

"cool" dot com wants to be the next Google, but it's not even the next Mahalo. Putting aside the performance problems and outages, the search results are mostly useless. My experience, and those that I have read, indicate that Cuil's "120 billion" (insert Dr. Evil pinky here) index results are a gross over-evaluation.

A typical search result for a person will include:
  1. LinkedIn page, just one, and there will be a picture, probably of someone else.
  2. Blog postings, comments, and other junk pulled from RSS feeds.
That's it.

You won't find any "top level" results like, oh, the person's web site. If you seach for "John Smith" you will not get, even if there is one and it's a very popular site.

The same goes for organizations. I searched for my college marching band: The California Aggie Marching Band-uh from UC Davis in California. There is only one and that's a pretty unique search string. Did it find Nope. It found some of the sub pages, along with a random picture that has nothing to do with the band. Plus it found some other crap that is very tangental to the band.

The image thumbnails that cuil inserts into the search results are all hosted by cuil (that's polite) but there is no way to tell where they came from, and that's bad. If someone does a cuil search on you, and your LinkedIn page comes up with someone else's picture next to it, that's bad. But worse is if YOUR picture comes up next to some one else, say a criminal, whose police blotter is the first search result. I can see the lawsuits now!

Try cuil yourself (if it's up) on something close to you and see how it works for you. I'm sure it works for some things, but how can we have any confidence in this service if the results are so suspect?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Star Wars Nightmares

My five year old daughter has been getting into Star Wars lately. So far, we've watched the following:
  • Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope
  • Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back
  • Star Wars: Episode VI, The Return of the Jedi
  • Star Wars: Ewoks
  • Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace
  • Star Wars: Episode II, Attack of the Clones
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith
Guess which one made her call out for Daddy because she was having scary thoughts and couldn't fall asleep?

Yes, the Ewoks movie. Nightmare inducing movies: Psycho, Jaws, Friday the 13th, Saw and now the Ewoks Movie.

Rest assured that she will never see the Star Wars Christmas special.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Appending the Snausage

Have you ever heard a phrase that you didn't understand? It's annoying when people use the latest hip phrase, or meme, in conversation and expect everyone to know what it means. I used to see this all of the time back at Sun. Usually someone takes a three letter acronym (TLA) and turns it into a verb. "Let's MRP that later." (MRP = Medium Range Planning).

Lately I heard Tim Bray is the term refactor the ape. Tim's a smart guy, but I have no idea what that means.

Today I want to make up my own new phrase.

"Appending the Snausage"

It means, creating your own useless phrase that no one understands.

Use it today! Confuse a friend!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Last Day at Sun

Stay tuned for more.