Friday, July 20, 2007

Reminder - new home!

New postings go up at

Friday, August 11, 2006

So that's why there's no "guard" command.

I have a nice little archive of incomplete posts that are going to eventually move to A Counting School's new home. And some that won't, because they really have nothing to do with accounting, but harken to the more aimless early days of posting.

Since's servers weren't crashing today, I thought I'd share one of the "orphaned" posts that I saved up but hadn't posted.

Now if only I had time to play the games I'm talking about here!

If you've wasted (invested? nah) hours of your life playing computer games, you may have touched Age of Wonders and Rome: Total War. In terms of gameplay, they're different in a lot of ways, but one common thread between both is that you have a large map with many units, and you have to cycle through them.

This post inadvertently reveals why the "guard" command in AoW is not present in RTW.

You need your generals to run around to be more efficient in the game. In AoW there is no such consideration. Interesting.

Remember to update your bookmarks to, and as soon as I fix the forwarder settings, will also take you there.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Ultimate Showdown

Ever wanted to see a movie where Batman fights Godzilla. And dead American Presidents? And Transformers? And other pop culture heroes and villains?

Then check out the ultimate showdown movie.

The friend who sent this link is laughing so hard at the movie that's he's "starting to cough up blood."

Good for him.

Original Post Jan 28; Jun 28 Update: video now embedded.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

"Like a Phoenix from the Ashes"

With this post I unceremoniously crush the little head of blogger.


Big news: ACS is moving.

The new address is:

I'm going to maintain this version of ACS indefinitely, or at least until I figure out how to successfully merge a half year (!!!) of posts from here to the new site.

Thanks to everyone who's been following along here, and I invite you to update your links to the new home of ACS.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Online intrigue:

While wandering through the internet, I stumbled upon the news that someone is apparently very upset with

I can't imagine way.

A sharply barbed & sarcastic on a contender for Liberal leadership?

I love it.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A gift from the heavens for people who surf on more than one computer

The Google blog is a ridiculously useful place to visit on a regular basis. If you haven't noticed, I do that on a regular basis - and just noticed something absolutely killer for anyone who uses more than one computer - an announcement about their new Firefox extension, which lets you synch your bookmarks and other settings between Firefox on different computers.

Yes, Google's servers will end up processing more of your personal information ("you bookmarked WHAT?!?").

If, however, you don't care about the privacy implications of sharing more and more with the big GOOG, then get the extension.

Aside from the privacy implications, the other problem is that the initial release of this extension will slow down Firefox's start time. They say they're working on reducing the delay.

Another issue is that perhaps you don't want to have all your settings between the two systems identical. Perhaps you have some stored passwords on a desktop computer you'd rather not losing in case the laptop gets lost or stolen.

Those issues aren't stopping me from trying the program. Two other issues do, however. First, I don't feel like slowing down my systems any more with additional junk, whether it's useful or not.

Second, I'm also keeping my laptop "clean" for the School of Accountancy's exam lockdown program, this will wait until later in the year, when "software purity" is no longer important.

Now that I've shared this news with you and used my blog as a shameless method of bookmarking the SOA's website, it's time to do more practice problems. The SOA work, I should add, will ensure that posting to ACS will be even more erratic than usual this month. If you see anything, it better be accounting related or it'll be a sign that I'm wasting precious study time!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pushing the spreadsheet's limits

Since it's much more fun to discuss new things when you have actual experiences to back up what you're talking about, I registered with Google to try out their new online spreadsheet.

Running both Excel and Quattro, I hardly need the spreadsheet to do my work - but I do enjoy novelty. And pushing things to the limit.

Early observations?

Spreadsheets are currently seem to be limited to 100 by "T" (20) cells, or 2000.

Note the judicious use of the word "seem". If you hadn't noticed that, you would argue that even if a serious spreadsheet user, such as an accountant, wanted to fool around with the program to do their day job, they'd quickly grow frustrated by such a tiny limit.

Having said that, Excel's tens of thousands of cells sometimes aren't enough either, but that's another story.

All that is a moot point, though. Users will find that 'T by 100' is merely the default setting. You can add more rows and columns with the "insert" command. And, like a few other parts of this program, it's pretty clever and intuitive.

I'm sure someone will push the program until they find its limit - or perhaps it's documented somewhere. I'll leave that to someone who's more interested in the topic instead.

I love the auto-wrap feature (which can be disabled with the click of a box) and wish Excel had it (and if it does, please tell me!).

The other formatting boxes are nice and straightforward too. It's enough to make you wish that Google would get around to selling a "traditional" standalone spreadsheet to challenge the monstrosity that is MS Office.

I tried out some common shortcuts - F2 lets you edit cell contents, adding an apostrophe before a formula preserves it as pure text instead of an actual formula.

And the formula box is pretty extensive - it ranges from math formulas like CEILING to financial functions like YIELD, and date operations such as DAYS360 too.

Sort commands are also available.

The only thing lacking at the moment is a proper help system - there's as much devoted in the help section to answers about security and privacy as there is to basic spreadsheet operations.

If you want to learn how complex functions work, however, you're out of luck unless you already have the manual or online help function of an existing spreadsheet, or you know some good websites with spreadsheet tips.

Have fun with the spreadsheet while it's still available - Google has a predictable habit of filling up its limited-release offerings quickly, leaving latecomers out in the cold until later versions come out.

Privacy may be an issue, but it's not exactly the point

Neil brought Google's new spreadsheet offering to my attention.

People will no doubt get concerned about putting sensitive data in an online spreadsheet. But that's not really the point of this new product, it seems. According to the official tour, it's meant to be a way to help people collaborate more efficiently over non-sensitive items.

Interesting little product - it's like they're attempting to do what Microsoft attempted with Excel (shared workbooks) - but to actualy make it work.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mind-numbling misinformed & mendacious ramblings

Kurt Nimmo wins the award for the most strikingly obvious "I don't have my facts straight but I'll claim they're out to get us" postings of the month.

Some of the things he's written are so ridicluous that I feel obliged to write in response to them.

In the process, I'm walking a fine line between going into a full-fledged breakdown on what's wrong with these two posts and ignoring them completely: one is a one cheapshot against CSIS, and the other is about the recent counter-terrorist operations in Toronto.

Some argue that any publicity is good publicity. And there's merit behind that argument - the whole "don't dignify it with a response" angle.

But there's also merit in arguing that it's worth speaking up when someone's obviously wrong - the Bonaparte quote "Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent", seems apt.

With that in mind, here's two quick points:
  1. Our police forces have been careful to the point of absurdity to avoid even the appearance of inciting 'hysteria' against Muslims. Christie Blatchford went to town on this point. The article was a shining example of "her trademark sarcastic, conversational prose", which is my indirect way of saying perhaps she went overboard, but the point remains valid no matter how much hyperbole is used in making it.
  2. The police and security forces are professionals - more than can be said for a lot of the amateurs commenting about the situation online. They wouldn't conduct such a massive operation without doing their homework first. And by homework I do mean extensive legitimate surveillance and research.

Enough said.

Now to cleanse ACS of all this craziness, here's a video which is comparatively sane.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Something fresh: super cop

It's not particularly high-brow. But then, some people are very interested in low-brow things.

BASE jumping movie & blog lockdown

Check out the BASE jumping movie on ifilm.

Incredible footage, and completely insane behaviour.

Edit: this post has been reposted to include the embed code from ifilm. I don't recall seeing it when I originally stumbled across it.

The best defense against plagues and spam is a 100% lockdown

ACS is currently locked-down to suppress an insistent little twerp who seems to be probing this site through this post to fire off spams. When he gets bored I'll re-open comment mode.

In the meantime, if you're one of the regular commenters and would like to leave messages, please let me know and I'll make you a member of this blog - you'll be immune from future lockdowns as well.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Rare Exports Inc

Even casual readers know I try and alternate potentially mind-numbingly dull accounting stuff with completely unrelated videos.

In that spirit, enjoy this movie. Yes, it's 7 minutes long, but it's worth the build-up. You probably won't see anything more original on TV for the entire month, if not longer.

Thanks VideoSift

Friday, June 02, 2006

The author of blink has a blog now

Gladwell's blog has been up for a while. I haven't mentioned it because I didn't have much else to add in the way of incisive analysis or observation or anything or other nice thing like that.

Well actually reading something might help.

Having done that, I noticed that one of his readers in the disucssion surrounding CEO pay, or more importantly, top-tax-bracket taxation, directed me to the inflation calculator. It looks like a very handy tool.

The main weakness is that it doesn't feel like touching numbers over 10,000. Not a huge problem, since you can move decimal places on your own, but some automation would've been nice.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Another neat Gmail feature: reply by chat

Forgive me if you've seen this already, but I just noticed that you can reply using Google Talk in Gmail.

All you need to do is open a message written by someone who is online on Google Talk, and the option appears, alongside the traditional "reply" and "forward" buttons.


It's bigger news than the addition of more languages, although it's interesting to see that Arabic and Hebrew came out at the same time, eh?

Edit: a day after marvelling over this new feature, it was officially proclaimed on the google blog.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

May Spam Total: 557, or is it?

After noting 500 spams in April, it was May's turn to show off how much junk I'm getting.

And the total, betrayed already by the subject line, was 557.

Aside from learning that the volume of spam has grown by 10%, I've found that more e-mail addressed directly to me is landing in my box. And there's a bit of repetition going on - one pair of spams came up as a "conversation". As a result - and this is the answer to tthe "or is it?" - technically, this month's total was 558 messages - Google's count merged the two messages into one conversation, giving me that marginally smaller total.

If I had lots of time on my hands, I could perform some sort of analytics with respect to the spams, to see what sort of trends are at play. But I don't, so I instead gave them a quick glance while deleting them all - one thing gmail really needs is a "delete everything in here" button, to avoid forcing me to hit "select all" and delete 6 times to get rid of 500+ spams.

Of course, I could just ignore them and let the 30-day auto-delete function do the work for me, but this seems more worthwhile. For now, anyway, I'll continue this little lazy experiment to see if anything else of interest occurs.

Edit: after hitting "publish post" I realized May has 31 days. Damnit. If I get dinged by spam later today then this total will be updated...

Edit #2: 21 more messages straggled in on the 31st. That makes the total 588.