21 Aug

Inflection point != point of restraint

It’s a question that seems to come up from time to time in my experience, can you take the point of inflection as a point of lateral restraint for the restraint of structural steel members under flexural forces?

The answer is of course… NO!

Let me say that again… NO, NO, NO!

Some people don’t ask obviously before doing, they just do it and are none the wiser.

Read More
15 Aug

Improving Excels spellchecker with highlighting

Excel does many things well, but it goes without saying many things could be vastly improved, or at the very least shown a bit of love by Microsoft.

One particular thing in Excel that that causes me some frustration is Excels inbuilt spellchecker.

Why? Because it’s infinitely more shit than the spellchecker in any of the other office products for a start.

This personal view is primarily born out of using Excel for the purposes of recording text based queries and responses as part of structural peer reviews. I use it as a log of sorts to log questions, responses and the like. The tabular nature of Excel lends itself to this application.

I’ve had logs that stretch to 40 odd A3 sized sheets full of queries when stuff goes a bit pear shaped and the designer has a ‘few’ (read ‘a lot of’) items to address, confirm, clarify, etc.

Read More
03 Aug

Parabolas, Rectangles, Triangles & Snakes (Part 9)

Part 9 – Verification

Part of the verification process in development of a spreadsheet or software tool involves what I like to term the process of idiot proofing. Some end users are considered as potential idiots, asking yourself to think like this idiot can be a challenge, as it doesn’t come naturally to some. Luckily as engineers we are good at solving problems, identifying risk and considering all eventualities, and are able to either test for these eventualities or provide suitable error handling to avoid giving back an incorrect, but potentially believable result to the end user.

You’ll essentially need to consider things no sane person would do, and then do these things to ensure your code, calculations, etc, all work as intended. You know that guy who uses a spreadsheet to design outside of any fundamental assumptions it might be based on, or intentionally decides some course of action is conservative when it really isn’t. Think like this guy, what will go wrong will go wrong, and you’re trying to head this eventuality off at the pass so to speak.

Read More