Monday, December 14, 2009

2 Hour late start

Thanks to the horrendous weather outside I have a little time to compose another pile of compost for this compilation. Maybe about... computers!
I <3 Video Game Sales! Ever since I've adopted my 'Wait for it!' purchasing strategy I have been enjoying a nifty little meta-game: browsing the sale sites, looking for neat games. Luckily, my shift in buying habits coincides nicely with several online retailers recognizing the huge market of 'budget' gamers. Amazon has daily and hourly lightning deals in their video-games section. Steam has offered several amazing weekend and mid-week deals for the past few months. Impulse has just started a trial program where they will offer 24 hour coupon codes through their system-tray application... add all that to just the regular run of the mill sales and discounts that are offered and it is no longer a question of 'if,' but 'when' a popular game goes on sale.
There may have been a different catalyst to this movement, but for me personally the leader seemed to be Steam. As a digital distribution platform, Steam is in a unique position to track buying patters, and after a few early experiments they were able to conclusively show that dropping the price moved product. And not just a little. A lot. One of their first big sales for one of their recent games resulted in a 3000% spike in sales. They sold more copies of the game during that sale than during launch.
So now I shop for deals, and it turns out that I'm buying MORE games than before. Thanks to this new attitude about price-point I'm spending much much less. The normal price for a video-game these days ranges from $40 - 60 dollars at launch. A month after launch it is not unusual to see them dropping by 25 -75% for a day or two. It's a great time to be a gamer!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Is it really this difficult?

At one minute shy of an hour and a half I hung up the phone.
I had spoken with a nice lady that mumbled her name, Shane at the 15 minute mark, Eddy at the 45 minute mark, a rep that didn't introduce himself and transferred me to Rachim at the 54 minute mark, and finally Alphy who carried me to 1 hour 29 minutes.

All I wanted to know was what would happen with the invoice for $844.73 listed under my profile since the parts where never actually delivered to me.

And in the end I was told to not worry about it.

We will see...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back from the Dead

I now understand why a lot of people are frustrated with tech support. Specifically with Dell's Indian flavor of tech support.
Last weekend my computer suffered a crash. I am a technician by training and trade, so I was able to troubleshoot enough to know that this was definitely a hardware failure. Great! Having purchased a comprehensive warranty policy this means that it isn't really MY problem, but Dell's. Software would have been my problem and quite a headache, but this SHOULD be fixable with a simple swap of the broken parts... now, if only we could isolate the parts!

Little did I know...

I enjoy working on computers. I invariably learn something new and surprising. For instance: did you know that a dead memory-bank can cause your video-card to stop sending signals to your monitor? I didn't know that. It is counter-intuitive. There are processes that run every time your computer starts that are supposed to tell you if any of the critical hardware has failed... not being able to see the error messages seems like a pretty critical oversight of this process. Normally the visual warning would be accompanied with an audio cue: a series of beeps, to indicate the nature of the failure. My system gave no such indications. Just a blank screen.

Guess number 1: A dead video-card. Great! My system has two of those running in parallel mode. Unlinking them and swapping between the two should quickly identify the faulty card so that it can be replaced.

No change.

Ok, at this point I've done some testing. It is possible that both cards were affected by this crash, or perhaps even the graphics port on the motherboard. But we've traced the failure to the first step, so it's time to call in the people whose job it is to resolve these issues: Indian tech support.

In previous years there was a separate support number for XPS customers. XPS is Dell's hardcore line of computers. Intended for gamers and hobbyists, and the technicians were highly trained, proficient, and had impeccable English. I still have my own support number, but nine times out of then it apparently feeds into the same technician pool as all the other numbers as I soon found out. My first call actually started out positive. Within 7 minutes I was talking to a technician. Passable English, some strange phrasing, but competent. To his credit, he did warn me that they were updating their systems. Every few sentences he would ask to put me on hold "for 2-3 minutes." 5 - 10 minutes later he would be back. We went through my previous steps, swapping cards, running in single mode. Verifying the monitor works, and he agreed that it was unlikely, but possible that both cards fried. So that's where he wanted to start. So he asked me to hold while he processed the dispatch. Twenty minutes later a heavily accented Indian voice came on the line, informed me that it was "Glenn's" manager. He was very much willing to be taking ownership of my problem and would be happy to be giving me my dispatch number and if I would please be submitting to a survey about performance of technician it would be a quickly process of only a few moments thank you. Sigh.

My warranty provides next business day support. Normally Dell sends an e-mail with tracking numbers as soon as a dispatch is processed. I never received this e-mail so I called Dell again the following day. I didn't have the express code for my system, so I used the case number from my previous support call. And this is where I encountered my first taste of what 'normal' people must go through when they call for help.

The rep was bored, half-asleep, or drunk. All I wanted was confirmation that my replacement parts had shipped and their tracking numbers so that I could proceed to the next steps.
The rep said: Yes sir, I have the dispatch for the hard-drive here...
Me: Video-cards.
Rep: ... Yes, there are also Video-cards. And a hard drive.
Me: Oooohkay? What's the tracking number?
Rep: The tracking number has not been issued yet.
Me: -Incredulous Silence-
Rep: Uhm...The tracking number is .... -etc-

Not off to a great start. But at least I had a tracking number. FedEx claimed the package was already out for delivery, so I crossed my fingers and hoped that my gut feeling about the motherboard being the cause of my problems was wrong.
The package waiting for me at home was small. Too small. My video-cards are long, heavy beasts with giant cooling fans and copper heatsinks. This box weighed less than a pound and contained two bridge connectors used to link the cards together, a DVI-VGA adapter, a DVI-HDMI adapter, and a return waybill.

Back to the phone. After a couple of disconnects I get back into the queue. After thirty minutes we confirm that there is supposed to be a second package, but the tracking number doesn't match the FedEx format. The Dell order summary page lists it as in-transit.
Call to FedEx: Not a valid tracking number, and searching their system for my destination address shows only the package in front of me.
Call to Dell: After one hour we confirm that Yes, their system shows a second package in transit, but FedEx denies that it exists. This technician is also several percent more competent than previous ones and we run through some more troubleshooting steps and there will be another dispatch for the video-cards AND a motherboard. Swapping out a motherboard is a little more touchy than Dell will trust to even tech savvy customers, so they will be sending the parts to a local contractor who will contact me for scheduling the service.

I have developed a theory. I believe that the tech support centers in India have less computer stations than employees. Mr. Vladimir would ask me to hold, put the headset down, and disappear for 7-10 minutes while confirming details of my package which I was able to pull up on their website in seconds. I can only assume that he was waiting his turn on the single working computer in the building. I do want to thank him for sparing me the horrendous synth glockenspiel funk session stuck in constant loop for their hold music.

While on their website I pulled up the invoice for the original dispatch and discovered that the 2 video-cards, plus kit, is being billed at $844 and change. Over $370 per card! They didn't cost that much new! Luckily, the invoice only gets billed if I don't return the defective parts in a timely manner. Which is not going to happen unless I actually receive the replacement parts... So now the mystery tracking number and missing package has a more ominous quality.

Let two days pass. No update on the mystery package, FedEx still has no information, and Dell had updated the estimated delivery date from the 17th to the 18th... on the 19th. Sigh...
While having lunch the technician calls and basically tells me that I'm SoL on getting any reasonable times scheduled in the near future, and that early next week is looking sketchy too. And no, he doesn't do weekends. Fair enough. I tell him that I work fairly close to home and that my work is flexible enough that if he can give me a little warning I can meet him whenever he has an opening during the day, except for Friday at 12:30 where I have to be at another office in another city without fail. He'll call me in the morning to let me know what he can arrange.

Friday morning. I e-mail my boss and inform him that I may need to take an hour of personal time to meet with a technician. Two hours later he e-mails me and asks around what time I was expecting the call. "Before now," was my reply... with an eye on the clock. Two minutes later my phone rings.
"I can meet you there at 11:30." I reminded him of my need to be on the road, without fail, at 12:00 to make my appointment. ...
"Uhmmmm... let me make one call, I'll meet you there at 11:10."

Excellent luck! An early lunch, plus maybe a half-hour of personal time, and on the road to make my meeting!

I was at my apartment at 11:05. At 11:15 I ate my microwave burritos. At 11:20 I sat down on the couch and tried hard not to curse. At 11:25 there was a knock on my door. Apparently the technician had been speeding on his way to my place and got tagged by the cops. He was apologetic and went straight to work. Luckily my computer case is rather large and the motherboard is easy to extract. 10 minutes later we are trying to boot. No go. No change. Nothing. He starts trying some things, swapping cards in and out, but nothing is working. Time is ticking away. I call my office and apologize that I will most likely be later than planned. I luck out, no other meetings were butting up to mine and they were having a bit of an office party anyway. At 12:10 he starts packing up and tells me that he'll contact Dell for the next steps this afternoon. At 12:15 I race towards the Interstate. I make it to the office by 12:45. Disappointed in myself and unable to clearly voice my frustrations. It seemed like everything was out of my control at that point.

Fast forward to that evening. The technician calls me and tells me that Dell wants me to recontact their tech support and start over. He seems pretty upset by that approach and asks me to keep him in the loop.

So I call Dell. The first call disconnects after 5 minutes. There is a new wrinkle. The Dell system no longer recognizes my system's code and fails to forward me to the XPS department automatically. I now have to go through an extra 'data gathering' step where a standard rep assesses my system, needs, and forwards my call to a random department. Finally I get put in touch with Chris. Chris sounds like the technicians I USED to get and we start chatting about the situation. At this point I'm willing to try anything so we start working through all the troubleshooting steps again. Suddenly my system boots up normally, but crashes halfway through. My heart jumps! The catalyst had been the RAM chips! We started rotating chips in and out, with gradually increasing rates of success. Finally, my system started booting as if nothing had gone wrong.

My best guess now is that the memory slots on my old motherboard had failed. Apparently with this particular system configuration instead of causing a beep-code it just quietly causes the video bus to stop responding. Then the new motherboard had some machining oil or something in the memory slots, preventing the RAM from making adequate contact, causing the same symptoms as the old motherboard. Repeated removal and reseating of the RAM cleared the residue from the slots and allowed the system to work normally.

I have now tested and retested my RAM and everything is normal.

Buuut I've just received an e-mail reminder that I still need to return the defective parts!
That mystery shipment is still somewhere in FedEx hell, and Dell tells me that the department I have to talk to to get that straightened out doesn't open till Monday.

Let's hope they don't screw this up.

Thanks for letting me rant!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Time to kill...

Good Morning!
Life seems to be oscillating between too little and too much free time. At first, my lack of posting was due to a lack of compelling subjects, or maybe introspection. Now I have more thoughts rattling around my little universe than I have time to express, or even follow to meaningful completion.
But today... today I purposefully woke up an hour before my usual time. I have a pretty relaxed morning routine, but this morning I have to be at work a little earlier than usual, and I'll be damned if I'll cut my coffee + webcomics/forums time short! But now I have enough time to author at least a placeholder. Rejoice!
Aaaaand I've just spent the last few minutes just staring at the blinking cursor, arguing with myself about where and how to start.
I'll start with work. Watching the minutes tick by I realize that opening this particular can of worms could leave this post, yet again, unfinished... we'll see what happens.

The only constant is change.
Big changes are coming at my workplace. While afloat on a sea of economic uncertainty and instability the state of Iowa has mandated a merger between two agencies. My reason for waking early is to meet up with some of my coworkers and carpool to a meeting to discuss the shape of the merged Tech Department. The result of this meeting will be a proposal to take before the Board of Directors and will spell out what my job will be in this new agency. IF I have a job. Our merger of two, already somewhat struggling, agencies coincides with budget cuts from the state of Iowa. 10% right off the top of our budget. While I am fairly confident that there will be a me-shaped spot in the new agency, nothing is certain. So I am employing my tried-and-true tactic of realistic optimism: Be aware of all the ways these changes could make my up-till-now comfortable job unpalatable, consider in depth the annoyances and frustrations that will arise enfolding multiple districts that have completely different approaches to tech and support, so that (and this is where the optimism part comes in ;) ) I can be pleasantly surprised when everything works out better than I had feared!
This approach seems to work for me. Then again I'm pretty sure that I have a lot of the 'crazy.' Over-analyzing is like a hobby for me. So I take a self-destructive trait, embrace it, take it one step further, and now I've got a semi-beneficial coping mechanism! Yay me!
Ok. Time's up.
I'll probably need to vent after this meeting, so feel free to expect something new here soonish!

Good Luck!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Functional Friday!

I would apologize for the long delay between posts, but I am fairly certain that no one is reading these things.
Why 'Functional Friday?' My workplace is forcing me to take my remaining accumulated vacation time before July. They are really twisting my arm here! So in about three and a half hours I am done with work for this week. Yay!
The past week has been a bit of a blur.
I may pull some thoughts out of the hat a little bit later to enshrine upon this page, but for now just a quick Top 5.
1) Played through the good campaign on inFamous and have no desire to see what the evil version is like. The good/bad decisions seemed trite and contrived. At least the game was fun! Not going to replay it though, so I'm trading it back towards something new. I was kinda hoping for something with a little more meat on it, but it definitely served its purpose as a distraction.
2) I've participated in some online discussions over the assassination of Doctor Tiller. At the heart of these dialogs has been the topic of abortion. Not a fun topic by any stretch of the imagination, but one that does serve to trigger some moral introspection. I may expand on this idea in the future, but for the moment the short version is: Doctor Tiller's death can be attributed to the ignorance of those that decried his practice. Part of the discussions has been his family's decision to close his practice, and how some people consider this a betrayal of what Dr. Tiller lived and died for. Cowardice. I disagree. Doctor Tiller wasn't killed because of HIS beliefs. He was killed because of his assassin's beliefs.
3) Wow, I may not have time for all 5. Hmmm... Nope. It's probably best if I continue this later.

Off to deliver some computers and a meeting with administrators!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Hobby

Part 2
I like Netflix. As an unmarried man (in a relationship) with no children I generally have enough disposable income for impulse buys. Until recently, this included movies that I thought might be good. Action. Drama. Comedy. Kung Fu. For less than 20 bucks I could take it home, put it on my shelf, and watch it whenever the mood might strike me. I ended up with a lot of crappy movies. Since disposable income has become a little more scarce recently (see: relationship) I've been looking at ways to keep my net cash-flow in the positives. Part of that was the decision to subscribe to Netflix, and so far it has been a rousing success! So far I have been spared from purchasing the James Bond movies: Fun, but definitely not worthy of several repeat viewings. Any Stargate SG1 episodes: The first few were excellent, but then the premise began to drag. The Fast and the Furious movies, several Anime series, some one-shot comedy flicks, dozens and dozens of titles. I've found that as I got older I was more and more willing to purge items that I would normally have hoarded, and I'm slowly chipping away at the stuff that surrounds me but never warrants a second glance.
I've started cutting back on the largest part of my consumerism: Gaming. I enjoy video games, and until a few months ago owned every major console. I did some honest introspection and realized that despite having been fun at the time, there would be little to no chance that I would ever revisit the majority of my accumulated video-games. They had been supplanted by newer distractions. So I began a cycle of purges. Sorting through my collection and weeding out the duds and abandoned gems. Trading them in for credit to be used towards new distractions. Now I browse my gamer forums and deal sites, keeping an eye out for price drops, coupon sales, and clearance items. Am I... 'growing up?' Hardly. I still game like a fiend, but my tastes have changed a little, and I've started shopping around more. I'm willing to wait for the deals, read the reviews, and allow the masses to filter through the glut of games for me. Luckily I have found an excellent online community of gamers to help me with this. Gamers with Jobs has been my primary online home for the last few years. But I digress...
Some of the games I have been spending some time with, or have begun ignoring:
A few days ago I finished up Puzzle-Quest: Galactrix on the NintendoDS. An interesting game, with a few twists on a classic Bejewled model. I was disappointed with the relatively low level cap for the main character. My playing style meant that I hit the maximum level before I was even halfway through the main campaign. I still had enough fun to plow through to the finish, and would recommend the game to anyone that enjoys games that require luck, skill, precision, and luck. ;)
Yesterday my girlfriend and I finished up Lego Indiana Jones on the Xbox360. By 'finished' I mean we received a 100% game completion status. Unlocking all the characters, collecting all the hidden secrets, finishing all the bonus missions, purchasing all the extra modes. We are done with that game. Nothing left to see. Nothing left to do. And aside from a couple of frustrating jumping puzzles we had a blast! The Lego games do a wonderful job of giving you low-stress gaming scenarios that feel very rewarding. It's nearly impossible to fail, but there is definitely some challenge involved in succeeding well. I'm debating picking up Lego Batman for us next!
I picked up SoulCalibur 4 for the 360 a few days ago during a sale, but haven't sunk too much time into it. Being able to fight as Yoda seems like it might be great fun!
My PSP has been stuck on Sudoku for almost a year now. ;) Great way to get to sleep at night!
On the Wii we've been doing some bowling, but it seems that the more I play, the worse I get. Otherwise I've stalled out on MadWorld. The current level I'm on is pretty difficult and I just haven't had the motivation to try more than once at a time. We'll see if I pick that one up again.
My PC gaming has been making a HUGE comeback... Plants Vs Zombies was a surprising time-sink. The game is perfectly balanced, with just enough cute, difficult, mean, rewarding, silly to keep me coming back. I've you're into chess-like tower-defense games I would definitely recommend checking out the demo for that one! Just watch how quickly that free hour of play disappears!
Also on the PC, Demigod. Demigod is a strange concept. A spot has opened in the ranks of the high gods, and the slot must be filled. The prospective gods, or Demigods, must battle amongst themselves to advance to the rank of God. A great mix of characters with different personalities and play-styles duke it out in high detail arenas, capturing resource points and doing battle while gaining levels and unlocking skills. It's hard to describe the actual game-flow, and once you look at what you do in each round the game seems like it should be extremely limited... but the depth of strategy and synergy for each of these characters provides so much variation by itself that I'm having a blast just trying out different approaches. We'll see how it goes after I dig into the multiplayer modes a bit, which is apparently where this game truly shines.
Well, those are the big ones. There's a few other things on my plate, like Civ Revolutions on the DS, Izuna 2, Disgaea 3, and if it weren't for all the other compelling games on my plate I'd be digging back into Team Fortress 2 to unlock the new content that Valve has released for the Sniper and Spy classes.
Yup, it's a good time to be a Gamer!

Odds and Ends with some Recommendations.

A busy week has passed. I've tried assembling my thoughts coherently so that I could segregate the topics, but that just made me stare at the blank screen. So it is now time for a general brain purge! Find a tarp and take a few steps back...
First off... in the previous post I mentioned demoing an MSI Wind U100 netbook. Part of the deal for getting the demo unit was that our tech-team would write up some impressions that MSI could use for some internal redesign stuff. I won't bore you with the full review, since a quick google will give you many more qualified impressions. My take? I'm continually impressed with the agility of the Atom processor, but that is independent of this model. The newer netbooks all benefit from this tiny, hyper-efficient chip, and the possibilities for these improvements to begin affecting consumer tech in general feels pretty exciting. The U100 is a nice solid unit. The hinges are stiff, and you don't feel like you could break the thing just by picking it up. The touchpad is responsive and easy to use, the touchpad buttons feel a little mushy, but they seem to register consistently so I can forgive that. The keyboard kills it for me. The buttons are nicely spaced. A little compact, but we are talking about a unit that is barely 12 inches across. Touchtyping is possible, but a little tricky since the ridges between keys are fairly shallow. The killer though is the Ctrl key. For some reason the key under the left shift isn't Ctrl, it's Fn. Ctrl is next to it. Try telling that to my pinky finger. Nothing sucks worse than botching a simple Copy Paste routine. I found myself moving my hand off the keyboard to make sure that my fingers were using the right buttons. Not good!
I was also unimpressed with the battery, but the demo unit only had the 3 cell. Bigger batteries would be available. In the end I came away fairly impressed, but at the same time certain that these netbooks aren't designed for professional use. Small resolution screens and cramped keyboards outweigh cheap and portable if you're trying to use one of these buggers for an 8 hour work-day. On the other hand it was awesome having the little thing on my coffee table so I could look things up without having to switch away from what I was doing on my big screen. I'm definitely considering getting A netbook. Probably not THIS netbook, but I'm keeping my eyes open for a good deal. Recommendation: Netbooks are neat, but don't expect too much. They are cheap for a reason.

I've been spending a lot of time with my music collection lately. Now that Amazon sells DRM free MP3s I've done the unthinkable and actually purchased a few albums. The catalyst was a friend from Germany recommending a group she had seen: LaBrassBanda. An awesome little band using trumpets and tubas and such to make some excellent sound. A few minutes on youtube and I started hunting for a good place to pick up the album. One thing led to another and now I'm starting to go through my mind about albums that I miss or wish I had. My latest purchase was The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. I LOVED that album. I don't even remember how I ended up with the cassette, but the crispy, dark, industrial sound touched a part of my brain that was hungering for something and gave it sustenance. I'm burning the album off to CD at the moment so that I can give it a semi-permanent spot in my car. Recommendation: My experience with purchasing MP3s from Amazon have been positive and I would recommend it. Also, NIN is awesome and I recommend giving Reznor's latest stuff a listen. He has a distinct style which could be easy to dismiss at first listen. But give it another listen. The man has a way of weaving a tapestry with sound. Many of his compositions are bleak or angry, but they contain an emotional depth and raw energy that you rarely find in music.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's the little things...

the slight differences that make all the difference. After my experience yesterday I decided to pull up Excel and go through the same steps I did last night to fill in the parameter list for the Sumif function. In doing this I discovered that Excel also requires the logic statement parameter to be entered as a string, BUT there is a difference! Small things, but in this case they make all the difference. First, the text prompt for the Criteria field has this description: Criteria is the condition or criteria in the form of a number, expression, or text that defines which cells will be added. So, right there it gives me a clue as to my error and not just a vague error code. But even more definitive: If I enter a conditional statement in the box the Function Builder automatically puts the necessary quotes around it. The 'wizard' takes my valid logic statement and makes the necessary type change of my input so that the function can understand it. Like magic!
Speaking of little things,
I have an MSi Wind Netbook sitting next to me. My workplace is evaluting them for some of our employees so I get to play around with one for a while to see just how feasible it would be as a primary computer for some of our roaming staffers. As a fairly big guy I'm not sure how comfortable the smaller keyboard would be after prolonged use, but I've had a laptop as a primary system for the last 6 years. I'm sure it's just a matter of getting used to it. External keyboards are easy enough to connect for those times when you'll be hacking away at something for prolonged periods... such as this post! Right now I have to figure out why it cannot find our wireless.
Impressions will come once I've had time to play with it for a while.
Back to work you slacker...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I <3 Spreadsheets.
I'm no expert, but give me a grid of programmable cells and some stuff to compare over a time-line and I'm having fun! I just spent the last hour putting together tables to help my girlfriend figure out how to best allocate her resources towards her credit card debt, now that a couple of her cards have arbitrarily jacked up their rates. Oh what a difference a couple of percent can make!
With the help of my handy-dandy spreadsheet we have determined that if she cuts her payment on the lower interest debt down to minimum payment + interest and reallocates those funds to her other card she will save over $150 in interest charges. Add a few bucks to that and make a couple of slightly bigger payments out of savings for a few months and the avoided interest charges jump over $300 pretty quick. $300 of magic mystery money the credit card companies charge for the privilege of owing them money.
Now I'm no Microsoft shill. I appreciate the ease of use of most of their end-user products, since my usual day to day tasks include troubleshooting the problems other people run into while using those products. So when I want to get something done quick, without too much fuss, I boot up Office and just go.
That said, I try to support Open Source Software whenever and wherever I can. I advocate the use of free, community supported tools for all those niches where the tools provide solid performance: Firefox, Audacity, LAME, Gimp, among others... And also I may need to rethink that recommendation. I used Calc for my tables today, because I have been too lazy to dig up the Microsoft Office key I was given for attending one of the launch seminars for the 2007 product line. Open Office is a 60 meg install and pretty much a no-brainer.
Ok, so I'm putting together a table and it's time to start doing some summing of paid interest. I lay out the tables and formulas so that it calculates for a 24 month period. Extending into negatives once the balance has been paid off. Quick and dirty. So I try to put a sum at the bottom of the column and throw a conditional in there to weed out any potential negative values.
Ok, I know it's supposed to be pretty close to Excel, but maybe they've changed something. I pull up the formula list... Sumif(range, condition, optional range) Gotcha. Ok, type '=SUMIF(B9:B31, >0)'
Error... huh... ok. Pull up the Formula Builder. It's all there except... Ah! It wants me to use a semi-colon between parameters! Ok.
So I started trying everything I could think of. Defining the range for the conditional. Placing the conditional statement in a cell and referencing it. The text prompts for the formula vaguely pointed to something like that. Quote: Criteria (required), The cell range in which the search criteria are given.
After about 10 minutes of hacking away at this I resorted to google and found this:
Really? You're kidding. Quotes Greater Than Close Quotes Ampersand Zero? I mean, the programmer in me knows that it makes sense... but at least HINT at this type of structure in your Function Wizard! Don't call it a 'wizard' and then give me no method for building a conditional statement without using code to build the string! THIS, THIS right here is why OOo will not gain greater acceptance. I know how to use cells. I know how to break my logic down into structures, but unless I know that I have to indicate a text format for the logic statement before the 'formula wizard' can process the parameter I'll waste a lot of potentially productive time trying to find the trick to getting this Excel replacement to understand a simple value comparison.
Anyway, small gripe I have. Lots of screen space. Empty areas... use it! The wizard takes up a good third of my screen to populate with 3 boxes. Give me the man-page for the current formula in a little scrolling box!
Oh well.
It's getting late.

Politely Rude. Briskly Vague.

Firmly Uninformative.
I haven't decided what this space will ultimately contain, but I can assure you, dear reader, that it will be more fun to write than it will be to read.
With that out of the way: Welcome!