It’s the phone dummy

This one is a reminder for me. I’m the dummy from the title. It’s a variance of reboot your computer occasionally.

When everything is working fine and then stuff just stops working try restarting the core. More and more, that for is the phone, not the PC.

One example, occasionally my wife’s Car Play acts up in her car. The answer is always restart the phone. Everything in Apple’s Car play flows through the phone.

Today it was the Apple Watch. I’ve got an older one that I use to login to my Mac. Today, no login. I tried all the recommended tricks and was close to re-pairing my watch. Re-pairing a watch is not a simple task so I put it off. Then it hit me…at least try restarting the phone. That worked. Of course, getting to that point wasted the better part of an hour, but fixed is still better than broken.

Tales from the Pivot Table

I’m working on a little project for some of our partners. Basically pulling some data out of Fastpath and having Excel pull it into a pivot table via a macro. In the past, I’ve tried to stay away from macros and VBA when I could. Frankly, the security issues macros can cause sometimes force people to shy away from using them. This time I had no choice.

I started with code to import a report and pull out the header to make pivot table creation easier. Then came code to create a pivot table. I got everything working for one ERP system, but I need this work on multiple ERP’s. My first thought, the sloppy thought, was to just replicate the code and make multiple Excel files. That thought didn’t last long. Too hard to maintain.

After that I decided to copy parts of the code and give users the chance to select their ERP and drive the code selection that way. That’s when things got interesting. In testing I realized that my Excel code simply skips pivot table columns if they aren’t present. For example, if D365 uses “Role” and Oracle EBS uses “Responsibility”, I could put both of those items in the code, but if I’m running this for D365, Responsibility won’t come in because it’s not in the file. Excel just ignores that Responsibility is missing and moves on. This made coding for multiple ERP’s much easier. I no longer needed to make users pick an ERP system. With the right code, it just works for each ERP I’ve setup.

It wasn’t this easy of course. I found a bug in my v1 that blew out an entire worksheet as I moved to v2. Oops. Pulling out the header proved to be more challenging than expected since the header can be different lengths. I still have some testing to do, but all the preliminary stuff looks good.

So what’s the point? Well 1) It’s cool that Excel VBA doesn’t error out when building a pivot table if a field is missing, it just moves on. 2) Projects like this take some deep work. They need large blocks of time and they can’t be rushed. Distractions kill work like this. Twitter, email, slack, all of it. It’s a lot of “no’s” to tackle a project of even limited complexity.

Oh, and for those of you asking, yes, I built the whole thing in Excel for Mac and it runs just fine in Excel for Windows.

Musings – Data is only as good as…

We like to talk about data. Big data, crowd sourced data, etc. Big data likes more data to better interpret or smooth the data statistically. But what happens when the data is wrong?

Simple example, all of the nutrient tracking apps, think MyFitnessPal and similar, are a mix of crowd sourced, vendor provided, and authoritative data. They generally do a good job on macros like protein, carbs and fat. A significant percentage of items are crowd sourced and I’ve found that they can be terrible counting at lesser nutrients. Potassium and Iron are good examples.

Authoritative sources I’ve seen show that a 100g of beef provides about 7% of a person’s daily potassium requirement and between 10 and 24% of a person’s daily iron requirement, depending on the cut. In many apps, both of these are regularly zero in nutrient apps.

So what happens when big data relies on inputs that are mostly wrong? I suspect you get a lot more wrong and the wrong becomes entrenched.

Eero, Hue, and the weirdest solution

Ever have those days when everything you touch breaks? Yeah me too.

A few days back my internet broke. After a lot of frantic troubleshooting (I had a work call in 90 minutes), I determined that my cable modem was fine, but my Google WiFi setup had died. The main node simply wouldn’t see the cable modem. I tried switching nodes and even a complete factory reset. No luck.

I replaced it with an Eero system now that the price has come down. I’d heard good things and Google WiFi had some bugs that Google never bothered to fix.

Parts of the switch went smoothly. Others were very rough. My Hue bridge for my smart lights just refused to connect to the internet. I tried everything including a hard reset with no luck. Finally, I saw a thread suggesting if there are multiple networks, see if the Hue bridge is connected to the wrong network. Eureka!

I turned off my guest network (disrupting the Roku TV my wife was watching, sorry hon) and reconnected. Sure enough, it found the internet and was good to go. It took some work to put back the pieces, but the bridge definitely connected. After that, I reenabled the guest network and everything still seemed to work.

If your Hue can’t see the internet and you have multiple networks, this is worth a try. It’s definitely worth trying before hard resetting the Hue.

Musings – Apple Watch Charger…my precious

Why do people keep coming to visit and forget to bring their Apple Watch charger?

My wife’s grandmother is with us under hospice care. As a result, we’ve had a small parade of friends and relatives visiting, and they consistently show up without their Apple watch charger for an overnight stay. We have one extra that we use for travel, so it’s been fine, but still. Based on the hunger in people’s eyes when they ask if we have a spare Apple Watch charger, I’m declaring it the new ring of power, the new precious, the new crack.

I don’t have some grand point about this. It was just interesting to note that the Apple Watch has reached that level of need. I used to see this same pleading in iPhone users desperately searching for a plug. That’s mostly gone now, but Apple has managed to give us a new addiction.