back to article Entire London 2012 Olympics' cultural events database held on Excel

The London 2012 Olympics is set be a humanoid spectacle of the like never witnessed by the world's population before. Or something. But disturbing information has reached us at Vulture Central that reveals the organisation's entire cultural events database is stored in *gasp* Excel. A job vacancy currently advertised on the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Angel

    Time to update the CV

    Out goes "Experience with Excel"

    In comes "Experience of managing a large and complex databases"

    Now I just have to find suitable replacements for "has used an e-mail account that has recieved more than one message" and "has created multiple Word documents".

    Maybe "managed global e-mail system" as I have received e-mails from other coutries and "implemented and managed document management system"...

    Angel because my CV never contained any lies before....

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Sir

      "received e-mails from other coutries"

      I believe your course details on spell-checking should be available in your inbox by now :)

      1. Ted Treen
        Alert

        Maybe

        they were, but were logged as "Coarse details" and have thus been held in abeyance awaiting something more refined...

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. Alistair Wall

    experience of managing a large and complex database

    and no mention of backup and recovery.

  3. Zane
    Happy

    Not really surprised

    Haven't we all seen things like that in a lot of companies - management by Excel? Worst case complete copy&paste effort, without even understanding formuals in cells (or even macros...).

    My personal biggest joke: I advised to move to a database for sth like 250.000 records stored in Excel. Same company, different country, asked a consultant to solve a similar problem. He developed a new Excel sheet, which took the domain expert six weeks to understand how to fill in his data.

    Me thinks, the problem is that some people really think Microsoft sells management solution. And some managers think: IT = Word + Excel.

    1. nyelvmark
      Stop

      And some managers think: IT = Word + Excel.

      Nonsense. How on earth could you manage anything without Powerpoint?

      1. moylan
        Alien

        as nyelvmark said no powerpoint?

        as nyelvmark said no powerpoint?

        90% of management emails would be unviewable!!

    2. Richard Crossley
      Coat

      IT = Excel + Word

      or "EW".

  4. Emma Summers
    Joke

    Hmmm

    Surely they could have sprung for a Pro version of Office and used a proper database like Access...

  5. OMGROFLSKATES
    Alert

    Its only...

    SQL Lite anyone? (ok better then VBA granted. Same principal, only the tables are cute tabs!). Be happy that they aren't sending it to AAPL thanks to bugs in their delete() function. Give it to Child Services, I hear they are great keepers of data. Im sure its stored on a Flash Drive to "take off site" for "backup" purposes. Perfect for their security practices!

    how long before this is floating around the forums?

  6. Sir Cosmo Bonsor
    Boffin

    Non story

    "little old Excel"? Well, it's a tried, tested, well-understood and well-supported solution. Unlike the crap that an average developer is going to knock up in, say, Oracle.

    Is the Reg becoming more like the Sun every day, or was it always this way?

  7. MikeyD85

    Facepalm

    My word. Could the Olympics Committee really not afford a SQL server licence?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Afford?

      Why would they have to afford an SQL licence?

      There are plenty of SQL Servers that are are available under a free license that would be quite up to the job

      1. Gannon (J.) Dick
        Happy

        Bonus

        The OpenOffice Base (front end for HSQL) has very fancy features, and any day you can piss Larry E. off is a good one.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        SQL Server

        Yes, but they're not as simple to use as SQL Server which has a UI that's basically like Access for grown ups.

    2. Dunstan Vavasour
      Devil

      Tried and Tested????

      Excel itself is tried and tested, and has very few bugs.

      But the user created functional parts in an Excel based application are usually hideously bug ridden, undocumented and unscaleable. Excel's strength is also the biggest problem: All in one place you have data entry, the data repository, all the functional logic and the output presentation. If a major spreadsheet is treated like proper software development, and subject to verifiable and repeatable unit and integration testing then it will function well.

      If, however, you hire an individual Excel jockey and set her/him to work with no functional specification, or data schema, then you will likely get something where you simply don't know if the output is right or wrong.

      The problem isn't with Excel per se, it's with the lack of validation and control around the development of complex software within the Excel framework.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: Tried and Tested????

        The question marks are indeed apposite, I would only ask why there are so few. Excel is basically not tested as proven by abysmal implementation of statistical features. Despite repeated reports of the problems, Microsoft has done little or nothing to correct them. This raises the question of whether other aspects of the software are similarly afflicted.

        If you need convincing, here are some article with in depth testing of Excel:

        1. http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/RSS2002.pdf

        2. Knüsel, L. (1998) On the accuracy of statistical distributions in Microsoft Excel 1997 Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 26 (3) 375-377

        3. McCullough, B.D. & Wilson, B. (2002) On the accuracy of statistical procedures in Microsoft Excel 2000 and Excel XP Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 40 (4) 713-721

        4. Burns, P. (2009) Spreadsheet addiction Retrieved from http://www.burns-

        stat.com/pages/Tutor/spreadsheet addiction.html, 21 June 2009

        5. Goldwater, E. (2007) Using Excel for Statistical Data Analysis - Caveats Retrieved from http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/ evagold/excel.html 27 June 2009

        6. McCullough, B.D. & Wilson, B. (2005) On the accuracy of statistical procedures in Microsoft Excel 2003 Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 49 (4) 1244-1252

        7. Keeling, K.B. & Pavur, R.J. (2007) A comparative study of the reliability of nine statistical software packages Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 51 (8) 3811-3831

        8. McCullough, B.D. & Heiser, D.A. (2008) On the accuracy of statistical procedures in Microsoft Excel 2007 Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 52 (10) 4570-4578

        9. Yalta, A.T. (2008) On the accuracy of statistical distributions in Microsoft Excel 2007 Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 52 (10) 4579-4586

        10. McCullough, B.D. (2008) Microsoft Excel's `Not The Wichmann-Hill' random number generators Computational Statistics & Data Analysis 52 (10) 4587-4593

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          How is that extensive list relevant?

          I highly doubt they are doing any sort of statistical analysis on these events' data.

          And you know, Access was developed for exactly this purpose, if we're at M$ tools.

          1. Juillen 1

            RE: How is that extensive list relevant?

            No, Access was developed to allow something to fit on the desktop of a single person, and store some basic data with a nice little data entry/reporting tool built in.

            If you're going to store data running a multi-million pound event, then I think SQL Server if you're using MS tools...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Stop

          @Tom Gregory

          Ok I agree on a whole, but please do NOT use references that are up to a decade iout of date.

          "accuracy of statistical procedures in Microsoft Excel 2000 and Excel XP "

          Just rewind to that era....

          "However, I question the company's ability to sell into a tight consumer market right now at the iPod's current price."

          See how relevant they are?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I was going to say...

      it could be worse, they could have been using Access but you beat me to it!

    4. Jean-Luc Silver badge
      FAIL

      @Non story

      Your posting is tongue-in-cheek, innit? God, I hope so.

      Biggest problem with using Excel to store data is that... you can copy it, modify it, email it. Pretty soon you have little bits of data floating everywhere, loving hand-entered without a clue as to which file is right and as to your data integrity. Business rules? Who cares, this is entered by hand so you can be as creative as you need to be.

      I know this because Excel's part of my company's culture. We have data entry into special spreadsheets that have to be retyped in by hand because their format doesn't sense to a program. We have legacy reports that can't be automated because, well, it took someone 3 days to type them in "just so" in Excel.

      Then the people whose IQ stretch just a wee tad above the Excel db crowd's have the ready-made solution to these problems...

      Let's move to Access!

      1. Gilgamesh
        Trollface

        Hooray!

        Hooray for Microsoft Abscess!

    5. A J Stiles
      FAIL

      Why would they?

      Why would they and why should they? They could afford as many MySQL licences as they wanted, and still have change for the bus home.

      Taxpayers' money should never be spent on proprietary software where Open Source alternatives exist -- it's money down the toilet. Even if they end up spending more tweaking an Open Source product than they would have spent on a proprietary alternative, at least the investment in Open Source generates a return.

  8. rktect
    Thumb Down

    Very speculative

    Excel is a pretty powerful tool. It allows for Data Sources - which connect to real databases. Just because Excel is being used says nothing about how the data is stored.

    Excel's analytics tools like PowerPivot and Reporting Services make for enterprise class analytics used by some of the largest companies in the world.

  9. Lamont Cranston

    It's an Administrator position,

    so the management of the database won't actually go beyond a little bit of data entry. Chances are it's nothing more than a mailing list of important persons.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Before we design the solution...

    ... what's the scope of the problem?

    There may only be a few hundred events. The database may have a user-base of one. So, for all we know, this is the right solution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Re: Very speculative

      Thanks for regurgitating the first few slides of your "Introduction to Excel" course!

    2. anarchic-teapot
      Devil

      Even with a userbase of one

      - which, frankly, is highly improbable - Excel is not up to coping with "a few hundred events". Excel databases max out fairly quickly. This leads to data loss, and even total system crashes. Not pretty.

      Yes, I have seen this. Yes, I had warned the company that their database was too big and had too many users to be entrusted to Excel. No, they didn't listen: what do women know about real IT?

      Bwahahahasnrk. Would you like some cress to go with that egg on your face, sir?

      1. elderlybloke
        Paris Hilton

        Even with a userbase of one

        The Olympics is being run by women!

        Oh no , I won't say what I think, as it may upset them and make them cry..

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Even with a userbase of one

          Wow.

    3. Bullseyed

      Re

      Heeey someone who knows PowerPivot. I'm just learning it. No one else in the Fortune500 top 75 firm I work at seems to have heard of it. Looks like it will be pretty awesome to joint report from access and sql.

    4. Charles Manning

      Userbase of one?

      Then a shoebox with index cards would be cheaper and far more robust.

    5. Marvin the Martian
      Trollface

      "Some of the largest companies of the world". So what?

      Some of the largest companies in the world were/are doomed. Enron, Andersen Consulting, Lehman Bros, Nokia, etc. And a sledgehammer is a "powerful tool", which doesnt mean it's the right one.

      Sheesh, why do I argue with a droid? As if a human ever would write or say "enterprise class analytics". [I suppose a trekkie might, speaking of Oracle implementations onboard. But the point stands.]

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    What the fuck?

    Given you know nothing of the complexity of the dataset, you're making a lot of assumptions.

    And if you've not used excel to store more than a thousand prices of data (for example which would be required for anything over 4 years daily price data) then you've really not used it.

    No I wouldn't use Excel to store a large amount of relational data, which changes often. But this sounds like a list of things that are going to happen. Why construct a whole crap load of infrastructure to maintain a SQL backend for such a simple dataset, in fact I'll wager if they did you'd be moaning about the extortionate cost for an internal database that's only used by 2-3 people.

    It really makes me wonder...

  12. Dale 3

    Competitive salary

    Lemme guess, 10000 people apply for the job, half of them receive "competitive salary" paycheques in advance but no-one actually knows who got the job, then a month before the event 4999 people receive demands to pay back the salary because - it turns out - it wasn't them.

    I do like the competitive spirit though, it is in keeping with the games.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The key word is "cultural"

    The najority of non-sporting Olympic events will be attempts to relieve the taxpayer of cash while incorporating maximum advertising for the sponsors and the Olympic committee. These will be well-managed on state-of-the-art software by professionals with years of experience.

    The remaining cultural events will be getting some token displays of multiculturalism and some eels and mash in the East End and could be organised on the back of a fag packet (remember: Smoking Kills).

  14. Niall 1

    A team of people using the speadsheet?

    that should be fun.

    Are you in the spreadsheet?No.

    Are you in the spreadsheet?No.

    Are you in the spreadsheet?No.

    Are you in the spreadsheet?Yes. Get out I want to make a change.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eh?

      It tells you who else has a sheet open when you open it...

      1. Matt Siddall

        kind of

        at my company (the company I work for - sadly I don't own it), each computer has the same identity, which is the name of the company (or at least what the company was called when we got the computers, the name has changed twice since then), so it's not too useful to see "xxxx Consulting is in this file"

      2. Munchausen's proxy
        Pint

        Well...

        You're assuming they aren't all logging in to the same account.

    2. Avalanche
      Boffin

      @Niall 1

      You are aware that you can enable concurrent use of Excelsheets? Its conflict resolution can be slight clunky, but it does work well enough if people sharing the excelsheet don't work on exactly the same cell.

    3. nichomach
      FAIL

      @Niall 1

      More like:

      Are you in the spreadsheet? Oh yes, you are, I can use the share and track changes features to be in at the same time and review your changes, thanks.

      1. anarchic-teapot

        Slightly clunky

        That's like saying Stephen Hawking is slightly handicapped.

        If it's a small spreadsheet, and only two people are using it: fine. Even then, you'll lose input fairly regularly due to conflicts.

        A simple database is far safer. If they want to log activities through Outlook, they can always use Access, it's not that bad.

    4. JEDIDIAH
      Mushroom

      Big bother? Not really.

      A college kid could knockout a basic SQL based solution over a weekend.

      When you are talking about people "adult" enough to be managing databases, the 'horrible complexity' of real database solutions is really not that much of a problem. Like anything else in tech, you need to understand things on a deeper level than just the GUI.

      Someone else mentioned disaster recovery. This is a fine example of the "deeper understanding" problem.

      Competent people really should not be afraid of something that doesn't come from Microsoft.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      point made but

      prices of data?

      even I'm not the Liz Dexic

    6. hplasm Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Ha!

      You work in my office!

    7. ravenviz
      Facepalm

      Re: A team of people using the speadsheet?

      It's OK, they'll collaborate in SharePoint. How long have they got again?

  15. Peter Ford
    Happy

    Ah, that explains...

    ... the ticket fiasco :)

  16. Still Water
    Stop

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    Not ideal, no. But portable, within the grasp of a single half-competent user without having to resort to hiring developers, DBAs etc. Of course, if there's more than one person using it, you are royally shafted.

    Not sure a role "managing an Excel database" falls under the job description "Database Administrator" either...

    1. Juillen 1
      Facepalm

      Alarmingly common management practice..

      Don't bother to work out what you really need to do the job, put a load of things down there that you already know, and specify that they're the tools to do the job.

      Sod doing things the right way, we've always done things THIS way, so it must be right..

  17. John Tappin
    Holmes

    It did say cultural events...

    they probably could do that on the back of an old envelope...

  18. Anonymous John

    Piece of cake

    Opening ceremony 27/07/12 9:00 12:00

    Closing ceremony 12/08/12 14:00 17:00

    Staff piss-up 12/08/12 18:00 ???

    Have I missed anything?

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Usual project phases

      > Have I missed anything?

      (presuming the Paralympics has their own spreddy of cultural thingies)

      I'd suggest penciling in dates for:

      mid-August: hunt for the guilty

      August-October blame for the innocent

      May 2013 (deadline forThe New-Years honours list) rewards for the uninvolved

  19. Dodgy Pilot
    Black Helicopters

    MS Orifice

    Excel is probably all they could afford after all the beer-vouchers they slurged out on the stupid logo.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Underestimating Excel

    I have to agree with Sir Cosmo Bonsor.

    I'm CTO of an ISV that creates enterprise software with MS SQL Server and we deal with all sorts of datasets ranging into the hundreds of millions of rows. In addition to our database development teams, we have dozens of data analysts who work primarily in Excel. It's a powerful and easy to use tool which has been refined over decades, that will often be sufficient for data management by individuals or small teams if you don't need to use the power of a relational database (e.g. relating entities together, concurrency control etc). With MS investing more in Excel as a data management interface (see Powerpivot, Vertipaq engine etc) I wouldn't be surprised to see it supplant Access in the future.

    Saying that 'we're all doomed' because an organization has chosen to manage data in a world-class data management tool (albeit for single users or small teams) seems to overestimate the complexity of their data, or underestimate the power of Excel.

    1. Dunstan Vavasour
      Devil

      "The Power of Excel"

      My problem is precisely with the power of Excel: it gets used for complex data manipulation tasks without any proper software process and testing regimen - for example, out of range and invalid data values; data entered beyond the input areas; etc.

      While the organisation you run sounds as if it programmes in Excel properly, this is rarely the case. And while it's not Excel's fault that people create rubbish and feebly tested applications atop its framework, it makes very bad software development practice very easy, and hence the norm.

  21. Risky
    Mushroom

    Yeah call in the BAs /rolleyes

    Yeah get IT in to build a "stategic solution". Should be ready for testing mid 2012 and you better have the budget for a few dedicated oracle servers.

    Thatt said excel dbs are a pretty bad thing as it's too easy for a user to missort or drag some data out of place and corrupt the db. For the sort of stuff they're doing Access would be fine. We not exactly talking about real-time data and hundreds of users here.

  22. Tim Jenkins

    Doom averted

    "...surely the database contains hundreds if not thousands of entries..."

    Nope; this is the Cutural Olympiad, not the other one.

    The database will have about five entries, on the lines of

    dancing, morris

    rolling, cheese

    drinking, tea

    drinking, binge

    poetry, bad

    plus the contact details of three primary schools and one residential home for victims of senile dementia who have actually expressed an interest in taking part...

  23. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    What?!

    You mean to say that 15 years ago I bothered to spend months learning Oracle and taking their competency exams on each new release since then, when all I needed was 10 mins with my Missus, a whizz with the big E?!

    Larry, stick your complex DB, I'll tell my employers to convert to Excel and we can save millions in Oracle and SQLServer licenses, spend it on more powerful desktops and MS Office licenses. Actually why not replace it with LibreOffice and we can do it dirt cheap!

  24. jeremyjh
    FAIL

    User-friendly

    If they really wanted something that was easy for the end user to use, and that isn't appallingly expensive, then surely FileMaker Pro? It would reduce the actual data entry side of things to just that - data entry.

    I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but it's flexible, can support multiple users from a server, and can produce lovely reports.

    Failing that, I suppose Access. But no, not Excel. Silly.

    1. Ocular Sinister
      Facepalm

      Unfortunately...

      ..because the data is not relational, they will accidentally send the pensioners cheese rolling and primary school kids on a drinking binge. The morris dancers will, thankfully, turn up too late to perform and the bad poetry will be poorly attended because everyone thinks it will be morris dancing.

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Wow!

      Thanks for that reminder, I'd forgotten all about Filemaker. Not used it since my old man lent me an Apple II!

      Wow, feel all nostalgic

  25. Mark 110 Silver badge

    I like excel

    Its very good for making lists. And I can then sort the list. And do searches using Ctrl F. Or filter it for just certain types in the list.

    And I can do it all without the need for an overpaid database "guruj" who will go off and design something that I can't do a sort, can't search, have to raise a change request everytime I want a new query. Can't just paste things into a table but have to negotiate some form that was clearly designed by someone thats never had to do an admin job in their lives, and certainly didn't try and use it to get data into the database before handing it to the poor user.

    You're quite correct in taking the pi$$ out of them describing it as a database - cos to an IT person its so basic its almost not. It is however, like it or not, a database, and one that anyone with a half decent office skills can manage very well thankyou. And well done to the Olympics for using such a cost effective solution.

    I'm not sure about the tabloidesque outrage from you though. "Office worker uses MS Excel gto make a list of stuff" isn't exactly a headline. Must be the hot weather frying your brains.

    1. Dunstan Vavasour

      Overpaid Database Guru

      It doesn't take an overpaid database guru to put your list into Access, and create queries which filter and sort columns. And it's much harder to do something stupid.

    2. John Sanders
      Trollface

      Learn SQL then

      It is quite simple really, not more complex than using excel for some advanced use. I'm sure you got the necessary skill.

    3. Juillen 1
      Headmaster

      I'm an "Overpaid database guru"..

      And to make things simple, I run regular SQL courses. It gives people the ability to work in their own schemas/databases, and how to do basic testing.

      What it gives you is the understanding of set theory, how it applies to a job, how to filter in ways you'd never thought of, yet will save you days of playing around.. How to do multiple levels of processing, without the possible corruption of copy/paste issues.. How to link your lists together (if you have multiple ones, and would find one from elsewhere relevant in your new list), and how to do things right.

      It takes me 2 days to convert a complete newbie into someone capable of handling all that, and learning how to improve themselves with a little bit of mentoring. I've got massive productivity, accuracy and efficiency gains in some departments because of it, and the users love it (it's not rocket science).

      These days, half decent office skills should include SQL if you're playing around with much data. Excel has its use, but use the right tool for the job.

  26. Mage Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Management

    People manage, not applications.

    However if someone is clueless they COULD put it all on Excel. Trivial for "someone experienced in Databases" to export it and set up a real database before their 2nd coffee break*

    (* Obviously they have their 1st breal while waiting for PC to boot and then browsing El Reg before getting down to less important stuff)

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
      Unhappy

      At one of my contracts

      I spent a lot of time gathering data about systems that needed OS upgrades in a company with a large (more than a thousand system-images) heterogeneous estate. I created it in a relational, normalised manner that allowed complex queries.

      When it was decided that the task was too big for one person to actually do all of the upgrade work (duh! hundreds of systems!), I was told to hand my data over to an administrator to manage it, and was relegated to just a technical resource performing some of the upgrade work. The first thing the administrator did was to dump my data into an Excel spreadsheet "so everybody could use it", after which the management of it went to pot. Because of numerous data-loss errors, they eventually surrounded it by scripts to effectively serialise access, not trusting Excel's multi-user protection features (this was some years ago, so things may have got better).

      I had actually asked for the data to be stored in a multi-user RDBM (it is a large organisation which employs a dedicated DBA team, so there were plenty of databases around), but I was told that there was not a suitable system around for management tasks, and told to do the best I could with what was available. I did not feel appreciated at the time.

      I find it incredibly ironic that an organisation that has bought in to databases, spending millions on Oracle and other DB licences to manage customer data, cannot see the benefit for using such tools for their own management purposes.

      Ho hum. I can't see myself working there again! Everything has now been moved to India.

  27. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Depends what the task is

    Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to manage a list of a couple of hundred events and post the list out to media and a web site.

    Team A - you get excel

    Team B - you get to start the tendering process with CapGemini, Lockheed, WAICT (whatever Anderson is called today) to decide if an enterprise resource planning is better than enterprise resource management solution. Then organise a conference on distributed cloud web3.0 semantic web unmediated data sources in a post modern context. Then remember the games open in less than a year.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Where's option C?

      > Team A - you get excel

      >

      > Team B - you get to start the tendering process with CapGemini, Lockheed,

      Where's option C?

      Use some ready made application fit for your requirements. Are you trying

      to tell me that in 30+ years of personal and business computing that no one

      else has never had this problem and that no one else has ever built a product

      to address this need?

      What happened to all of that MS-DOS monopoly mojo?

      Where's my ready made Win32 app?

      Why does it have to be created from scratch? Don't need the monopoly for that.

  28. NomNomNom

    sdfsdf

    whats wrong with notepad? i put my todo lists in notepad. i acknowledge the olympics events list probably constitutes a larger todo list but what's never failed me is a folder named "do NOT delete" full of text files.

    1. Pigeon
      Happy

      EDLIN

      Real men use EDLIN. It did not edit filesizes over some arbitrary limit (which was very small).

      I wonder if it still ships

      1. ChrB
        Happy

        still here

        IIRC Edlin is still present in W2K8, as does edit.com.

  29. Dave 62
    Boffin

    up most?

    Shirley you mean utmost?

    1. JB
      Headmaster

      Yeah!

      where was the [sic] next to that one?

  30. joshimitsu
    Meh

    meh bleh

    Maybe the Excel spreadsheet will be the data entry / reporting tool, with the real data being held on a proper system.

  31. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Why not simple text files?

    Those can be processed easily, either by opening it with a text editor or via the usualy unix tools. Plus you don't have the problem that only one person can open it at a time. In fact you can even use Wikis.

    I agree that setting up an SQL server is a big hassle, but it can be avoided easily.

    Besides unless you have many thousands of database entries, SQL doesn't give you much speed advantage.

    1. John Sanders
      Trollface

      Why not simple text files?

      Better yet, download ubuntu's silly release name of the month's distro.

      open a console and do:

      sudo apt-get install mysql-server

      Say yes to the question, and enter your password.

      Then login into your new database, using the previously created password:

      mysql -p

      Powerfull, cheap (0£), high-performance.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Why not *SQL

        Even mysql is a hassle. It's not like SQL is a difficult language, but it's missing the simplicity of text files. Now just explain the steps you need to add a single dataset. What do you need to do to delete a dataset you see. How did you add the users and manage them. If the answer is "some more tools", keep in mind you'll have to install and configure them, too.

        Obviously there are great uses for SQL servers, however unless you actually need those features it's just a lot of hassle to set up.

  32. Martijn Otto
    Joke

    Who else uses excel?

    Me wonders whether Sony uses excel to store customer data too.

  33. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Excel is *surprisingly* powerful, but *should* you use it for this app?

    That's pretty much the core question.

    Lots of people think not.

    I'd suggest the questions would be a)How many people add data (and how many ways are there to f**k it up). b) How many people view it. c)How complex and how many ways are the information to be presented d)Does everybody have a compatible copy of Excel.

    Lots of people who think Excel is the best thing since sliced bread are used to running full copies of it and *expect* everyone else to have one.

  34. Brent Longborough
    IT Angle

    Technology Alert!!!

    Brilliant decision. I expect they use Excel for its magnificent word processing capabilities, like many large companies in the UK.

  35. Honey Maid Grahams

    Non-story

    Seems like a non-story to me. There are insufficient details to support the author's alarmist tone. C'mon, El Reg, I'm generally a fan of your good work, but sometimes this site reads more like a tabloid than a news site.

  36. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Is there more than one spreadsheet?

    Because if the second is being used for tickets it might explain the crazy ticket allocations.

  37. jake Silver badge

    The REAL question is ...

    How many people will be prosecuted for intentionally distributing, and making money from, Simpson's porn after the 2012 Games are over?

  38. Solomon Grundy

    Lots of Silly

    Are there problems with Excel? Sure. Are there problems with a custom solution? Yep. Most of the responses to this article are classic Ford vs Chevy, Mac vs. Windows arguments and 98.5% of them are silly.

    As pointed out by others, the author of this article made HUGE assumptions about the data in the spreadsheet and about how the data will be manipulated. Excel may very well be the best tool for the job or it could be an insanely stupid decision but without knowing more about the actual project we'll never know.

    This article was overly alarmist and really contained no story. I will have to give it credit for getting the squints fur up though, which is always fun. The article was well written in tabloid style so points for that too.

  39. doperative
    Alien

    Excell Database

    I guess Woodmansey only knows how to work Excell so he assumes that a) it'll do for a database and b) the hired on recruit is as un-knowledgeable on computing as he is ..

    Reminds me of a minor political party who kept members details on a Word Mail Merge document ..

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excel forever

    As a current civl sevant at a central government department, I can say that my department will live and die by Excel and not even the latest version but actually Excel 2002.

  41. MrMcginty
    Thumb Up

    Swiss Army Knife of software

    /agedp *approves*

    Without Excel, my dad would never have been able to make the transition to the digital age for his work. He uses it for everything, won't touch Word and probably wishes Excel had better bitmap support so he could dump Photoshop.

  42. MrMcginty
    Thumb Up

    Tabloid

    BTW, Yes, EL Reg IS a tabloid - it's even got the red/white header to nail its populist colours to the mast. So what? Personally I treat it as an informational coffee-break with plenty of misjudged moments jostling with strokes of brilliance. If El Ed had to sit down and generate a Ben Bradlee-style ulcer before deciding to post a frivolous piece of amusing nonsense like this, it'd be a sorry state of affairs for the site.

  43. Gilgamesh
    Windows

    I never understood

    ... why the suits love Excel so much and fail to grasp the simple concept that a database is for storing data and a spreadsheet is for working out the VAT on my invoice.

    Although the last Excel addict I worked for asked me if I'd ever "written a database in Cold Fusion". Imagine my shame when I admitted I hadn't.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    move along - no culture here

    why worry - perhaps there just aren't going to be many cultural events.... making Excel perfectly adequate.

  45. Paul 135
    Childcatcher

    what a bunch of geek snobs

    really, you geeks on this forum are sad. We all know that with more time and expertise people could set up SQL databases etc. But in most cases that is overkill in the real world and Excel really is simple and sufficient.

  46. Grubby
    Happy

    2012 Jobs

    Marketing Expert - Experienced in MS Paint

    Financial Business Analyst - Some us of the Windows Calculator

    Communications Director - Use of a pen advantageous

    Outbound Sales Team - Nokia 3310 Provided

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not much has changed in 12 years....

    A relative of mine was a fairly senior cog in the bureaucracy that was SOCOG - The Sydney Olympic Games Organising Committee - back in 2000.

    Due to sponsorship deals, the entire SOCOG leviathan was run on IBM Thinkpad laptops - a great idea - tough, reliable workhorse kit.

    Unfortunately, due to the same deal, the OS they ran was OS/2 Warp. The groupware they ran on that was Lotus Notes DOS version.

    My relative had endless stories to tell of how horrid that whole setup was, and how much of the Olympics budget got chewed up keeping that horrid mess running...

  48. NightFox
    Facepalm

    To Quote My Father-in-Law:

    "I can't get one of my Microsoft Words to open."

    "One of them??"

    "Yes, the one with the green X."

  49. Jason Hall

    @story

    "up most importance"

    I really hope that was a Register spelling mistake? Otherwise they are in a lot more trouble than I thought they were.

  50. LPF
    Thumb Down

    You may laugh

    But the amount of financial products worth billions being run using excel applications in the city, is what should make you wake up sweating at night! :S

  51. philbo
    Facepalm

    What makes me think

    "Where data is of a more sensitive nature then we impose stronger security measures and platforms according to the risk profile. Information security is of the up most importance to LOCOG and we are confident that our data is held securely with the stringent security procedures we have in place."

    ..means they've just worked out how to password-protect an Excel file?

    But seriously, what do you expect from a bunch of sportsmen and adminstrators without a single techie? Pity them, for they know not what they do.

  52. Michael 77
    Holmes

    As Sarah said

    WOW.

    Excel? Pah, you've asked for it & you got it!

    Most of you obviously can't walk straight, your knees are so jerked.

  53. Number6

    On the train

    If it's in Excel format it's much easier to copy to a memory stick and leave on the train. If you have it in some more complicated database format it wouldn't be quite so easy for others to use.

  54. ravenviz
    Stop

    Tried and tested?

    Can't they just use the same spreadsheet they used at the Olympia games in 776 BC?

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