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First of all, for all of you wrestling with the thorny problem of whether to join the church of Steve and get an iPhone or join Ms. Palin in going rogue by plumping for a Droid, check out the xkcd comic strip on the topic. Brilliant!

Anyway, it seems the problem I posed in a recent column about how to get an Excel spreadsheet to randomize the numbers from 1 to 75 is still generating comments.

In response to the final and most elegant solution that I discussed a couple of weeks ago , one reader noted that should two identical random values be generated the spreadsheet will fail and, indeed, that is correct except it shouldn't happen.

Remember that the random number generator in Excel is actually a pseudo-random generator. The formula it uses creates a sequence of values to 15 decimal places that, according to Microsoft , doesn't repeat for at least 10^13 generated values. Given that we're using 75 values per recalculation of the spreadsheet, if we did a recalc once per second it would take something like 42,280 years before we'd get a repeat. I'd hazard that's good enough for everyday purposes.

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Rob Bernard knows green.  As the Chief Environmental Strategist at Microsoft he walks the talk of reducing our carbon footprint, and evangelizing the impact of our actions on both the environment and quality of life. Our quality of life, and the quality of life others on the planet wish to enjoy.

Our Commitment

At Microsoft we are committed to software and technology innovations that help people and organizations around the world improve the environment.  Our goal is to reduce the impact of our operations and products, and to be a leader in environmental responsibility.


Took the perilous journey to the wilds of San Diego last night to attend  "Cloud Computing : Impact on Business and Architecture."  This seminar was sponsored by the San Diego Software Industry Council (www.sdsic.org).

Microsoft provided the speakers, and the focus of the evening was on Microsoft's new public cloud environment called "Azure."  Probably to the speakers angst ( the speakers were Ned Curic - MS Platform Strategy Advisor, and Woody Pewitt - Technology Evangelist), much of the evening Q&A was taken up with question from the audience asking to compare Azure with services provided byu other cloud players such as Amazon and Google.

Much to the attendees angst, most of the answers were "I don't know," or "it is done with magic."


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