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Re: MathCAD

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> From: Christopher Wright <chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com>
> To: "=?ISO-8859-1?Q?=87?=" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
> 
> >In a larger office where these may be shared the 
> >checking is near impossible.  Not that it can't be done but trying to
> >figure out Cell B5 times Cell G134 which is the square root from a lookup
> >table, well you get the idea.
> Ah feel yore pain, but systematic use helps a lot. Try using names for
> variables instead of cell indexes. It makes the formula look like a real
> formula and helps with tracking. I still use Excel 4 and there are some

This is fine for a dedicated individual but difficult to enforce in even
a small office where people will create what they need, on-the-fly. In
larger offices, establishing shareable spreadhseets and the checking
required may be possible but even the checker can overlook the obvious
that may make the spreadsheet useless except for narrowly defined
application. The seal of approval will be taken to imply that the
results are good if it achieves an answer - and it WILL be used blindly
in the name of time efficiency.

> good auditing tools that came with it for tracking down what means what.
> The business of uncritical use of someone else's work is always a 
> problem. I don't share my spreadsheets for that reason--too much 
> possibility for mis use. Anyone who doesn't check results from a 
> spreadsheet is really looking for trouble.

Even without sharing, trying to remember all of the assumptions and
buried constants, even a few weeks later, makes the MathCad approach
efficient. One of the biggest problems that I experience is trying to
maintain dual measurement systems (imperial/US and metric) - e.g. the
constants in the design standard equations are not always dimensionless.

> And for you Macheads out there, Wolfram Research 
> <http://www.wolfram.com/products/>has new calculation software, 
> Calculation Center which sounds pretty good, especially at $295 a copy.

Now, if price is the only issue ...

There is a Mac shareware product called MathPad, which I toyed with
before I spent the big bucks to get MathCad. You can currently buy the
last version of MathCad (Plus 6) for Mac in the US$25 range. The
difference is that MathPad is still being developed while Mathsoft has
dropped development of MathCad for Mac and the current templates from
the Windows versions are no longer compatible.

There are also some old copies of Lotus 1-2-3 for Mac foating around in
some of the retail outlets. Don't expect much in the way of import
compatibility from newer Windows versions but the files can be used on
Windows versions of both 1-2-3 AND Excel.

Another option, although pricey and overly powerful, is Maple.

Now if I could justify that multi-giga-flop laptop and an Airport, I
could be efficiently using MathCad by the pool ....

-- 
Paul Ransom, P. Eng.
Civil/Structural/Project/International
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
<mailto:ad026(--nospam--at)hwcn.org> <http://www.hwcn.org/~ad026/civil.html>

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