Ramblings & ephemera

Obama, Clinton, Microsoft Excel, and OpenOffice.org

I recently posted this to my local Linux Users Group mailing list:

Thought y’all would find this interesting – from http://machinist.salon.com/blog/2008/05/26/fundraising_excel/index.html:

“A milestone of sorts was reached earlier this year, when Obama, the Illinois senator whose revolutionary online fundraising has overwhelmed Clinton, filed an electronic fundraising report so large it could not be processed by popular basic spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel 2003 and Lotus 1-2-3.

Those programs can’t download data files with more than 65,536 rows or 256 columns.

Obama’s January fundraising report, detailing the $23 million he raised and $41 million he spent in the last three months of 2007, far exceeded 65,536 rows listing contributions, refunds, expenditures, debts, reimbursements and other details. It was the first report to confound basic database programs since 2001, when the Federal Election Commission began directly posting candidates’ fundraising reports online in an effort to make political money more accessible and transparent to voters.

By March, the reports filed by Clinton, a New York senator who attributes Obama’s victories in several states to her own lack of money, also could no longer be downloaded into spreadsheets using basic applications.

If you want to comb through Obama or Clinton’s cash, you either need to divide and import their reports section-by-section (a time-consuming and mind-numbing process) or purchase a more powerful database application, such as Microsoft Access or Microsoft Excel 2007, both of which retail for $229.”

Interestingly, OpenOffice.org 2.0 has the same limitation. OpenOffice.org 3 will expand the number of columns to 1024, according to http://www.oooninja.com/2008/03/openofficeorg-30-new-features.html. No idea about how many rows. Anyone know?

OK … looked it up … it appears that the row limit is STILL in place, so you can’t use OOo to open Obama’s or Hillary’s spreadsheets. Of course, you could use MySQL …

Oh yeah … and here’s one more note, from the same Salon article quoted above:

“In a revealing insight into the significant fundraising disparity between the two Democrats and presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, it is still possible to download his reports with plain-old Excel.”

Ouch!

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