1906: Making Progress

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 09:14, 24 October 2017 by 162.158.155.32 (talk) (Explanation)
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Making Progress
I started off with countless problems. But now I know, thanks to COUNT(), that I have "#REF! ERROR: Circular dependency detected" problems.
Title text: I started off with countless problems. But now I know, thanks to COUNT(), that I have "#REF! ERROR: Circular dependency detected" problems.

Explanation

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Megan has made procras... progress. While she started the day with lots of problems, she has entered those problems into a spreadsheet. This could allow her to tackle her problems in a more organised way and fix them more quickly. The humor lies in that none of the problems have actually been solved.

In the title text she reveals that even her spreadsheet has a problem, because "#REF Circular Dependency detected" is a Microsoft Excel error meaning that a formula is using its own cell in the equation. This is because she has used the Count() function to attempt to find the number of problems to be solved, but since one of those problems is not knowing how many problems she has, it is trying to include itself in the count. Arguably, this has introduced a further problem, so she actually now has (#REF Circular Dependency detected)+1 problems. It's also possible, since Megan has chosen to interpret the error message as a numeric value representing the number of problems she has, that she simply is not good at using her spreadsheet software, which may be another problem that needs adding to the list.

Transcript

[Megan is sitting and looking at a laptop.]
Megan: I started the day with lots of problems.
Megan: But now, after hours and hours of work,
Megan: I have lots of problems in a spreadsheet.


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Discussion

What about "countless" and "COUNT()" in the title text? I think that's a pun... User:Nobody at 1 January 1970 12:00 AM UTC

Not really, rather that is the purpose of "COUNT()" function, when you are not sure how numerous something is. --Trimutius (talk) 22:11, 23 October 2017 (UTC)

The pun is that "countless" means they can't be counted, and the error message from the Count() function implies that the problems couldn't be counted. 108.162.215.106 22:33, 23 October 2017 (UTC)

I agree that both the countless, the use of count and the fact that it failed is important, and this is currently not explained in the title text explanation. Hope someone with more familiarity with spreadsheets will try to make a good explanation of this --Kynde (talk) 11:51, 24 October 2017 (UTC)

The COUNT() function only works on rows or columns of values rather than text. So if the problems are listed in a spreadsheet, likely as text, the COUNTA() function would really be the correct one...

Also, COUNT() won't provide an error in Excel, simply a 0 result (though a warning box is shown). Google Sheets produces the content of the title text. 172.68.253.41 02:41, 25 October 2017 (UTC)
In Excel you can include the formula in the count by checking 'Enable iterative calculation' under options-formulas 162.158.167.198 05:54, 25 October 2017 (UTC)