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Should you email someone your confidential spreadsheet?

I read an article a while ago titled Trade secrets exposed by ‘stealthy’ email typo attack in the Sydney Morning Herald. It talks about a really subversive way hackers have been able to access many thousands of confidential emails. This got me thinking again of the risks involved in emailing confidential information like business plans, spreadsheets, credit card details and the like. I somehow intuitively feel like email provides me with a direct unimpeachable connection between me a someone else, but the truth is that email is a really vulnerable method of communication. It quotes a security expert Paul Sophos as saying “email as a communications medium was fundamentally insecure, so you should assume that all email might be read or at least scanned by someone else”.

The social media phenomenon shows us that people are prepared to share their most intimate secrets and photos with the whole world. Does the same apply to sensitivity financial information? Does anyone really care whether email is a secure way to send around highly sensitive and confidential spreadsheets, or for that matter, any sensitive financial information?

Please share we us the things you do to ensure that the information in your spreadsheets is kept secret when you want to communicate or send these spreadsheets to others.

 

Google I/O Report

We’re slowly ‘coming down from the clouds’ following a super busy and really inspiring couple of days at Google I/O 2011. Here’s our report on the major themes from the conference, and our experience hosting a Developer Sandbox stand throughout the 2 days.

The Conference

For those who don’t know, Google I/O is Google’s major annual conference focused on the developer community. It’s at this conference that Google announces its key innovations and future directions (at least for the year ahead). It’s also famous for the SWAG (promotional items) that are given to all attendees. Read More…

A sad tale about spreadsheet templates

Spreadsheet templates hold such promise. A good template can save you hours of time you would otherwise spend creating your own spreadsheet, and gives you the benefit of someone else’s expertise. The sad fact though is that spreadsheet templates are fundamentally ‘broken’, and the concept of a good template is completely illusory.

Act 1: A sad tale.

Yesterday I needed a simple cash flow forecast model. Instead of firing up Excel or Google Docs and starting from scratch, I decided to look online first. So, I aimed my browser at the Google Docs template site and searched for a “cash flow forecast” spreadsheet. I got just 1 result! Undeterred, I clicked the button to preview this model and thought it was pretty close to what I needed—I could just add a few more rows, rename some things, and save myself some time and effort.

But after playing around with this cash flow forecast for a few minutes to understand how it worked I discovered that a key formula cell had an error—and not just a minor error—but an error that unless fixed would render the entire model useless. Read More…

Sumwise at Google I/O 2011

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve been selected to attend this year’s Google I/O conference. We’re excited to be part of this great event, and we’ll be manning a Developer Sandbox stand throughout the two day conference.

Google I/O is in San Francisco on 10-11 May and is Google’s biggest and most important annual conference, attracting over 5,000 developers, startups, investors and the like. This year it sold out completely in a record 59 minutes. Google says about I/O:

Google I/O brings together thousands of developers for two days of deep technical content, focused on building the next generation of web, mobile, and enterprise applications with Google and open web technologies such as Android, Google Chrome, Google APIs, Google Web Toolkit, App Engine, and more.

Our spreadsheet application is built entirely using Google Web Toolkit, and Sumwise is great example of a sophisticated desktop-like application that runs entirely in the browser. In addition, Sumwise is hosted in App Engine—Google’s cloud service.

The Developer Sandbox will feature over 100 developers from around the world who have built applications based on Google technologies. These developers will be on hand to demo their apps, talk about how they built them, answer questions, and exchange ideas.

If you’re going to be at Google I/O this year, please come by our stand and say g’day!

Here’s what last year’s Developer Sandbox area looked like.

RUM

This week we announced the launch of Sumwise RUM – Really Useful Models that are pre-built and ready to use. With RUM we are taking spreadsheet templates to a whole new level!

Introduction to Sumwise RUM

Imagine you have an idea for a new business, and you’re at the stage where you want to build a cash flow forecast to model its economics. What do you do? One option is to start your own spreadsheet from scratch and battle with the usual problems of writing formulas, copying and pasting, linked worksheets and the like. Not to mention trying to get your balance sheet to balance!

Alternatively, you could search the web for an Excel (or Google Docs) template that matches your business type. But, now you’re dealing with a whole wasteland of dubious quality spreadsheet templates. And even if you find something acceptable, you’ll want to make changes such as inserting some new rows. But, are you confident enough to know which formulas need copying and pasting? And how will you know if the spreadsheet is still working properly?

This is where Sumwise RUMs (or Really Useful Models) can help. Think of these as spreadsheet templates on steroids. Because Sumwise is more structured and more understandable than traditional spreadsheets, and because it deals well with model modifications and extensions, Sumwise is able to solve the problems associated with spreadsheet templates. Read More…

Our new website

If you’re reading this post, you’re on our new website, which we just launched today.

Our old site didn’t get into much detail about Sumwise, and this suited us fine while we were in semi-stealth mode. But, now that we’re starting to open up our modeling application to users, we felt we needed a site that said a bit more about the application, and about us.

We’ll be adding lots of content to our site over the next few weeks and months, so please connect with us, so that we can keep you updated. Of course, if you’d like early access to the beta, please register here so that we can set up an account for you, and send you some info.

Cheers
Sumwiseguys

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