Home Office: Super Spreadsheet TricksTips for everyone from tyros to mavens. Plus: When office supplies attack.
"It's easy--just stick everything into a spreadsheet, work up a couple of formulas, and you're done." You know, I hate it when an editor uses "spreadsheet" and "easy" in the same sentence. My anxiety skyrockets while he merrily looks for other writers to hassle. But since I had to do this dumb expense report spreadsheet, I figured I'd see what we had on PCWorld.com that'd help. It turns out there's lots.
Study That Spreadsheet
Probably the most enjoyable articles about Excel are from Jim Welp, my online Office guru. His first tutorial concerns something I'll never need to worry about: managing large spreadsheets, But you might, so check out "Office XP Tips: Manage Large Spreadsheets."
In another article Jim extols the virtues of AutoShapes, an underutilized Excel feature that lets you highlight critical data. "Office XP Tips: High-Impact Spreadsheets, Less Typing" is worth a look.
Some of you might use Excel every day and have a need for online collaboration--you know, creating, modifying, and fussing with spreadsheets over the Internet in real time. If that's the case, read "Microsoft Excel Learns to Work Together" to find out how you can do it with a new tool.
Quick tip: Have you ever had to print the same range on multiple Excel spreadsheets? To learn how, read "Print on the Range." Although the trick is an oldie, it works perfectly in Excel 2002.
Dig this: Many of you might be wondering what happens to a home office that's stocked with too many office supplies. And let me assure you that it never occurs at Bass International's World Headquarters. (With thanks to Cousin Judy.)
If you don't have enough to worry about, consider this: Georgi Guninski, a researcher, discovered gaping security holes in Excel and Outlook. We have the details in "Bug Hunter Finds Flaws in Office XP."
Some bugs in XP are addressed in the latest service pack. Read more about it in "Microsoft Posts Office XP Update."
Like Excel Add-Ins? Dig In
I worry that you don't have a spreadsheet program and have no intention of spending a bundle on one. Here's a treat: SpreadPro, a decent program that costs only $25 (free to try) and is compatible with Excel. It's a 32-bit application, works in any version of Windows (except 3.1), has 130 functions, a spell checker, and multiple sheets.
If you're a cheapskate--and don't try to kid me, I know some of you are--you'll get a kick out of EasyOffice. For one thing, it's free for personal use and has similar components to Microsoft Office. (Business or institutional users pay $39.95.) The list of features is long: word processing, spreadsheet, calendar and contact management, presentations, and others. EasyOffice reads and produces Office-compatible files, and works in Windows 95 to current versions.
As I browsed the PCWorld.com Downloads section, one line caught my eye: "Avoid the pain and tedium of writing Excel formulas." I thought it would be a way to get around my editor's request. Nope: It's our Downloads Team's "Top 5 Spreadsheet Add-Ins." And listen, ignore the date on this page--the programs are all still top notch.
Dig this: Have you ever noticed how you can get caught in an abyss as you scroll to the right in a spreadsheet? Here's a Page Not Found 404 that does the same thing. Click on Abyss, click any linked word, then keep clicking on the hand. Have fun. (Note: The site is sometimes a little unstable. If you get a standard 404 error, just try again.)
Want More? Download These
Now that you're cooking with spreadsheets, I have a hunch you want more toys to download and play with. Here you go:
- Edwin's Power Tools. This program provides 44 worksheet formulas, 60 functions, and cool formatting tools such as shading of rows and columns, removing extra spaces, and converting numbers into text. It's free to try and $40 to keep.
- XLStat. One of my user group buddies, a statistician and spreadsheet jockey, swears by XLStat, an Excel add-in for statistical and data analysis. Most of the features he gets excited about make me dizzy. For instance, one module lets him transform a quantitative variable using an anamorphosis of its cumulative distribution function. Yeah, okay, I have weird friends.
- New.Net Web service. Does analyzing your financial data on the Web intrigue you? Microsoft recently hooked up with Nasdaq and PricewaterhouseCoopers to let you use Excel and a.Net Web service to access corporate quarterly and annual reports.
A Moment for 9/11
I can't just let the day pass without a couple of words and a few sites. A few days after 9/11, I wrote a column that helped me work through the feelings I experienced. I recently re-read the column, especially that part where I said I thought the terrorist act gave us all a short, intensive burst of therapy, and that many of us have a different perspective on life, and those in our lives.
I also bumped into a handful of sites with images from the terrible event:
- America Attacked 9 1 1. It's a little long and the music's repetitious, but the images are stunning.
- Shattered 9/11/2001. Time Magazine has a terrific collection of images online.
- September 11 News.com. This site has a tremendous collection of images from major newspapers and magazines. Unfortunately, it also contains references to "mysteries about The Number Eleven," a bit of nonsense you can easily avoid by just focusing on the images.
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