Friday, July 31, 2009

Knowledge taken for granted

***EDIT: After re-reading, this sounds like I'm mister-know-it-all. Not meant that way at all (although I've been told I can come accross that way). By no means do I know everything, in fact, there is still much to learn, and I would venture to say that overall I know very little. I just try and learn when I can. Normal reading can now be continued.***

I've accumulated quite a bit of Excel know-how over the last 6 years. I never thought much about it, and really still don't as there is always something to learn.

But, yesterday, as I was teaching an Excel class here in the office, I realized how much I take some of that knowledge for granted. I find it amazing how people can use a tool for years and not know some of the most basic things (like how to remove cell coloring, or borders - of course they know how to color or border, just not remove).

The class went well overall, but I ended up covering half of what I thought we were going to cover as some time was needed to explain things that I assumed people already knew. It was a good reality check for me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oh I love tecnology...

but it just makes you hot you see,
but I still love tecnology...

Yesterday I learned that no piece of technology I have at the office or at home keeps me cool. (We did finally install the window AC unit and are now confined to 2 rooms of the house, so that doesn't count)

Sorry, but it's hard to think of much else when the inside of your house is 88 degrees at 8:30 pm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bill Gates and I are the same

Today I learned that I use the same number of monitors as the man himself (although I wish at times I had 4!).

However, we use them in very different ways. My time is spent in a creation state. Programming or preparing tax returns I'm creating products, so my monitors reflect this. Email is hidden and only checked at certain times of the day. Each monitor has it's purpose so that I don't have to switch between programs very often (although Vista's Win+Tab is pure eye candy!).

Bill is at this stage of his career, a email guy. He's managing ideas and resources. Email on one screen. New message on another. Third screen for browsing.

More on the maker/manager difference in an upcoming post.

Monday, July 27, 2009

One thing I've learned...

I'm going to try something new out. Each day I'm going to put out there something I've learned during the day (or at least recently). The only rule: it has to be technology related.

Today, was relative uneventful, so this is something I came across a few weeks ago. Excel has a built in CONVERT function. It's nothing revolutionary, but much handier (and way more accurate) than my attempts at doing conversions on my own (i.e. even though it works for in-the-head-calculations, you cannot get miles by multiplying kilometers by 3/5).

Where is the formula? If you have Excel 2007 it is available right out of the box. For Excel 2003 you must enable the Analysis toolpak add-in to see it.

So, here is how it works.
The formula takes 3 inputs:
  1. The number you want converted
  2. The current unit of measurement (using code found in help file)
  3. The desired unit of measurement (using code found in help file)

Here is are some of the conversions that can be done (with codes included in quotes - make sure to include the quotes).

Weight and mass
  • Gram "g"
  • Pound "lbm"
  • Ounces "ozm"

  • Meter "m"
  • Mile "mi"
  • Nautical mile "Nmi"
  • Inch "in"
  • Foot "ft"
  • Yard "yd"

  • Year "yr"
  • Day "day"
  • Hour "hr"
  • Minute "mn"
  • Second "sec"

  • Celsius "C"
  • Fahrenheit "F"
  • Kelvin "K"

  • Teaspoon "tsp"
  • Tablespoon "tbs"
  • Fluid ounce "oz"
  • Cup "cup"
  • Pint "us_pt" or for the UK pint "uk_pt"*
  • Quart "qt"
  • Gallon "gal"
  • Liter "l"

And the list goes on.

even better you can get down to many levels of metric measurement by adding an additional code and an underscore (_) to a unit. For example, centimeter is "c_m".

As an accountant, most of these conversions I never have use of. But there is a certain amount of coolness in the ability to calculate nautical miles so I can attempt to speak with pilots or boaters. And, while this might go without saying, you will get an error if you try to convert something that just doesn't make sense, like the time of day in to degrees farenheit for example.

*I had no idea that there were UK pints before writing this. And it is no surprise to me that the pints on the other side of the pond are bigger than their US equivalents.