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Spreadsheet Day

Track Goals and Activities in Excel

David Seah produces a compact calendar each year, in Excel format, that you can download from his website. It’s a vertical format, with a row for each week, and the month start dates highlighted.

Compactcalendar01

He also posts a monthly review of his goals and activites, under the heading of Groundhog Day Resolution Review. In his April review, he includes a downloadable Excel file, in which he tracks his goals and results.

Davidseahreview01

If you’re looking for ideas on how to track your own work, download David’s workbook, for some inspiration.

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Spreadsheet Analysis: Value of a Bull

image There’s a lot of bull in business, but if you’re actually buying a bull, this Value of a Bull spreadsheet should help with your decisions.

Just like any other big purchase, apparently there are many things to consider when buying a bull. For example:

  • How much is too much to pay for a bull?
  • Is a cheap bull always the best buy?

I don’t have any personal experience in bull buying, but Dr. Brett Barham, from University of Arkansas appears to know the subject very well.

You can download his Value of a Bull spreadsheet in either Excel format or Open Office format. There’s also a video that explains how to use the spreadsheet, with advice on decision making.

Unfortunately, someone has formatted the spreadsheet with white font and a black background, instead of the easy to read format that is shown in the video. There are module sheets in the workbook, and they trigger a macro warning, but you don’t need to enable macros to use the workbook.

valuebull 

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Spreadsheet Food: Afraid to Write in Cookbooks

image My cookbooks are full of comments. When I try a recipe, the cookbook gets marked with a date and rating, so I’ll remember what worked, and what didn’t.

Sometimes the ingredient list is marked up too, if I substitute ingredients, or add things that aren’t in the list.

Apparently some people don’t like to write in their cookbooks though. In the Get Organized Now! blog, there are instructions for using a spreadsheet to keep track of favourite recipes, and comments on using them.

If that’s how you like to work, you can find the article here:

Keeping Track of Cookbook Recipes

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Spreadsheet Food: Diners, Drive-ins and Drives

If you’re a fan of the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives tv show, you’ll enjoy this blog:
http://dinersdrive-insanddives.blogspot.com/

And to make it even better, there are spreadsheets too! Look in the right-hand sidebar, and you’ll see links to Google spreadsheets — one for the locations, and another for recipes. There’s also a list of Flavortown Menus — click on one of those to see a filtered list of recipes.

Have fun, and use those recipes at your own risk!

Would Wii Kinect With Spreadsheets That Move?

When you play games on a Wii, your body movements trigger emotions, which make the experience more entertaining, according to scientists who are studying the effects these games have. Could you create a spreadsheet that works on a game console, to make that experience more enjoyable too?

In the article,  How Wii and Kinect Hack Into Your Emotions, NYU scientist, Katherine Isbister, says “There’s no reason why dealing with a spreadsheet or sorting e-mail couldn’t be as wonderful as tai chi.”

What a great idea! Swing your arm to change a pivot table layout. Kick your left foot to delete a column. A right jab could insert a new sheet. Bow your head to save the file.

I’ll let you know when the prototype is ready. In the meantime, I’ll be in the basement, getting inspiration by playing Sports Champions on my new PS3 Move console.

ps3movesports

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Spreadsheet Art: Agnes Martin Finds the Beauty in a Grid

agnesmartinUntil today, I’d never heard of an artist named Agnes Martin. In a post on the All My Eyes blog, Life Imitates Art?, Martin’s work was compared to a spreadsheet, so I Googled to learn more about her, and see her work.

To my surprise, she’s a Canadian artist, born in Saskatchewan in 1912, and raised in Vancouver. Later, Martin moved to the USA and became a citizen there, eventually settling in New Mexico.

Her art is described in The Washington Post as a, "tight, orderly form of geometric abstraction, ingeniously arranging subtly shaded oil and acrylic paints on large, six-foot-square canvases."

This quote, from Agnes Martin: Writings/Schriften, made me think of an Excel worksheet, and perhaps this is the reason that the cells aren’t square:

My formats are square, but the grids never are absolutely square; they are rectangles, a little bit off the square, making a sort of contradiction, a dissonance, though I didn’t set out to do it that way. When I cover the square surface with rectangles, it lightens the weight of the square, destroys its power.

One of her paintings, Starlight, sold in 2008 for over $500K, so it’s not just spreadsheet users who appreciate the beauty in a grid.

Agnes Martin Interview

You can see more of Agnes Martin’s work in this video interview.

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Excel Lead Tracker For Photographers

photographer Here’s another creative use for Excel, from Leeann Marie Golish, a wedding photographer in Pittsburgh. She tracks her sales leads in an Excel Table, and uses pivot tables to summarize the results.

On her website, Leeann explains why she likes using this Excel tool:

Being a trained engineer, I’m really drawn to numbers and especially my beloved statistics. I actually taught statistics while in college and find that they are actually necessary for me to keep focused on my long term goals and objectives. How so, you ask? Well, I use statistics a lot in my lead tracking. Granted, I’m not talking about over-the-top confidence interval type lead tracking. I’m talking percentages. Rates. Numbers.

photosalesleads

Visit Leeann’s site to download a free copy of the Excel Lead Tracker, to help stay focused on your own goals and objectives.

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Excel in School: Why Teach Spreadsheets

image At the ICT In Education blog, Terry Freedman suggests interesting ways to teach modelling and sequencing in the classroom, by using Excel. In his article, Why Teach Spreadsheets, Freedman shows that spreadsheets aren’t just for science and math classes — you can use them in other areas too.

For example:

you take a novel such as The Picture of Dorian Gray, you could plot the number of witticisms per chapter in a spreadsheet and then generate a graph showing how they decline as the book progresses.

Or you could take a work by Shakespeare and plot the number of jokes per scene alongside the number of killings per scene, the instances of dramatic irony per scene and anything else of interest, and then look at the resulting graph.

To keep spreadsheets from being boring, Freeman uses exercises like party planning. Students have to buy all the party items that are listed, without  overspending or under spending.

partyplan

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Happy Spreadsheet Day 2010

It’s finally here — the occasion you’ve been waiting for all year — Spreadsheet Day! October 17th was voted the best day to celebrate spreadsheets, because October 17, 1979 was the release date of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet for personal computers.

How will you celebrate? If you’re still looking for ideas, here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • You could wear a dashing grid patterned shirt, like VisiCalc creators Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston. (Bob Frankston (standing) and Dan Bricklin, co-founders of Software Arts, Inc. Credit: © www.jimraycroft.com 1982)

bobdanvisicalc

  • Download a copy of VisiCalc from Dan Bricklin’s website, and transport yourself  back to the good old days of spreadsheets, before the Excel Ribbon.

visicalcdownload

  • Eat your dinner on a checkered tablecloth, or something with a lovely grid design, like Lady and the Tramp. You don’t have to push a meatball with your nose during dinner, but it might be fun.

gridtablecloth

  • If you’re having steak, add A1 Steak Sauce on the side, as Toad suggested in the J-Walk Blog comments.

 a1sauce

  • Listen to a spreadsheet song — funny thing though, they don’t seem like happy songs, based on the short preview clips.

spreadsheetssong

Spreadsheet Day Parties — The Early Years

Even though 2010 is the first year with an official Spreadsheet Day, several of my parties in the early years had a spreadsheet theme.

I’m at the right in the picture below, wearing a grid-patterned party dress, and enjoying three beverages at once. That’s good training for a life in spreadsheets!

party01

A few years later, I convinced several of my friends to sport grid-patterned dresses, and we posed on the front lawn, in front of the grids that my dad had built to adorn the house. I’m at the right, in the back row, wearing glasses — the result of too much staring at grid paper.

party02 

Happy Spreadsheet Day

If you have awesome (or semi-awesome) Spreadsheet Day plans, please let me know in the comments. And remember, have fun, save often and back up regularly!

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Tulip Lamp Designed in Excel

When you’re celebrating Spreadsheet Day on October 17th, you might want to light your office with this lovely TulipK lamp, designed in Excel by Ben Geeblen. The lamp’s six petals close and open, and the design was inspired by the tulip on his wedding invitation.

Excel_TulipKLamp2

Geeblen describes the design process:

The holes were designed with Excel. I wrote a spread sheet to determine the locations of all 2374 holes punching through one petal and I create an STL for those. After that it was just a question of doing a Boolean subtraction and adding the rim.

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