05 November, 2012

Get the last value in an Excel Range

I frequently copy formulas from one months data to the next, but I run into trouble when I want to get a total off the last row, when the last row is different each month. I discovered a formula that will read the last value (before blanks) in a range.

  1. Enter the formula =INDEX($E$1:$E$5100,LARGE(IF($E$1:$E$5100<>"",ROW($E$1:$E$5100)),1),1)
  2. Press Ctrl-Shft-Enter
The key here is you must use Ctrl-Shft-Enter. It will insert curly brackets, which wont work if you manually enter them. The curly brackets are needed as this is an array formula. See Introducing array formulas in Excel from Microsoft or search for other websites for further information.

30 October, 2012

Unable to direct edit an an Excel cell

I noticed working one day that Excel was no longer letting me make edits directly in cells (when I double-click on a cell). I needed to go to the formula bar to make my edits, which is much more time consuming and mouse intensive.

After living with this for a week or so, I discovered the issue and how to correct. Note that I'm using Excel 2007, so your version may be different.
  1. Click the Office Button (upper-left round Office button).
  2. On the bottom of the menu, click Excel Options.
    - This will open the Excel Options dialog box.
  3. Select Advanced from the left-menu.
  4. Check the box, Allow editing directly in cells.
  5. Click the OK button at the bottom of the dialog box.
I'm not sure how this setting got changed, but nevertheless it solved the issue of not being able to edit directly in cells.

14 August, 2012

Alternative to Nested IFs in Excel

Using Excel for multiple comparisons with Nested IFs has some limitations. There a couple of different solutions. One would be to use values on a separate sheet and the vlookup function. Another option is to use multiple IFs separate by an ampersand (&).

Here's and example:
IF(NOT(ISERROR(FIND("Incident Created",A2))),"Incident Created page",""))&IF(AND(ISERROR(FIND(" | ",A2)),ISERROR(FIND("Community",A2)),ISERROR(FIND("Search Results",A2))),"Help Landing page","")
Note the false condition sets an empty value.

I see a benefit in that the code is much easier to read, as nesting can become difficult to follow. The down side is you need to test the negative condition of other IFs so you don't have multiple matches.

11 May, 2012

Replaced my Macbook with a PC

For the last 4 months I've been using a Macbook at work... my first Mac since the late 90s. I did this so I could enjoy all the benefits Mac lovers rave about. Today I replaced the Macbook with a Lenovo Win7 laptop, because there were more hindrances than benefits. The funny thing, I'm not sure if it's caused by Microsoft or Apple.

Here's what I'll miss about my Macbook:
  • Slightly lighter weight
  • Scrolling using two-fingers on the touchpad My Lenovo does that too (though not as smooth).
Here's why I gave up my Macbook:
  • Several features of Outlook unavailable
  • Date difference in Excel
  • No Visio or Project
  • Some websites require IE
So the Mac fanatics could say it's because Microsoft has purposefully lagged behind in Mac versions of their software. Microsoft people could claim it's too costly to develop for an additional platform when Windows runs on 80%+ of all desktops and laptops.

Regardless, I have a job to do and it's much easier on Windows.

30 April, 2012

Start Application on Startup on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Sometimes we want programs to automatically start for us when we start our computer. For Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, it takes just a few steps.
  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Look in the System section and select Accounts.
  3. Select Login Items. You will see a list of applications already set to start when you start your Mac computer.
  4. Find the + and - boxes below the list and select +.
  5. Navigate to the application you want to start when you start your Mac computer, and select it.
  6. Select the Add button.
  7. Repeat for additional applications, and close the Accounts window when you're done.

30 March, 2012

Dates differ for Excel between Mac and Windows

Who knew? The default date system in Excel for a Mac is different than that used on Windows.

I was working across spreadsheets, referencing a column from one to a column from another and my results were driving me crazy. First it appeared my results column was just not formatted for dates as I was just getting numbers. But when I changed the column to be formatted for dates, I got dates but they were off by about 4 years.

After checking my formula, which I've used countless times (Lookup values in Excel), I finally went searching and found this article, Microsoft Excel Date Systems for Windows and Mac. Sure enough, one of the spreadsheets I had created on my Mac while the other came from a Windows user.

Bottom line, Windows uses the 1900 date system while Macs use the 1904 date system. Before you create a spreadsheet you can change the date system, but if changed afterward it will also change your dates, so be careful. Read Microsoft Excel Date Systems for Windows and Mac for all the details.