From Where I Sit – Excel Rocks

In August 2008 I bought a new laptop. It’s an HP with 17-inch monitor. I had no choice in the operating system that was installed. Despite all the bad press Windows Vista has had since it was launched in January 2007, It’s not going anywhere and for better or worse That’s what I got.

For the past several months It’s been kind of hit and miss, trial and error, cuss and scream. Also installed was the 2007 version of MS Office. In my world, Word gets the biggest workout and I’ve muddled along using, I’m sure, just a fraction of its capabilities. Excel 2007 is very different from what I was used to and I was no hell with the 2003 version!

I’ve had experience with PowerPoint, but again, haven’t used all the bells and whistles because I don’t happen to like all the bells and whistles. I think some people go completely bananas with clip art, font styles, graphics, sound, cascading this, that, and the other.

It’s akin to dangly earrings, multiple necklaces, many rings, and a few bangles thrown in for good measure. How about something simple and tasteful? Is the message being lost in the delivery?

But I digress. I really wanted to tell you I spent last weekend at NAIT taking the introductory course for Excel. The class was full and the instructor was incredibly patient, supportive, and thorough in making sure we were all keeping up. NAIT provides really good course notes and a blank CD to burn assignments onto so I won’t have to rely on my memory or handwritten notes. Sitting next to me was a woman who has taught computer courses herself for years.

Excel has so many possible uses, so much capability, it boggles the mind. I’m thrilled with the built-in templates. Did you know you can track your menstrual cycle? Plan a party with guest list, menu, and budget?

Under the Calculators section you can figure out your credit card payoff or calculate the proceeds from a multi-family garage sale. Of course there are the expected business forms: invoices, expense forms, trackers, budget, time sheets, and more. From past experience I know I need to (very soon) use it or I’ll surely lose it. Maybe I’ll set something up today.

Because of the course I am more comfortable using the ?ribbon,? which is that band of command tabs, contextual tabs, and program tabs running along the top of the page. It’s not nearly as intimidating as I once thought.

The commands are consistent within Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If you open a dialog box launcher within a command group a whole realm of choices opens to you. The instructor also taught us countless keyboard shortcuts and raved at how many keystrokes (and consequently time) they can save. With a repetitive stress injury always lurking just below the surface, this is definitely something I’m willing to try.

With three more levels of Excel courses this is just the start, from where I sit.