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“And there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

©00 The Media Desk


The Media Desk Guide to Excel

The Desk mounted considerable resources to conquer Microsoft Excel ’97.

It had been successfully used before. The Desk could even be called competent at doing some things with Excel. For some basic functions Excel is an excellent program.

[And Now Comes ‘The Formula Bar’]

OK, with some experience as a bartender the Desk figured entering a simple formula into a cell and then using either Autocomplete or some other function to do it simply and quickly, four columns, 997 rows per column, four formulas mass copied down the page.

It is either that or go through the Carple Tunnel nonsense of entering a new formula 4000 times.

So with the open worksheet on the monitor, the ‘Dummies’ book and a Techie type manual on Excel, a CD that has ‘USING MS EXCEL’ all over it, and a web page dedicated to those stupid enough to try to make Excel do something that makes sense, the Desk strove to get this project done.

That was at seven-thirty this morning.

At ten, the Desk was having coffee fits and trying to enter the formula backwards.

By eleven the Desk was mumbling in Klingon and sending hate mail to Microsoft Bill.

At one the Desk was attempting a blind hack into the program to make the formula part of the program boot screen.

By three O’clock the desk had surrendered and was typing recipes for Yukon Jack cocktails to a contact at the phone company. The project no further along than it was yesterday.

The Help files, those things that come up with that idiot paperclip that won’t stay turned off when you turn it off, are worthless. The Help Topic ‘copy a formula’ simply lies. It says the ‘relative cell references’ will change to reflect the new location, they don’t. The Autofill command does exactly the same thing, which is to say it does it all wrong and stupid. Autocomplete? That was tried and it ended up autocompleting the cell with something that looked like part of the Tax Code.

Of course everybody that came by and wondered why the Desk was hunkered down and snarling like a cornered Werewolf had good advice.

Of course everybody that came by and offered their good advice went away all confused and drooling and muttering about the stock market when their suggestion failed.

“Try Control C.” One offered. “Use a colon and the highest cell value in the formula.” Another suggested. The famous, “I’ll show you how to do it. Let me at the keyboard.” Resulted in Excel locking up with the hour glass sitting there giggling.

After rebooting the computer the expert admitted he had never actually tried to do what we wanted to do but he had used the technique before and it worked for something else.

By now the workday was almost over, the worksheet sat there unformulated, and the deadline is tomorrow morning.

And now the question.

WHY is Excel so dad-blamed user-UNfriendly and complicated?

Well, OK, why does WORD argue formatting on every other page. Why does Windows fill your hard drive with temp files. Why is HyperTerminal for Windows 95 in Windows 98. Why is MS Bill the richest computer geek in the world and the best game he can put in his package is FreeCell.

Some questions will never be answered.

[Microsoft EXCEL '97, Word, and Windows, are a registered program, trademark, etc.
of and owned by Microsoft Corporation, is a good-sized piece of Seattle.]

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