Spreadsheet Page Blog
How Many Books?
I got an email from someone who wanted to know the total number of books that I've sold.
Answer: I have no idea. I suppose I could dig out all my old royalty statements (which are on paper), spend a day doing data entry, and come up with a total. But that's way too much work.
Then I remembered that Amazon provides data from BookScan for authors. The only data available is for the past eight weeks:
That's 7,367 books sold in 56 days, which works out to an average of 131.6 per day. I've been writing books for about 18 years, but sales weren't always as good as they currently are -- although they have also been much better. So let's assume 100 books per day for 18 years. That's 675,000 books.
Today Is Spreadsheet Day
It occurs once per year: Spreadsheet Day.
The Spreadsheet Day blog celebrates the joy and challenges of working with spreadsheets. October 17th was voted the best day for Spreadsheet Day, because VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet for personal computers, was released on October 17th, 1979.
Please celebrate responsibly.
J-Walk Memorial Programming Library
I got an email from Dallas Batchelor:
Nothing wrong on my end. I just wanted to comment that my office shelves look like the J-Walk Memorial Programming Library. I have learned from and enjoyed the books that you have written. Keep it going.
Thanks for the Data Form v3. Greatly appreciated!!!
I'd like to see a photo of the J-Walk Memorial Programming Library.
E-Mail From Janet
I got a nice email from Janet, who works in the utility industry:
My life's motto is that I can take a pile of um....er.....dung and make something out of it.
Apparently, my employer is aware of this because they threw me into a job of compiling data from various spreadsheets. I need to format this conglomeration into a nice looking and accurate report.
The only experience I had with formulas was the SUM and COUNTA functions. Pitiful!
I put on my job performance review that using formulas and macros was something I would like to learn in the future. They took me at my word and threw me in the pool before I learned how to swim! I am surrounded by books and print outs from MS Help. However, I find that I can find answers to most of my problems from your Excel 2003 Formulas book.
The Index is easy to use and it is written in a clear, concise manner, without using words that try to dazzle and impress me. I don't want to be impressed, I just want to get my spreadsheets to work.
You have helped this old dinosaur keep myself current in my workplace. I have been working here since 1982 and want to get 30 years in.
Thanks for all your help, Mr. Walkenbach!!
I'm glad you found my book helpful, Janet.
Public Data Explorer
Spreadsheet users might find this interesting. It's from Google Labs: Public Data Explorer.
The Google Public Data Explorer makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand. You don't have to be a data expert to navigate between different views, make your own comparisons, and share your findings.
Students, journalists, policy makers and everyone else can play with the tool to create visualizations of public data, link to them, or embed them in their own webpages. Embedded charts and links can update automatically so you’re always sharing the latest available data.
You can also upload your own data, and use the tools to visualize it. It must be in DSPL (Dataset Publishing Language) format.
Excel 25th Anniversary Article
Without fanfare, 2010 marked the 25th anniversary of Microsoft Excel. Thomas E. Weber tracks down the program's developer and discovers how it almost didn't make it into stores—and the big idea Bill Gates lost forever.
Show Us Your Spreadsheets Contest Results
Congrats to the winners in the big Show Us Your Spreadsheets contest.
First prize went to Peter in Windsor, Ontario. He gets a $250 VISA gift card and a collection of Mr. Spreadsheet's Bookshelf guides:
Second prize: Jared in Northbrook, Illinois
Thanks to everyone who participated, and thanks to the thousands of people who were motivated to buy a book.
Contest: Show Us Your Spreadsheets Challenge
Wiley is having a contest, and you could be a winner. For complete details, read the official contest announcement.
Submit a photo of yourself with your favorite John Walkenbach (Mr. Spreadsheet) or Michael Alexander (DataPig) book OR a photo of you creating stellar spreadsheets, dynamic dashboards, or something equally excellent in Excel to enter to win cash and other cool prizes.
Entries will be posted to Wiley's "Show Us Your Spreadsheets" photo page, and authors John Walkenbach and Michael Alexander will select winners at the conclusion of the challenge.
Notice that you don't have to actually create a spreadsheet. All that's required is a photo.
The contest has real prizes:
- FIRST PRIZE: $250 VISA gift card, plus a collection of Mr. Spreadsheet's Bookshelf guides
- SECOND PRIZE: $100 VISA gift card, plus a collection of Mr. Spreadsheet's Bookshelf guides
- Three RUNNERS-UP: $50 VISA gift card, plus a collection of Mr. Spreadsheet's Bookshelf guides
Photos must be submitted by December 3. And, don't post the photos here. The official rules explain how to do it.
Happy Spreadsheet Day
Today is the first annual Spreadsheet Day. It might even be International Spreadsheet Day.
Debra Dalgleish has the details, including lots of ideas to enhance your celebrations.
Climber Brings Excel Sign
At the Microsoft Excel 2010 Blog: Excel reaches the top of the World.
We just wanted to take this short post to congratulate one of our own on achieving a monumental task. Gabhan Berry a Lead Program Manager on the Excel team summited Mount Rainier on September 11th at 7:31 am and brought a little piece of Excel with him.
At first, I thought it was an ad for a pirated copy of Excel.
Somehow, Mike Foster figured out a way to miniaturize books, so they fit in a shirt pocket. He sent a photo:
Daniel sent a photo, and a brief review:
My cat enjoyed your book.
I should note that cats really like the later editions.
If you have any photos of my books out in the wild, send 'em my way, please.
Arranging Your Data
Last week, someone sent me a workbook because he was having some problems with it. Here's a small section from the file:
It was arranged in categories, and each category had tasks below it, arrange in a row. Under each task name was date to indicate when the task was performed. Many of the date cells contained a cell comment to clarify (3,810 comments in all). Summary formulas were entered to count the dates. And each formula was hand-crafted because the layout was so haphazard.
I was very surprised to see such a poorly organized worksheet. But, after giving it some thought, this sort of thing is probably not at all unusual. The typical user, I think, probably starts entering data without giving the organization much thought. At first, it's easy makes sense. But after a few years of data entry, you end up with a complete mess.
I suggested that this person spend a day or two and copy/paste the data into a normalized table with four column headers: Category, Task, Date, and Comments. Data entry would be much easier, and the information in this table can be easily sorted, filtered, or summarized with a pivot table.
To a typical user, it probably seems very inefficient to repeat the category name and task name for every entry in the table. But it's actually the most efficient way to store data.
Greg Likes The Book
Yet another unsolicited bit of fan mail:
Just a quick note to tell you how impressed I have been, for a very long time, with your Excel books. I bought one several years ago (maybe Excel Power Programming With VBA?) and, at the time, it put me ahead of all of my colleagues in terms of practical, ready to use knowledge about MS Excel.
Skip forward at least a decade and I had a current need to update my ss skills and went to Barnes & Noble to get some up-to-date resource technical materials. As I was scanning the available materials, my wife said "how can you ever manage to figure out which Excel book to pick?" At that moment in my scanning, I saw just "Walkenbach" and I pulled it out and replied "Right here, this guy is an Excel genius. I recall reading one of his earlier Excel books and it was just incredible." I think she thought I was kidding.
Well, I took Excel 2007 Bible home over the weekend and cracked it open this morning to get up to speed on charts. I wrapped up the 'Getting Started Making Charts' intro on charts and am just part way into 'Learning Advanced Charting' and I am very impressed! Your exceptionally clear writing style, focus on how to do the task at hand, easy transition from introductory to advanced materials are all just top-of-the-line.
So, I thank you, man, for putting out such a truly great product and I wish you the very best. I can't say enough good stuff!
Wishing you the best,
Greg S., NY
I'm glad you like it, Greg.
Joe’s A Fan
Here's another unsolicited fan mail:
My name is Joe P. I'm a 22 year old college senior. I've been working on a co-op for about a year with a local company in Quality Assurance. When I started, the demands of the job went beyond my capabilities: they needed someone who could write Excel macros, and a lot of them. Determined to fulfill the role, I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up "Excel VBA Programming for Dummies."
That was about 9 months ago. Since then, I've learned the amazing things Excel can do thanks to your easy to follow guide. Not only has it expanded my capacity at work, but I've taken my Excel VBA skills and like to make fun spreadsheets in my spare time. I spent about 4 or 5 months writing a program that plays and analyzes the game of Craps in a little over 1 MB.
My time on co-op is almost up. When I leave, I plan to start up a consulting firm. I'm going to contract my services at building spreadsheets to small businesses in the area. Excel programming has become one of my favorite things to do, and I'm hoping I can find a market for my skills... I can't imagine a better way to make a living.
So I just wanted to send you a sincere thank you for writing your book, and wanted to let you know, I've put the information to great use, both professionally and personally.
Thanks for the kind words, Joe. When I started reading your email, I just assumed that the book you used was Excel Power Programming. Glad to hear that the For Dummies book also works.