Thursday, September 27, 2012

Excel Tip of the Week 9/27

Sorry I missed last week's tip -- it's been a bit of a crazy week. Well, crazy month.
This week's tip is more of a guideline... if your computer is kind of old and doesn't have extra memory just hanging around, try and close as many applications and windows as possible before opening a big spreadsheet. From what I've heard, bigger than 10,000 rows is big. The one I was trying to open was 400,000 rows (hint: Excel really doesn't like spreadsheets that big), and I drew that Excel logo sticky note art while it was opening. The main guideline is actually to try and avoid really big spreadsheets; they're not a lot of fun and sometimes they send you nice error messages.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Networking is important, connecting is better.

Pic from the article -- generic, but it gets the point across.
I found this cool article Best Way to Introduce Yourself that I thought fit nicely with my post on meeting people on your first day of classes.
If you don't feel like reading it, the gist of it is that you don't want to introduce yourself with "Hi I'm Jacki, and this is why I'm awesome." It's better to keep it short, keep it in context, and "embrace understatement" -- as in be humble and focus on the other person. It's more fun to learn about people through having a conversation, so don't say everything about yourself upfront. Save that for your blog.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What's up with the new title?

Like the little description thing says, this blog is still under construction -- and I'm not gonna lie, its main purpose is to hold the domain name until I really need it. Well, that and so I don't have to put a free email address on my fancy awesome business cards (it looks unprofessional).
So I hadn't decided on a title that I'd intended to stick with (bad pun, sorry), and I was looking around my desk/cube at work, and I took a second to wonder just how many sticky notes and junior legal pads I've gone through. I'm the sort of person who makes lists, and writes down everything that I don't want to forget. In addition to that, I use sticky notes as little doodle pads. They've become decoration to personalize this little space that I call my own. I write on them. I draw on them. I cover them with bright highlighter colors. They represent a coalescence of creativity and practicality, of the organized and the imaginative, of the right brain and the left. Am I reading too much into this? Probably, but there you have it.

Fact of the day: Post-it notes were invented by Art Fry.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Excel Tip of the Week 9/13

Excel Tips & Tricks

Quick tip: to adjust the size of a sell to fit the text, double click the right edge of the column label letter or the bottom of the row label number (your mouse should look like a little + with arrows).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Your First Day of Classes...

Meeting new people on the first day of school is always a trying experience... here are some tips on how to avoid talking to anyone on those first days of classes to ensure that no one bothers you for the rest of the term!
It's okay, these aren't real college kids anyway.
Fraternizing: to be avoided at all costs.
(photo found by googling)
1. Stare intently at your laptop screen before class starts. Whenever anyone comes near, close it slightly so that no one can tell that you're really on Facebook. Shifty eyes are recommended but optional.
2. Sit at the end of the row and put your bag in the seat next to you. If you're in a lecture hall, make sure to give dirty looks to anyone who tries to move past you.
3. Sit in the back corner and avoid eye contact at all costs. Using the aforementioned computer technique can be substituted for texting everyone on your contact list how bored you are or playing Angry Birds.
4. Make sure to never raise your hand. The professor might get the mistaken impression that you enjoy their class.
5. Make sure to not even look like you're raising your hand -- fixing your hair or stretching can easily be mistaken for wanting to communicate.

But seriously, one of the best things about college is meeting new people and making friends from different places. If you don't like meeting people for the sake of meeting people, think about the benefits. Networking in class might help you get a job someday, and it will certainly help you find people to study (or take group exams) with. Studies show that students tend to retain material more effectively when surrounded by peers, and here are 6 benefits of study groups. Plus, finding out that you have a group project due mid-quarter and realizing that you have no one to do it with is not fun.
mmmm coffee
My solution for everything
Start with not doing any of those 5 things above (except playing Angry Birds is okay). I like to wear something that says something about me -- "I love your Batman shirt/backpack/hat/merch" is a great conversation starter because I either learn something about the other person or share something about myself. (Well, that and I happen to own large quantities of Batman shirts and sometimes it's harder if I don't want to wear one). If you don't end up becoming BFFs with your new acquaintance, at least you had a great conversation about the new episode of Doctor Who, right?
If you're like me and you're not a morning person but have early morning classes, I recommend coffee (lots and lots of coffee). And who knows, you might meet someone to complain about Monday mornings with.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Excel Tip of the Week - 9/5

I've noticed that a lot of people have some difficulties with Excel, and even people who have been using it for a while don't know everything about it (myself included). I have a nice little certificate that says I'm certified in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, but mostly I've just picked up a few things that I think are worth sharing.
Most of the time when I'm using Excel, I'm at work, and my work computer runs Windows (super up-to-date... Windows XP) that has Excel 2007. Most things carry over to Excel 2010, which is the version I used for my Excel certification test, and I'll try and include tips for the Mac version because that's what I use at home.
Today's tip is a short and easy one that I use all the time.

Excel Tips & Tricks
To select consecutive cells that have data in them, start at one side and use the keyboard shortcut ctrl, shift, arrow key (in whichever direction the rest of the text is). On a Mac, I think it's command, shift, arrow. It will select everything in that row or column until it comes to a blank cell.
I also found this cool site that's like a wiki for keyboard shortcuts,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Timer
(photo found by googling)
I'm testing out the Pomodoro Technique today in an effort to be more efficient... which seems counter-intuitive, because the technique is to work for 25 minutes (a "pomodoro") and then take a 5 minute break. Every four pomodoros you take a 15 minute break. There's this great timer that I've been using (and it works well with Chrome, always an added bonus). The idea is that you're more productive when you get breaks, which is why the reports that things like Google's Pac-Man doodle wasted 4.7 billion hours aren't super accurate. And that Pac-Man doodle is fantastic.
According to Wikipedia, the technique is named for the Italian word for tomato because of the shape of creator Francesco Cirillo's timer. (Why would anyone have a tomato-shaped timer? My best guess is that it was because it was the eighties.)
So far, it's been kind of difficult sticking to the timer. It's not that I just want the breaks longer; I have a hard time stopping in the middle of whatever Excel spreadsheet or report I'm doing. I really just like to finish what I'm doing before I move on to something else. 
However, it's almost 2:00 and I have to say, I think I'm a little less burned out than I usually am by this time. (You know that 2:30 feeling?)
Fred the Dinosaur
I also drew a dinosaur. I think I'll name him Fred.
What did I do for my 5 minute breaks? Well, I was trying to use Google's Web Lab because it seemed pretty cool, but the loading time used up like half of my 5 minutes. So instead, I checked my news feed on Facebook, wrote this, played Pac-Man, read a few articles, watched The Dark Knight Meets the Avengers, and checked out what Shakespeare's plays would look like with cats instead of people (which is just what you'd expect). And some other stuff, but it must have been pretty mindless because I don't remember exactly what it was.
And, in case you were wondering, I got through my entire to-do list.

Update: I definitely just had one of those "Whoa, it's already 4:45?" moments. I'd call today a success.