Joella Nour May 2, 2021 Spreadsheet
Oh my goodness, it‘s not surprising that so many couples who want to get divorced just stay separated for years. The process is daunting, expensive and, frankly, ridiculous. Basically I had to stop communicating with my husband immediately. Going forward all communication would be between my lawyer and his lawyer. We would turn in all of our financial documents and her paralegals would put them into spreadsheet form and then we would go about dividing everything up. We would have to come up with a parenting plan, my husband and I, with these two lawyers translating for us. We would have to get employment contracts from his employers so I knew that I was getting a fair share of all of his assets. It was going to be long and drawn out and messy. And the cost, somewhere between $15,000-$100,000, minimum.
Spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel are well suited to tasks involving the manipulation of small amounts of related data. Working out a budget, producing visual reports, organizing lists and calculations that involve many variables are all tasks well suited to a spreadsheet. There are some data related tasks however that spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel are not suited for. Tasks involving the processing and combination of large sets of data for example are generally not well suited to spreadsheets. There is another technology with a long history and theoretical background that specializes in these sorts of tasks. That technology is relational databases. The most common way people insert data into and extract data from relational databases is via the language of Structured Query Language.
Microsoft plans to have this program up soon and now Google is beta testing a similar situation, which would allow you to do essentially the same thing. Why is this good? Well, consider the Digital divide in the world and if everyone just had a terminal rather than a big hard drive with lots of expensive stuff on the computer then they can store all their information at one location. By doing this, the computers would actually be terminals and it would be very inexpensive to make them, meaning that everyone in the world could afford to have one and everyone in the world could be online and interconnected in a giant collective of humanity. There would be no one who would be without the Internet and this would bring the world closer together in a common cause.
Whilst Excel cannot clean or structure all of your data for you it does come with some useful functionality for manipulating and analysing clean and structured data sets. This in-built functionality includes pivot tables, sorting and filtering. Filtering alone is a powerful tool and can help to quickly isolate data based on specified criteria. But what happens if your data is clean but not very structured (a common problem). For instance what if you, a client or your team is using colours, fonts or some kind of formatting to classify data in an Excel spreadsheet. In short, you wont be able to filter the data, because Excel‘s in-built filtering logic requires rules based on numbers, dates and text only. It will not perform filtering based on formats. In addition Excel filtering only applies down rows. It will not perform filtering across columns.
Structured Query Language, often referred to as SQL, is a grammar of instructions that allows us to tell a relational database to add, modify or delete data. The key benefit, pardon the pun, of SQL is that it allows us to craft instructions relating large sets of data together. In this way SQL is the natural complement to the single cell and formula based interface of spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel. Imagine you had five hundred appointments from your business calendar laid out in a table. Each appointment might have a day, time, location and description. Now imagine you also had five hundred appointments from your partners business calendar, also each having a day, time, location and description.
One of the topics I cover on my Advanced Excel courses is hardly ‘advanced‘ at all, but it is a very useful and popular technique with my students. It makes use of the OLE capability to create invoices by embedding Excel data. First you need to create an Excel spreadsheet and format it in an appropriate manner, keeping in mind that this will form the basic structure of your invoice and will eventually be seen by your clients. You don‘t include any Company contact details or logos in the spreadsheet though as these will be incorporated into the Word document. The next step is to lay out the invoice itself in a Word document, based upon your normal Company letterhead. Leave the main body of the document empty as this is where the Excel spreadsheet will be embedded. All you need in this master Word document is your usual Company branding and contact information.
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