Jeane Lou May 2, 2021 Spreadsheet
”Rippeto‘s Rendezvous” was only a block away, and attracted patrons from all levels of the social spectrum: Primarily fringe types, college students, and the occasional Young Urban Professional. It was near the University, and close to Civic Arena and Three Rivers Stadium. On clear nights, you could look out Rippeto‘s windows and see the Monongahela River afire in the distance. Two things are striking about Rippeto‘s when one weasels through the wall of humanity standing outside, and plasters oneself against an identical living wall inside: The smoke and the smell.
At times, Lester became so furious his face radiated heat and fogged his glasses. When this happened, he yanked them from his puffy eyes and wiped the lenses with his tie. On this late Friday afternoon, however, Lester felt exhilarated. The printer regurgitated its last run of printouts and as he scanned the rows of figures he penciled in tick marks to indicate matches with numbers found in the corporate ledgers. The task complete for another 180 days, he removed his glasses, rubbed his aching eyeballs, and inhaled deeply to savor the fluttery feeling of excitement flooding his upper chest. Then, Lester logged off the computer, tapped the surge protector power switch with his toe, and shut down the wheezing system.
Lester loved his numeric universe, but this was not how he had envisioned his life unfolding; flying hither and thither from his hometown of Hershey to wherever his firm wished to send him. Just because he was 38, single, and still living with his folks didn‘t mean his employer should take advantage of him which, in fact, his company did on a regular basis. After all, Lester had other important interests, too. The ”Four Bs” he called them: Botany, bowling, bugs and Buddy Holly. Myriad plants crowded his tiny room in his parent‘s house, forcibly sucking carbon dioxide out of anyone who entered. Bowling trophies – ranging in size from tiny silver cups to massive bronze edifices shaped like the Empire State Building – claimed space not dominated by flower pots, planter boxes, and hanging baskets.
As a set of general rules data is most useful when things like text fields hold only names as well as meaningful and validated codes, categories and classifications. Text notes and other free form text should be isolated to a dedicated notes field and thus separated from other numeric data. Numeric fields should hold only numeric values (numbers, dates, %‘s and in the correct quantum or magnitude with no text prefixes, suffixes, spaces, text elements or text notes present. You must also be careful that numeric data is not stored as text and it should be internally consistent in terms of the correct format so that it can be used in calculations or for comparison and queries. Finally, addresses should be separated out into multiple fields such as street address, town /suburb, state / province, postal code and country to allow for geographic analysis and mail outs if required. Fixing up a data set to meet these criteria is called data scrubbing, cleansing or massaging. This data cleansing process can be very time consuming even for an experienced Microsoft Excel user, database engineer, business analyst or computer programmer.
Given this data set imagine trying to find out which Fridays you were busy at an appointment at noon while your partner was also busy at an appointment at noon and the descriptions of both of your appointments contained the phrase down town. If you are not familiar with relational databases and SQL it might surprise you to know that the question can be answered by a single simple SQL query. The database and SQL don‘t have it all their own way however. Spreadsheets come in to their own for tasks that benefit from a visual representation. Traditionally databases do not provide a visual way to browse the data in tables without explicitly requesting data.
Here‘s a very simple budget set up. Keep a simple income spreadsheet. List all the sources by name in column A. List how much each brings in in column B. And then, any notes you have for the income (like if it is temporary) in column C. You don‘t need to get very detailed with the income, because it only needs to be accounted for so that we can budget for it‘s use. And, the incomes use is in our expenses spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will be much more complex than the income one. You‘ll need a field for income that you carry over from the income sheet. You‘ll also need a field for a total expenses budgeted for. A third field will give us the budget surplus. We get that by subtracting the budgeted amounts from the income amount. A final field will subtract the actual amount spent from the income, and will serve to tell us where we stand in our budget. If you like, you can add another field that subtracts the actual amount spent from the amount budgeted.
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