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This week’s episode is dedicated to the rarely missed, often forgotten and historically unnecessary Office Assistants! Yes, that’s right, we are talking about Clippy and its buddies. The episode will also focus on first encounters with Excel and its sweet memories. With Jordan Goldmeier facilitating the session, we have Oz du Soleil, Rick Grantham and our special guest Jon Acampora of ExcelCampus.com on the panel.
There was definitely a time when the menu system was in place instead of tabs. And when the latter was adopted, people installed all kinds of plugins to revert back to the menu system. Through this example, Rick emphasized on how it takes time but people do eventually get used to the newer features if they increase efficiency. Unfortunately, Clippy and his friends do not fall under this category. Jon mentioned how ‘disabling Clippy’ used to amongst the most searched items on internet. Amusingly, there was one whole website dedicated to just disabling this annoyance of a feature.
Oz said that he had always been somebody who just rolls with the change. He starts using the new features as soon as he can lay his hands on them. And doesn’t miss at all what was before. That includes Clippy as well, of course!
Jordan suggested that the Office Assistants could’ve been modelled after Oz’s personality.
Oz replied by saying how he has already had a discussion on Spreadsheet Rescue, which is sort of equal for having Oz as your own electronic Office Assistant. “This sheet has no Data Validation! Are you crazy?” would be how you’d get introduced to this character. Given Oz’s persona, the Office Assistant will also be capable of being all emotional and motivational when you do incorporate its comments. Make sure to check out the video below to see Oz act out all of this.
Jordan shared his memory of a time when there weren’t enough columns and Excel users had to break data into more manageable chunks.
Jon remembers helping people transition from smaller sheet sizes to newer Excel version which had a bigger allowance for rows and columns. People working in Accounting and Finance functions of companies are a tad bit cautious in adopting latest technological solutions owing to the nature of their work. And within this environment Jon started his Excel journey.
Rick raised a very valid point regarding changes that have come over time in Excel. The changes which add functionality are always welcomed. The problem occurs when they revisit the presentation or literal use of Excel. For example, the transition to the ribbon structure from the menu system. It might eventually feel like something was lost. Jon joins in by expressing how he still turns to Excel 2003 to recall the old keyboard shortcuts he is so used to.
Rick posed a very simple questions for everyone: how was their first experience with Excel before they chose it as a career.
The company Jon started with was using Excel spreadsheets extensively to communicate between different departments. There were just too many spreadsheets floating around and too many people working on different copies of the same file at the same time. It was absolute chaos. Fortunately, he was working with smart people who taught him well and, given his competitive nature, he worked hard to pick up everything fast. This is also the reason why he uses so many shortcuts.
Oz got introduced to Excel as a data entering temp at Yomega. But he started using Excel properly when he was working at a call center. People used to complain to him about not generating enough results. He figured out that complaining back was not going to help anyone. So he started using data and Excel intensively to address their problems.
Excel crept into Jordan’s life in three distinct phases. He remembers using Excel to make charts as a primary school student. But it was only during high school that he was introduced to formulas and that blew his mind away. Then in college, as an auditor for the air force, he got a chance to redo their macros as he was good at Excel and apparently not so good at auditing itself.
Rick mentioned that he also started using Excel at a call center job. He liked how Excel can be used to combine both the mathematical and the creative parts of data analysis. And the calling stats he did for his department in Excel were so good, they were printed and pasted throughout the office, even in bathrooms.
Tell us how you were introduced to Excel in the comments section below. And share this video with your friends and colleagues. I am sure they would find something here that they could relate to.
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