Wednesday, March 7, 2007


I am a data analyst. This means that I get my kicks out of staring at numbers all day and trying to figure out what those numbers are telling me. This is rather funny because during my younger years (“I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled!” [T.S. Elliot]), I didn’t like math at all. So needless to say, it is my firm belief that Microsoft Excel rocks. I can’t imagine a more productive work day than to work through the logic of multiple formulas with multiple nested formulas and to have the end result be exactly what you are wanting it to do. Take the following formula for example:

{=IF(ISERROR(INDEX(DownRoute,SMALL(IF(DM=B$33,ROW(DM)-ROW('Route Information'!$B$25)+1,ROW('Route Information'!$B$37)+1),$A36),4)), "",(INDEX(DownRoute,SMALL(IF(DM=B$33,ROW(DM)-ROW('Route Information'!$B$25)+1,ROW('Route Information'!$B$37)+1),$A36),4)))}

Believe it or not, that entire thing is one formula in one cell. And the cool thing is, I actually know what it does! Add to that another complex formula that feeds off of this one and it is a thing of beauty when the right result is computed. A few months ago, I went out and bought John Walkenbach’s “Excel 2003 Bible” and have used it many, many times. At one point, I sat down and started reading it from the beginning just to make sure I didn’t miss anything basic and I found to my delight that I had! Way cool. And now, whenever I’m trying to do something in Excel that I KNOW can be done but don’t know how to do it, I simply look it up in this book and wah-lah (“that’s French, that is.) On the rare occasion that the answer isn’t in the book, Google is the next best thing.

My coworkers are starting to worry about me after hearing excited mutterings whenever a formula has all the bugs out. It’s an analyst thing – they wouldn’t understand.

And yes, I have learned to embrace my inner geek.

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