Excel, The Tool You Need to Learn

During one of my first professional interviews I was asked “How good are your excel skills?”.  I paused and quickly responded that they were probably a 7 out of 10. I mean during my vast career at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte I can’t even count the times I have used excel.  I mean, I used this program at least once a week if not more.  I felt confident in my answer, not wanting to overshoot my skills only to have the interviewee quickly follow-up with “well do you, VBA? Do you know audit?” and so he went on naming tools excel could do.  At the time, I was kind of left dumbfounded and found myself confused for awhile. When I told this story to a friend of mine later he said, “Don’t worry I thought the same thing before I started working here.”

So I ask you, how well are your excel skills?  Or how well do you know excel?  Excel is defined by Wikipedia as “Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application developed by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications”.    So you know how to create spread sheets and if so I am going to assume you know how to plot these?  But I am going to take a look at little bit more at EXCEL’s key features such as calculations and defining Macros.

It begs the question, why do we need a calculator when we have office?  Especially when one has a hundreds of numbers to calculate.  The following syntax is included and built into excel:  Sum, Average, Pi, Radians, Degrees, and the list goes on and on.  I know I recently used it to calculating angles of a descent of an object.  Simply by starting with a cell and hitting equal then going to the formula function one  can view formulas that may be used.  As you now have seen excel can be powerful tool for converting most mathematical formulas.  There have even been books written on it.  In 1995 Willaim Orvis published a book called Excel for scientists and Engineers.  (http://www.amazon.com/Excel-Scientists-Engineers-William-Orvis/dp/0782117619)  Some colleges even provided classes on how to use excel in introductory science classes such as Carleton college.

So with these powerful mathematical formulas one would assume you can create a worksheet where one button can produce a variety of outputs?  Excel covers this with the many Macros you can make in Visual basic.  A Macro is a rule of pattern that specifies how a certain input sequence should be mapped to a replacement of an output sequence.  With excel visual basic you can automate tasks creating these excels.  Visual basic is simply a higher level language written using English-like words and syntax.  It is developed by Microsoft for their operating system in windows.

I am not going to go into the step by step of how to open VBA into office as each version of excel has slightly changed the process and these can be found through a quick google search.  But my adding the developer tool into the command list VBA offers a wide assortment of skills one can use into excel.  Worksheets can now be made by incorporating the wide arrange of formulas that MS Excel can use.  I suggest everyone look into it.  Now documents can be made to determining wide arrange of pass/fail mathematical formulas.  Ever wonder if a jump can reach a height based on a variety of different forces? VBA allows you to make this formula and simply by inserting the height you can now see the pass or fail of reaching a certain height by simple clicking a button, through its graphical interface. 

Simply put, Excel is an amazing powerful device.  Never look at it as a simple spreadsheet tool.  It has a thousands of tools I haven’t even touched.  So next time someone asks you how good are your excel skills think about it clearly.  Remember these are my thoughts and thus my consequences.


A Starting Point.

So welcome to Gypsy’s devices.  The entry level post to a weekly series, where I will rant about all that in technology, aerospace, and social media.  I have been thinking about doing this for a while. Personally I think blogging is a way to clear one’s mind.  My brother Cole Watts (recently nominated as one of the top people you need to know in Raleigh, NC) has been doing this for a while and I know it helps clear his mind, so I figured I’d jump into the game.  He will be hosting this and you can find him on IDreamInTech.com and you can also find out about all things Raleigh at his local Raleigh series, RallyTheTriangle.com.  A little bit about me, I was in the Air Force for five years, currently have an electrical engineering degree and spend my days working in the aerospace industry.  Each post will be limited to 300-500 words on my current thoughts of news going around or recent quotes that caught my attention.  So let’s get started huh?

 Focus on one thing at a time.  I saw this recently on twitter.  It’s tough in these times.  With times being slammed at us 24 hours a day and with all this knowledge at our finger tips, we should be pros at everything right?  Ray Lewis, former NFL linebacker, once said there is no reason for his son to fail in school because everything is online.  I disagree and agree at the same time.  Yes, I do agree everything is at our finger tips now.  But hasn’t it made us stupid?  Whatever happened to learning by trial and error?  Also how do you find your focus or your goals, while trying to gather everything at once?

I guess it’s one of my greatest errors as I relocated to Melbourne, Florida.  I want to do this and that, but I need to focus on one straight goal, but I know I have been assimilated into the internet way.  I want to get into modeling, I want to write, I want to broaden my career outlook and pad my resume, and I want to get certified in the programming language LabVIEW, ontop of refining my skills at work, and gathering more knowledge that will help me at   work.  A lot of goals, I know. I constantly punish myself everyday for not full filling, each and every one of these.  But should I not breathe?  Should I stop thinking about all these goals and start with one?  And I going with the trend of the internet where everything is at you?

 Should I just copy and not learn from the facts on the internet.  Should I take the easy way out and do everything quick and not learn the why’s and how this work.  As an engineer I want to know the why’s of everything..  The internet has become a shortcut for all things in life and it should not be.  I say breath, focus on one thing after another.  Refine one goal, while looking at another.  Don’t rely on the internet, think for yourself.   The internet was created as the next generation of a library, treat it as such.

I know this is a bit of ramble, but these our my thoughts, and thus my consequences.

- Cal

Cal Watts is an engineer and writer located in Melbourne, Florida. Connect with him at Twitter at @Cal_Watts.


Why l’m not Getting the iPhone 6

By now you’ve probably heard that the new iPhone 6 is out in stores and comes in a variety of forms. Chances are by now, that you’ve probably seen a few out in the wild.

Many people lined up in the stores and even my friend Cal Watts was able to snag one. This is all great and dandy, but to be honest the iPhone 6 isn’t for everyone and in particular it isn’t for me.

Bigger is not always better

Before we start inserting, that’s what she said jokes, I will say that the size of the iPhone 5 my current phone, is perfect. It’s not too big and it fits perfectly in both of my pockets with added items.

I also use it as a portable speaker to stream both YouTube videos and podcasts, as I go running. I worry that a 6″ iPhone won’t fit perfectly in my in my hands, especially as I’m running and it will just be uncomfortable to hold as I’m doing my various choirs.

However the size, is just one of the many reasons why I’m doubtful of the new iPhone.

  • I’m a minimalist. I have no problem saying that. I like to spend my money on experiences not items. So having to shell out another $200-300 for a phone is something I am having a bit of an issue justifying to myself.
  • It’s not that much better. Though miles ahead of the iPhone 5, with faster graphics, bigger size, and even an improved camera I can still pretty much do everything with my iPhone 5. Unless the new one has satellite dish built inside of it, I don’t see a real reason to upgrade.
  • We still have the October announcements. Apple’s already announced that we’re getting another event in October and this will more than likely include new iPads as well as new iMacs.

Most of all…I believe that the Apple watch coming next year, will make the iPhone inferior. Who needs a phone when we will have something on our wrist that can do the same thing, that the object in my pocket does.

Did you get the iPhone 5 or are you planning on it? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section down below.