Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Post about Children's Party Ideas

Who doesn't love a party?  Kinds especially love a parties.  So here is a quick post with some ideas. 

First things first... You need a theme.  At this point you should be involving the the little ones.  The most important thing is exercising their imagination.  Anything that gets them creating is all you need.  Any party should have games, yummy food, and and something to wear them out.  You can do this at home, or better yet in a park with a wicked playground.  The more you can intertwine all of the above the better. 

So lets say the theme is robots.  Bring materials to turn them into robots!  What kid (or kid at heart) wouldn't want to be turned into a robot for a few hours?  It doesn't have to cost much.  Thankfully robot materials are very inexpensive.  Think aluminum foil (remove the sharp edges on the cutter), old card board boxes, makers (no sharpies - dry erase is best, assuming you don't like trying to get those stains out), anything shiny, tape, maybe some paint (might be messy though).  Now incorporate the games and food into the fun.  Robot cakes (square cup cakes), have robot races, robot freeze tag.  The possibilities are endless. 

I my experience anything that you can do to exercise the imagination will work out well.  Having the young ones create their good time isn't hard.  Just give them some basic materials, and let them do the rest.  Imagination is a powerful thing at early ages, let them run with it.  All you have to do is provide the spark.  It doesn't have to be robots, it could be fairies, princesses, cowboys and indians.  Anything will do just bring so basic materials to let them create their own party.  

Now that's how you throw a party (with less).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just in case...

With terrible destruction and loss of life currently being experienced in one of the world's most develop nations, it reminds us that life moves easily along until it doesn't.  That doesn't mean we can take all of our technology, and modern lifestyle for granted.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to review the the importance of remembering the Boy Scouts motto, which simply says "Be Prepared".  Prepared for what you ask.  Well it doesn't matter.  I am not the type of person who lives in a constant state of fear of the unknown, but I want to have some basics covered, just in case.

The most pragmatic way to be prepared is to know what to be prepared for.  So to start your journey to peace of mind, step one should be simple.  What is the most likely disrupting event that could occur?  On my list natural disasters are not very high, flooding is my only major concern.  I live in a part of the United States that has very low risks for earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes.  My biggest concern is a breakdown in the economy.  In 2008 we were standing on a cliff looking into the abyss of economic disaster.  Since then we have pulled back from the cliff slightly, but the fundamental problems within the world of big banks and high finance that is Wall Street have not gone away. 

That being said I look to the past to see how historical economic breakdowns of progressed and how people living in those economies dealt with the problems that come with economic collapse.  As a general rule food becomes a substantial problem.  If becomes scarce and expensive.  My "just in case" scenario has centered around the idea that food could become hard to come by in a disaster, economic or otherwise.  I would recommend having a supply a 6 months of food for all members of your household, and perhaps a bit more so you can help those beyond your family. 

I don't want to rag on this subject any longer.  There are tons or resources, blogs, and information online.  Here a couple of links that helped me achieve some piece of mind with respect to a "just in case mentality."

Good luck, just in case.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recording Macros - Excel 2003

This is a very nice intro to recording excel macro's. By recording excel macro's you can save a lot of time doing repetitive tasks that require identical actions. This video is a good starting point.

In the past I have used a combination of Access and Excel. For example I created a set of queries to pull data from a SQL server. Once the data was pulled from the SQL server access did some complex calculations involving multiple sub-queries.

Once the calculation was completed Access opened an Excel file I created as a template.  Access would dump query output to the template file. Once the Excel file was opened an autoexec marco would run and format the report.  Formatting takes a good bit of time to code using VBa, so I recorded the formatting part and pasted it into the autoexec module.

This saved a ton of time, and all I have to do it press a button to create a report that used to take 3-4 hours to complete. Now it takes 20 minutes.

That's what I call doing more with less (time).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

The all powerful keyboard shortcuts.  It is truly amazing how much time you can save by not having to take your hands off of the keyboard.  Excel 2007 has a ton of keyboard shortcuts, these is the most comprehensive list I have ever found.

Keyboard shortcuts are definitely a great way to do more with less (time). 

I can't take credit for this, as I grabbed this list from www.shortcutworld.com check them out, they have some great stuff.

 1 Navigating in Worksheets and Selecting Cells

ctrl+shift++ Insert a new row or column (after the current row is selected with shift+space, or column is selected with ctrl+space
arrow left, arrow right, arrow up, arrow down Move one cell up, down, left, or right in a worksheet.
ctrl + arrow keys Moves to the edge of the current data region
shift + arrow keys Extends the selection of cells by one cell.
ctrl+shift+arrow keys Extends the selection of cells to the last nonblank cell in the same column or row as the active cell, or if the next cell is blank, extends the selection to the next nonblank cell
backspace Deletes one character to the left in the Formula Bar. Also clears the content of the active cell. In cell editing mode, it deletes the character to the left of the insertion point
delete Removes the cell contents (data and formulas) from selected cells without affecting cell formats or comments. In cell editing mode, it deletes the character to the right of the insertion point.
end Moves to the cell in the lower-right corner of the window when SCROLL LOCK is turned on. Also selects the last command on the menu when a menu or submenu is visible.
ctrl+end Moves to the last cell on a worksheet, in the lowest used row of the rightmost used column. If the cursor is in the formula bar, CTRL+END moves the cursor to the end of the text
ctrl+shift+end in worksheet Extends the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner).
ctrl+shift+end in formula bar Selects all text in the formula bar from the cursor position to the end—this does not affect the height of the formula bar.
enter Completes a cell entry and selects the cell below
shift+enter Completes a cell entry and selects the cell above.
ctrl+enter Completes a cell entry and stays in the same cell
alt+enter Starts a new line in the same cell
esc Cancels an entry in the cell or Formula Bar. Closes an open menu or submenu, dialog box, or message window. It also closes full screen mode when this mode has been applied, and returns to normal screen mode to display the Ribbon and status bar again.
home Moves to the beginning of a row in a worksheet. Moves to the cell in the upper-left corner of the window when scroll lock is turned on. Selects the first command on the menu when a menu or submenu is visible.
ctrl+home Moves to the beginning of a worksheet.
ctrl+shift+home Extends the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet
page down Moves one screen down in a worksheet.
alt+page down Moves one screen to the right in a worksheet.
ctrl+page down Moves to the next sheet in a workbook.
ctrl+shift+page down Selects the current and next sheet in a workbook
page up Moves one screen up in a worksheet.
alt+page up Moves one screen to the left in a worksheet.
ctrl+page up Moves to the previous sheet in a workbook.
ctrl+shift+page up Selects the current and previous sheet in a workbook
spacebar In a dialog box, performs the action for the selected button, or selects or clears a check box.
ctrl+spacebar Selects an entire column in a worksheet.
shift+spacebar Selects an entire row in a worksheet.
ctrl+shift+spacebar Selects the entire worksheet.
tab Moves one cell to the right in a worksheet. Moves between unlocked cells in a protected worksheet. Moves to the next option or option group in a dialog box.
shift+tab Moves to the previous cell in a worksheet or the previous option in a dialog box.
ctrl+tab Switches to the next tab in dialog box
ctrl+shift+tab Switches to the previous tab in a dialog box.

   2 Format Cells

ctrl+1 Format cells dialog.
ctrl+b (or ctrl+2) Apply or remove bold formatting.
ctrl+i (or ctrl+3) Apply or remove italic formatting.
ctrl+u (or ctrl+4) Apply or remove an underline.
ctrl+5 Apply or remove strikethrough formatting.
ctrl+shift+& Apply the outline border.
ctrl+shift+_ (underscore) Remove outline borders.
ctrl+shift+f Display the Format Cells with Fonts Tab active. Press tab 3x to get to font-size. Used to be ctrl+shift+p, but that seems just get to the Font Tab in 2010.
alt+' (apostrophe / single quote) Display the Style dialog box.

   3 Function keys in Excel 2007

f1 Displays the Microsoft Office Excel Help task pane.
ctrl+f1 Displays or hides the Ribbon, a component of the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface.
alt+f1 Creates a chart of the data in the current range.
alt+shift+f1 Inserts a new worksheet.
f2 Edits the active cell and positions the insertion point at the end of the cell contents. It also moves the insertion point into the Formula Bar when editing in a cell is turned off.
shift+f2 Adds or edits a cell comment.
ctrl+f2 Displays the Print Preview window.
f3 Displays the Paste Name dialog box.
shift+f3 Displays the Insert Function dialog box.
f4 Repeats the last command or action, if possible.
ctrl+f4 Closes the selected workbook window.
f5 Displays the Go To dialog box.
ctrl+f5 Restores the window size of the selected workbook window.
f6 Switches between the worksheet, Ribbon, task pane, and Zoom controls. In a worksheet that has been split (View menu, Manage This Window, Freeze Panes, Split Window command), F6 includes the split panes when switching between panes and the Ribbon area.
shift+f6 Switches between the worksheet, Zoom controls, task pane, and Ribbon.
ctrl+f6 Switches to the next workbook window when more than one workbook window is open.
f7 Displays the Spelling dialog box to check spelling in the active worksheet or selected range.
ctrl+f7 Performs the Move command on the workbook window when it is not maximized. Use the arrow keys to move the window, and when finished press ENTER, or ESC to cancel.
f8 Turns extend mode on or off. In extend mode, Extended Selection appears in the status line, and the arrow keys extend the selection.
shift+f8 Enables you to add a nonadjacent cell or range to a selection of cells by using the arrow keys.
ctrl+f8 Performs the Size command (on the Control menu for the workbook window) when a workbook is not maximized.
alt+f8 Displays the Macro dialog box to create, run, edit, or delete a macro.
f9 Calculates all worksheets in all open workbooks.
shift+f9 Calculates the active worksheet.
ctrl+alt+f9 calculates all worksheets in all open workbooks, regardless of whether they have changed since the last calculation.
ctrl+alt+shift+f9 Rechecks dependent formulas, and then calculates all cells in all open workbooks, including cells not marked as needing to be calculated.
ctrl+f9 Minimizes a workbook window to an icon.
f10 Turns key tips on or off.
shift+f10 Displays the shortcut menu for a selected item.
alt+shift+f10 Displays the menu or message for a smart tag. If more than one smart tag is present, it switches to the next smart tag and displays its menu or message.
ctrl+f10 Maximizes or restores the selected workbook window.
f11 Creates a chart of the data in the current range.
shift+f11 Inserts a new worksheet.
alt+f11 Opens the Microsoft Visual Basic Editor, in which you can create a macro by using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).
f12 Displays the Save As dialog box.

   4 CTRL Combinations in Excel 2007

ctrl+shift+( Unhides any hidden rows within the selection.
ctrl+shift+) Unhides any hidden columns within the selection.
ctrl+shift+& Applies the outline border to the selected cells.
ctrl+shift+_ Removes the outline border from the selected cells.
ctrl+shift+~ Applies the General number format.
ctrl+shift+$ Applies the Currency format with two decimal places (negative numbers in parentheses).
ctrl+shift+% Applies the Percentage format with no decimal places.
ctrl+shift+^ Applies the Exponential number format with two decimal places.
ctrl+shift+# Applies the Date format with the day, month, and year.
ctrl+shift+@ Applies the Time format with the hour and minute, and AM or PM.
ctrl+shift+! Applies the Number format with two decimal places, thousands separator, and minus sign (-) for negative values.
ctrl+shift+* Selects the current region around the active cell (the data area enclosed by blank rows and blank columns). In a PivotTable, it selects the entire PivotTable report.
ctrl+shift+: Enters the current time.
ctrl+shift+" Copies the value from the cell above the active cell into the cell or the Formula Bar.
ctrl+shift++ Displays the Insert dialog box to insert blank cells.
ctrl+- Displays the Delete dialog box to delete the selected cells.
ctrl+; Enters the current date.
ctrl+` Alternates between displaying cell values and displaying formulas in the worksheet.
ctrl+' Copies a formula from the cell above the active cell into the cell or the Formula Bar.
ctrl+1 Displays the Format Cells dialog box.
ctrl+2 Applies or removes bold formatting.
ctrl+3 Applies or removes italic formatting.
ctrl+4 Applies or removes underlining.
ctrl+5 Applies or removes strikethrough.
ctrl+6 Alternates between hiding objects, displaying objects, and displaying placeholders for objects.
ctrl+8 Displays or hides the outline symbols.
ctrl+9 Hides the selected rows.
ctrl+0 Hides the selected columns.
ctrl+a Selects the entire worksheet. If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the current region and its summary rows. Pressing CTRL+A a third time selects the entire worksheet.
ctrl+shift+a Inserts the argument names and parentheses when the insertion point is to the right of a function name in a formula.
ctrl+b Applies or removes bold formatting.
ctrl+c Copies the selected cells.
ctrl+c Followed by another CTRL+C displays the Clipboard.
ctrl+d Uses the Fill Down command to copy the contents and format of the topmost cell of a selected range into the cells below.
ctrl+f Displays the Find and Replace dialog box, with the Find tab selected.
ctrl+shift+f Opens the Format Cells dialog box with the Font tab selected.
ctrl+g Displays the Go To dialog box.
ctrl+h Displays the Find and Replace dialog box, with the Replace tab selected.
ctrl+i Applies or removes italic formatting.
ctrl+k Displays the Insert Hyperlink dialog box for new hyperlinks or the Edit Hyperlink dialog box for selected existing hyperlinks.
ctrl+n Creates a new, blank workbook.
ctrl+o Displays the Open dialog box to open or find a file.
ctrl+shift+o Selects all cells that contain comments.
ctrl+p Displays the Print dialog box.
ctrl+shift+p Opens the Format Cells dialog box with the Font tab selected.
ctrl+r Uses the Fill Right command to copy the contents and format of the leftmost cell of a selected range into the cells to the right.
ctrl+s Saves the active file with its current file name, location, and file format.
ctrl+t Displays the Create Table dialog box.
ctrl+u Applies or removes underlining.
ctrl+shift+u Switches between expanding and collapsing of the formula bar.
ctrl+v Inserts the contents of the Clipboard at the insertion point and replaces any selection. Available only after you have cut or copied an object, text, or cell contents.
ctrl+alt+v Displays the Paste Special dialog box. Available only after you have cut or copied an object, text, or cell contents on a worksheet or in another program.
ctrl+w Closes the selected workbook window.
ctrl+x Cuts the selected cells.
ctrl+y Repeats the last command or action, if possible.
ctrl+z Uses the Undo command to reverse the last command or to delete the last entry that you typed.
ctrl+shift+z Uses the Undo or Redo command to reverse or restore the last automatic correction when AutoCorrect Smart Tags are displayed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On the Middle East...

So it started with Tunisia, then it was Egypt, and now there is Libya.  To top it all off there are rumors that a "Day of Rage" is coming to Saudi Arabia, and there are protests in Iran, Yemen,, and Bahrain.  So what does this mean for you?


I am all for democracy don't get me wrong, but holy crap gas has doubled in a month.  That sure is going to help our slowly dying economy.  (Sarcasm -0ff)

I really wish them the best in acquiring their liberty and freedom.  Good luck guys.

About the realm of finance and wall street...

So I am not brilliant, nor am I a Wall Street person.  I do however, consider myself somewhat intelligent.  Smart enough to realize that the state of the worlds economies was likely not an accident.

There is a large amount of evidence that indicates to me we have seen the biggest transfer of wealth from one socioeconomic class to another since the 1930's.  Big banks and people who run and own them have literally stolen a huge portion of the world's wealth and transferred to themselves.  This has created the largest debt creation machine for governments ever seen.  I thought war was the way debt was created.  Well it still is, but the transfer of bad debt from large banks directly to public treasuries was over the top.  Frankly this disturbs me to the core. 

I know, I know it wasn't their fault.  There was no big conspiracy to defraud half the freaking planet.  It was all just a heard mentality run amok right?  Greed got the better of people.  A bunch of Americans took on too much debt bought houses to big for their wallets, and banks forgot to make sure they gave loans to people with good credit.

I call shenanigans!  I don't believe that crap for a second.  So here a few tips to take to heart when thinking about how to protect your hard earned wealth from the "den of vipers" that needs a bit of routing out.  (Did you like that...?  My little tip of the hat to Andrew Jackson there)

Rules for not Sucking and Preserving Your Wealth
  1. Don't listen to the Mainstream Media (a.k.a. Fox Business, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Etc.)
    • Listen, but don't abide
    • You know how it goes (don't believe everything you read - or see on TV for that matter)
  2. Be responsible for your money.  You don't need Some jacka-- in a suit to tell you how to invest you money.
    • Do your own homework - The internet is full of awesome
      • ZeroHedge.com - Best unbiased news available for financial markets
        • My personal favorite - And how can you not like some named Tyler Durden
    • Be objective and think long term
  3. Stay liquid - There is a chance that inflation will become a large problem for most major currencies in the world.
    • Make sure you can move your wealth from one asset class, or currency to another quickly
      • If realy bad inflationary times hit this could save your wealth from ruin
      • Forex accounts are a great way to do that
        • If they offer silver or gold options even better
  4. Don't put all your eggs in one basket - (a.k.a. Deversify)
    • Don't put all your wealth in stocks, bonds, cash, or precious metals
    • Mix it up a bit and you will be much better off

Good luck, we are all going to need it.

Excel Tutorial, Pivot Tables (1 of 3)

Based on yesterday's poll here are some basics about pivot charts. I found these useful, hope you do to.

Who needs video professor, when you have youtube!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Do more with less - Excel (Counting colored cells)

This is super fun stuff.  Even need to count cells based on colors?  Check this out.

Function CountByColor(InRange As Range, _
    WhatColorIndex As Integer, _
    Optional OfText As Boolean = False) As Long
' This function return the number of cells in InRange with
' a background color, or if OfText is True a font color,
' equal the WhatColorIndex.
Dim Rng As Range
Application. Volatile True

For Each Rng In InRange. Cells
If OfText = True Then
    CountByColor = CountByColor -  _
         (Rng.Font.ColorIndex = WhatColorIndex)
    CountByColor = CountByColor -  _
       (Rng.Interior.ColorIndex = WhatColorIndex)
End If
Next Rng

End Function

All you have to do is the good old fashioned alt+f11, create a new module copy paste the goodness above.  Then in a cell call the function like this: "= countbycolor(range, colorindex#, true false for text or not)"  and you are god to go.  Below if the color index reference chart.


Doing more with less - Excel, you have to learn it sometime...

So you want to learn excel. 

I mean who doesn't?  It is a rather powerful tool that can help us all be come more productive.  Here are some awesome links to get you going.

Get to it.