What’s the Excel 1900 or 1904 Date System?

An interesting question came into us the other following a course. It was regarding Excel and the 1904 Date System.

One of the subjects we cover on our courses is the importance of entering dates in an acceptable form when adding them into a cell. Otherwise you will be unable to use them in a calculation or sort.

All dates should be equivalent to a serial number.

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Access Training – not quite

August is relatively quiet in the Training world and with that comes lower numbers on courses and a different approach to training.

This week I’ve had two courses both with only one person on (we really don’t cancel courses unless we have to) and in both cases we worked almost exclusively on our customer’s databases and surrounding issues.

The first was an Access Intermediate course with Alex from API Technologies. The database was used in conjunction with a hand held barcode scanner to make production line operators’ work easier, with quicker and more accurate data logging. We worked on the solution for the whole day, pulling snippets of training from the Introduction, Intermediate and Advanced Access courses to cover what was required to progress the project. I know barcode scanners aren’t at the forefront of the technology (or price) curve, but plugging one bit of technology into another and seeing them work together is always fun.

The second was an Access Advanced course with Sam from asyss.co.uk. The database in this case was for an EPOS system for trade counters, developed by Sam for use in a local multisite company. Currently the database contains 2,500 stock items, 35,000 purchase lines and 100,000 sales lines, with the sales lines expected to be around 500,000 per year. Sam knew almost everything on the course and was already well versed in Access VBA. Not normally a good sign from my point of view, but it turned into a very productive and interesting day!

Over the course of the day we looked at the flexibility of Macros in Access 2013, especially as VBA can’t be used in Access Web Apps; moving the back end of the database to Microsoft’s Azure SQL (£3.05 per month is not a bad starting price); tying down the front end using the (free) runtime edition of Access 2013 and we even included a couple of topics that were actually on the course.

I love training our standard courses as sometimes the skills are, to quote a delegate, life changing! This wasn’t a typical week, but I must say it was enjoyable and I wonder if more people could benefit from this type one to one training.

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How to choose the right coach

You may not know that Jarrold Training provide an expert range of coaches to provide solutions to specific issues. Whether it be a long term supportive mentor, a shorter intervention over a couple of sessions in regards to a particular business improvement issue or being a guide around stress management, Jarrold Training have talented and experienced coaches to help you.

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Humans vs Animals

Humans share many traits with animals, but there is one behavioural aspect where we undoubtedly have the edge and that is our ability to adapt. Our friends at a well-known zoological society in the East of England are a particularly good source of examples that illustrate this.

Previously a management technique taught on our Forefront management course was applied successfully to the process of moving a giraffe. While, a recently submitted ILM essay on adapting behaviour when dealing with different people threw up another example, this time concerning a 400 lb gorilla.

 

Quantifying behaviours

All of our management courses involve completing a short questionnaire (Insights Profile) which helps us quantify, and delegates understand our basic behavioural tendencies. These behaviours are represented by four colours which we all possess, but in different mixes. Once these behaviours are understood we can recognise them in others and modify our behaviours to achieve better outcomes.

While it is an over simplification, we can talk of people being a particular colour, like yellow, blue, green or red. Now red is on the assertive end of the extrovert spectrum and the delegate makes the point that…

 

Behaviour adaptation

If you have to go in and handle a situation with a 400 lb gorilla it might be a good idea to adapt your style, from less red energy to more green energy, because believe it or not, if you have to negotiate with a large male gorilla a bold red assertive technique is not going to work. You need to become more green because there is no way on this earth you are going to be able to bully a gorilla.

A good point well-made we thought, and we’re not going to argue with the delegate or the gorilla.

Behaviours and sometimes adapting our own is important to be successful in the human world (as well as the animal one) and we run many courses that cover the different aspects. However, in all honesty it’s easier to talk about this than to write, so if learning more about behaviour interests you please call us on 01603 677107 and ask for Elliot.

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SharePoint – Do You Need It

To know whether you need SharePoint, first you need to know what it is and does. When the topic comes up on one of our courses there follows a conversation along these lines…

 

What is SharePoint

SharePoint is Microsoft’s intranet solution for businesses of all sizes.

The short description of SharePoint I normally use is ‘a SQL database with a web front end’. Essentially its a place to store lists of information where the data in the list can be presented on a web page in many ways.

For example, a SharePoint document library stores information about a document with one of the columns of information being the document itself. Or if the information is date based then it can be displayed as a calendar. These scenarios naturally fit well with Word and Outlook and indeed Microsoft Office in general.

 

SharePoint Usage

I then go on to explain that while Excel (for example) is a good place to store data and an excellent place to analyse data it is not great for making that data available to many people. If lots of people need to view information then web sites and pages are ideal as this is exactly what they are designed for. SharePoint, like most web sites these days, is driven by a database and an Excel Table is a very good match to a database table so its almost a perfect synergy. A few of the integration points with Microsoft Office are outlined below.

 

Excel

Publishing an Excel Table to a SharePoint site involves specifying the address of the SharePoint site and a name before sending it on its way. Other people can then browse, sort and filter the data from within the web browser or download that data and analyse it in Excel themselves.

 

Word

Managing Word documents in a SharePoint document library allows simple permission control and versioning. This enables easy document collaboration within a team with only the final versions available for everyone else. It also prevents the proliferation of versions via email with the confusion and storage requirements that ensue. Use the File tab in Word to check-out, check-in and generally manage versions.

 

Outlook

Outlook is the primary email client for Microsoft Exchange and includes personal calendars and task lists along side email. SharePoint provides central email with site mailboxes (provisioned in Exchange) and central task lists. These display very nicely alongside their personal counterparts in Outlook.

 

Access

Access and SharePoint provide an exceptionally easy route for non technical types to create a web application. Access is the application/database design environment, SQL provides the data storage and SharePoint handles the permissions and web front end. An amazing 3 way relationship brought together nicely with an Office 365 subscription.

 

Get SharePoint

Jarrold Training is seeing many more people who have access to SharePoint because of Office 365. SharePoint is included with all business editions of Office 365, this sits alongside Exchange providing email services and of course Microsoft Office. Office 365 is great value, but all you need is a Windows Server and SharePoint technologies are available at no extra cost with SharePoint Foundation. Naturally cost options exist with additional features, but first test the product using the cheapest option!

 

SharePoint History

Some may argue about when SharePoint really started, but my view is it started when Microsoft released FrontPage back in 1996 along with some server side extensions. The first official release of SharePoint was in 2001 and it has evolved over the years to what we see today. Perhaps the full SharePoint history is another blog post though.

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SharePoint – Version History

Sometimes it helps our understanding of how a product fits in with the way we work by learning how the product evolved. Rarely is evolution purely an accident, a product evolves in response to the way its used and if its not used it wont be around very long. SharePoint has been around for almost 15 years and if my view of its history is correct then its nearer 20 years.

Pre-SharePoint History

FrontPage handled the whole process of creating a site and its pages then finally publishing this to a web server. This enabled users within an organisation to create intranets without requiring any knowledge of the technology underneath. Publishing rights could be restricted and server side functionality powering web feedback forms was all built-in and very easy to use. The admin pages for this functionality are web based and share the look and feel of SharePoint admin pages to this day.

The conflict of interest between creating internet web pages and using Microsoft technologies to create an intranet became too great and the product split in two. Expression Web and SharePoint.

Expression Web continued for 4 versions and was made available as a free product in December 2012 and is still available to download from Microsoft. The product’s demise can be put down to the way modern websites are built, based databases and dynamic content rather than simple HTML pages. Dynamic web pages are better dealt with in a programming environment, which for Microsoft is Visual Studio.

The intranet side of things has progressed nicely since FrontPage and evolved into SharePoint 2013 and the pending 2016 release.

 

SharePoint Version History

SharePointHistory

As you can see SharePoint is a product that has been evolved over the last 15 years. The core principals are the same across all the versions, providing a list with a web front end including sorting and filtering features. The document library has stood the test of time and is central to many SharePoint sites.

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Creative Cloud Alternatives

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is probably the best productivity software for designers, the only downsides are cost and for many, complexity. Replicating the whole of Creative Cloud with other products would be difficult and the results harder to work with, however, it is the core desktop applications of Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator that most people need and these are much easier to find alternatives for.

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So you want a web course

Which web training course

WordPress and Dreamweaver are the options. I know there are others, but these two are perhaps the best known and the ones we offer courses on here at Jarrold Training. When a customer phones and asks what courses we have to create web sites the phone call gets put through to me to ‘have a chat’ and help decide which of the two courses (if either) is suitable.

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Customise the Quick Access Toolbar for a Specific Workbook

Customising the Quick Access Toolbar for a specific workbook prevents overloading the toolbar with commands that are only used for particular files.

This tip is also relevant to Excel 2007 to 2013

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Should I Use Excel or Access

When customers come to us for Excel training we ask about what they would like to achieve from the training and if they have any specific problems they need to solve. Also we encourage asking questions during the training to help keep the course as relevant as possible.

The solutions to the problems or answers to these questions are sometimes not to use Excel at all, but to switch to Access. This is a well-trodden path that is normally easy to follow, but for a customer who already has skills in Excel and has heard Access is much more complicated, they may feel it is easier to simply carry on with Excel.

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