Friday, August 18, 2006

Office on the Web

I use Office 2003 and am experimenting with the beta of Office 2007. I was really turned off at the thought of not having the familiar drop down menus and toolbars. I have to admit I am adjusting very quickly to the new look and feel of the ribbons.

But, what if I purchase a new notebook for the road and really do not want to spend as much on another copy of Office 2003--heck, Office Professional costs almost as much as the discounted low end notebooks today. Sure, I can install a 2007 beta copy and get by over the few months of the beta trial. There is another way.

I have been working online with two different sites offering word processing and spreadsheet capability over the Internet. Nothing needs to be installed on your end and you can save the work in Word, Excel, and even PowerPoint format on your own machine. Other formats are also available. The documents can even remain online for you to access or share with others.

Check out for word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Yes, it is free to use and quick to execute. I am using broadband, so I do not have experience using it over a landline. Another couple of alternatives are from Google and include a word processor at and a spreadsheet at

As with many new, free applications today, these are beta versions so try them at your own risk. I have and think they are great!
Another Useful Excel Function

Excel has hundreds of built in function, but the most used ones seem to be sum(),min(), max(), average(), count(), if(), and perhaps pmt() and even vlookup(). When presented with a problem requiring the creation of a complex formula, check the functions first. There just might be one to solve the problem instead of you having to use various Excel features to solve it mannualy.

For instance, finding the largest value in a range such as A5:D50 is easly solved using max(A5:D50). What if you needed the two largest values or even the second largest? Without a function, you would probably sort the data and manually find the next to largest.

Yes there is a function to do it! The large() function will pull out the nth largest value in any range of data. In our example above, you would enter large(A5:D50,2) to locate the next to the largest value. Yes, the small() function will do the reverse and find the next (or nth) to smallest value.