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Using the current row or column number in a lookup formula

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161017-131301

I was working on a monster spreadsheet which contained over 2000 rows of data spread across 54 columns when I discovered that the spreadsheet I’d been given had about 1000 items (i.e. 1000 rows) missing. I eventually received a revised spreadsheet with the missing items so I was now faced with the task of transferring all of the data which I’d meticulously entered in the original sheet, into the new one.

While it was quite simple to select all of the rows and columns in the original sheet and give it a name (using “Define Name” on the Formulas Toolbar), then use this in a VLOOKUP formula to fill in the cells on the new sheet which had corresponding cells with data on the old sheet, because I had 54 columns of data this would have meant manually changing the column number each time I used the formula in the next column along.

Here’s how to avoid having to do that. [Read More…]

Diadora Shin Guards - they’re not just for sports!

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161015-014520

Diadora shin guards helped Georgi to stand upA pair of Diadora shin guards proved to be the perfect solution to help Georgi use his standing wheelchair without having the leg restraint cut into his skin.

After Georgi had his operation we needed to buy him something to let him stand upright. A standing table would have been the cheapest option but that would have been static and quite a problem to lift him up and get him strapped in - and probably quite boring for him too!

A sit-to-stand chair would have been and improvement but, again, quite a static option.

So we splashed the cash and bought him a motorised standing wheelchair which, while we still need to lift him into it, allows him to sit or stand and motor around the house destroying the furniture at the flick of a joystick.

However, due to his contractures, he can’t straighten his legs sufficiently well to allow him to stand up straight and although the machine we bought came with a foam restraint to keep his legs together and allow him to stand, because his knees are always bent this restraint actually pressed into his shins and caused terrible sores… and sometimes bleeding too.

The solution was one which Georgi himself thought of - a pair of football shin guards (or shin pads, as I’ve always known them) proved to be perfect for stopping the restraint from cutting into his legs.

The result is that Georgi can now stay standing for much longer and until he gets tired, instead of when his legs start hurting.

Thank you Diadora!

“The only model that works” does not mean that it is the right model

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161013-134934

I have a particular bee in my bonnet about for-profit charity donation sites - Just Giving is a prime example and a 2011 Evening Standard interview with co-founder Zarine Kharas ended with her saying that so-called soft capitalism is the only model that works when it comes to raising much needed funds for charities and special causes.

But this doesn’t make it right and I find it very sad that thousands of people feel a need to turn to these sites for help because they only address the symptoms of a problem which is deeply rooted in society as a whole.

I wonder, too, whether sites like Just Giving are just making things worse by vacuuming up donations for a plethora of non-urgent causes at the expense of those charities who are fighting to help people around the world whose situations are really desperate (and, in many case, caused by the governments who we elect and allow to wreak misery on their lives in our name).

People who are in greater need of care than the rest of us should be identified, assessed, managed, and given full reassurance that they will be looked after and will have no need to worry for the rest of their lives.

Where is the model which can accomplish this, because there is one - but not one which will be acceptable to the vast majority of First Worlders for whom charity is something they see as a tax-loss, or a highly commendable attribute which they can add to their CV.

Most people “give to charity” for all the wrong reasons - while they may kid themselves that they are feeding the poor they are, more often than not, feeding their own ego but this is just another symptom of the underlying problem of the world we have created between us.

Greed and consumerism aside I do believe that most people in the world wish there was a model for more utopian world - well, the Venus Project is one such model but we are at least several generations away from even getting to the point where people’s attitudes will change enough for us to set foot on that road. Maybe a big war will come and reset things so we just end up making the same mistakes again.

3D - Election Day

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161008-130647

It’s time for the media circus which masquerades as the Parliamentary Elections in Georgia today - always entertaining, no matter which side you support. It’s a nice day for it so I hope there’s a big turnout.



Merging cells in Excel can lead to formula errors

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160930-180600

As I’ve just discovered after so many years of using Excel if you merge a group of cells and then use a lookup (I only ever use VLOOKUP but it will probably apply to HLOOKUP too) to return the value from that merged group of cells, then you run the risk of getting the wrong result.

Here’s why, and why you should NEVER use merged cells in part of your spreadsheet which you might (one day) want to look up date from via a formula…. [Read More…]

3D - An Autumn afternoon in Tbilisi

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160925-131121

Late Saturday afternoon in Uznadze Street, looking North

Column A missing in Excel?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160922-232228

It sometimes happens that you open an Excel worksheet to find that one or more columns are missing - in the example below Column A has mysteriously disappeared - so what’s going on?

Well, before doing anything see if you can spot the difference between the following two images… they’re not identical and the difference is crucial to telling you why Column A is missing.



Did you spot the difference? Take a closer look at the horizontal scroll bar ↑

In the first picture it looks as though you can scroll to the left to see Column A - if nothing changes when you try to do this then Column A is simply hidden from view and there are a couple of ways you can unhide it again - either by moving your cursor to the line just to the left of the letter B in the column headers and seeing if it turns into a horizontal double arrow Excel Hidden Column Widener Cursorwith TWO vertical bars through it, like this,  indicating that there is something hidden there. When the cursor changes this way you can simply click on the line and drag it to the right to unhide the column, or you can type A1 in the Name Box (that’s the white box on the left, just above the column headers) and press the Enter key to go to that cell… even if it’s hidden. This is useful to know because you sometimes might want to check the contents of a cell in a hidden column without unhiding it, so this is how to do that. Once you’ve selected that cell you can then go to Format… Column… Unhide to make it appear (Office 2007+ key strokes Alt+O…C…U).

But what if none of the above works?

In fact it’s quite possible to lose Column A without it being hidden in the usual manner at all, so no amount of trying to unhide it will do any good. What then?

The reason why this may happen to you is if your worksheet’s horizontal scroll bar is fully to the left - this indicates that you have FREEZE PANES activated on your worksheet. In this case all you need to do is unfreeze the panes from the Window menu (Office 2007+ key strokes Alt+W…F) and you will be able to scroll to Column A.

What’s the crake?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160901-190400

I feel somewhat vindicated in my stance that the correct term for “good banter” in Ireland and Britain is “crack”, not “craik”, and not “craic”.


It seems that the correct spelling was and will always be “crack”.

The so-called Gaelic spelling (craic) is a fairly recent introduction and is not a Gaelic word at all, it is purely an attempt to make a Gaelic-sounding word out of the original - perhaps because of the narcotic connotation of the correct spelling or maybe just because too many people from the old country want to sound like they’ve just stepped off the steamer from Queenstown.

I’m sure it will continue to be used in all of the thousands of “Irish Bars” which are dotted around the world and will, eventually, be pronounced “crake”.

So there you have it.

How to return the text before or after the first or last space in an Excel cell value

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160830-163100

If you ever run into a situation where you want to get rid of everything but the text before or after either the first or last space in a cell value then here’s a great formula to do just that.

The formula looks complicated but, as with all complicated Excel formulae, it all makes perfect sense once you break it down. [Read More…]

Fix for no audio/sound via HDMI

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160829-132605

I have a recurring problem with my media PC dropping the HDMI audio output to my big Sony TV - and I keep forgetting how to fix it (because it’s quite a simple fix but it’s not that obvious how to do it).

Why this happens is anyone’s guess but, for some reason, the TV gets disconnected or disabled somehow - AND THEN HIDDEN in the choice of speakers when you click in the speaker icon in the system tray (where the clock is).

Here’s where I refreshed my memory but, although this says it is for Windows 10 it does also work just the same in Windows 7, which is what I have installed. You may find some additional solutions there, if this doesn’t work for you:


I knew I had to right-click somewhere and get the Plackback Devices panel to show my TV as an option but I couldn’t remember where. Well, all you need to do is RIGHT click on a BLANK AREA of the panel (right-click on the speaker icon then choose “Playback devices” to show the panel, then see the picture below) and then make sure that both “Show Disabled Devices” and “Show Disconnected Devices” are checked.

This continues to solve the problem for me. I hope this has helped you too!


No sound on your Philips Monitor? Try this…

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160817-161732

We bought a few Philips 274E (274E5QHAW) monitors for our office and they’re great - except that one of them steadfastly refused to play any sound.

After much testing I figured out that the problem was with the monitor itself and nothing to do with cables, drivers, or anything else.

The answer was right in front of me… [Read More…]

Find and Replace Line Breaks in Excel

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160812-105344

One of the most frequent things I forget how to do is the replacement of line breaks in Excel cells. You can put a line break in an Excel cell simply by pressing Alt+Enter while you are typing in your data, but sometimes you want to replace some of the text PLUS the line break.

To do this is equally simple (once you know how) just by entering Ctrl+J so say you have a cell with the following data with a line break in it:


and you want to either replace or even remove the top or bottom line you would go to your Find & Replace dialogue box (press Ctrl+H) to bring this up and then enter either of the following in the “Find what:” box…

To remove the top line type “ABC” then press Ctrl+J (it will not actually show anything because the Find what box is only one line high, and you might just be able to make out the top of the insertion point I-bar cursor flashing below the A), then type in whatever you want in the “Replace with:” box - or just leave it blank if you want to delete that top line.

To remove the bottom line first press Ctrl+J THEN type “XYZ”. In this case you might not see anything when you type the “XYZ” except (again) the flashing top of the cursor moving along as you type the letters on what a line which is hidden by the restricted height of the “Find what:” box.

Thanks to Debra Dalgleish for this excellent tip ever at her equally excellent Contextures Blog…


Rod Stewart becomes an astronaut

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160612-114930


Dad’s Army Story - Victoria Wood

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160425-005228

Dad’s Army Story

Trivia Corner: Todd Allen Durkin

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160415-192552

Nickelodeon’s WITS Academy Headmaster Todd Allen Durkin is the nephew of Eraserhead star Jack Nance:

image `image

I don’t know Jack

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160415-143737

David Lynch funded this documentary about the star of possibly the strangest, most intensly photographed film I’ve ever seen.


A documentary about Jack Nance, star of the David Lynch film “Eraserhead”

What’s THAT doing in Word 2010?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160329-125122

Blast from the past error message in Word 2010

3D Moon & Jupiter

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160127-235324

Just happened to see Jupiter following the Moon up through the trees this evening. Go cross-eyed to see the 3D image - click on the picture to see the full size version.


Add a new FlatPress Blog in Open Live Writer

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160121-165110

imageOpen Live Writer is the new open source version of Microsoft’s wonderful blogging tool Windows Live Writer, and users of the latter will feel VERY at home with the new open source version (as it’s pretty much the same thing!).

In my previous post I gave you my first impression of it - there was a slight hiccup when I tried to set it up with my first blog account, but here is how to add another blog account once you’re up and running. [Read More…]

Live Writer is now Open Source

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160120-174435

imageWindows Live Writer is/was a great blogging tool but Microsoft haven’t really supported it for some time now, so thanks to them for allowing it to become open source so it can be developed by the large community of users who love it to bits.

This is my first post using Open Live Writer on FlatPress and it was relatively easy to set up, but not so straightforward as it could have been… so here’s what FlatPress users may* need to know in order to get it working. [Read More…]


Encephalitis - it really sucks.

Georgi says Hi!

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing please consider tipping a few pennies in the jar to help look after Georgi, to whom this blog is shamelessly dedicated.

Georgi contracted encephalitis and fell into a coma in the summer of 2007. He’s a strong boy and survived, but he suffered brain damage and still can’t walk or talk (well, not very well - but he does try). He’s growing all the time and every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

visit Georgi’s blog