Nerdfest (Follow-Up)^2: A Tribute to Microsoft Excel

A delightful review from the BBC's "The mysterious powers of Excel." Highlights quoted below:

As much as oil and water, our lives are governed by Excel...

I still remember looking over a colleague's shoulder at a spreadsheet which had a button in the middle of it. A BUTTON! Raised above the plain of the worksheet like a ziggurat. Instantly I fell to my knees in worship.

Try it now - take some time to play with formulas and Excel will reward you generously, with magic.

Of course, Excel will not always reward you. You may have made a mistake in the formula. Your hand may have shaken as you tried to remember if "col_index" was the one on the right or the left.

Excel won't tolerate this. It will send you packing, Worse still you may have a "circular reference" and you will get a lecture. Or you've inserted a chart where everything is zero apart from one thing which is infinity, and Excel will say nothing.

There are many unanswered questions, like what happens if you start everything from cell XFD-1048576? If you summed everything in a spreadsheet, where would you put the answer?

Excel fans are often treated pejoratively. "'You can't learn this is in a spreadsheet, kid,' said the old man, his weather-beaten face grimacing as he swiftly removed the caribou's entrails" is a line found in many books. But spreadsheets have a beauty all of their own.

They speak to a need deep inside of us to arrange things in rows and columns. Ever since the first town planners pored over drawings of grids in the Indus Valley, man has wanted to locate points by how far over and up they were.


Before that.

Even before that.

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