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Stop the presses! There’s a game based on MS Office

Add-ons,Resources Sean Duffy

Microsoft, meet fun.

Fun, this is Microsoft.

It’s not often that you get to say something like this, which is why we’re going to milk it for all it’s worth.

Ribbon Hero 2 is a game based around the ribbon layout in MS Excel and other MS Office program. Clippy (remember him?) is resurrected from the dead, and stars as the unlikeliest of heroes in a game that also acts as a tutorial.

It’s fairly simple to play, and while the first few steps are simplicity itself, it should get fairly interesting at the advanced levels – or so we hope.

In any case, give it a whirl, and let us know what you think!

Need an Excel Template? Vertex42 Probably Has it.

Add-ons,Resources,Tips and tricks Sean Duffy

A fundamental reason we built Excel Everest is that Excel is useful in many facets of life. Recently we’ve been playing around with some templates from Vertex42.com, a site that embodies this to the core, and they’re spectacular. Check them out if you’re looking for an easy way to plan your mortgage, put together a wedding budget, build a contact list, etc. 

Below is our editor’s account of the kick-ass meal planner provided by Vertex42!

I’m going to describe a recurring nightmare that I have at least three times a week…

It involves me standing in the middle of the kitchen, with a furrowed brow and with some gentle headscratching involved. There is but one question running through my head on endless loop, and no answer forthcoming for the longest time ever. The question being: What do I make for dinner? And here’s the thing: this nightmare is for real! I live it! Every week!

I don’t know about you, but planning meals for my home gets my goat like nothing else on earth. It’s tedious, it’s boring and it’s frustrating. It is also a known and acknowledged imagination-killer.

Imagine my delight, therefore, when I stumbled upon an easy, permanent solution to my problem. And knowing as you do by now my eternal love for all things Excel, imagine how my delight doubled when I realized that the solution came in a neat little Excel package that was… wait for it… free! You see what I mean when I said the Excel Tutorial this time around was manna from heaven?

Well, to cut a long story short, Vertex42 is a site that specializes in Excel templates – of which they have many more than we can count in one blog. You should head over to the site, pronto, and give it an approving once-over. Go on, give it a look – we’ll wait.

Impressive, isn’t it? Exactly the same reaction I had when I first saw it. But as I was saying, the thing that made me happiest was the Weekly Meal Planning Template. The template allows you to download an Excel file (although PDF versions for simple printouts are also available) which you can use to plan your meals.

Here’s what the file looks like:

Enter the date in the relevant cell, and head on over to breakfast. Now this is where things get really interesting:

Because the cell next to breakfast has a drop down button that contains a list that is guaranteed to get your tummy rumbling. Pre-fed into that cell are various options for breakfast – and pre-fed into the cell adjacent to it are options for accompaniments for breakfast. And it’s the same level of convenience i

Five Things You Might Know About Excel 2010

Add-ons,Resources Sean Duffy

Personally, I don’t really care for upgrades that are more or less cosmetic, and in my not-so-humble opinion, Excel 2010 is Excel 2007 plus perhaps a blush of rouge on the cheeks.

Now, before the engineers at Redmond break out in open rebellion, I’ll admit that there are some additions that are very nifty indeed – witness the rather handy sparklines, for example. But really and truly, nothing stands out as far as I’m concerned – well, nothing as revolutionary as Excel 2007 was over Excel 2003.

But there are some things that have been changed, and can lead to a lot of lost productivity in office – you know, little things that have been tweaked, changed or hidden. Here are five of those potential work-traps:

1) The File Button: Excel 2007 had a nice big shiny logo at the top left, which hid a treasure trove of options for advanced Excel users. For reasons best known to User Experience specialists at Microsoft, that treasure trove is now hidden under a harder-to-find non-descript green button called “File”.

We didn’t like the round, unlabeled button that no one knew what to call, but we don’t think they quite aced the File button options. 

2) Customize Ribbons All you Like: Excel 2007 offered you a wishy-washy way to do this, but Excel 2010 lets you do pretty much what you like. You can create a new tab, a new group – it’s all down to your convenience.

Finding these buttons is another story – you’ll have to go into File-land, choose customize ribbon, and hidden at the bottom right of the new pop-up box are these buttons. After that, grouping items the way you like them is a piece of cake – and in the long run, a productivity boon as well!

3) The Backstage View: This one I really like – Excel 2010 groups all the common tasks associated with files – saving, saving as, printing and e-mailling – all in one view that they call the backstage view. Again, the backstage view is accessed by clicking on the “File”button, and then on “Info” – but this is a very welcome addition indeed.

4) Improved Filters: There is an Excel God, and she’s finally answered my prayers. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why a simple search box was not present in the filter drop-down box, and I (finally) needn’t gnash my teeth in frustration any more. Use filters in Excel, and a pleasing little drop box pops open with a fully functional search box. Ease-of-use… from Microsoft products. Whatever next?

ASAP Utilities for Excel 2010 (and other versions too)

Add-ons Sean Duffy

Excel is probably the best spreadsheet software out there right now, but it is by no means perfect. We’ve all had moments when we looked at the sky and wondered
why the powers-that-be at Redmond didn’t think of including this, that or the other.

For example, many times I’ve wondered how difficult it would be to create a sheet that links to the other twenty sheets on the same file. You know, just creating an index sheet for the many other sheets that reside on that gargantuan budget file that finished at three in the morning yesterday. Wouldn’t it be truly wonderful if an index sheet just… well, created itself?

Well, ta-da! Meet the Superman of Excel add-ins: ASAP Utilities for Excel. It does that and more. ASAP Utilities is result of many hours of hard work put in by it’s creator, Bastien Mensink, and is a simple collection of many handy Excel utilities in one single place, including the miraculous ability to create an index sheet for all the sheets in a file – automatically.


Once installed, the utility looks something like this on both Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.

ASAP Utilities allows you to work with a set of commands in each of the areas that you see in the pic above. You can rename sheets, color alternate rows, work with hyperlinks, edit different text at one go – do lots of stuff that would otherwise have taken you hours together.

For example, there is a utility that allows you to deselect only certain cells in your selection. If you have groaned in frustration after selecting a thousand odd rows in Excel, only to have selected two that you didn’t really need, you’ll know what a boon this is. Or imagine being able to copy over print and page settings across multiple sheets, rather than format each individually. For a more comprehensive list, head on over to the ASAP page about the topic.

ASAP Utilities is free for individuals (what are you waiting for – download it!), and a nominal fee is charged for firms. Of course, if you think the product is coolness itself, and you wish to pay some money, they’re not going to object. For more information about pricing and other pecuniary details, click here<