Category Archives: Product Review

A New Charts Editor – Google Docs Keeps Improving

Tuesday Google announced a New Charts Editor in Google Docs. This is important because Google continues to improve it’s spreadsheet offering in the cloud. And while in my opinion, Excel will always be the king of spreadsheets, Microsoft has to be aware that many younger people may very well use spreadsheets in Google Docs because it’s free. Hence, a new generation of people that may grow up without Excel.

There’s a short video on the Google Docs Blog about the new Charts Editor in Google Docs. They also show a few screen shots of some, but not all of the chart offerings.

  • Org Chart
  • Annotated Time Line
  • Motion Chart
  • Line Chart
  • Pie Chart
  • Column Chart
  • Scatter Chart
  • Sparkline
  • Gauge

The Sparkline chart isn’t shown in the blog article, but you can give the new charts editor a try at goo.gl/newcharts. I think their Sparkline charts are kind of big and bulky, but that’s just me.

However, I kind of like the Gauge chart.

Google Docs Charts Editor Gauge Chart

Let me know what you think.

Introduction to PowerPivot

In the year 2000, I began to use Microsoft Query to pull data from corporate client’s database tables, using their raw data to create PivotTable reports. Each table required a different query, each linked by using VLOOKUP formulas. And of course the data had to be restricted to Excel’s 65,536 rows.

Soon I was having clients write queries to get around using VLOOKUP formulas and started pulling data into Microsoft Access to get around the row limitations. But to get data into Microsoft Excel, the primary interface was Microsoft Query. I don’t know the history of this program but it served me well, even though it’s old, clunky, and not supported very well.

Enter PowerPivot

PowerPivot is a program that works with Excel 2010 to do some amazing things.

  • Import hundreds of millions of rows of data
  • Import data from multiple sources
  • Build relationships from imported data
  • Visualize the data with PivotTables and PivotCharts

If any of this sounds remotely interesting you can check it out for yourself on the PowerPivot website. Better yet, check out the video page where you can see an Overview (there’s three of them, the first one is enough to get the idea), check out how to download and install the PowerPivot program, and see the Importing Data video series.

Here’s a screen shot from the first video in that series.

PowerPivot Importing Data Video Series

And if that isn’t enough, you can even check out a demo.

Pretty awesome stuff.

OnLive icon

Microsoft Excel 2010 on the iPad with the OnLive Desktop

OnLive iconExcel 2010 iconThe gold standard for Microsoft Excel is the latest Windows version, Excel 2010, and the gold standard for tablets is the iPad. The OnLive Desktop App brings them together.

If you love Microsoft Excel and have an iPad, then this app is for you. I could go on and on and on about what a great combination these are, but I won’t. Instead I’ll give you an overview and let you rush right out and experience it for yourself.

An Overview

The OnLive Desktop is an iPad only app that’s free in the iTunes App Store. Download the app, then sign up for a free account, and you get 2 GB of online storage.

Once you launch the app and sign in to your account, a remote Windows desktop appears. You not only get the full version of Microsoft Excel 2010, but also Office 2010, with PowerPoint and Word.

You can create files from your iPad and save them to your online account. You can also upload files from your computer to your online account, then access and edit them from your iPad.

The Windows desktop comes with some other features that are nice to play around with, but what strikes me is how easy it is to use Excel on the iPad. It’s far and away the best user experience with Excel on the iPad, or any spreadsheet on the iPad.

Anyway I’ve said too much already. You’ll have to try this out for yourself just to believe how truly amazing it is. I’ll leave you with a few screenshots to whet your appetite.

OnLive App iPad Screen Shots

OnLive App 01

OnLive App 02

OnLive App 03

OnLive App 04

OnLive App 05

OnLive App 06

Yes, that’s right, OnLive Desktop has to use a non-iPad keyboard. But that’s not a deal-breaker.

Since you’re accessing a remote Windows desktop, you would think there’s a big delay between your actions and the program’s response. Not so, it’s really is very quick.

One caveat is that with the free account you may experience a delay in connecting to the remote desktop if the servers are busy. Premium accounts (people that pay money) get priority on connectivity. I experienced a couple of slight delays in my tests before I was allowed to connect. A minor inconvenience for me.

Nevertheless this whole experience is free and damn well worth the effort to check it out. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

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