03 November 2015

How to clean non-printing characters in Excel

(This is more a convenient note to myself that anything else.)

Text String Cleaning (source: Microsoft Support)

Offending bits of text that can mess up VLOOKUP or INDEX(MATCH) are typically
  1. leading, trailing or embedded space characters (Unicode character set values 32 and 160), and 
  2. non-printing characters (Unicode character set values 0 to 31, 127, 129, 141, 143, 144, and 157) 
Assuming the pesky malformed text string is in cell A1.

Clean() removes the first 32 non-printing characters (0 to 31)

Trim() removes non-printing character 32.

For higher value characters, use substitute(). As an example, to remove character 160, use

That's it for now!

28 October 2015

blogging, 2015 style

So, after eons of dithering, I decided to give Social Media a try.  

Apparently blogs are completely last decade and out of fashion, which makes this post distinctively anachronistic.  Also, apparently, as of October 2015, the two hottest place to publish your thought leadership pieces are Medium and LinkedIn. Yes, the social platform for professionals and job seekers is diversifying into user-created content in a bid to make the 2-sided platform more attractive to social influencerssales people and recruiters by retaining the eyeballs and attention of the salaried office worker who hangs around LinkedIn because surfing LinkedIn is one of the few accepted forms of loafing that can be legitimately classified as work. Both these platforms come with pre-installed reader bases, and so can help newbie thought leadership writers circumvent the first barrier to continued-writing: that of eyeballs.  

Also, apparently, according to third party interpretation of the TOCs, content posted on these platforms are no longer quite exactly your asset.  But that's, in most cases, okay since the published content is meant viewed by strangers anyway. And who knows what strangers do.

What's the subjective difference between these two platforms?

After pocking around the services a bit, my conclusion is that 

  1. Medium has better publishing user-experience (UX)
  2. Medium has better reading UX. It is more suitable for (on the demand side) readers who like reading long posts and (on the supply side) writers afflicted with logorrhoea. LinkedIn is better for short snippets of information since business people have attention spans of the this-meeting-is-really-boring-let's-see-how-I-can-entertain-myself-by-glancing-surreptitiously-at-the-mobile-phone type.
  3. Content wise, Medium is more lifestyle-orientated while LinkedIn is (unsurprisingly) more business-centric.
Given the nature of the drivel that I wanted to post, Medium provides a better fit.

What about other platforms?

I took one look at Facebook's Notes function on the desktop browser and promptly closed the tab.  After being conditioned to the mobile version of FB, the desktop UX is visually a world of pain.

For clarification: the publishing functionality on both Medium and LinkedIn are limited on the mobile platform, hence the default to the desktop. 

Unrelated side note: whoever said the mobile has totally and utterly killed the desktop or laptop obviously hadn't built powerpoint decks (as reports) or complicated excel models. 

No, Reddit doesn't count.

Experiment setup

  1. Wrote an article and stuck it on Medium. Link here: http://bit.ly/1XwphPd The use of bit.ly is also an experiment, bit.ly being the 140-character-Tweet-enabler service that shortens long links.
  2. Stuck the shortened link on Twitter, commenting & hash-tagging appropriately.
  3. Shared the article on LinkedIn via a post (not a repost!), using the full link for variety's sake.

Observation so far

Sufficient observation has been given to UX.

What about eyeballs? Given the extreme drivel-class of the content, I expect extremely viscous diffusion to the links.  On verra! 

08 July 2015

Today I learnt that

The 'official' name for printers is "hard copy peripherals" and that most of the printer manufacturers and their OEMs have declining revenue lines.  I do hope it is due to a genuine success of the "think before you print" movement as opposed to rampant commoditisation of things.