Jun 25, 2013

Creative Chaos In Excel? I Got A Better Idea

Not me, just a puzzled guy
 There is such thing as "creative chaos" and it may work for writers, artists and inventors. However, I know for sure it does not work for organizing calculations and models in Excel. It is really frustrating to open an Excel file and it is a mess of fonts, borders, formulas, values, sheet names, lines without headers and other "design solutions" that make it look as if some ancient gods had a pagan feast and suddenly left. Aesthetics apart, such files are very difficult to navigate, maintain and even more difficult to update or change. I realize that most of it is not a result of a directed thought but a chaotic thoughts and randomly coming requirements for things to calculate (ASAP, as usual). There are few simple guidelines to follow in order to produce neat and tidy Excel files.They do not take time at all and relate more to discipline than some specific Excel or model-building knowledge. I could not cover everything in great details here but take a look to get some good ideas and have a base for further thoughts.

Jun 17, 2013

What You Need To Know About Business Intelligence Applications

There is lot of talk about Business Intelligence (BI) lately. Explicitly or not, it is embedded in the advances in collecting and analyzing data. But as it usually goes, there are few companies that have adopted the BI tools and school of though while many others still lag behind. BI has been around for a while and it makes its way to wider and wide audiences. Still though, there are lot of things that the business and other organizations do not know much about it. I have tried to put together some remarks that cover general gaps and misconceptions. These come from my experience with companies from the Balkans but I guess it is applicable to other regions as well.

Jun 13, 2013

Learn a Shortcut Save An Hour

I am serious - learn few Excel shortcuts and save tons of time. I cannot stop being surprised from heavy Excel users that keep reaching for the mouse for every simple tasks performed hundreds of times per week. With few keyboard tricks in your sleeve you would not only save time but also make it easy for your wrist and you would look like a pro in eyes of the uninitiated as a plus. There are many websites you could check for a full list of shortcuts but please find bellow some for a start.

Jun 11, 2013

Highlights On Model Types And Their Application

There are two types of models - statistical and I call "mechanical" ones. Statistical models step on data sets to extract properties, interconnections, current and future behavior. An example for that are models for customer categorization for the purposes of the financial industry, stock pricing and monthly sales. The the "mechanical model" embeds predetermined laws of nature or society, cause-and-effect dependencies, legislation and any other "hard" causative connections between entities. Examples for this sort of models include nuclear reactor model of the optimal working parameters, safety measures, energy output, etc. The general question what type model to build usually is not explicitly asked as each situation pushes toward one or another. However, a general discussion about applicability is welcome as it could give a guideline about models quality and efficacy.

Jun 5, 2013

Tip of the Day: A not so-well known cause for Excel files size inflation

Recently I had to work on a file provided by a client. The file was more than 70MB in size. Reducing the size was not part of the customer's request but my internal optimizer kicked in and after some investigation I found unlikely cause for this horrendous size.

Jun 4, 2013

Fancy Kung-fu Kicks and Getting the Job Done

Eyes closed, feet high off the ground and off the target, hands uselessly spread

You have all seen these movies where athletic guys make funny sharp noises, kick high in the sky and throw punches like machine guns. For my great delight some of them even fly from a tree to another. But this is not the movies only. Martial arts have been devalued to a simple aerobic exercise despite the tons of old Chinese, Korean and Japan proverbs written over the gym. One of the results is there too many fancy kicks, beautiful positions, tricks and very little tactics and blows that actually do the job and finish the combat. It makes me laugh to watch hard-trained guys a fight that is a display of brilliant technique and no result. The fights between real masters and professionals are rather short (don be confused by the movies). Methods and approach applied in analytics very often remind me about this lack of ability to address the real issue and hit the core of the problem.