Chapter 01   The Cell Master.  Ivan F Moala  from Auckland, New Zealand
  The Xcel Files :

interview date:15.Nov.2002
Please introduce your self. You may be as thorough as you wish. Feel free to include or omit any detail about yourself.
Firstly let me say that I am definitely NOT a master, I do however know a little more then the average person using Excel. No one can be an absolute master because as in life, the more you learn the more you realise how much you don't know!

In fact if you take this stance then you open your self up to try and learn more. You never stop learning no matter what age, so long as you leave your mind open. The mind is indeed like a "parachute" it ceases to function if it is CLOSED!

My name is Ivan F Moala, I am happily married and have 2 young boys. It is my family and their love and support that keep me going. I work as a production manager for a large Bread plant in Auckland, New Zealand, the Greatest place on Earth. :-)

My interests include sports (Most sports eg Rugby, League, basketball, American football Soccer...anything LOL) in fact I have played them all and @ different levels) , computers, Travelling (when I get the chance with my family), and of course programming using Excel, and other Office applications.

When do you remember using Excel for the very first time? Can you remember any specific details from that first time?
I 1st used Excel around 1997/98 when I was forced to use spreadsheets to make life Easier @ our new work site. I had not used Lotus123 or Excel before.

At the time the company was using Lotus 123....I went For Excel (even though it was frowned upon!) It is a choice I'm glad I made! Our company now uses Excel, so I guessed right in my selection.

When do you remember writing your first formula or VBA code for Excel?
I don't really recall my 1st formula except to say that using formulas to get a result really did give me a buzz/cespecially when you spent a lot of time trying to fig something out.

One of my 1st VBA programs was to do with animation, I simulated A scene from the TV show "Stargate SG1" and also one of my favourites the Original (1st series) of Star Trek.

I simulated the Transportation sequence with the sound effects. I lost these files when I didn't follow the golden rule and failed to backup! I lost a lot of original work I had built up over these years. There's a lesson there! We always learn the hard way don't we! LOL

On average, how many hours per day do you spend working with Excel formulas and/or VBA code?
This varies depending on what I see online that captures my interest or perhaps with someone who needs help, or when someone says something can't be done, but any where from 0 - 6 hrs per night LOL (the only time I get is @ night)

I do not program too much @ work, preferring to do this in the quiet sanctuary of my home, and besides I don't have a lot of time @ work to do this.

Which do you find most rewarding to work with: Formulas or VBA in Excel? Please tell us why?
Let me see, it was in March 2000, that I first met Microsoft Excel. My superior forced me to use Excel so, I started using it without any knowledge. I had never used spreadsheet software, and had not used a personal computer for about 10 years. I remember thinking, "Wow! What a cool application this is! If I were able to use it as I'd like to, it would make my job easier." Until then, in my job, my main machine was a just word processor. My wife had a pc at my home, but she used the machine for her work, so I had no opportunity to use it. Now, I am thankful to my superior who gave me a chance. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

If you were going to give a novice, just starting out with Excel, some advice, what would it be?
1st start off by using the Macro recorder and looking @ the generated code. USE THE F1 KEY - it is a very much under utilised key (F1 = help).

If you do not understand what the help is saying, seek help and be explicit about what it is you need. Look @ other peoples code online, there are many great coders. Don't be afraid to ask questions, you loose nothing by asking but a great deal by NOT ASKING.

Read books or if you are like me surf around and see how others code and experiment. I actually don't have any books !! All that I have leant is by practicing In fact the only book I have brought is a Dan Appleman book on VB. I find that You learn quicker by actually DOING it and then looking @ different ways to do it. That's not to say that books are not good, it's just that some people learn better through different methods or mediums.

Choose a small project that you would like to do, something that you really have a passion to do and Set about bringing that into fruition by coding it and seeking help for those things you get stuck on.

As I mentioned earlier nothing gives more satisfaction then creating something yourself AND also helps you to learn quicker. Nothing comes without a price, the price you pay is in TIME, Practice, practice and More practice. Look @ the code as an extension of your imagination and NOT just An inanimate tool. The more proficient you become the easier it is to plan your steps.

Remember too, that it will take time, each one of us goes at a speed that is according to there own abilities and remember to learn to walk before you can run.

Time is indeed "The key to the Universe"

Please provide a sample of your first work (either as a formula or vba code) in Excel and tell us about it.
One of the very 1st programmes I made was an April fools day project that simulated a Virus attack.

At the time we were using Thunder Byte Anti Virus so I simulated disabling the TBAV protection program and then proceeded to show it infecting all LAN connected computers with a Trojan virus, this was also before the Y2K dramas so I named it Y2K Bomb LOL.

It then proceeded to simulate deleting all files and formatting the hard drive all with animation.

Note: April fools day is a day in which you play tricks on each other up until midday. Looking @ this again, the programming is pretty crude :-), but I learnt a lot from doing it.

What is your mental attitude when you are preparing to write formulae or VBA code? And what is your working environment?
Well my general attitude to programming something is 1stly go through it in my head and Then plan it out (again In my head) then just proceed to write the code, which is probably why I write @ home as it is a lot more quiet - no distractions etc (Late @ night). I think one of the keys is that you learn off different people and that you really have to practice and look @ different methods and techniques of doing something.

Finally, please give us something to think about - a reminder of your words here; a phrase that has helped you; a link to your own website. Anything that you think is important for the readers to remember.
That's why I will generally say in giving examples "One way to do this...etc" and NEVER say Can't be Done, Most things CAN... and I am continually reminded by this when I view some of Colo's code and his friends as well as other people's codes.

Probably the best way to learn is to goto boards such as Mrexcel and see if you can answer any of the questions... that's how I started..and remember to give as well as take, that is If you ask for help be prepared to also give back.... a thankyou sometimes suffices. :-)

Thank you very much for answering the questions.

This Black belt is yours...

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