Chapter 11   The Cell Mistress.  Monika Weber  from Switzerland
  Monika Weber's Office Help Desk :

interview date:28.Mar.2003
Please introduce your self. You may be as thorough as you wish. Feel free to include or omit any detail about yourself.
My name is Monika Weber. I live in Switzerland. I work in the printing industry. The location of our parent company is in Australia. It's a very big concern named Amcor with locations throughout the world. I work in the Swiss office in the IT department. But unfortunately I rarely use Excel in my job. My job is to support and to teach our users in our large-scale system named BaaN, based on Unix. It's something like SAP. The plan is that I'll become a programmer in this system soon - we'll see.

In my free time I spend a lot of time using Excel and answering questions in the Microsoft Newsgroup. In this way in 2002 I became an MVP (Most Valuable Professional). I like Excel, because it's so interesting and many-sided. In 2001 I started to work as an author for Pearson Education (Addison-Wesley). I do this job in my free time.

Published books:
Das Excel-VBA Codebook (ISBN: 382731979X) HTML & CSS lernen (ISBN: 3827320674)

Not yet published:
Das Excel-VBA Codebook - second edition (ISBN: 3827321018)

When do you remember using Excel for the very first time? Can you remember any specific details from that first time?
No, I can't remember. My first computer was a Commodore 64. It was without a mouse and I used it in playing games :-). We worked with 5 1/4" disks and it was really funny.

One day, many, many years ago, my brother, the owner of a little company, asked me to work for him. He brought a computer to my flat and asked me to study Microsoft Word, because he needed a teacher in this software. I think it was the Word Version 6.x, with the black background and the white characters. So I worked many years with Word before I started with Excel. A few years later I left my brother's company to become an AS/400 programmer. But I didn't like this job and so I changed again.

In 1995 I became a teacher for a software Company. Maybe in this time I had my first real contact with Excel. I started to teach beginners. Here's where I started in Excel. But my favourite Software was still Word. This changed in 2000 when I started my study to become a Dipl. Office-Supporter (it's a study in Switzerland).

At this time I also discovered the German Microsoft Newsgroups for Excel. It was a pleasure to help users in this group and I completely turned to Excel. Most of my knowledge is based on the Microsoft Newsgroups. I learned by trying to help others and I still do.

When do you remember writing your first formula or VBA code for Excel?
I guess that my first formula was written in 1995. I created my first VBA code Excel Version 95 or 97, by using the Macro-Recorder. But I didn't really use it seriously.

On average, how many hours per day do you spend working with Excel formulas and/or VBA code?
As I said, at work I rarely use Excel, but in my free time I think, that I use Excel between1 and 8 hours per day.

Which do you find most rewarding to work with: Formulas or VBA in Excel? Please tell us why?
The functions and possibilities in Excel without VBA are limited. So sometimes it's really efficient to write VBA code. I admit that my knowledge in writing formulas could be better.

If you were going to give a novice, just starting out with Excel, some advice, what would it be?
Excel is very powerful software. Please really start with little steps. It'll take time to use it professionally, but I think from the first hour it is a pleasure and challenge to use.

Try to understand the Online-Help in Excel. Press the F1 button on your keyboard and insert your question. The first time it will be difficult to understand the help-text, but don't give up and try to understand.

If you can't find a solution for what you'll create, don't despair. Use the Microsoft Newsgroups or some other Forum in which you'll find lovely and sympathetic people who will try helping you.

Please provide a sample of your first work (either as a formula or vba code) in Excel and tell us about it.
I don't remember my real first code. It was something created by the Macro-Machine and I remember when I saw this code I was shocked, because there where so many lines of code and I thought, that I'll never understand VBA.

My first self written code could have been something like "Hello World" - and I was very proud of it ;-) - and I've shown it to some of my colleagues in my company.

Sub Hallo()
   MsgBox "Hallo Welt"
End Sub

The improvement was to create an InputBox and to show the inserted text in a MsgBox *lol*.

In addition I was absolutely fascinated in creating coloured Command-Buttons *smile* and I couldn't understand why I it isn't possible to change the colour of a Button from the Toolbar "Forms".

What is your mental attitude when you are preparing to write formulae or VBA code? And what is your working environment?
I think that I'm not a shining example for someone to show how I'm creating my VBA code. Usually I sit down without any plan, just with an idea and I start in writing the code. Sometimes (rarely) I sit down, take a piece of paper and a pencil and I make a plan.

My environment must be quiet. I can't hear any music if I'm at work. So I prefer to work at home in my office. I live in an attic flat and my ceiling is made of wood. It's cozy. I prefer to work on a fast machine with a big flat screen. I like it if the sun is shining and it brightens my room. It's good for my soul. :-)

If there special preparations that must be in place before you can begin, what are they?
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.
When I start working, I like to have tidy table, but mostly it isn't, because I use a lot of paper to take notes and I have a lot of books on my table.

I like Confucian Analects (Lunyu) very much. Constant learning:

"In learning, if you have not reached proficiency, you are apprehensive lest you should lose it again. (8.17)"

If you are a beginner in working with Excel, then if you ever think that nobody has learned from nothing, it means that everybody who has a good knowledge had to work hard to get it.

As I said, if you need some help, look at the Newsgroups and don't hesitate to ask your question there.

The link to the Microsoft Newsgroups:

On my website you'll find some samples in Office especially in Excel. It is a German spoken website, but there are some samples in English too and the VBA-Code - of course - is always in English. :-)

Thank you very much for answering the questions.

This Black belt is yours...

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