Chapter 25   The Cell Master.  Dick Kusleika  from USA
  Daily Dose of Excel

interview date:14.Jan.2003
Please introduce your self. You may be as thorough as you wish. Feel free to include or omit any detail about yourself.
I am 35 years old and live in Omaha, Nebraska, USA with my wife, Nancy, and son, Andrew. I work for a construction company as an accountant. I earned a degree in accounting in 1992 and worked for an internation accounting firm (KPMG), a local accounting firm, and my current employer. I have a CPA certificate, but it is inactive because I don't practice in public anymore.

When do you remember using Excel for the very first time? Can you remember any specific details from that first time?
I used Lotus 1-2-3 v.1A prior to using Excel. When I went to work for KPMG, they issued me a Macintosh Plus and a Mac version of Excel on floppy disk. I had to switch disks between the Excel program disk and the data disk. Within the first year, I got a Mac SE with a 20MB hard drive - boy that was living! If I hadn't been forced to switch to Excel, I would probably still be using Lotus.

When do you remember writing your first formula or VBA code for Excel?
One of the first times that I used Excel was to sum an investment report. I was auditing an insurance company and they provided me a report of all their investments. It was my job to make sure the totals on the report were correct. I used Excel as an adding machine - entering the numbers down column A and a SUM function at the end. The totals did not match so I told my boss that the report was obviously wrong. He asked me if there was any chance that I had entered a number wrong in Excel. Of course I don't make mistakes so that question was absurd. About four hours later I had finished correcting 10% of my entries and, to my surprise, their report did actually total correctly.

On average, how many hours per day do you spend working with Excel formulas and/or VBA code?
Four to five hours.

Which do you find most rewarding to work with: Formulas or VBA in Excel? Please tell us why?
There's nothing more rewarding than a well-crafted formula that is short, does the job, and that is so clever that mere mortals can't figure out how it works. However, those are few and far between, so I think I find VBA more rewarding. The most rewarding times are when I automate a repetitive task for a coworker. They are just amazed and thankful to be saved from the drudgery.

If you were going to give a novice, just starting out with Excel, some advice, what would it be?
If you want to learn Excel, read the newsgroups for 20 minutes per day. If you can answer a question or two, great. If not, try to figure out the answer for yourself by setting up the problem and following the advice of whomever gave the answer. In a year, you'll be an expert.

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 the first formula or code I ever did, but it prompted me to look myself up in Google. It looks like I asked my first Excel question in the newsgroups in Dec of 1999. I was creating a spreadsheet to track the NCAA Final Four (Basketball tournament). I needed a way to rank the participants, but there were ties, so my ranking was working out. Bernie Deitrick taught me how to put tie breakers in my ranking formula by adding column()/10000 to separate the values by an insignificant amount.

What is your mental attitude when you are preparing to write formulae or VBA code? And what is your working environment?
Ready. Fire. Aim. When I'm faced with a problem, I usually jump right in and go with my gut. As I'm doing it, I try to think of better ways to accomplish what I'm doing. In general, I don't do as much planning as I should. In some cases that helps me to solve a problem faster. In other cases, I have to scrap a lot of work and start over. At home, I work in a room in my basement that I share with two electronic keyboards and a treadmill (and, occasionally, un gato estupido). My desk is a glass dining room table that's too big for our new dining room, but too expensive to get rid of. It makes for a cool looking desk, but it's not very functional because it doesn't have any drawers.

If there special preparations that must be in place before you can begin, what are they?
I need a diet root beer, JetAudio for some background music, a reasonably fast computer, and a high speed internet connection.

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.
Isaac Newton said "If I have seen farther than Descartes, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." If I have accomplished anything in my life, it is only because there have been other people there to help me.

Thank you very much for answering the questions.

This Black belt is yours...

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