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Excel

Span one large image across multiple printed pages

I was looking for a way to print a large image across multiple pages, so I could make my own do-it-yourself poster-size printout. By way of background, I wanted to print a huge virtual fire, to cover a piece of insulation we put in front of a drafty fireplace in the winter. (We don't like to burn wood, so the fireplace goes unused, but staring at a piece of shiny foam insulation all winter isn't all that interesting.)

Conceptually, this seemed pretty easy: find a huge image, open it in some app that handles images, and print. What I found is that doesn't work, at least not in the apps I had at hand (Acorn and Preview). After some web searching, I stumbled across an odd but effective solution: use Excel.

Open a new blank Excel workbook, then select Insert > Photo > Picture From File, and select your massive image. Now when you hit Print, you'll see the output spans multiple pages. I used Page Setup to select a borderless US Letter size, and printed out 16 pages of a roaring fire.

After some cut-and-tape operation, the drafty fireplace's insulation became more visually appealing:

Note that this was a "proof of concept" operation, so I printed in draft mode (hence the vertical striping on the printout) and wasn't overly careful about lining up the pages. I had originally planned to print the final version on glossy photo paper, but instead opted to buy a 36x48 poster-size printout from an online vendor. (I haven't yet received the print, but when I do, I'll post about its quality. Until then, though, I don't want to link to the vendor, as I don't yet know what I've bought.)

I knew Excel could do a lot, but I never thought to try it for printing huge images across multiple pages.

An AT&T Family Share Plan/iPhone 6 cost calculator

In my article on the (possible) vanishing monthly discount for AT&T Family Share Plan users, I included a table with some cost estimates for a given phone and service.

Given the popularity of that article, I've done a bit of work to clean up my spreadsheet to make it usable by anyone. You choose which phone, and the size of your shared data plan, and the calculator spits out the results (click the image at right for a large version). As you can see, I've added a column for the Next 18 plan, too.

Download the calculators here. The zip archive includes versions for Excel and Numbers. Usage is pretty simple: Click the two red-text cells to set the desired iPhone and your data plan size, and that's that.

To summarize what I saw in building the worksheet:

  • If you're on a shared plan with under 10GB of data, going contract will save you a bit of money over two years. You'll give up flexibility over buying or Next, though.
  • If you're on a 10GB or more shared data plan, then going Next or buying outright is definitely the way to go. More flexibility, and you save money—assuming you do not upgrade at 12 or 18 months under Next by just sending in the old phone!

Note: I do not vouch for the accuracy of this thing, beyond its role as a "what if" tool. I took the values from AT&T and Apple sites, but those figures could change. Feel free to modify as you wish; it's a quick and dirty spreadsheet with minimal formatting.

How to: Simplify value pasting in Excel

I tweeted this over the weekend, but thought it might be worth a bit more explanation here. By default, when you copy and paste something in Excel, Excel defaults to pasting everything from the copied cell: the formula, shading, borders, font, style, etc.

Excel dialogSometimes this is OK, but often I just want the values from a cell or range—either because I'm using them in another table with different formatting, or to convert a formula into fixed values.

Out of the box, if you want to paste just the cell values in Excel, you have to select Edit > Paste Special, then navigate the world's busiest dialog box (as seen at right), click on the tiny Values radio button, then hit Return.

If you're doing a lot of value pasting, this is a royal pain. Thankfully, it's pretty easy to fix this design stupidity.

How you fix this depends—for the first step—on whether you're running Excel 2008 or Excel 2011.

(more…)

Review of Excel for iPad

Macworld logoI spent some time (a lot of time, actually) with Excel for the iPad, and reviewed it for Macworld:

There are any number of spreadsheet apps available for the iPad, but recently the market changed dramatically when Microsoft released the full Office suite for iPad, including a version of Excel. While you can argue that Excel is many years late to the iPad party (and I wouldn’t disagree), the iPad version of Excel is a solid entrant, and instantly changes the landscape for competitive apps.

Read the rest over at Macworld.

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