AccountingWEB's Excel Topic Expert David Carter has warned of a potentially lethal bug in Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet program and urged community members to tell Bill Gates to fix it.
"Now that the danger of the Y2K bug has passed, it's time to tackle the AZ bug," said Carter, the self-styled "Pivot King".
The problem occurs when users use Excel's AZ icon with a single column highlighted. Although data in that column will be sorted into alphabetical order, the other columns remain as they were - potentially corrupting the user's database.
"This is a Grade-A fault and quite lethal," said Carter. "One day you will need to do an AZ Sort and will click on the column heading without thinking. You won't realise what has happened until later, and if in the intervening time you have saved the workbook, your database is corrupted beyond repair.
"The long-standing flaw is highlighted in David Carter's latest AccountingWEB tutorial on auditing and financial reporting with pivot tables.
"If there was just one tutorial I would like an accountant to see in order to understand the sheer power of Excel and pivot tables, this would be it," he added.
The follow-up to last month's Sage Line 50 tutorial provides pivot-table ready accounting records (trial balance, debtors control summary, bank reconciliation, daybook analysis) and generates financial reports from them.
The AZ bug adds a bit of danger to the exercise. Carter advises users they can either train their subconscious minds always to click on a particular row, say Row 10, before clicking the AZ icon. Or they can send an email to Microsoft's chief software architect Bill Gates urging him to fix the glitch.
"If a thousand British accountants all complain politely about it to Mr Gates at the same time, maybe we'll get some action," said Carter.
Bill Gates can be reached at the email address email@example.com.
David Carter's pivot table tutorials are among the most popular items on AccountingWEB. They include demonstrations on how pivot tables can be used for budgeting, and sales analysis. Sage users can also download and try Carter's SagePivot data extraction program.