What would Zaphod Beeblebrox do with Excel?by
Ever-sensitive to the nuances of the global PR machine, IT Faculty chairman Simon Hurst has come up with an Excel twist to honour the 'Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' movie.
Among the collection of 100 Microsoft Office tips that Hurst has compiled is one dedicated to Zaphod Beeblebrox, the ultra-cool adventurer who accompanies HHG hero Arthur Dent through some of his more outlandish experiences.
"I call it 'peril-sensitive' formatting," says Hurst, referring to the Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses occasionally worn by Beeblebrox.
Peril-senstitive spectacles are designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. At the first hint of trouble, they turn black to prevent the wearer from seeing anything that might alarm them.
The "peril sensitive" option is an offshoot of Hurst's tutorial on Excel's conditional formatting. The usual application of conditional formatting is to show when a cell goes above or below a certain amount.
Selecting a cell or block of cells in Excel, it is possible to set up the desired condition limits using the Format-Conditional Formatting menu option.
The menu allows you to change the format of any cell where the value exceeds the amount entered as an upper or lower limit, and provides a set of Patterns from which to choose. The somewhat traditional, accountant-style selection includes traffic light options like red, amber and green.
But when the data values get really bad, Douglas Adams afficionados would appreciate Hurst's "peril-sensitive" option of black text on a black background.
Hurst usually raises a titter from the cognoscenti when he presents the idea at Excel seminars, but adds that peril-sensitive formatting "can actually be quite useful".
But some early press previews have been a little unkind about the HHG movie, partly because it omits some essential details from the original radio series and book - including, it is whispered, Zaphod's chill-out danger shades.
For more information about Simon Hurst's '100 Best Tips', visit The Knowledge Base. AccountingWEB members can also access his back catalogue and online email support via the Office ProductivITy service.