John Walkenback pointed me to The Digital Home Video: What’s up with Microsoft Excel? in his post What’s Up With Don Reisinger? Despite John’s warning, I watched the video. It was unprofessionally produced, the announcer (Don Reisinger) was ill-prepared, and he whined about all kinds of topics, like the puppy he’s getting, his honeymoon, and how inflexible are Excel charts. Well, if you’re reading my blog, you know that Excel charts are nothing if not flexible, and anyone making a video for a supposedly technically savvy portal as CNET should at least know how to figure out a few tricks on their own.
Rather than flame on, I’ll reproduce the comment I left under the video:
Well, I sure got a good first impression of the Digital Home Video. Not very professional, but I guess it does say “Home” in the title. Did you plan what you were going to say first, or did you just have 5:00 to kill? Taking your puppy on your honeymoon, d00d?
You seem to have much more trouble with Excel and charts than someone who talks about technology. Hmm, select data, go to the Insert tab, click on a chart type, and out pops a chart. Sure, the defaults are ugly, but they’re marginally better in the latest version (2007) than before. Sure, the charting interface in 2007 is more cumbersome than before, but it’s somewhat serviceable.
And like any other object in every Office application, and a lot of non-Microsoft applications, you can right-click to find a context menu of options for changing whatever you’ve clicked on. 2007 makes it harder, because in earlier versions you could also double click to bring up a formatting dialog directly, but you can still get to the dialog through the right-click menu.
One of the strengths of Excel is how infinitely flexible the charts are. You can combine different types and apply lots of formatting to achieve effects that other packages wish they had. If you encountered any inflexibility, I’d suspect it’s a case of PEBKAC, or maybe PEBCAK. Watching the video only reinforces this diagnosis.