Posts Tagged ‘Non-Technical’

Excel Tip: Month Name Sorting in Excel July 14th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

In my previous article Excel Tip: Month Name Sorting with PowerPivot / PowerView, I wrote about sorting of month name inside PowerPivot. I got a number of ping about the same functionality inside standard Excel sheets. I thought this would be the easiest and known to many – but to my surprise, not all know about the capability of Excel. So in this post, let me take you through the same process for Excel tables.

So let me prep you with the data first. I have two columns Month Name and Sales. When I try to sort by the Month Name, you can see how the sorting happens for A-Z and for Z-A. It is nowhere near to what one would expect to sort as month.

That bring us to an interesting option. It has been there all along, select the “Sort by Color” –> “Custom Sort…”.

This comes up with a small dialog which I am sure most of you would have used. There right at the order dropdown, is a hidden gem called as “Custom List…”. Select this to see the magic.

This bring a standard set of list or feel free to define your own New List for sorting and build the table.

Click on “OK” and see. This is awesome because now the list is sorted automatically back in your table. Now if we sort A-Z and Z-A to see the difference. So how easy and cool is it? Have you ever used this option before, let me know.

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Things that Cellphones changed … July 1st, 2014

Vinod Kumar

The era of cellphones and smartphones have hit us by storm for sure. Each manufacturer is surely trying to put something more every time with every release that they make. Having said that, I come from an era where I feel these cell phones have gone lengths to be more than just a calling machine. In this blog post let me call out my top 10 things we lost at our homes with the advent of cellphones/smartphones.

1 & 2: Watches and Alarm clocks


What can I say here. This I am sure a lot of you can relate to. Nowadays time is never seen using wrist watches but using the phones more often. I don’t recollect when was the last time you even bought a watch? Do you?

3. Calculators

From Minimal to scientific / advanced calculation, one can use their phones to perform all calculations and this nice little gadget is slowing getting replaced in front of our eyes.

I can say with confidence that my engineering was never complete without that Casio Black Calculator. Do you have one at home still?

4. Memorizing Phone Numbers

This is also no brainer – When was the last time you dialled a number of your cousin, aunt or grandparents without consulting your phones? The days of smart phones are to make you less smarter :).

Today, I see ads saying you must teach your children your phone numbers etc. Remembering numbers was always fun and it sharpened ones memory power in my opinion.

5. Encyclopedias

My childhood was filled with these books and there used to be a refresh that I got every other year.

Encyclopedia and Dictionary were household items which are getting replaced by search engines and Wikipedias. And with smartphones, all this at your finger tips.


6. Reading books

I was not an avid reader in my childhood days, but caught onto it very late. Having said that, I love the smell and the feel of reading printed books quite a lot. Even today I order a number of books every other month.

With the concepts of eReaders and larger screen sizes, now smartphones seem to take that spot too. Reading on the go !!!



7. Selfie or Celfie’s

I don’t need to explain much here. Gone are the days where on used to carry a still-camera to take pictures. I do have one at home to show my daughter once she grows up that we used to take pictures using that :).

8. Navigating using maps

It used to be fun to go around the city using a piece of paper and I for sure used to love this experience. I find it difficult for people to now tell directions without the help of their GPS devices – a.k.a phones. More so that they even cant tell which side is East or West :)

9. Fountain Pens

I have always loved the personalization of a hand writing brings. It showed a lot of care for the other person.

Today one can access Facebook on the go and the days of sending a personal note to your friend via the traditional cards is rare.

I am still from an old school, but I love this personalization even today.


10. Distracted life

I saved the best for the last, our morning walks are distracted, our driving are getting distracted, our lunches are distracted, we cant just sit calmly at airport and watch enjoy the weather. Our smartphones have also taken over our life where every minute is watching something on our phones or playing a game.

As I sign off, wanted to share this video– it is about social life. I personally thought this was worth a share.

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Excel Tip: Month Name Sorting with PowerPivot / PowerView June 25th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

I do a lot of presentation on Excel related topics to customers as part of my BI conversations at MTC, Bangalore. Recently one of the developer when looking at the PowerView demo said, he had an unique problem. He said that the PowerView was not ordering the month names in the correct order of Jan, Feb, Mar and so on but was sorting based on Alphabets. I repeatedly asked him if they had enabled the proper sort order. He was little clueless and wanted to see it in action. Here is the 30 seconds demo that I showed how this can be achieved.

In our PowerPivot dataset we have the following. It is a list of MonthNames and sales marked against them.

When I use this dataset and create a PowerView report, I select MonthName and Sales. This comes up with an report like this irrespective of the sort I do. This is the problem that the customer was mentioning.

The solution is simple. Get back to PowerPivot Tab, under Home –> Sort by Column –> Select “Sort by Column”.

We will be presented by the following dialog. Here I am mentioning, whenever the “Month Name” column is selected, use the “Month” integer column to sort behind the scenes. That is it !!

One the above step is complete, our PowerView will show a dialog of change in Data Model, select OK.

And the change can be seen now. The months seems to be in correct order.

Have you encountered this requirement in your report generation anytime? Do let me know.

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Don’t sell, solve the problem May 30th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

I have been working at the MTC for the past 3+ years as Technical Architect and the learning experience has been amazing. As part of my daily work we solve some of the toughest customer problems from performance, scalability, deployment, architecture, solutioning, best practices and more for big enterprises to product companies. Most of the customers are brought-in by our Sales team and when the customer experiences MTC, they get a different perspective of MS. So what are we doing differently. As part of my picture post, I have been wanting to pen down this thought process so that you will get a better idea.

Typical Sales mindset

Most of the sales teams are focused and start their discussion with Product / License and SKU’s in mind. Many are obliterated of what the problem they are solving end of day. They are worried about their sales quota to achieve for the quarter etc. I would put a typical mindset of a salesperson as following.

PS: I know not all salesman are like this, but just a general majority’s thought process.

MTC Architects Mindset

At MTC, we always start a conversation asking – “What is the problem?”. This is totally different way to start any conversation with customers. We make sure we have all the requirements, challenges and problems on the table and then we approach a solution as a whole. Rarely do we try to talk about specific product features unless it solves a problem for our customers. We want to make sure customers get the maximum value out of the solution and we want to be complete in our approach.

This is a simple workflow that I thought was worth sharing like a picture post. Do let me know if you have experienced something similar in your daily life or organizations that you work for. Does this make sense? Let me know your thoughts.

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8 ways to be Positive at Work !!! May 29th, 2014

Vinod Kumar

Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, it means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.

We all have had our good and bad days at work, but what sets us aside is how we deal with the stress that work brings to us. The high level term I am using here is to be “Positive”. There is surely a lot one can do to themselves than what you can see. Here are my top 8 things you can do to stay happy at work irrespective of the external pressures, office politics, deadlines, discontentment and others factors. I love to take control on things that I have influence on and I personally feel it is the best way to get the most out of you.

Learning is the key

This goes without saying that you need to find ways to learn something new everyday at work. Learning keeps you excited and keeps your confidence high and current. Just because you are out of formal college / learning environment doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. The day you stop updating your skills, you will be obsolete in this IT era in less than 6 months to an year – trust me.

Also, don’t expect to learn everything at work or as part of your work. That has never worked for me in this ~15+ yrs of career. I always say – “Any knowledge is good knowledge”, so don’t stop learning.

Share what you learn

I have come from the school where sharing is caring. So if you learn something, try to share them. One of my sharing avenues has been my blog, UG meets, presentations etc but at work this can mean a lot. If you share – you obviously making a statement to your management that you know something and because you have empowered your team mates, they are going to be lesser dependant on expecting you to finish the task assigned to them because they now know how to solve the same. I hate it when someone says – “You will miss the edge you have on others when you share”. I don’t subscribe to that thought process though.

It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. Be thankful that you have a glass and grateful that there’s something in it.

Take mini-breaks

We all have an tendency to go on like a marathon when we do something that is really close to our hearts. Understand, there will always be work and work will fill all the time that you can give it. So try to leave your work at work and when you get home spend all the time dedicated to the family. They deserve every bit of it – your undivided attention.

The one thing I learnt after my first job change is not to work over weekends and I have been successful for the past 10+ years. I do other things that I love doing over weekends like blogging, speaking, going to orphanage, community building, teaching differently abled children or other activities which are not my official work.

Make loads of friends

I personally like to meet, greet and mingle with people. As part of my above Point-2, the best way to learn is by talking with people and sharing what you know. In this process you get to learn a lot more because they are going to ask some fundamental questions. It is an iterative process and symbiotic relation that you can build with people.

Do one thing at a time

I don’t quite believe in this multi-tasking concept (Multi-Tasking reality or just fad?). Take the task in hand and finish before going into a new activity. This has been my mantra for a long time. It is worth to recall yet another blog where I talk about the same thing – Getting more from your day.

Happy are they who take life day by day, complain very little, and are thankful for the little things in life.

Treat yourself for what you achieved

A pat on the back always helps and a sense of achievement can be overwhelming. It is always not necessary that you be recognized for what you do. If in your inner-self you are confident that you gave 100% in doing a task, take a break and give feel free to treat yourself (also your family maybe :)). Good work will always be recognized – if you gave your 100% it will automagically get noticed by folks in your organization. So don’t shrug – move on as you have a larger life in front of you than what you have within a given organization.

Be with positive people

A rotten fruit can spoil the complete batch – so it is important to be with people who have an positive attitude. A positive attitude helps you drive greater results. Your mind plays games that need positive blood, so try to hang around with people who inspire / motivate you always.

Be happy to share a smile

The best thing you can share with your colleague as you wish them in the morning is a warm smile. This is inline to the previous point, it sends positive vibes and creates an environment of inclusion and sharing. You now have become an approachable person and that is always a good quality to have. It is one of the simplest tasks one can do to create a great day for everyone at work.

Life is like a mirror: It’ll smile at you if you smile at it.

These were my Top 8 tricks to be happy and positive at work. All these are things under your control and you can influence them directly to stay positive in your daily life too. Hope you agree with me and let me know your thoughts.

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