Tag Archives: Excel

Surface with Windows RT: Likes

After an agonizing wait, I finally got a chance to play with my new Surface with Windows RT, or as I will call it for sanity’s sake, Surface RT or simply, Surface. It has been a few days, and I thought instead of writing a full-fledged review, I’d focus on some key likes and a long list of dislikes. Nits that I picked. I discuss the likes here, and dislikes in a second post.

Surface RT

Overall, I really like the device. I was determined to evaluate its use as an iPad replacement in my house. To be clear, in our house, the iPad is used for Facebook, Twitter, web browsing (between my wife and I), and some Netflix/PBS Kids/kid games (our kids, 4 and 6 years old). We are not using the iPad as a computer, or a “creation device”. It is a pure consumption device, unless you call writing a tweet, “creation”.

In that use case, the Surface has ably fit in place of the iPad for the kids. The kids have enough games that they know of, and enough games that are new, that they actually like using the Surface. My wife has not used it much, but that is because at this point of time, she considers the Surface “my baby” so she is almost afraid to some extent, of using it. However, it is only a matter of time :-)

Last night, I saw my kids fight to get to use the Surface. Mind you, we got our second iPad 2 just so they can both have their own. So, despite having two iPads, they preferred to use the Surface. Granted, it could be a novelty thing, but still, it bodes well for me that they are actually liking the device with all its oddities, like the 16:9 aspect ratio.

I replaced my iPad too, almost

As for me, the Surface has almost replaced the iPad. The big gap at this point? Twitter app! I like Tweetro, but because of their recent issue with API token limit, I was unable to sign in on the Surface despite having used it (extensively) on my Windows 8 desktop. The other two big names, Rowi and MetroTwit are both far behind what I would call a basic Twitter experience, so to me they are unusable. I am forced to use the People app and Twitter website meanwhile, and that makes for a highly sub-optimal experience for a “power user” like yours truly.

The other small issue which makes me use the iPad when the PC is not being used, is access to my work email and calendar. My work has an app which allows me to access Exchange with native iOS mail, calendar and reminders apps. They haven’t yet provisioned it for Windows 8/RT.

Besides those two missing pieces, I am extremely happy with the device. I haven’t yet experienced some of the performance issues that many others have experienced, nor have I found any major app missing. It is thin enough, and light enough for me to use it like I used my iPad. (Important to note, my iPad has a strong Speck case which makes the iPad feel heavier.)

Windows 8 (and Windows RT)

Some part of why I like the Surface so much is due to Windows 8. For example, all my settings including my lock screen image, theme, pinned websites, favorites, web history, etc. automatically came through as I signed in with my Microsoft account. This is because I had set up my account and settings on my desktop PC earlier and set it up so all those settings were synced across devices via the cloud.

Also, thanks to Xbox Music Match, a service that is yet to officially roll out but works anyway, all my music was available on the Surface as soon as I signed in with my Microsoft account. This includes some playlists I created just the day before. Again, this is because my music was matched from my desktop PC (which in turn is connected to my home server where all my music, photos and videos are stored). In addition, I was able to impress some of my family members by searching for and playing a bunch of songs on-demand via the Xbox Music subscription service. While I have the Xbox Music Pass, the unlimited streaming (with some, ahem, limits) is automatically included with all Windows 8 and Windows RT devices.

The last thing I want to mention why I love the Surface and why I replaced my iPad with it? Office. I use Excel and Word in addition to OneNote, for various purposes. Things like tracking expenses, creating birthday lists, sending formal letters, etc. are all done on Excel, Word and OneNote. Having “real” Office on my tablet with a constant sync to SkyDrive (which allows me to collaborate with my wife for some of those items) is a huge benefit. Not what I would call the #1 reason to buy a Surface, but definitely a huge plus when considering a Surface over an iPad.

Suffice to say, I really like my Surface. I think it is money well spent, for my use of such a device. Having said that, there are issues I have with the device and I list them in my next post.

Grid Lines Missing in Excel Spreadsheet [Tutorial]

I came across an interesting problem with one of my end users the other day. They said they couldn’t see the lines on their spreadsheet anymore. This is usually a pretty easy problem to solve. In the image below, you will notice that by going to the “View” tab and clicking the check box beside “Gridlines”, you can toggle the lines on and off. Unfortunately, this was not the problem in this case.

Grid Lines

When I got to the users PC, I saw a screen similar to what is pictured below. I did the step above only to find that she did have “Gridlines” toggled on.

Spreadsheet

Why weren’t the grid lines showing up? It didn’t make any sense. As is almost always the case, it’s the little things that people forget to tell you they were doing that will point you in the right direction. I discovered that the user had filled the cells with the color white. When you put a fill color in a cell, the gridlines disappear unless you have applied a border to that cell. Once I figured out what they did, the fix was pretty easy. In the picture below, you will see the “Fill Color” button selected from the “Home” tab on the ribbon toolbar. With the cells you want to fix selected, click the “Fill Color” button and choose “No Fill” from the menu. Like magic your gridlines will reappear.

No Fill

I hope you found this quick tutorial helpful. If you have any feedback or would like a question answered, please feel free to write. We love hearing from our readers.

For more tutorials, check out http://techie-buzz.com/how-to!

Microsoft Apps – Word, Excel And PowerPoint – Are Coming To Symbian!

Symbian users, you will finally get some benefits of the Nokia-Microsoft partnership. Up until now, the Nokia-MS deal was all about two sinking ships (Nokia and WP7)  joining hands to form one big ship, which hopefully will not sink.

Nokia and Microsoft have now joined hands to bring Microsoft Apps to Symbian Belle users. The Microsoft Apps package will consist of apps which will help in boosting the productivity of the user. The list of apps include Microsoft Lync 2010, PowerPoint Broadcast, OneNote and MS Document Connection. Symbian Belle users will get all the above stated apps for free sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

MS Lync will allow users to have audio/video meetings on the go, while PowerPoint Broadcast will allow them to quickly broadcast Powerpoint presentations from their PC to mobile. The OneNote app is a rich note taking app from the Redmond based company, which syncs with SkyDrive.

Microsoft will also release another update in early-2012 which will add OneNote sync, along with bringing native versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint  to Symbian. This is the first time that the MS Word and other apps will be released for a mobile OS other than Windows Mobile or WP7.