Happy birthday Excel!

September 30, 1985 Excel was launched and I therefore wish Excel a very happy birthday and many healthy years to come!

Debra Dalgleish over at the contextures blog has gathered a nice set of stories on how people first “met” Excel.

To celebrate this great event, I’m offering a 30 percent discount on my products for 30 days.
Redeem your discount on RefTreeAnalyser and The Excel File Remediation tool by entering this coupon code: EXCEL30

So have a piece of cake with your coffee today and have one of those “those were the days” moments.

Jan Karel Pieterse


Recent Update of Office causes problems with ActiveX controls


Yesterday, I installed a host of updates, including some of Office.
As it happens, I tried to add an ActiveX control to a worksheet and received an error.
After some research I discovered the cause of the error to be two-fold:

1. The controls were updated by the update
2. Excel did not clean up after itself properly and left some temporary files behind.

The solution is to:
– Quit Excel
– Open Explorer
– Select C: drive
– Search for *.exd
– Remove all files found.

Hope this helps other people who might be suffering from the same problem.


Jan Karel Pieterse

#####UPDATE Dec 22, 2014#####
Microsoft has published a so-called Fixit to make resolving this matter easier:

Generate random numbers in MS Excel

A common requirement is to generate a set of random numbers that meet some underlying criterion. For example, a set of numbers that are uniformly distributed from 1 to 100. Alternatively, one might want random numbers from some other distribution such as a standard normal distribution.

While there are specialized algorithms to generate random numbers from specific distributions, a common approach relies on generating uniform random numbers and then using the inverse function of the desired distribution. For example, to generate a random number from a standard normal distribution, use =NORM.S.INV(RAND())

Another common requirement is the generation of integer random numbers from a uniform distribution. This might be to select people for something like, say, training, or a drug test. Or, it might be to pick a winner for a door prize at a social event. It might also be to assign players to groups for a sport tournament such as golf.

For a version in a page by itself (i.e., not in a scrollable iframe as below) visit http://www.tushar-mehta.com/publish_train/xl_vba_cases/0806%20generate%20random%20numbers.shtml

Tushar Mehta

Do consumers prefer the ease of an EXE installer or the transparency of a ZIP file?

For all the various add-ins available from my website, I have supported two downloadable formats, an EXE and a ZIP file. The EXE is easier to install and includes an uninstall capability. The ZIP hopefully provides the consumer greater transparency and control over what is on their computer.

In addition to the software downloadable from my website, I also develop custom solutions through my consulting work. Most of my projects are sponsored by senior executives in companies or otherwise people with substantial decision making authority. It turns out that even a Managing Director or an Executive Vice President is subject to the automated IT protocols in effect in their organization (e.g., Group Policy).

Small and midsize companies are more tolerant of the kinds of files their employees can download. So, it is my larger clients who prefer — actually, require — a solution acceptable to their respective corporate IT filters. That means no EXE and no MSI, not even inside a ZIP file.

That has been a major stumbling block in my migration to .Net. For all the advantage of the platform, providing an add-in inside a ZIP file is not one of them.

I wondered if that inability (or reluctance) to download an EXE extended to those who download software from my website. Using Google Analytics I decided to check their download preference/requirement. Would the data indicate a strong preference for EXE over ZIP or the other way around? Turns out the result is decidedly mixed! As the table below shows, with the exception of TM Plot and TM TOCCreator, the download choice is about 50-50!

The table below is a PivotTable based on Google Analytics data for my website. For each add-in the table lists the EXE and the ZIP download percentages together with a sparkline for the two formats.

Incrementing Dates in Excel Cells

I complete a timesheet every 14 days. I got tired of doing math in my head, so around August 13, 2010 I put a stop to it. Here’s what the date cell on my timesheet looks like now.


F2 to edit the cell, “+14” and enter. It’s nowhere near too long as formulas go, but it’s starting to bother me. Time to consolidate. Select the 14s.



Press Control+= (F9 works too, but my muscle memory is control and equal sign)



Enter. Next pay period, my timesheet will look like this