Thursday, 23 October 2008

Saving money and your sanity during a house move

Yes, I've been moving house.  As if my life wasn't hectic enough, put myself - by choice - through stress, physical punishment and extreme expense for the sake of a new address.  (Actually there are some big, tangible benefits that made it worthwhile, or at least will if I ever get to a point where I can find things again, but I digress.)
So here are the three things I should have done before I moved:
1. Signed up to cashback sites
I've discovered the joys of among others.  Unfortunately for me, I discovered them about two days after I signed up to new contracts for broadband, telephone, insurance, and about a dozen other things that could have got me some serious cashback.  I'm not talking about enough money to really put a dent in the cost of moving, but every little helps.
2. Diverted my email as well as my post
I used to get my broadband from my cable TV supplier, who I'd been with for many years, using my ISP-based email addresses for some things.  For dull and complicated reasons I chose to go with satellite TV at the new place and get my broadband from my telephone supplier.  That means I lost those email addresses overnight, and wasn't organised enough to give myself the opportunity to do anything about it.
Fortunately I'd been using my gMail for lots of things already, so it could have been a lot worse.  I also had two of my ISP mail addresses forwarding to gMail, which still seems to be in place even though my account has shut down (shhh, don't tell them) buying me some extra time on some of my mail.  But it's a major pain having to change registration details on sites where you can't remember the password, when they can't mail you a new password.
3. Kept an 'essentials' box on the day of the move - and kept it away from the removals guys!
Yep, I followed the advice about keeping the important things (knife for opening boxes, screwdriver and allen keys for emergency disassembling and assembling of furniture that won't fit through doors, notepad and pen, mobile phone charger, snacks) in a separate box to be last on and first off of the removals van.
Unfortunately an over-zealous remover decided to load it with a pile of other stuff, so I couldn't get to it for a couple of hours.  As it happens, there was nothing in there I couldn't live without or find a replacement for, but the stress from not feeling in control when I thought I'd done the right things to prepare nearly drove me over the edge on an already stressful day!
Anyway, I've been here two weeks now and I have no clue where I'm going to store all my things, but I have a desk to work from and I have broadband, so things are getting back to normal.  My movers were a great bunch of guys, and so far I haven't found a single thing broken from the move, so all in all it was pretty successful.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Sudoku solver in Excel without a line of code

I wrote a simple Sudoku solver in Excel about a year ago, and was pretty pleased with myself but gave up on the more advanced solving techniques which were beyond my meagre coding skills and (more to the point) my patience.  But that was in VBA... it never occurred to me that it might be possible to achieve the same just using Excel formulas and without writing a line of code.

So I'm loving Charlie Ellis' post walking us through doing just that, which made me look at familiar functions in completely new ways.

Up until today I thought I was a pretty advanced Excel user, but I now I've realised that all this time I've been missing out on defined names for formulas.  Which probably makes me a complete Excel dunce in the eyes of anyone who really knows what they're doing, but hey, I'm happy that I know now.

Now I just have to get my head around array formulas...

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