Conference Report Day 1

Thursday – Conference Intermediate, Add-ons – Advanced.

Overall the delegate feedback was very positive about the venue, the content, and presenters.

The first session was my Pivot table slot.

I went through from basic intro to pivots, through some of the features I have found useful on client assignments. And features I tend to avoid, and why, and what I do instead. That included a 10 minute intro to the most useful parts of Access. I did a very brief demo of using some simple macro recorder stuff to synchronise multiple pivot tables, and ran out of time before punishing everyone with some of my gruesome real world examples.

Next up was Patrick with auditing spreadsheets

He gave us some insight into the work of a spreadsheet auditor, in particular the things to look out for, or sniff out. Poor practice being likened to a bad smell. He gave a useful overview of some of the available tools, both free and those that cost. We had a good discussion about names and external links, and plenty of other ‘quality’ practices. Patrick was also generous enough to offer a copy of his excellent book Spreadsheet Check and Control as a draw prize. So thats one delegate going back to the office armed with the knowledge to improve theri corporate spreadsheet quality.

(fortunately Patrick had left to catch his flight before he saw my random name picker fail rather embarrassingly with a #REF! error – whoops)

We then went off for dinner/lunch, for some more spreadsheet chat, this time over a buffet. I defy anyone to suggest there wasn’t enough food!

Bob got the graveyard shift after the food to talk about Visual Impact.

Considering the tube map as an presentation example was inspired, especially when alternative inferior examples were compared. Bob had plenty of excellent advice for clarifying the message, I particularly liked the talk (and demos) of removing ‘ink’ from a diagram to leave only what is genuinely important. In another section Bob went through and highlighted some of the weak informational content in many of Excel’s inbuilt chart types.

Nick closed the formal session for the day with a look at what new in 2007.

There are some great new features in Excel 2007, and Nick did an excellent job of demoing a selection of the most useful. It was especially useful that Nick has moved his whole firm over to 2007 – he has the insight that only real world use can provide.

We then had a short informal questions from the floor session, and a prize draw for Patrick’s book and some wonderful wooden puzzles Keith had brought.

It was then I realised what it was about conferences that bothered me – the dead spot between the last session and food. I had sorted the food no bother but had nothing arranged for the hour or so beforehand. Obviously we were going to a pub, but which?

We found a pub (eventually), then had a great meal at Pizza Express and those that were up for it went off for more drinks. They suffered on Friday!

Although the social aspect is a hard sell to the budget holder, in many ways it is one of the most important activities. Many a useful snippet is picked up in the pub, and by getting to know people better you can be more at ease asking questions. Its often easier to approach someone in the pub with a question than infront of 20 other people who may be more keen to get off and get their dinner.

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4 Responses to “Conference Report Day 1”

  1. martin rushton Says:

    I got away with a colleague stretching the rules to stay at the Crowne Plaza but the budget holder for the social was always going to be my wallet. I am allowed up to £15 for evening meals but do need receipts for that which I didn’t get at Pizza Express on Thursday due to it being split between about 20 of us. I could have got receipts from the Fountain Inn but I don’t think a round would have gone down too well as my evening meal. In the end I claimed the £5 per day out of pocket expenses I was allowed to claim without back up receipts

  2. Simon Says:

    I used to work at Bass – we were expected to claim ‘sampling’ as expenses. Why we needed to sample 10 pints of Carling Premier or Staropramen a night was never questioned. those were the days!

  3. martin rushton Says:

    I could say lucky you, but given it was Star or CP ………….

  4. Simon Says:

    Yeah Tets and laughingbrau would have been better

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