Spreading Terminology

All you loyal readers of “My Mac” remember me, don’t you? Sure you do, I’m the one with the self drawn caricature of myself in the header. The one that looks like an escaped felon, (according to my wife). To all you new readers of “My Mac,” welcome aboard!

As we all know, spread sheeting is one of the most interesting subjects in the world. Just the word Spreadsheet probably has you sitting on the edge of your seat in anxious anticipation. No need to take notes though, there won’t be any test!

I’ve been having somewhat of a problem staying current on my record keeping for my small, one man business of owning and operating a truck. Sometimes referred to as “My large car” on the CB radio if it’s light splattered, chrome decked and fully loaded with all the bells and whistles! If not quite so fancy, but has a minimum of eighteen wheels, then it’s just, “My big truck”. A little industry specific terminology I thought I’d share with you.

Upon awakening this morning I was determined to catch up on all my monthly business expenses. I keep track of most of these expenses by hand, ( That’s with pencil and paper, for those who may have forgotten ) while I’m on the road spending all this money I don’t have.

Did I mention that I haul cars on my truck? Just in case I didn’t, I haul cars on my truck. There, I mentioned it. Forget the above question. You’ve seen us car haulers’ on the freeway. I know I’ve seen you. You’re the driver of that little four wheeler who can’t roll your window up fast enough as I start to pass you on a rough road in my empty eighteen wheeler with all those metal decks and loose chains banging and clanging, making enough racket to give a dead person a migraine headache. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for the noise and offer a solution. So, I’m sorry and go faster! I got off the subject again I see.

Once a month I get a settlement, along with a statement of all my other expenses that the company I lease to pays for; they then deduct this amount from my settlement check. These deductions are mostly comprised of fuel taxes, road taxes, mileage taxes, heavy vehicle use taxes and any other taxes o’l Uncle Sam can dream up. Other cost deducted includes work they do on my truck in their repair shop and damage claims the company pays that can be traced back to me. A good example of a damage claim would be if a brand new Volvo falls off my truck while I’m doing 65mph on a downtown L.A. freeway. If I can’t knock all the dents out, put the car back on my truck, and deliver it to the dealership without him noticing even a small scratch, then I have to pay for all repairs to said Volvo. My cargo insurance deductible is five thousand dollars per occurrence, so my wallet feels the sting of the first five G’s. Pete hates when this happens.

What I needed to do today was gather up all my hand written expense records, phone bills, bank statements, settlement statements, checkbook register and whatever else I needed to fill up all those little empty rectangular boxes in my spreadsheet. I can hear a lot of you out there saying, ” Why didn’t the dummy at least keep his banking records in a program such as Quicken”. The answer is simple, For the same reason I have 6 months worth of empty rectangular boxes in my Spreadsheet file! Can we all say, procrastination!

But today was different, I was determined to bring everything up to date. I sat down at the Mac, hit the power switch and watched as everything loaded. I then opened the file menu, scrolled down to “Find” and sat there staring at the screen asking myself, ” What the hell did I name that file? ” I wasn’t really sure, but the word “expenses” seemed like a good place to start. I struck the mother lode on my first try, in fact I had 3 choices; truck expenses for 1993, 1994 or 1995. I double clutched, or rather clicked on 1995. As the file was opening I could see the dust coming out my floppy drive slot. Been a while since I opened this baby up, I thought. Unfortunately all the boxes in all the rows, for the last 6 months still lay there empty, just as I left them. You high salaried Claris Corp. programmers need to come up with a “bug fix” for this problem.

I admit, I’m not very comfortable in the Spreadsheet environment. I don’t have a PhD in whatever it is you professional Spreadsheeters’ get your degree in. I barely have a high school education and wouldn’t have that except for the generosity of the U.S. Navy and the G.E.D. program. However, that never keeps me from diving head first into things I know absolutely nothing about, in the hopes of coming out on the other side having learned a little something. I was spreadsheet illiterate, but I had a need for it, so I dove in, arms and legs flailing.

I use the Spreadsheet application in ClarisWorks as opposed to something like Microsofts Excel 5.0. Why? Well, aside from the obvious reason of learning to crawl before you walk, I had another reason. I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to place my order after reading that a full install of Excel 5.0 takes up 27MB of hard drive space and get this, 24MB of RAM, “without” virtual memory to run! Actually, I don’t have a PowerMac, which it requires. I just thought I’d mention it because it always blows me away when I see system requirements like these for any non-graphics program.

Although I keep referring to “ClarisWorks,” I do not blame them for the language used in spreadsheeting. I realize that spreadsheets were around long before software companies ran out of spaces to put between their two word application titles! I only use them as an example because their’s is the only spreadsheet application I own.

Let me ask you, “Do these people speak English?”

After reading ClarisWorks – Handbook for Macintosh, I have but one question. Where did they come up with this verbiage? PhD school? Or maybe it was LMICSWCCMTTI (Let’s Make It Complicated So We Can Charge More To Teach It) school.

I don’t need nor want to get this intimate with my spreadsheet program. So, in the spirit of Claris Corporation’s desire to produce applications that are easy to use, light in storage demand, with a clean as a whistle interface and inexpensive, I submit to them a few changes I made in my copy of ClarisWorks – Handbook for Macintosh, Chapter 6, “Working with spreadsheets”. I think this new verbiage cuts to the chase and allows us blue-collar-we-don’t-want-to-learn-a-new-language-just-explain-it-to-us-in- simple-terms-so-we-can-get- the-hell-out-of-here types to finish quicker and move on to something a little less exciting before we start having heart attacks from all the fun your spreadsheets give us.( And if anyone believes this, I have a bridge for sale in the mountains of Bosnia.)
Just send these small changes off to your printer before the next version of ClarisWorks is released. Make the corresponding changes in your online Help files and you will have made the world a better place to live.

Spreadsheet Language Comments Change to
1. Entering data in a cell. Sounds like we’re about to get involved in a laboratory experiment. Putting stuff in one of the little boxes.
2. Editing cells and cell data. Fixing a mistake we made in a laboratory experiment. Changing a little box and changing the stuff inside of a little box.
3. Formatting cell data. Are we going to upholster something at the state prison? Arranging the stuff inside a little box to ook how you want it to look.
4. Understanding data difference and types and formats. Thought I was going to learn about Androids and how they dressed!! Knowing the between numbers and words, which is the stuff you put in the little boxes.
5. Understanding formulas. All my kids where breast fed. I never needed to know about formulas. After reading this section I wished I hadn’t !! Delete this from your manual. Formulas get in my way and are hard to get rid of when they somehow find their way into one
6. Understanding operands and operators. Give me a break! The person who came up with this little diddy is just waving his Phd. in our faces Yeah! yeah! we see it.. Do you know what a number is? Do you know what a plus and minus sign are? I knew
you did! Now you know what operands and operators are!!
7. Understanding functions Same person as above Do you know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide? That’s right, you now understand functions!

This works for me.
Happy New Year to all My Mac readers!

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