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  • Why I’m Breaking Up with Google Sheets

    Why I'm breaking up with Google Sheets.

    [UPDATE: Google Sheets and I have reunited. My new 9-5 has me living in the program and barely touching Excel, so I’ve been forced to change my tune. A little.]

    There, I said it.

    I’ve adored Google Sheets for so many reasons.

    It’s free.

    It has a mobile app that’s free.

    It’s easier than Excel to navigate.

    For a spreadsheet program, it’s simple.

    But, here’s the thing…

    Google Sheets can’t handle my spreadsheets.

    Literally. It crashes on me or denies me access when I’m in the middle of a project.

    WTF?!

    Late last year, I created what I believed was a glorious paycheck-to-paycheck budgeting program using Google Sheets. All but one beta tester gave it glowing feedback.

    But, then the app started crashing on me – a deal-breaker, as it’s most important feature was the ability to enter transactions on the go.

    Boo, Google Sheets!

    So, I scrapped the damn thing.

    In hindsight, this is probably a good thing, as the spreadsheets were too complex even for my taste.

    But that’s not the point.

    I’m a slow learner, and so the I’m-breaking-up-with-you moment took another seven months to materialize.

    That moment is now.

    I bit the bullet and subscribed to Office 365, which means I pay $6.99/month to get Excel on my Mac. I’d share an affiliate link, but they declined my application. I think it was because I talked about having a ménage-à-trois with Google Sheets and Excel. But I digress…

    Anyway, I did this because I needed to have a spreadsheet app on my phone so that I could track my spending, and Google kept crashing on me.

    Not long after, I got really crazy and created a seriously wicked Profit & Loss Tracker. [It’s a premium spreadsheet, which will be available for purchase soon, if you are so inclined.]

    Just like all of my spreadsheets to date, I decided to create a Google Sheets version of it because I know that many of you use that platform.

    *Insert a round of some serious expletives!*

    The damn thing kept telling me that my access was denied…mid-entry! And I’d lose a lot of work. Now, push repeat a bazillion times. [UPDATE: the Profit & Loss Tracker now has a Google Sheets version.]

    Yep. No joke…

    And then I just said fuck it.

    It’s a lot of work creating dual versions of each spreadsheet I make, given that I use things like drop-down lists, pivot tables, and some formulas that aren’t compatible between platforms. [UPDATE: some data validation features like drop-down lists have become at least partially compatible as of late 2019.]

    Anyway, maybe Google and I will kiss and make up at some point, but for now, I want a divorce.


    So, dear readers, what are your thoughts? Which spreadsheet platform do you dig? Do you have any horror stories you’re dying to get off your chest? That’s what the comments are for 🙂

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  • Have a Blurry or Pixelated Logo? Fix It with This Simple Trick!

    Does a blurry or pixelated logo have you bummed? Fix it with this simple trick!

    [UPDATE 10.29.19: I used to have a video for this post, but it disappeared into cyberspace. So my apologies but I had to remove the link. Also, I’m using a new WordPress theme that makes following my own advice in this post ineffective…the result is a crisp but tiny logo, and rather than troubleshoot I just said WTF?! and reverted to using a blurry PNG logo. Somethings just aren’t worth it to me to worry about anymore. But these instructions worked great with my previous WordPress theme. Good luck!]

    My awesome spreadsheet goddesses, I must preface this post with an explanation and disclaimer:

    #1 It has nothing at all to do with spreadsheets or organization.

    #2 I am not a graphic designer.

    Nonetheless, I feel compelled to blog about this topic because, well, most of my subscriber base consists of bloggers and/or entrepreneurs. And, if you fall into either camp, this post may interest the bejeezus out of you.

    You know when you buy a new lavender-colored car and then, suddenly you start seeing lavender-colored cars everywhere? Maybe? Well, it’s the same with the topic of this post. You know, once I discovered this soon-to-be-exposed problem on my own site, I started noticing it on a lot of your sites as well.

    Are you ready? *drumroll, please*

    I’m going to teach you a stupidly simply trick for converting your logo into a crisp, non-pixelated file that can scale up or down to your heart’s content.

    Does your logo look blurry or pixelated on your WordPress site? Fix it with this simple trick!Click To Tweet

    Now, the reason I’m writing this post isn’t because I want to wow you with my design prowess. Truth be told, I have none.

    No, the reason I’m writing this post is because I literally spent hours scouring forums for this answer unsuccessfully the other day. What a waste of time!

    My question: How can I make my text logo not look pixelated or blurry?

    Simple question, no?

    I did not find a single helpful search result. Nada.

    For the record, here is the logo I was working with:

    Lest you tell me it’s not that blurry, look…it’s my logo and it should look freakin’ crisp.

    If you are a perfectionist, I know that you get it.

    So, aside from the other issues that said logo embodies, I knew that it had to not be blurry.

    Here’s what I tried that didn’t work (recall that I am not a graphic designer so these may sound stupid to you if you are):

    1. Exporting the file at 300 PPI (this just makes the image bigger);
    2. Adjusting a bazillion other settings involving terms like “alias” (no change);
    3. Doing a command + Y or something like that (no change to the export);
    4. Doubling the size of my export (my WordPress theme wouldn’t shrink the image, so it was way too big).
    5. Creating a smart object in Photoshop that linked to the Adobe Illustrator file (dumb).

    Finally, I texted my ex-husband, Alex Mariño – a wonderful graphic designer, web designer, and otherwise decent human being – late the other night for help. After about an hour, he handed me back the solution, which I’m about to share with you.

    The Spreadsheet Alchemist logo

    [Just a quick note: I use self-hosted WordPress and uploading my logo requires the use of a free plugin because WordPress doesn’t recognize svg files otherwise. If you use another platform like Squarespace, I’m afraid that this post probably won’t help.]

    Here’s how to make your logo look pixel-perfect at any resolution:

    1. Have your logo open in Adobe Illustrator. Then,
    2. Click on the selection tool (black arrow) => select ‘Type’ from the menu => ‘Create Outlines’.
    3. Go to ‘File’ => ‘Save As’ => choose ‘svg’ under the ‘Format’ drop-down list => ‘Save’ => ‘OK’.
    4. Now, right-click on your saved file => ‘Open With’ and choose your favorite text editor. I use Text Wrangler (it’s both awesome and free), but you could use any notepad/text app.
    5. Beginning on or around line 2 will be ‘<svg …[lots of scary code stuff]… >’ Find ‘style=’ and put your cursor in front of it. [see screenshot below] Now…
    6. Type width=”400″ (replace ‘400’ with however wide you want your logo to be in pixels). Then, hit your spacebar and type height=”100″ (replace ‘100’ with the height of your logo). Hit the spacebar once more and save your file.
    7. Upload the WordPress plugin SVG Support and activate it.
    8. Now, drag your logo into your media library and replace your existing logo with it.
    9. Go back to your Illustrator file and undo the ‘Create Outlines’ move before you save and close your file.

    That’s it!

    Let’s cover a few things that we just did.

    1. In Illustrator, we created outlines of text and shapes. This eliminates the pixelation that occurs when images (jpeg and png files) are enlarged, as well as the blurriness that accompanies smaller images (like my logo).
    2. In our text editor, we specified the size we wanted our logo to be. Why? Because svg files will fill the size of their containers. So, if your WordPress theme allows you to import a logo that spans the entire width of your site (like mine), your svg logo will get all excited and overwhelm your screen – hence, the need to constrain it.
    3. Back in Illustrator, we undid the ‘Create Outlines’ move because once you convert your logo to an outline instead of text and shapes, you cannot edit it as you normally would. In other words, if you decide later that you’d like to see what your logo would look like using Monteserrat font, you would have to recreate it. By undoing this last step, you won’t have to.

    Now, here are screenshots of the text editor bits:

    This is what your lovely svg file actually looks like. Don’t be scared.
    The highlighted blue text is what you will need to enter to constrain the dimensions of your logo (use your numbers, not mine).

    And, here is the plugin you will need to upload:

    I promise not to post too much on these sorts of topics, but I just had to share this secret with you. Now, I’d love to know whether you have any awesome graphic design secrets you’d dig sharing. Do tell! Thanks 🙂

    Oh, and if you stumbled on The Spreadsheet Alchemist through this post’s Pinterest image and are new to my site, why not click here to see what other content may interest you?

    Thanks so much for swinging by! <3

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  • Should You Use Google Sheets or Excel?

    Google Sheets or Excel: which program should you use? (Hint: why not use both?).For years, I was a die-hard Excel user.

    Up until recently, I didn’t even own a Mac, so Numbers was out.

    And, I never bothered to learn Sheets because, well, I really didn’t see the point.

    knew Excel and it was comfortable.

    It was also complex.

    In fact, Excel’s complexity used to be its selling point for me.

    With Excel, I could do any freakin’ thing I wanted!

    But then the lust crept in…

    I can’t pinpoint the moment I first cheated on the spreadsheet king.

    It probably happened after an extra glass of vino left me feeling frisky…

    Then, what began as a one night stand morphed into a love affair so gargantuan that there was no turning back.

    My ménage à trois had spiraled out of control…

    …and I found myself pulled uncontrollably deep into the abyss…

    So, I don’t read romance novels and given this post, I probably shouldn’t quit my day job to become a writer. Please forgive my patheticness.

    The purpose of this post isn’t about which one does it better, anyway, because they both freakin’ rock.

    The purpose is to help you decide which program best fulfills your needs. Right here, right now.

    Today, I’m going to break down the two that I know inside and out: Google Sheets and Excel.

    Should you use Google Sheets or Excel? It depends on what you're doing. Here's how I use both.Click To Tweet

    When to use Excel vs. Google Sheets

    I use Excel when:

    • I am doing client work
    • I want to record macros (mini programs for repetitive tasks)
    • I’m working with complex formulas
    • I want to create drop-down lists that are dependent on other drop-down list selections
    • I want more control over the details
    • My spreadsheet needs are quite complex
    • I need to analyze large amounts of data, as Google Sheets’ file limit is 5M cells
    • It’s already open on my Mac
    • I want to create tables that are smart enough to populate formulas throught columns, expand without having to adjust the filters, and are intuitive to format (it’s not as easy to do these things in Google Sheets)
    • I can’t afford to have my spreadsheet lock up or crash on a user
    • I need to use pivot tables that group data by month (Google requires some workarounds)

    I use Google Sheets when:

    • I want to access my spreadsheets from my phone without worrying about syncing issues.
    • I’m creating things on the fly.
    • I’m working with several files that work in tandem with each other and I want to organize them for intuitive access.
    • I want to share them with others, including my readers.
    • I have a browser open (which is all of the time).
    • I don’t need to create an exceptionally complex spreadsheet.
    • I want simplicity.

    In most cases, either spreadsheet program will work fine. But, if you want to be told what to do, here are some generic recommendations:

    Use Excel if…

    • You want wicked functionality
    • You want to appear exceptionally professional*
    • You can’t risk glitches
    • You are dealing with a huge amount of data
    • You want to create “smart” tables that autopopulate and always capture new data when sorting
    • You use pivot tables that rely on grouping data by month

    Use Sheets if…

    • You want to share files
    • You want to link to other Google Sheets files
    • You want to edit files on your phone & don’t have an Office 365 subscription
    • You get overwhelmed by complexity
    • You like the idea of using Google Drive for everything

    *Some well-respected and well-known organizations do rely on Google Sheets – particularly when collaboration is expected. My new employer does, and I now spend 95% of my time working in Google Sheets and only 5% of my time using Excel.

    I’m curious about you. Which spreadsheet program do you use? If you use Apple Numbers and can add to the discussion, it would be seriously rad! Thanks so much for your insights, friends 🙂

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