Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

More Spreadsheet Love

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Spreadsheet Closeup

The power of a spreadsheet is in its ability to sort, and by sorting, revealing relationships that weren’t obvious.  An almost finished spreadsheet can show you how you didn’t plan as well as you thought you did for when you’re ready to sort.  So when you’ve created a spreadsheet with 970 AM & FM radio stations, you have to deal with little annoyances like hyphens in the wrong place.

AM stations are identified, for example, as WABC-AM, while FM stations are WABC-FM.  That’s how the FCC designates them – callsign and band.  But if you create a column of stations listed like that, you limit what you can do with the list as a whole.  Weirdly, it becomes hard to combine like data in other fields that aren’t related to band if band and callsign are combined somewhere else.

That’s what I did, so I had to create a column with their band (AM and FM are called “bands” – so 1950ish) and I had to delete every “-FM, or -AM” behind each callsign.  That was a pain.

But a slightly bigger pain was realizing I didn’t exactly understand how the “Find and Replace” function in OpenOffice works.  After getting sick of going through rows of stations and deleting the extensions one by one, I had to experiment for about an hour before I figured out how to delete, first just the hyphens, then just the FM or AM, and finally, how to delete everything without making the whole sheet disappear.  That happened a couple of times and it felt like my heart stopped.

The function is not intuitive or friendly, like it is with MS, but I guess that’s what you get for free.  Anyway, finally figured out how to have one column of clean callsigns and an adjoining column with clean band designations.  Sorting Made Not Easy 101 – but a teeny weeny victory in the march toward publication.

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Written by Interviewer

June 15, 2016 at 05:28

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