Wise Owl's quarterly (ish) news tweet  |  Issue 9 - February 2013

The items included in this newsletter are listed below. Our newsletter go out about 3 times a year - if you'd like to subscribe, just let us know!

What's new in Excel 2013

Microsoft released Excel 2013 on 29th January, and you can download a preview version now.  We had our own ideas on what should be in the new version, but despite ignoring these Microsoft have come up with some good new features (although the user interface looks naff).  To see whether you should be planning an upgrade, read our full review of the new features in Excel 2013, including recommended charts and the impressive flash fill.

PowerPivot for Excel is awesome!

We announced our PowerPivot for Excel course a couple of newsletters ago, but now that we've actually delivered this two-day course we're even more enthusiastic.  PowerPivot is a must for anyone who spends their life analysing data using pivot tables.  If you've ever wanted to link directly to a database, base a pivot table on more than one table/query or create more complicated statistics (such as year-to-date or previous period comparisons), PowerPivot is for you!  To get an idea of what the product is all about and find out if it's for you, read our blog on how to get started with PowerPivot.

New SQL Server Integration Services course (SSIS)

Finally, we've launched our two-day SSIS course, to go with our existing SQL, Reporting Services, Report Builder and Analysis Services training courses.  We now have the full suite!  SSIS allows you to automate the import and transformation of data.  A typical use would be to build a data warehouse each evening from that day's transactions data, but this is only one application.  You also get to draw lots of pretty control flow diagrams.  Go to Wikipedia for a good summary of what SSIS is and does.

Getting third party help - StackExchange

When we want help - particularly with programming questions - we turn more and more to StackOverflow as a first resort.  This excellent site has many things going for it: it's free (unlike sites like ExpertsExchange), it's run by volunteers who know their stuff, and you can ask any relevant question and get an answer often within half an hour.  You can also answer questions yourself to try to boost your rating (this owl is at 695, and so has earned his retag questions badge - sometimes it can feel like being in the Brownies!).

Wondering what your real search rating is?

If you spend any time at all typing the name or business of your company into Google to see how well you perform, you'll know (or should know!) that the results are skewed.  In particular, Google will tend to favour sites that you've shown an interest in previously, which will almost certainly artificially boost your search engine ratings.  For an independent view, StartPage doesn't store cookies and provides anonymous access; or pay a bit of money to download Advanced Web Ranking.

Dialog boxes and menus which should be in Windows

The language is a bit ripe, but this site contains some of the dialog boxes and menus which should be included in Windows, but aren't (although they'll mainly appeal to older users of IT).  Our favourites?  The Office Assistant which provides help on how to write a suicide note, and advice from the Office Assistant to George Bush on how to run America.

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