Simple Gnatt chart with Numbers for Mac

In my opinion Numbers for Mac is not as powerful or versatile as Microsoft Excel. However, this versatility of Excel is hardly required for my personal home use. This Gnatt chart here illustrates my point. I could use it to track any of the (fictitious) mini projects that I (do not) take up from time to time at home.

I use a nifty trick I picked up from chandoo.org a few years back, and “ported” it so to say to mac for numbers. Of course in comparison to Excel’s conditional formatting capabilities, Numbers’ conditional formatting is woefully inadequate. Nevertheless the end result is not that displeasing to the eye.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 21.41.05

  • First create a Project Overview table, with an estimated start date and estimated end date.
  • Now create the second table called the Gnatt chart table, start with four columns – Task, Start Date, Duration, and End date
  • The columns End date should contain the following formula =WORKDAY(B3,C3), i.e. the working day corresponding to the “duration in days” i.e. C3 after the start date, i.e. B3.
  • Add as many columns after this as you please, put a number to each of these columns. I tend to work with calendar weeks, so I have used calendar weeks. In this example 11 and above.
  • The calendar week columns contain the following formula =IF(ISBLANK($B3),,IF(AND(WEEKNUM($B3)≤E$2,WEEKNUM(DATEVALUE($D3))≥E$2),1,0))

This formula does the following

  1. If the “Start date” column is not filled then do nothing
  2. If the calendar week value lies between the start and end date, then put a “1” to the column
  3. Else put a “0” to the column (it could even be blank actually!)

Now you should see a table which looks like this.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 21.42.23

Firstly one must make the numbers “invisible”. Quiz time! How does one make a cell content invisible?

  1. Google it
  2. Set foreground and back ground colour to white
  3. Everything is always visible – it is all about perspective.
  4. Magic

Once you have done that, you can move on to the conditional formatting part of this little trick and add this rule to the “Gnatt chart area” to see the simple chart you saw in the first figure.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 21.48.45

And you are welcome!

Energy audit – saving 30% energy starting today!

My apartment’s electricity provider sends the electricity bill annually. This provides the opportunity to track ones energy usage once a year, unless of course you are the kind who records electricity meter readings every month. Just for fun.

This year, there was barely any improvement in my energy usage as compared to last year. My life style has been the same and I haven’t introduced any new energy saving schemes in the last year, so the annual bill made perfect sense. If only one would find satisfaction in perfect sense, no?

Anyway, since I had nothing else better to do this evening I decided to audit my energy usage with the hope of finding hidden potential energy saving avenues. Was not disappointed. Time certainly well spent.

What did I find out?

Only the bedroom was LEDfied, and the lights in the other rooms (CFL and incandescent) caused 20% of my annual energy usage. If I were to switch completely to LEDs, then the illumination’s contribution would amount to just 6%

The desktop PC and the WiFi router together were a not so glaringly evident culprits. My desktop computer consumed about 20%, and the WiFi router about 10% of the annual energy.

I am not a complete doofus – I mean my computer isn’t running all the time. It is configured to go to sleep on weekdays between 8 am and 6 pm. If it could be configured to go to sleep also from 12 am up to 6 am, then it would contribute to only 11% of my annual energy budget. Easy-peasy saving. The only investment on my part would be the time to reconfigure the computer.

But what about the WiFi router? Well, the answer to it is quite simply a programable timer switch which will switch on and off exactly when the desktop computer also switches on and off. The premise here being that I would need the internet and the computer to be available when ever I am awake or at home. Switching the router on and off at the right times would shave 6% off the annual bill.

According to my calculations these three tiny investments could lead to significant (ballpark estimate of 30%) energy savings. Well, so there is really no argument against applying these measures, is there?

Investment #1 Switch completely to LED bulbs

Investment #2 Enable (more) sleep on the desktop computer

Investment #3 Programmable timer switch to control the WiFi router.

Preemptive button replacement

Sewing a button back onto a shirt is a skill one must posses. I can sew a button to my shirts alright, but I’ve never ever been in a situation where I’ve had to sew a jacket button back to a jacket. It isn’t the same thing.

Since the button on my winter jacket has been threatening to pop out any moment, I reckoned I’d be better off pre-emptively fixing it. Only I didn’t know how. So I did what every body does these days – I searched for a suitable “how to” on youtube and found this gem of tutorial.

Thanks to the above tutorial I was able to go from these

DSC_0016DSC_0014

to these

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I don’t think I knew what a backup button was before today. One lives and one learns.

Would buying a new printer make sense?

For someone who prints at the most 20 pages in a month, does it make sense to throw out a half way reasonably working printer and buy another one? This is the question that has been nagging me for a while now, and I’ve almost nearly impulse bought one a few times in the recent past as well, so I need to answer this question.

I bought an Epson SX125 MFP a little over 4 years ago for a price I am pretty certain wasn’t a cent over 100 US Dollars. What attracted me to it back then apart from the price was Epson’s strategy to use separate cartridges for black, red, blue and yellow colours.

Over these years, I am certain I haven’t printed more than 600 pages in total and remember replacing the cartridges about 3 to 4 times. i.e. about 150 to 200 pages per change of cartridge. So, as far as the printer economy goes I am satisfied. I haven’t had to spend more than 40 USD per annum for my printing, copying and scanning costs.

However, of late I’ve had to run the “clean print heads” routine one too many times. If it hasn’t been used for more than one month (yes, that does happen from time to time) then the next time a document is queued to print it prints all the pages, as in total number of pages, all right, but significant parts thereof are barely legible. It is unable to handle horizontal lines in this state, rendering online tickets with QR codes more or less unusable. And I tend to buy my tickets just before heading out, so it has caused some pain. Cleaning the print head, I suspect, uses copious amount of precious ink – but the cost per page isn’t really pinching me in any way. Yet.

Changing the cartridges is not that easy either. In older models (of Epson MFPs) one simply had to lift the scanner bed and one had direct access to all the cartridges. Epson has Germanised, i.e. introduced unnecessary complexity where not necessary, this design in the SX-125. Now one has to lift up the scanner bed, and press a button on the printer and the SX-125 aligns the errant cartridge to a tiny opening from which only this cartridge can be extracted. Apparently the user does not know which cartridge to replace, despite them being clearly colour coded. Almost felt like my intelligence was being questioned the first time I had to change a cartridge. There was this one time about two years ago when I nearly murdered the printer for repeatedly refusing to align any of the four cartridges with this “slot” despite being out of ink. I think I learnt the limits of my frustration that day.

Touch wood, since that day I’ve only changed the cartridges a few times (one colour at a time, and I guess I have changed the black one more times than the others) since then, and haven’t had this issue again. So I am willing to let that one ugly episode fade away to a forgotten corner.

Printing wirelessly is in fashion now, and the SX-125 is from the pre-wireless era, so well – it loses on this point, right? No. Not really. In my small apartment, any printer I buy will always be placed next to the desktop – yes, I own a desktop. Hah. Ergo, wireless by association. I had to disable access point separation on my home wireless network though.

The only credible pain point – because I don’t have a suitable solution for it – is that double sided printing involves a certain amount of brain juggling combined with a liberal dose of luck or patience. But then, the printer doesn’t get used that often, so printing double sided, in this case, isn’t going to save any rainforest.

If I were to sell this printer, then no sane person would pay more than 30 USD for it. It being old and used and all that rot. So changing it would mean changing it to be purely keeping up with the Joneses.

And after this almost therapeutic session of writing, I am certain that exchanging the existing Epson SX-125 for a newer, better, shinier printer in the foreseeable near future is not the best of ideas, unless, of course, circumstances change drastically.