First Learning Update

EclecticMatt/ January 6, 2014/ old/ 0 comments

OK, so thought I’d get the ball rolling by explaining what I’m up to and what I’m trying to learn at the moment.
I’ve been playing around with Excel formulas for data manipulation at work, and so have come to about the limits of what I can achieve without macros. I have learned a little VBA for this purpose (such as using ActiveWorkbook.SendMail to get email updates on a schedule held in a spreadsheet). I am going to learn some more (mainly how to move information between applications to set up more functional mail merges and email updates).
I’ve been writing tutorial sheets for Excel, which I’ll start putting links to in the near future. These include formatting and formulas from basics to advanced. I’ll be doing some on Pivot Tables and macros soon to get the most out of Excel at work.
At the same time, I’ve been playing around with a little bit of web design. For work, I’ve been adding the masters level projects in mathematics onto the website. There are around 40 projects in total, some without formulas, some absolutely drwned in them. The thing is that to get that info on to the web it required a hell of a lot of tinkering. As the projects relied heavily on mathematical symbols and formula, I was faced with several options.
The first was to take screenshots of each equation as it is shown on pdf documents, which would not only content-heavy but also inaccessible for students with visual impairments.
The second was to attempt to manually edit the project text by inserting the html codes for symbols into the relevant sections (e.g. ℝ or |). This option seemed complicated to get looking even vaguely correct (weird formatting on integrals seemed almost impossible to overcome).
The third (chosen) option was a bit of a longshot. The correctly formatted project formulae were all included in a document written in LaTex. This is a language used to display formulas correctly in printed documents, however it still needed to be adapted to work in html. With some help from the University webteam, a workaround was found by including a few lines of javascript in the page, and adding some symbols into the LaTeX code to ensure that it is read correctly in html. This rather brain-melting task took around 2 weeks (in among all routine work I had to do) but I think the result is pretty awesome. I also wrote the page from the ground up with nested accordions and auto project number counters in css. You can see the result here but note that you may need to wait for a few seconds for the math typeface to load and the projects are not yet in order.
Now I’d like to learn html from the ground up, combined with the little Javascript I know and see what I can create. This blog will serve as a testing ground as Blogger allows custom templates.
Going to put SQL on hold for a little while. This was a brief flurry when I was to run custom queries on my previous jobs database. May take that further later but can’t take on too much at once (especially when I may not use that one any time soon).
Have also been doing a bit of basic app development, learning the features of Android and I really would like to get a few things published with that soon.
Also insistent that I’m going to have a couple of languages under my belt in the next few years. Already decided on German and I’m currently working through the exercises with Duolingo (Android app). Can’t decide on the 2nd/3rd. Maybe Spanish, possibly French or Italian, could be Polish or further afield… I just want to learn more and then get out there and use it. My German is passable (when I’ve practised a bit) so I just need to bring that up to a better level. I’d like to learn another one from scratch now so that I can either learn more or bits of other languages more easily.
Paused my degree in Business Studies with the Open University at the moment. I have had little motivation to pay the huge module fees and also the energy to give to a year of Management and Financial Accounting. I’ll have to start that again in the next few months or the fees will go even higher. Urgh.
Well that sounds about it for now. Speak soon.

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