Few people know what programming is so people usually just see me as a “Computer Person”. Here is a great xkcd comic explaining how I am able to be a “Computer Person”

Recently I was asked about good material for learning Microsoft Office, here is my answer.

Microsoft Office is a great general purpose tool, but I believe it makes a poor subject for study. I think everyone needs to be able to do the basics. Write up a document in Word, drop in a picture or two if needed and please keep the aspect ratio. Write down a bunch of numbers in Excel and add them together. Save your files, find them on the hard drive, and attach them to an email, you have now graduated the De Wet Blomerus Office Curriculum. After that, it is much more important to learn how to use Google to solve problems. There are a couple reasons I believe this.

  1. Employability If an employer or customer is going to pay somoene good money to design some sort of a flyer or document, they will be wanting someone to do it in graphic design software like Indesign, Illustrator or Photoshop, if you want that job, study graphic design, it should include studies of whatever software is needed. If an employer is going to pay someone to do things in Excell, they will want somone who knows something about Business or Finance or Administration. If you want one of those jobs, study Business or Finance or Administration, your studies will include the necessary Excell.

  2. Scope The Microsoft Office Suite is a broad general set of tools, in order to be useful to every business on the planet, they have tons and tons of features. Each type of business only uses maybe 5% of these features, I know what you are thinking, you want to learn the essential 5%, no you can’t because different businesses would use a different 5%. If you successfully learned how to use 100% of the features in the Microsoft Office Suite, 95% of your skills will go to waste because your job will only require the 5%.

  3. Learn to Google, it’s a better skill to have On more than one occasion I have had to use some crazy advanced Microsoft Office (or Libre Office in my case) feature. Every time I need to do this, I use my one computer skill that I can apply to every job, I Google something like “How do I take names and addresses from an Excel Spreadsheet and print out address labels”. Then I find very specific instructions, sometimes I even find a Youtube video with someone showing and explaining exactly what I need to do. Why would you spend the time to learn and store Microsoft Office features in my head when I can just Google and find the exact instructions on what to do?

  4. Learn to Touch Type, it’s a better skill to have Now here is a skill that way too many people overlook. This blog post didn’t take very long at all because it is coming through my fingers quite fast. 100% of all jobs I have ever seen working at a comptuer, can be done faster with better touch typing. If you are still looking at your fingers while you type, stop reading this right now, install a Typing Tutor. Klavaro is free and works great. I have NEVER seen someone practice touch typing for one hour per day for a whole month and not able to touch type at the end of the month, but even if you are the slowest learner on earth and it took you 3 months of one hour per day each day, it will still be a worthwhile investment from which you will reap the benefits for the rest of your life, every time you use a computer.