Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for March, 2017

Series: The Secret PowerSchool Technical Manual

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I am starting a series of posts about the PowerSchool SIS, which I plan to also cross-post these on PowerSource (their support site).  I have found that I have a love/hate relationship with PowerSchool.  It does some things REALLY well, and allows far more customization than nearly any other SIS system.  But it also does a lot of things in a strange way, at times has poor documentation, and is built on a legacy system that has some design flaws (which was OK when the database was small, but now causes problems).  These posts will share what I have learned from my experience with PowerSchool, hoping that it will help out other schools.

I will probably post only every so often, as I don’t have a lot of spare time.  But I figure, I need to document what I find someplace, so that I can reference it in the future for myself; and so I mine as well share it with the world.

 

Written by Jacob Walker

March 24th, 2017 at 11:59 am

Big Excel Spreadsheet Tip: Don’t Use Smart Tags to Convert Text to Numbers

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Don't do this for big spreadsheets!

Don’t do this!

I often work with really big Excel spreadsheets (>500,000 rows) to do various types of data analysis.  And often I’m grabbing data from databases (how else are you going to get such big spreadsheets???)  And a common thing that can happen, is that numbers will be copied in as being in a text format, and many math and lookup formulas won’t work on them.  One tempting way to convert these is to use a “Smart Tag” where, when you select all the numbers that are being treated as text, you get an ! in a diamond, that you can click on, and it gives you the “nice” option to just “Convert to Number”.   If your spreadsheet is over 10,000 rows, DON’T DO THIS.  It will take forever to complete…  (ok, not really forever, but possibly several days to complete.) Instead you should do the following:

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Written by Jacob Walker

March 10th, 2017 at 12:34 pm