The Modeller's Miscellany - #41

Big Excel news from Microsoft

· Modellers Miscellany

The Modeller's Miscellany is a weekly bulletin of cool stuff for financial modellers. Sign up below to receive it in your inbox every Sunday.

Excel innovation // Microsoft announces Lambda

This week Microsoft announced the introduction of Lambda, transforming the way you create user-defined functions in Excel. It's no longer necessary to use VBA to create user-defined functions. The real biggie is this: Excel can now do any calculation. There's no more 'You should use package X because Excel can't do that'. If you want to know why this is such a big deal, Iain Morrow, CTO at Gridlines, wrote this blog post discussing the implications.

Reviewing financial model outputs

There are two sides to the financial modeller's role. Firstly building the model and then interpreting and making sense of the outputs. Alan Samuels at Amberside Advisors published this article with useful tips for reviewing financial model outputs. There’s also a helpful section on the pitfalls of using a financial model for a purpose it was not designed for.

The Data Loom by Stephen Few

Although now retired from formal teaching, Stephen Few continues to publish useful and relevant books on data and visualisation. The theme of his latest book, The Data Loom, is that current trends in sexy data distract from data sense making. He argues that we rely too heavily on learning the latest tools and fail to focus on developing the skills needed to make sense of data. The Data Loom is a short, concise and well written book. It's one that I can already tell I'll continue to come back to repeatedly in the future.

"The Recent emphasis on data storytelling has too often reduced data presentation to a cheap set of tricks. Presenting data in ways that are visually or narratively engaging is fine as long as they don’t compromise clarity and truth. We achieve clarity and communicate truth by focusing primarily on substance, not on style." - Stephen Few, The Data Loom.

We have a free copy to give away in return for articles, ideas or event recommendations to include in the Miscellany. Email your contributions to

Ten (Crowdsourced) ways to reduce file size

Earlier this year, Danielle Stein Fairhurst asked members of the Financial Modelling In Excel group for tips to reduce Excel file size. There was a lot of good discussion on the original post. Danielle has now summarised that discussion into a useful "top ten" list.

Behind the scenes: the making of a data visualisation project

Data visualisation expert Andy Kirk is presenting a webinar on the methodology behind his biggest ever project to visualise every episode of 90's TV series, Seinfeld. The webinar will include a step-by-step approach to breakdown your own data challenges from the analytical stage of collecting data to telling an engaging story using the right charts, colours and layout. The webinar is on Thursday December 10th at 10am GMT. Register here.

And finally . . . The Smell of Data

The Smell of Data project is a device to alert internet users to data leaks on personal devices using smell. The project is inspired by the scent that's added to natural gas to provide a sensory alert when there is a leak. The device recognises when you visit an unprotected website on an unsecured Wi-Fi network or Hotspot. The scent dispenser releases a puff of the Smell of Data as a warning signal.

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