One of the things I do for my day job (I don’t know why I call it that; I don’t do anything else for pay) is a routine audit of the daily reports of customers who have logged in to the Wisconsin DOT web site to order ID cards or driver’s licenses. I’m looking for “red flags” which might indicate that an impostor might have logged in using a victim’s personal information. Thousands of IDs and DLs are ordered every day, so reviewing them is a very laborious process.
To make it a bit easier on myself, I use a spread sheet to automate the process as much as possible. I know a few tricks, just filters and searches, really elementary stuff, which helps, but lately I’ve been reviewing a year’s worth of reports at a time to see if I can spot trends. My simple tricks don’t work well on a spread sheet with 250,000 lines because my laptop bogs down whenever I ask it to crunch that much data.
Last weekend I told my son Tim about the problems I was having because I knew he was very good at writing macros in MS Excel and I hoped he would be able to give me a few tips that were simple enough for even me to understand so I could attack this problem. “Let me think about it,” he said, went home, did a little research, called me to talk it over again so he was sure he understood what I wanted to do, and then a day or two later I got an email message from him with an Excel spread sheet attached. I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. When it comes to Excel, I know just enough to be a danger to myself.
I didn’t want to break it, so I just held on to it until he came over for supper yesterday. He showed me all the bells and whistles and even fine-tuned it a bit so it did just what I wanted it to do. And it did it very, very quickly. I knew our kid was smart but wow. It was like he revealed his superpower to me.