Monday, March 26, 2007

An early-life use for spreadsheets

So, I help my son use a Google spreadsheet to create Word Search puzzles.. very cool for me - not just because we found this fun use case for spreadsheets, but because my 6 year old is involved. He's creating his own new ones now, with themes - it's great.
But it didn't take more than a few minutes after his first printed word search flew out of the printer that he became another demanding user with his own high priority feature requests...

He literally got teary-eyed when I informed him that the grid lines on the printed versions could not be turned off... oh my... raise the priority on that feature, quickly! My son is crying!! quickly!!! Give him the option to turn off the gridlines!!
Do you think Dan Bricklin hit this issue with visi-calc?

Update: in the cells which aren't part of the hidden words, I use a formula to automatically generate a random letter...
The simple form of it is: =CHAR(RANDbetween(65,90)
But, to force a regeneration of the random letters used, i change the formula to include dependency on another cell (which is multiplied by zero to have no impact on the actual result)... then, any change to that 'other cell' will force the formula to recalculate and give me a new random letter.
So, the updated formula looks like this: =CHAR(RANDbetween(65,90) + (code($C$100)*0))
(that reference to C100 is 'absolute' so you can copy it to other cells and still have all dependent on a single cell)

Then - any change to cell C100 forces all the random letters to change... This is handy when your first set of random letters by chance form an offensive 4-letter word or two... ;)

To get a copy of my original puzzle, use this link:
http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pO3Ze62OAU2EWwuXIT85kag
and then use the "File" "copy spreadsheet..." command...