Microsoft Excel might just be the most versatile application ever created. If you are still using Excel just for number crunching, a Microsoft Excel course can open up a whole new world of possibilities. Let me give you just a few examples of some of the offbeat ways, both at work and at home, I have used Excel over the years.

## Numerical solution of differential equations

A Microsoft Excel course can introduce you to macros which can allow you to take calculations to the next level-to the point of writing your own statistical functions. However, Excel macros are written in a language that is interpreted rather than compiled (for you non-programmers out there, read that as "slow rather than fast") so complex numerical models seem impossible.

I used to use a complex numerical code to model contaminant transport in groundwater. The calculations were fast, but it was clumsy to get data in and out of the applications. A Microsoft Excel course had turned me on to macros, and I realized that I could call this fast code from a macro by turning it into a DLL. The Excel interface provided an easy way to create scenarios, to view the data, and to tweak on settings to see how the model changed. The compiled code provided fast results that Excel couldn't match. The combination created a powerful and unique tool.

## Wine tasting

I've recently become a bit of an oenophile, and I've started a database of wines I've tasted. I track wines by type, country, vineyard, and year. As the information grows, I examine trends. I've noticed my highest rated wines are generally Australian, something I might not have otherwise noticed.

A Microsoft Excel course will illustrate techniques in sorting and filtering that allows you to pull important kernels of information out of a mass of data.

## Computer game statistics

I am an avid computer gamer and Excel has been a vital tool. I can provide complex demographic data on my population in The Sims 2. I can calculate engine efficiency of the different locomotives in Railroad Tycoon 3. In Oblivion I can track quests, merchant prices, and trainers.

I can also list my alchemical ingredients and have it tell me which potions I can make. I can track the changing economy in Sid Meier's Pirates, color coding prices so I can easily see the best ports to sell my plunder. A Microsoft Excel course can teach you about features such as conditional formatting or database functions that make these kinds of workbooks possible.