Review of LastPass on the iPad

Let me start by saying that I love the LastPass idea. I use it on my desktop browser every day and it makes me a safer and faster internet user. I have also installed the LastPass app on my iPad and have been using it for two years. It does its main job of keeping my passwords secure, however they are not always that easy to get to.

Have to leave Safari

To start off with, I often end up using Safari while my iPad just from other apps using it to open a browser window. LastPass does not work from inside the Safari iPad browser. Inevitably, I will go to a webpage with Safari that wants my login credentials. Often it is a specific page within a secured website, so I have to copy the URL, open LastPass, and paste it in. Argh! If LastPass could function as a plug in like it does on the desktop, I could just enter my password into the Safari plugin and be on my merry way. But that is just not the case.

Old tabs are useless

Once inside LastPass, things get a bit better. However, you have to remember to log in first. If you open it and access a tab that is still open from your last session, you can’t use LastPass to fill any passwords. Worse, you will have to log into LastPass, which is understandable, but then you have to close and reopen all of the tabs that you want to use. Since most of us visit the same sites over and over, this can be quite annoying.

In closing…

In summary, if you use the LastPass app by going to it first and logging in before you do anything, you will have a pretty good experience. However, in the course of using your iPad, you often run into apps from other apps and this experience is not quite smooth. If you want to keep your password secure though, LastPass is worth it. You just have to learn to work around its shortcomings.

Inbox and Calendar Icons

Google Reminders in Inbox and Calendar

Use reminders (finally) in the two apps you should already have

The ability to use reminders has recently been extended to Google’s Inbox and Calendar apps. This gives these two apps much greater capability to help you organize your life. Now you don’t need to email yourself a task or create an appointment in your calendar to remember to do something. Both of these methods worked but were workarounds that had significant limitations.

Inbox and Calendar Icons
Inbox and Calendar

The problem with using a calendar for to-dos

Before being able to put reminders in your calendar, you had to create an appointment for a certain day and maybe a time. However, life happens and these tasks don’t ever get done on the exact day or at the exact time that you plan on. Enter the reminder. The reminder floats at the top of your calendar if you don’t give it a time. If you don’t mark it complete, it simply moves to the next day. You no longer have the depressing and repetitive chore of moving all of your tasks that you didn’t get to from yesterday to next weekend.

Video explanation

The problem with using email for to-dos

If you used your e-mail inbox as a to-do list, you could not control when you see the e-mail and for how long. If you wanted to get something done on a particular day, you would have to look at that e-mail everyday in the meantime. E-mails tend accumulate in a long list of items that you need to do “sometime later”.

Reminders to the rescue

Basic reminders in Google’s Inbox and Calendar

If you have been hiding under a rock, Inbox is Google’s new e-mail 2.0 app that is meant to manage your e-mail (and reminders) in a whole new way. It runs on Android, iOS, and on the web. Calendar has been around for quite a while. It is available on the web and on Android and iOS mobile devices as well. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, reminders can only be entered on the mobile versions of Calendar and not the web version.

Creating a reminder in Calendar
Creating a reminder in Calendar
Creating a reminder in Inobx
Creating a reminder in Inbox

For starters, you can create a simple reminder by going to the plus sign and clicking reminder. The default settings are sufficient for a simple task. This would create a reminder that stays on top of your Inbox view until you mark it as completed with the checkmark. In Calendar, the reminder would stay at the top of the current day’s calendar until you mark it completed.

Scheduling and snoozing reminders

You can set reminders to occur at a future time or place using the snooze feature in Inbox or by scheduling it in Calendar similar to how you would schedule an event. Here we start to see many ways in which these can be used that could never be done using events in Calendar or emails to yourself using Inbox.

Inbox reminder snooze
Button to snooze Inbox reminder

Reminders can be set to start at a certain time or place with snooze in Inbox. It doesn’t take much to imagine the usefulness of snoozing that reminder to do your laundry until you get home or the reminder to turn in your homework until you get to school. Seeing only relevant to-dos reduces clutter and makes a task list more manageable. You just need to be sure that you have location services enabled on your phone.

Inbox snooze options
Inbox reminder snooze options
Inbox with a reminder
Inbox with a reminder

Once you are done with a reminder, tap it to open it and mark it done with the checkmark if your using Inbox. Press undo in the lower right hand corner if you didn’t mean to. The reminder moves out of the inbox and can be found by going to the menu and selecting Reminders or Done. If you are using Calendar, tap on the reminder and tap Mark as Done. The Calendar reminder stays in place but the font changes to strikethrough to indicate that it is completed. See it again by going to the menu and looking at Done which shows everything that you’ve mark as done or look at Reminders which shows all reminders even if they’ve been completed.

Calendar Event vs. Reminder

If you are a hardcore Calendar person, you may be thinking that you can just schedule the task as an event at a certain time and that will remind you to do it. The trouble with this has always been that you might not do it at that time. If you use a reminder, it will still be at the time you scheduled it if you choose to give it a time, but you will see that it is not completed because the font will not have a strike through. The better technique for using a reminder, if you are not sure that you will get to it, is to not use a time or day. That way it will always appear at the top of your Calendar (and Inbox) until you mark it as complete. Once you mark it as complete, it will stay on the day on which you completed it and show with a strike through font.

Repeating task

Another powerful feature of the Reminder function is that you can have it repeat at any interval. For example, if you want to replace your furnace filter every six months, set the reminder to repeat instead of a Calendar appointment. When the reminder arrives every six months, it will stay on your calendar until you complete it unlike a recurring event that would stay on its original day.

underline and border

Excel Mobile App – Double Underline (iPad, iPhone and Android)

Microsoft has made a light version of it’s popular Excel spreadsheet program available for free on iOS and Android devices. It has a pared down feature set so that the user does not go insane trying to dig through the options on a touch screen.  One useful option from the desktop version of Excel that did not make the cut in the mobile version is the double underline.

Many number crunchers like the double underline to show that the bottom of a table of numbers is being summed.

There is still the option to use a single line border or the underline text style, but if neither of those are what you are looking for, fret not.  I am here to show you a work around that will give you a double underline that will cover the entire width of the cell and resize if you change the column width.  Yes my friends, prepare to have your mind blown.

Single Bottom Border and Single Underline

underline and border
Single bottom border and a single underline

Shown above is the single border applied to the cells and then the underline style applied to the data.  This doesn’t work well as you can see because the underline only extends the width of the text.  If the text does not fill up the entire column, it will never look like a double underline.

Hyphens and Single Underline

hyphen and underline
Hyphen and underline

Next, you may try the single underline format and then add a bunch of hyphens.  This works fine if you are never going to resize you columns.  If you do resize your columns though, this technique quickly gets goofed up.

Best Solutions

I have found two pretty solid ways of getting this done.

Two Single Underlines

two bottom borders
Two rows each with a single bottom border

The first way is to first use a single bottom border. Then, add a row and apply a single bottom border to that as well. Shrink the row height and vavoom, there you have it.  One pitfall of this approach though is that the one short row that you added can trip you up later if you add data as it is still a functioning line in your spreadsheet and, if numbers get into it, you may not notice that they are there.

Cell Styles

cell styles menu
Cell style menu
cell style
Cell Styles

The final, and probably “best practice” solution is to apply the last “Titles and Headings” cell style to the totals row.  This will give you a single underline above the totals and a double underline below.  It makes it obvious that the row is the summation of the data and it adds a bit of color too.

one column of data with filter formula typed but not yet applied

Filter data in Google Sheets on a mobile device

-UPDATE- As of November 2016, their is a “Create a filter” option in the menus for Google Sheets on an iPad. You can find it by clicking the three vertically algined dots in the upper right hand corner of your spreadsheet. The tips below still apply to using the FILTER function, but it is not your only choice for filtering on an iPad now.

Most spreadsheet users are used to performing all of their functions through the menus with the click of a mouse.  However, today’s mobile versions of these programs offer very few options through their menus.  The FILTER function, much like the SORT function function, is one of those options that lost its coveted menu spot and has been relegated to the list of functions that must be typed in or found in the list of every function available in Sheets.  

Before you enter your filter formula, you will want to select a cell that will be the upper left most cell for the filtered list. This function writes the data below and to the right of your starting point.  Once you find the right cell, enter the command using the following syntax:

=FILTER(range, condition1, [condition2, ...])

In the formula above, FILTER is the name of the function, range is the table of data that you want to be filtered, and the conditions are how you want it to be sorted.

Video explanation

Find more information on the FILTER function at Sheetshelp.com.

One column

Let’s start with a simple example in the image below. one column of data with filter formula typed but not yet appliedThis is a small list of data. For whatever reason, you find the need to filter it. A list this small would be easier to just manipulate by deleting what you don’t want, but it is kept simple so the illustrations can get right to the point.

flitered one column

As you can see, the filter function creates a new list with just the data left that you specified.  Be aware that the formula still remains in the cell in which you typed it. If you want to keep the data in this new list, you may want to consider copying it and pasting it as values. This will fix it in place even if the original data is changed.

Two columns

Next, let’s sort the table based on criteria that resides in neighboring cells.  Select both rows and use the second field of the formula for the sort criteria of b1:b4=”b”.

=FILTER(al:b4,b1:b4="b")

 

a filter based on two columns not applied yet

This will create a new, filtered list with just the rows that contain the letter “b” in the second column.  Again, the filtered data is still dynamic.  If you change anything in the original list to be sorted, the new sorted list will also change.

two filtered columns showing the result of the formula

Three columns

You can also filter a table based on multiple criteria. The picture below is showing an easy example of this. The formula works as an AND statement, meaning that both conditions need to be TRUE in order for the data to be output by the function.

three columns formula not yet applied

The output of this formula is as follows.  The function only kept the data that had a “b” in column B AND a 3 in column C.

filtered three columns

Follow image below for the live Google Sheet with this data

docs share icon

Conclusion

Having the filter function available, even it is not in the menus, can be quite handy when you are working on a mobile device.  For larger sets of data, the filter function can be faster and more accurate than sorting data manually.  Enjoy and happy spreadsheeting to you all.

one column sort formula

Sort data in Google Sheets on a mobile device

-UPDATE- As of November 2016, their is a “Create a filter” option in the menus for Google Sheets on an iPad. You can find it by clicking the three vertically algined dots in the upper right hand corner of your spreadsheet. The tips below still apply to using the SORT function, but it not your only choice for sorting and filtering on an iPad now.

If you are looking for the SORT function in Google Sheets’ mobile app, good luck.  Much like the FILTER function in mobile Google Sheets, it has been relegated to the list of functions that must be typed in or found in the list of functions available in Sheets.  

Before you enter your SORT formula, you will want to select a cell in which to type it that will be the upper left most cell for the filtered list. This function write the data below and to the right of your starting point.  Once you find the right cell, enter the command using the following syntax:

=SORT(range, sort_column, is_ascending, [sort_column2, is_ascending2, ...])

In the formula above, SORT is the name of the function, range is the table of data that you want to be filtered, sort_column is the column by which you are sorting, and is_ascending is a true/false field to determine if you want the data sorted in ascending or decending order.  A value of TRUE for is_ascending would sort the data in ascending order (i.e. 1,2,3 or a,b,c).

Video explanation

Find more information on the SORT function at sheetshelp.com


One column

Let’s start with a simple example in the image below.

one column sort formula

This is a small list of data. For whatever reason, you find the need to sort it.  Above is the data with the formula typed in a cell below it.  Below it the result after entering the formula. 

 

 

one column sort result

As you can see, the sort function creates a new list sorted by the parameters that you specified.  Be aware that the formula still remains in the cell in which you typed it. If you want to keep the data in this new list, you may want to consider copying it and pasting it as values. This will fix it in place even if the original data is changed.

Two columns

Next, let’s sort a table with two columns.  Select both rows, specify that you want to sort by the second row, and in decsending order..

=SORT(a15:b17,2,false)

 

two column sort formula

This will create a new, sorted list.  Again, the filtered data is still dynamic.  If you change anything in the original list to be sorted, the new sorted list will also change.

two column sort result

Three columns

You can also specify a second column by which to sort data and a secondary level of orgainizing data.  The picture below is showing an easy example of this.

three column sort formula

The output of this formula is as follows.  You can see that it sorted first by type of animal then by the number in the first column.

three column sort result

Conclusion

Having the sort function available, even if it is not in the menus, can be quite handy when you are working on a mobile device.  For larger sets of data, the sort function can be faster and more accurate than sorting data manually.  Enjoy and happy spreadsheeting to you all.