Spreadsheet will sort data files and compare lists of names Help Line

October 26, 1998|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I have a couple of lists of names and e-mail addresses in text files. Is there any software out there that will compare list A with list B and highlight the duplicates? Is there software that will alphabetize a combined list? We're trying to find a way to eliminate duplications and have a consolidated list.

It's a bit complicated, but I suspect hearing it will offer a potent new tool to a great many PC owners.

A little-known secret among the world's data droids is how just about any spreadsheet program you care to name offers instant, albeit down-and-dirty, fixes for joining data files. The trick lies in importing whatever file you may have into the spreadsheet, which will, if done right, stick each element into a different cell: first name in row 1, last name in row 2, e-mail in row 3, and so forth.

Microsoft Excel does this particularly well. Use the File/Open command to import your "A" list into one spreadsheet. The Open command lets you choose a file type (text in your case) and then walks you through opening it so that each field goes in a different cell.

Once you get list "A" in the machine, copy that data into memory using "Control A" for Select All and "Control C" for copy all. Then open your "B" list the same way in a fresh spreadsheet.

Next move to the end of the "B" list and put your cursor in the first empty cell of the first empty row and hit "Control V" to paste the first list below the second.

All you need to do now is to go to the top of your combined spreadsheet and use the sort command to join both together in ascending or descending alphabetical order.

VTC The duplicates will be next to each other, allowing for a fast deletion of one of them.

I have some great CD-Rs (compact disc recordable) that my old regular stereo system CD player won't play. They play fine in my computer CD drive, but I have tiny awful computer speakers. Could you please tell me how to hook up my computer to my stereo system so that I can hear these music CD-Rs in their full glory?

My AUX input on the receiver needs RCA jack inputs, but that's not the kind of output on the back of my computer. Can I buy the correct cables and can I somehow easily switch between diverting sound to the stereo and leaving it with the computer?

CD-R drives that allow one to store music in computer-readable form using software like SuperPlanet's CD Streamer are starting to win widespread acceptance. People who shunned playing music CDs on their PCs are being forced to rethink, despite such drawbacks as crummy computer speakers and being able to load only a single disc into a computer while almost all home players offer multiple CD caddies.

The Y-shaped connector you need is called a phono to RCA jack and is sold at many electronics stores. The phono end goes into the Line Out on your sound card and you connect the red and white RCAs to your good music player.

Once you get your PC wired to the hi-fi, all you need to do is click on the speaker icon at the right-hand bottom of your screen and set the "Mute on" switch to cut off the computer sound and listen through the superior machine.

My scanner, a Microtek Scanmaker E-6, has been nothing but trouble and disappointment because the software seems so complicated.

Good news comes from corporate giant Xerox Corp., which for $99 offers Pagis 2.0, a graphical interface for scanners. The software makes a snap out of putting photos, faxes and printed stuff into one's PC. It then keeps track of it all by creating thumbnail icons that are stored in a system of folders identical to the Explorer software already built into Windows 95/98.

Built-in TextBridge character recognition is the best of the breedticularly easy to use.

Send e-mail to jcoaterie.com.

Pub Date: 10/26/98

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