Conditional Formatting

Yesterday, a contractor submitted his bill for some work that had been carried out and, not surprisingly, it was a little different from the original estimate. I often make an extra set of columns in the spreadsheet to show the bill and estimate alongside each other. This way the client can easily see what has changed.

On this occasion, I decided to do a little more; I decided to colour-code the changes in the bill vis-a-vis the estimate. It could be done manually, of course but this can quickly become tedious if you have anything more than a handful of cells to format.  Instead, we can let the spreadsheet do the grunt work.  After all, that’s what it’s there for.

Here is a brief outline of how it is done so anybody (my future self included) can see how to do it.  The instructions are for LibreOffice but they couldn’t be that different for Excel.

Here are the steps in brief.

Three Styles

Set up the styles using the style manager (F11). I created three with different colours.

Style Formatting

Modify the font, colour and background to suit your requirements


Click the cell where you want to format to be applied (K3 in this example) then go to Format>Conditional Formatting>Condition…

Conditions for K3

And add the three conditions

TIP: If the cell for comparison is listed as $F$3 that means it is an absolute value. If, however, you remove the $ signs, it will refer to a cell placed relative to the one where the condition is applied.

Format Paintbrush

Format Paintbrush

Once you have a cell set up the way you want, simply use the format paintbrush to apply it to other cells.

The Output

And finally, here is a sample of the output

Dassault Making an Assault on AutoDesk?

Dassault has released the beta of a free 2D drawing editor that works like AutoCAD. It’s based on ARES from Graebert and is currently available for Windows with Mac and Linux versions in the pipeline for later in the year. So far, all AutoCAD clones have remained marginal players so it is to be seen whether this one can hit its target.

Here is Dassault’s description:

DraftSight is a professional-grade, open 2D CAD product for users who want a better way to read, write and share DWG files. DraftSight is easy to use and is available for professional CAD users, students and educators to download and activate for free.*

Based on advanced architecture, DraftSight has a small footprint, should take less that a few minutes to download, and runs on multiple operating systems, including Windows XP®, Windows Vista® and Windows® 7.

Get the software from here. [~42 MB]

Props to :: and WorldCAD Access

Discuss Designs Graphically over the Net

This could be really useful to architects and has probably been created by a couple of them.  Basically, you and any number of collaborators can visually “chat” over the net. It works in your browser and no signup is required for the free version. This short video explains it best:
Edit: The website seems to be down of late.

Virus Masquerading as Home Planning Software

If you’ve received an email supposedly from IKEA telling you about a fantastic new and free Home Planning Software, please note that it is (surprise, surprise!) a virus. Ralph Grabowski of WorldCAD Access received just such a mail and has posted a screenshot. IKEA, meanwhile have clearly stated that this email is a fake and a scam. Given that it installs a trojan on your system, I’d say it’s far worse…

Website Dedicated to Intellicad Users

Trying to bring users of different flavours of IntelliCAD together to interact about all things IntelliCAD, Deelip Menezes has launched The intention is to:

  1. Use the forums to ask and offer help.
  2. Post on the network blog.
  3. Create or join groups of members.
  4. Share photos and videos.
  5. Post events such as user meetings, tradeshows, etc.

If you’re an IntelliCAD user, head over to a.s.a.p.

Edit: Site no longer available. Deelip has moved on and has been dropped.

AVG’s LinkScanner and its Removal

Warning: This post is slightly technical

I’ve been using AVG’s free version for quite some years now and have always been happy with it. Accordingly, when they posted their latest version, 8.0, I was quick to download and install it. AVG now includes an antispyware component and a bit of fluff called LinkScanner. This, I found to be rather unnecessary and also a consumer of bandwidth and time (although AVG denies it on their support forum). Search results loaded noticeably slower in Firefox and disabling it in the AVG control panel resulted in a horrible “you may not be protected” icon in the system tray.

Reinstalling AVG 8 without that component did pretty much the same as just disabling it in the tray and that led me on a hunt for a permanent solution. Well, it’s documented in the AVG FAQs and it is possible – albeit a little differently from what they say because of the way my XP is set up; I can’t RUN any program directly.

Here are AVG’s instructions:

  1. Download the AVG 8.0 Free Edition installation package from our website.
  2. Run the installation with the parameters /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch.
  3. One way to achieve this is to:
    • save (or copy) the AVG Free installation file directly to disk C:
    • Start > Run
    • type c:avg_free_stf_*.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch
  4. The installation will be started, and AVG will be installed without the LinkScanner component.

In my case, I had to make a batch file in C: with the following line (watch for wordwrap).

Start “” avg_free_stf_*.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch

This is the only thing that worked for me and I hope it helps someone else in a similar situation.

One more thing. The download is a huge 47Mb+ in size compared to just 22MB for version 7.5. I suppose the antispyware component does need some space. However, I’m beginning to wonder if this software is getting too bloated for its own good. Time will tell…

Edit: This article had links but they have been removed because, they are broken and the article itself is no longer useful.

Free Beta of SpecifiCAD

CADalytic Media has released a free beta of SpecifiCAD for ArchiCAD 10/11, AutoCAD, ADT, Revit and Sketchup. SpecifiCAD allows you to click on a building component within each of these programs and access its CAD details, 3D models, specifications and Green information using the Sweets Catalog network and the Sketchup 3D warehouse depositories.

Download SpecifiCAD from

Edit: Sorry to say the site seems to be no longer available.