Words On Wednesday

Words on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Spreadsheets and Chromebooks – this week is all about Google.

Google Sheets Complaint

Rarely do I have a complaint about Google Drive software, but Sheets could use an improvement.


I keep a spreadsheet with my budget in Google Sheets, shared with my wife so that we can add expenses as they come. We have a workbook for the year, with individual sheets for each month. There are columns for where the expense was incurred, the amount, the category, the date, and the money source that the expense was paid out of. I sort the expenses by date, and I have a few cells to keep up with the total amount we have spent in a month as well as how much we have left out of our monthly income. Overall, this system works pretty well.


My issue comes in totalling how much has been spent in any particular category. At the end of the month, I would ideally like to see how much we spent on utilities, how much went to groceries, and so on. Any sort of graph or chart that I try to include with this information uses each individual expense as a data point, rather than grouping all expenses of one category together as a total. I don’t care that we went to Costco, Walmart, and Ingles for groceries, I just want a single dollar value that is how much went toward groceries.


Any research I’ve done on this matter has proven basically useless. Any solutions involve copying data from one sheet to another to find totals, and then creating the chart or graph. I shouldn’t have to do that. If my category names were inconsistent, I could see there being an issue with including everything of one type together. I’m very diligent about using the same category names. I could understand that there may be some extra steps involved in specifying exactly how I want the totals computed and displayed, that’s fine.


Part of the beauty of Google Drive software is its simplicity. It isn’t Microsoft Office with all the bells and whistles. There are a few basic tools, a few add-ons you can take advantage of, but nothing too fancy. That’s great, I love using Docs and Sheets. I can work on anything from work, from home, on the go with my phone or tablet, or anywhere that I can sign into my Google account. That’s awesome. I just feel like that sort of categorization is something that would have a rather obvious place in the Sheets software without being unnecessarily complicated or bulky.


I’ll openly admit, I do not have a vast understanding of spreadsheet software. I could make a 2D array to throw some data into, but spreadsheets are far more dense than that. It could be that I’ve overstated the need for such a feature and that very few people actually need or want such a tool. If that’s the case, I’ll comfortably deal without it; the rest of the functionality of Sheets and Docs more than makes up for such a small gripe. Maybe one day I’ll bury my nose in some documentation on how Sheets works and make my own add-on. Until then, I’ll just make my complaint known once and keep quiet otherwise.


If you’d like to check out my budget spreadsheet, check out the template for it here:


Used Chromebook Pixel

I crunched some numbers on what I feel a used Chromebook Pixel is worth.


The Chromebook Pixel is the top of the line when it comes to Chromebooks and I would really like to have one of my own. The problem is, I can’t justify paying $1,300 or more for a new one. I would have absolutely no problem buying used, provided the previous owner took care of the device. Anything will experience general wear and tear, but I wouldn’t want the device to be left in extreme heat, thrown around, etc.


While pondering the idea of buying a used Pixel, I couldn’t come up immediately with what I thought to be a fair price for one. The Pixel ships from Google with an offer for 1 TB of Google Drive storage for 3 years as well as 12 airline wifi sessions. Assuming the previous owner has claimed these offers, I as the buyer shouldn’t be forced to pay for what I do not receive. Furthermore, any damage done to the device should reduce the price I would pay to some degree. I decided to put together a little presentation to organize my thoughts and come to a solid conclusion of a fair price for a used Chromebook Pixel.


See the presentation here:https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1KGRzo2OK5vgA8c20D0ZRtg-zISWes-4m1j2Qq9POA-M/edit?usp=sharing


First, I recorded the prices for both Pixel models as a starting point. At $1,300 for the 32 GB model and $1,450 for the 64 GB model, no used device should be more expensive than that.


Next, I calculated the value of the included services: 1TB of Google Drive storage for 3 years and 12 GoGo inflight wifi passes.


Expanded Google Drive storage of 1TB currently costs $9.99 per month, which comes out to about $360 for 3 years. I emphasize “currently” because this price has changed since the release of the Pixel and may change again in the future. When the Pixel was first released, 1TB of storage on Google Drive was $49.99 per month, totally almost $1800 for 3 years. Considering the most expensive Pixel is only $1,450, you would actually save money to buy the Pixel and redeem the Drive storage offer rather than just purchasing the storage outright.


The value of the Gogo wifi passes is slightly more difficult to calculate. Without buying a Pixel of my own, I don’t know if the passes are All Day, 1-Hour, or one of the unlimited passes. Since Google is likely more generous than simply offering 1-Hour passes, but almost definitely not so charitable as to offer unlimited airline wifi for a whole year, I deduced that the All Day pass seemed to be the most likely option to be included with the Pixel. At $16 per pass, these add up to a total of $192 for all 12 passes.


The total deduction from extras included with a Pixel, according to my math, is just over $550. One could argue that these extras are included at a discounted rate, reducing the amount that they contribute to the total cost of the Pixel. Some may even say that because they did not specifically request or desire the extras, that they do not contribute at all to the cost. I maintain that the extras were included in the purchase of a Pixel, and buying used means that I do not receive them.


With the price of the extras taken out, we are currently at roughly $750 for the 32 GB model and almost $900 for the 64 GB model. This does not account for any use, instead representing the value of a Pixel straight out of the box.


How much of a discount should be taken off for the condition of the device? Is there a chart somewhere detailing what percentage of the value should be taken off for any scratch or dent? In order to get a fair representation, I created a poll on the subject in Google Forms and shared it on Facebook, Google Plus, and Reddit. As of publishing this, the poll has had 19 responses and will remain open indefinitely.


Feel free to contribute in the poll, so that the figures are as accurate as possible.



A breakdown of the current results can be accessed here:https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1koya9XuPNaHenPWnZt8TDfxPxlm7MidemFIVE2Ry9PA/viewanalytics


While waiting for the results of the poll, I made up some ballpark figures just to be able to continue with the process of finding a fair price. Using Google Sheets, I created a table of prices for both Pixel models at any given condition that can be viewed in the presentation linked above or in the spreadsheet here:

I corroborated the results of some ebay auctions for Pixel devices, and most seemed to fit appropriately into the table. Now, if I do seek to purchase a Pixel of my own, I am properly equipped to make an informed offer and so are you. Knowledge is power!


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