If you watched television between 1989 and 1993, then you might have had the chance to see original episodes of the television series Quantum Leap.
The premise was that a scientist involved in a time-travel experiment gets sent into the bodies of people from the past and has the opportunity to improve the future with his actions. Most of us might not ever get to do something as dramatic as steal a million dollars from a crook to return to swindled investors, but making data import easier is still a pretty good way to make the future better.
Keep your column titles in the right row
We’ve all done it. We’ve all messed up and copied our titles into our data rows.
It’s like being the co-pilot on a plane with two newlyweds when you find out that the wife is suffering from appendicitis, your instruments don’t function because you’re in the Bermuda Triangle, and the pilot who’s supposed to be flying the plane is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the past, you would have thrown up your hands and started over. But what if you had the power to prevent the tragedy in the first place? What if you could put right what once went wrong?
Here’s what happens if you paste column titles into the first data row in Minitab 17.3:
Not only does Minitab stop and let you know what’s happening, it also puts your column labels and your data in the right place so that you can get on with your analysis. It’s kind of like having a holographic mentor with a supercomputer who can swoop in and tell you when an unscrupulous pageant photographer is about to try to blackmail a contestant he has embarrassing photos of.
Match case as you open an Excel file
I’ve intentionally made an error in this dataset so that I can show you what Minitab can do, but it’s an easy enough mistake to make. Like when you lend your car to a friendly bartender so he can give someone a ride and the car blows up because the mob is trying to kill you.
Say you notice, or even suspect, that not all of your data are typed with the same mix of capital and little letters.
Normally, Minitab would treat them as different data points because they have different characters. But when you click Options, you can choose to have Minitab correct case mismatches for you. That’s almost as nice as having someone give you instructions about where to punch when you’re temporarily blinded in a fight with an angry biker so that you can come out the victor.
Minitab 17.3 will also let you remove blank rows and make column lengths equal, which can help you be ready to analyze your data even faster.
It may not help you go back in time to prevent a child from shooting his neighbor who he mistakes for a Russian invader during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but we think it’s pretty good stuff.