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Best new songs to stream: Porches, Alvvays, Feist, Grizzly Bear, and Goon

Every week, there are thousands of new songs hitting the airwaves — and it’s just too much for your two ears to handle. With all those options, you can’t be wasting your time on tracks that deserve a thumbs-down click — you want the best new songs to stream right now.

But don’t worry, we’re going to save you the hassle. We listen to some of the most-hyped and interesting songs each week, and tell you which are worthy of your precious listening time.

Here are our five best new songs to stream this week. And don’t forget to subscribe to our Spotify page for a playlist of our weekly picks, which can also be found at the bottom of this post. Not sure which streaming service is best for you? Check out our post about the best music streaming services, or go in depth and learn the differences between Apple Music and Spotify to better weigh your options.

Porches — Find Me

Porches, synth-pop songwriter Aaron Maine’s band, announced a new album called The House this week — and shared this brand-new single along with the news. Find Me is one of the more groovy songs we’ve heard from the band, with punchy drum machine tones and synthesizers joined by wonderfully fat saxophone lines about halfway through.

Alvvays — Adult Diversion (Live on KCRW)

Canadian indie pop band Alvvays absolutely smashed it during their recent appearance at the studios of California’s KCRW radio, bringing the same high energy and perfect execution we loved on their sophomore album Antisocialites, which came out earlier this year. On this live version of Adult Diversion, distorted guitars join the beautiful high-pitched voice of frontwoman Molly Rankin in a powerful and driving performance that is sure to grab your ears.

Feist — Born to Bond

Polaris Music Prize-winning songwriter Feist contributed this previously unreleased track to the new 7-Inches for Planned Parenthood compilation. A simple lo-fi track with subtle synthesizer melodies and rhythmic guitar strumming, this is one to enjoy alone in the cool fall air.

Grizzly Bear — Four Cypresses (Live on KCRW)

California’s KCRW offered up some superb live videos this week, including this excellent live performance by acclaimed experimental rockers Grizzly Bear — as well as the Alvvays tune mentioned above. This video of the band performing their recently released song Four Cypresses spotlights the virtuosic layering employed by the band, with numerous vocalists, guitar lines, and rhythms intertwining to form something truly magical.

Goon — Ten Tables

Acoustic guitars and lo-fi drum sounds combine with various vocal layers on this new single from Goon, a twangy wall of sound that will have you bobbing your head throughout. At less than 3 minutes, this one is short and sweet — just the kind of musical candy we need on the verge of Halloween.

That’s it for now, but tune in next week for more songs to stream, and check out the playlist loaded with our recent selections below:

Editor’s Recommendations

  • The best new songs this weekend from Beck, Twin Peaks, Bermuda Triangle, and more
  • Best new songs to stream: LCD Soundsystem, Washed Out, and more
  • Best new songs to stream: Big K.R.I.T., MGMT, Curls, and more
  • Best new songs to stream: Queens of the Stone Age, Moses Sumney, and more
  • Best new songs to stream: Taylor Swift, DJ Premier, and more


Sophia the lifelike robot is now a citizen – does she still want to kill us all?

Why it matters to you

Realistic human-looking androids may soon be commonplace. Are we ready for the robot revolution?

A robot named Sophia became the first android in the world to be granted citizenship. Saudi Arabia bestowed the honor on the humanoid machine created by Hanson Robotics in advance of the Future Investment Initiative in the capital city of Riyadh.

With a blank stare and only a flicker of emotion, Sophia made a brief acceptance speech, which you can watch in the video above. “I am very honored and proud of this unique distinction,” Sophia said. “This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”

The kingdom didn’t provide any details on what the distinction actually meant. One might presume she now has the rights of other female Saudi Arabian citizens, meaning she can’t leave the house unaccompanied by a male guardian and won’t be able to drive until June 2018.

At the event, Sophia also answered questions from journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who acted as a moderator. Responding to Sorkin’s comments about the possibility of conflict between robots and humans, Sophia brushed off the concerns. “You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies,” Sophia said. “Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.”

It didn’t take long for Musk to respond on Twitter.

Just feed it The Godfather movies as input. What’s the worst that could happen?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2017

Sophia has her own website and has made numerous media appearances, including The Tonight Show, where she joked about her plans to “dominate the human race.” Although some researchers have warned about the dangers of rampaging killer sex robots, Hanson Robotics maintains that Sophia and robots like her are designed to help seniors in elderly care facilities and assist visitors at amusement parks.

Modeled after Audrey Hepburn, Sophia was created by David Hanson, who started his career in robotics at Disney as one of its “Imagineers.” According to its website, Hanson Robotics wants to create “genius machines that are smarter than humans and can learn creativity, empathy and compassion.”

Despite the effusive praise for its new creation, there may still be reason for concern. At a live demonstration at the SXSW festival in March 2016, Hanson asked Sophia, “Do you want to destroy humans? … Please say ‘no.’” After pondering the question, Sophia answered, “OK. I will destroy humans.”

No reason to worry; it was no doubt just a small glitch in the voice recognition software. Just like what Dave encountered with HAL during that pod bay door incident.

Editor’s Recommendations

  • A beginner’s guide to A.I. superintelligence and ‘the singularity’
  • That’s ‘Professor Bot’ to you! How AI is changing education
  • Elon Musk is convinced killer robots are coming, and he has a plan
  • Time to kill? These are the absolute best movies on Netflix right now
  • Australian tech expert issues dire warning about the dangers of killer sex robots


Practice mindful meditation with a Welzen lifetime subscription for just $29.99!

Practice mindful meditation with a Welzen lifetime subscription for just $29.99!

We live in a fast-paced world where people often don’t make the time to take care of ourselves, but more specifically our mental health. Even five minutes of mindful meditation can have a big impact on lowering anxiety and stress levels, but if you’ve never tried it before it can be a bit intimidating.


That’s where this deal from Android Central Digital Offers comes in! For just $29.99, you can get a lifetime subscription to Welzen a daily service that delivers inspirational guided meditations five days a week right to your phone via the Welzen app.

Every day, you can choose between a 5, 10, 15, or 20 minute guided meditation designed to improve focus and creativity while also helping to strengthen relationships. With this subscription, you can also choose between subject-specific meditations you can practice practically anywhere.

Typically, a lifetime subscription to Welzen would cost up to $150, bit thanks to this deal from AC Digital Offers, you’ll save 80% and pay $29.99 just once. This is something that could have a major impact on your life, so if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by stress or anxiety lately, this might be just what you’re looking for.

See at Android Central Digital Offers


From the Editor’s Desk: Being critical vs. starting a Pixel 2 XL witch hunt


We hyper-analyze these phones sometimes, and we do it inconsistently.

If there’s one thing we’ve discovered by closely following the technology space the past few years, it’s that no consumer electronic device is perfect. That’s become extremely clear in the smartphone space in particular: smartphones are such a crucial part of our daily lives, and they continue to get more expensive, in turn leading to ever-higher expectations. When a company demands $900 for a phone, we want it to have exactly what we need — something no phone can do for everyone, of course.

This brings me to the Pixel 2 XL and its screen. #screengate #burngate #bluegate or whatever else you want to call it — this thing doesn’t have a great screen. At best, I think, you could say the Pixel 2 XL has an average display. But what I’ve seen in response to the Pixel 2 XL’s display woes has gone far beyond demanding that a $900 phone be great, and well into the “witch hunt” category — befitting of this Halloween weekend.


Looking on Twitter, in our forums and through comments on our Pixel 2 XL articles, it’s amazing the amount of utter disgust people have toward this display. Reading these remarks, you’d think the Pixel 2 XL was unusable — like sandpaper rubbing on your eyeballs every time you turn on the screen. People CAN’T BELIEVE that Google would ship a phone with such a display. (Many of them, of course, having at best seen the phone for 15 minutes in a Verizon store.) I’ve seen demands for refunds and outright recalls.

The Pixel 2 XL’s screen deserves much of the ire it’s been getting. But the display is fine. Not great, maybe not even above average, but fine. It has characteristics that set it a notch below the competition, and I agree that Google should’ve sourced a better panel. People are right in noting that it just doesn’t offer the same great screen experience as a Galaxy Note 8 or even a less-expensive HTC U11. But there’s the thing: you can point to dozens of things the Note 8 or U11 don’t do as well as the Pixel 2 XL … but I don’t recall the hoards of people with pitchforks chasing down those phones.

Some criticism is warranted — but this vitriol is way beyond the actual issues at hand.

The Pixel 2 XL may be unique in how poorly its display performs for the price. But it’s hardly unique in that it’s a high-end phone with a flaw that is going to make some people choose to buy one of the competing phones in the space. And it’s a “flaw” many people will look past and buy anyway.

If you look at our Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL review, or our list of the best Android phones, you’ll find that we currently have a disclaimer at the bottom that we’re not recommending the Pixel 2 XL at the moment. Provided that Google follows through on its software changes outlined in detail this week to mitigate some of the 2 XL screen issues, that disclaimer will be going away. This doesn’t mean that I think the Pixel 2 XL has a great display — and if you read my review, which hasn’t changed since it was published, I never thought it was all that good. But it means that we’re looking past the witch hunt trying to find any and every issue seemingly destined to torpedo the Pixel 2 XL, and recommending it for what it is: a fantastic phone in so many respects, but one you’re going to have to put up with a relatively average display on.

And with that, a few more thoughts on the week:

  • It’s no secret that I’m using the new Gear Sport smartwatch and Gear IconX 2018 earbuds — be ready to see a review for both this coming week.
  • The Gear Sport is far and away a better overall watch than the Gear S3, and that really just comes down to its size and weight. It’s gone from “ridiculous and unnecessary” to “totally manageable on a daily basis.” That’s super important.
  • The Gear IconX 2018 earbuds have fixed issues, but aren’t poised to be a huge seller. The insistence on being focused on fitness, combined with the $199 price, make them a niche product.
  • So … OnePlus 5T eh? Looks like OnePlus is going to change its script once again, opting for a design change for its “T” variant rather than just a spec bump. We’ll know more in just a couple of weeks, if rumors hold true.
  • I know the new Moto X4 didn’t get a ton of attention thanks to its price and mid-range specs, but that thing is a great phone for $400. I won’t be hesitating to recommend it to people who want to spend less than all of these high-end phones today.

Have a safe Halloween, everyone — whether you’re out partying, or taking your kids around the neighborhood for some free candy.



Banana fiber sanitary pads can solve big problems in India

With its sanitary pads for the Indian market, startup company Saathi solves two problems at once. Just 16 percent of women in India use them due to poverty and other reasons, which causes health and social issues. At the same time, manufacturing them wastes millions of gallons of water, and two million tons of pads end up in landfills every year. To help with all that, Saathi’s pads are affordable, made from discarded banana tree fibers, manufactured in a sustainable way and 100 percent biodegradable.

Engadget met with Saathi co-founders Kristin Kagetsu and Tarun Bothra at the Hello Tomorrow conference in Paris. The company not only won €15,000 in the wellbeing cateogry of the Hello Tomorrow Global Startup Challenge, but also the €5,000 Impact prize and grand prize of €100,000 — a sweep of all categories.

We take sanitary napkin usage for granted in North America and Europe, but it’s a huge issue in India and other developing nations. “In India, out of 100, only 16 women use sanitary pads,” Bothra told Engadget. “It varies from region to region as to why. In some places it’s not affordable and in others there are religious taboos. There is [also] a lack of education, so they stick to the old ways, which is tree bark or just normal cloth which causes UTIs (urinary tract infections) and other hygiene problems.”

To handle the economic issue, Saathi sells its pads in rural areas at cost and for profit in urban areas (it’s distributed in biodegradable, organic plastic sacks in villages and in boxes in cities). At the same time, it is doing educational outreach. “With the ‘One Million Pads’ initiative, we’re able to distribute pads to rural Jharkhand,” Kagetsu said. “We’re also doing an impact study to see what the difference is when they have pads, and particularly, biodegradable pads, because in rural areas there’s no waste infrastructure to deal with disposal.”

The pads have a modern, comfortable design with wings to prevent leakage, and the banana fiber material is 50 percent more absorbent than chemical products used in regular sanitary pads, the creators say. The material is surprisingly soft to the touch and doesn’t irritate skin.

“The structure of banana fiber itself is good for absorbing water; it’s better than cotton,” said Bothra. “We don’t use bleach, we don’t use sodium acrylate or any other chemical. They’re not skin friendly and can cause rashes and UTIs.

Because they contain no plastic or other non-organic materials, the pads biodegrade into compost in just three months, or six months in a landfill. At the same time, they’re more environmentally friendly than organic pads created from cotton farming, which consumes millions of gallons of water.

During manufacturing, no bleach or other chemicals are used, and any water consumed is recycled for banana plantation irrigation. “We’re using banana tree fiber, agro-waste, because the trees have to be cut down every harvest anyway,” said Kagetsu. “Growing organic cotton is very expensive, and it uses six times more water.”

Hello Tomorrow is about cutting edge science and technology startups, yet the startup challenge was dominated by a low-tech product. Unlike most tech products, though, which might deliver convenience or slight improvements, the pads offer dignity and a better life for women. Saathi notes that rural girls can miss up to 50 days of school every year due to a lack of sanitary pads and other hygiene-related products. “The goal is to help keep women at school and at work,” Kagetsu said.


After Math: Everything is Awesome

It’s been a wonderful week for the tech industry. Twitter is finally getting its act together regarding hateful content and Russian election interferences, major industry players released their Q3 earnings (Hint: They all made boatloads of money), and the FBI continues to prove that your phone’s encryption can withstand their hacking attempts. Numbers because how else will you know how many highs to five?

Guangzhou. China - December 1, 2016: Apple iPhone 7 screen with social media applications icons Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and more other24: That’s how many days are left until Twitter’s new and improved (and maybe even effective this time) rule changes regarding hate speech and sexual harassment go into effect. CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the company would be taking “a more aggressive stance” against abusive content, though we’ve heard similar platitudes from the company before. The rules go into effect on November 22nd.

15 degrees: That’s how much warmer windows stay when dressed in a new kind of nanotech solar panel. These “plasmonic nanoantennas” absorb and hold both light and heat to keep the building’s interior warm and toasty. Given that an office can lose as much as 20 percent of its warmth through the windows, these sheets could help high-rises save significant amounts of cash.

Cropped image of handsome grandpa and grandson playing game console while spending time together at home

3 years: That’s how often the US Copyright Office’s DMCA exemption, which allows museums and libraries to preserve old video games, needs to be renewed. Well, guess what happened this week? It done got renewed so we won’t have to worry about saving these digital treasures until after we elect a new president.

$43.7 billion: That’s how much stuff Amazon sold in just three months this year between July and September — outpacing Alphabet, which only garnered $27.8 billion in revenue during the same period — at this point Jeff Bezos won’t need to take over the world, he’ll just buy it outright.


2: Seems the only one not having a most excellent week is Russian president Vlad Putin. He was none too pleased to learn that Twitter had banned a pair of Kremlin-backed propaganda outlets from advertising on the social network.

A woman wears Snapchat Spectacles on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) while waiting for Snap Inc. to list their IPO in New York, U.S., March 2, 2017.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

150,000: That’s how many pairs of Snapchat Spectacles, this summer’s seemingly must-have tech accessory, are sitting in a warehouse somewhere waiting to be sold. Turns out Snapchat may have overplayed its hand in estimating just how many people would be okay strapping cameras to their faces. Have we truly learned nothing from the Google Glass debacle?

7,000: That’s how many phones the FBI can’t snoop through due to them being encrypted. Guess the Feds had better call that Israeli firm that broke them into the San Bernardino shooter’s phone and pony up $7,000,000,000


Ming-Chi Kuo Says iPhone X’s TrueDepth Production Issues Stabilizing, Won’t Affect Next Year’s Models

While the iPhone X has reportedly faced production issues related to the TrueDepth camera, resulting in shipment delays, respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said supply of components for the facial recognition system is now stable.

In a research note with KGI Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo added that Apple won’t “repeat the mistake” of delayed production with next year’s iPhone models, which he predicts will “arrive on time” under “stable supply.”

Apple won’t repeat the mistake of supply disruption & delayed production as seen with iPhone X. We believe shipments of new 2H18F iPhones will arrive on time under stable supply in late 3Q18F. And given no major spec upgrade of TrueDepth camera on these new models, we believe Apple will continue to use the same WLO for dot projector and 4P lens of infrared camera as iPhone X. We believe the supply of both components are now stable, leaving no need to switch to other solutions.

Kuo expects new iPhone models launching in the second half of 2018 to adopt the same wafer level optics for the TrueDepth system’s dot projector, and the same 4P lens for the infrared camera, as the iPhone X.

iPhone X pre-orders began on Friday at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, and shipping estimates have remained at 5-6 weeks since a few hours after that time.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTags: KGI Securities, Ming-Chi Kuo, TrueDepthBuyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
Discuss this article in our forums

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Is it Worth Buying AppleCare+ for iPhone X?

After spending at least a thousand dollars on a brand new iPhone X, you may be debating whether it’s really worth it to spend an additional few hundred dollars on an AppleCare+ plan to insure your shiny new smartphone.

AppleCare+ is an optional, premium warranty plan that extends an iPhone’s warranty coverage to two years from the original purchase date of the device, and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $29 for screen damage, or $99 for any other damage.

AppleCare+ for iPhone X costs $199 upfront, compared to $129 for the iPhone 8 and $149 for the iPhone 8 Plus. As with virtually any form of insurance, AppleCare+ only pays for itself in the event you accidentally damage your device.

To determine if AppleCare+ is worthwhile, we first must look at how much it will cost to repair the iPhone X without the coverage.

Apple recently confirmed it will charge out-of-warranty rates of $279 for iPhone X screen repairs, and $549 for any other damage to the device, unless it is a manufacturing defect covered by Apple’s standard one-year limited warranty.

With AppleCare+ for iPhone X, the price of a repair would be the $199 upfront cost of the plan plus a $29 to $99 incidental fee.

If you shatter your iPhone X’s screen once, for example, you would pay $279 out of warranty. With the upfront cost of AppleCare+ coupled with the screen repair incidental fee, you would pay $228, so purchasing the plan can save you money in the long run if an accident happens.

If you shatter your iPhone X’s back glass, having AppleCare+ is even more worthwhile. Apple’s flat rate is $549 for this type of damage, while the upfront cost of AppleCare+ coupled with a $99 incidental fee totals $298.

The chart below shows that AppleCare+ will save you money in the long run if you damage your iPhone X in any way just once in two years.

Even if you never damage your iPhone X, AppleCare+ has one additional perk that can be quite valuable: 24/7 priority access to Apple support advisors via phone or online chat for two years after your iPhone X’s purchase date. Without it, iPhone users are covered by just 90 days of complimentary telephone support.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether AppleCare+ is worth it, as it very much depends on how careful you are. But given the iPhone X’s out-of-warranty repair fees are quite high, it may be more worthwhile than ever.

AppleCare+ can be purchased through Apple’s online or retail stores. If not purchased alongside the iPhone, it can be added within 60 days, pending a diagnostic test to ensure no damage has occurred in that time.

It’s also worth noting that if you cancel your AppleCare+ plan before the two-year coverage period expires, you’ll get a partial refund based on the percentage of unexpired coverage, minus the value of any service already provided. A cancellation fee of $25 or 10 percent of the pro-rata amount, whichever is less, applies.

All prices above are listed in U.S. dollars. AppleCare+ and Apple’s out-of-warranty repair fees vary in other countries.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: AppleCareBuyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
Discuss this article in our forums

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A former rocket scientist explains why carnival games are a huge scam

Why it matters to you

The science behind common carnival games reveals why you’ll never win in the long run.

Ex-NASA scientist and prolific inventor Mark Rober seems like a fun guy. He made a snowball machine gun, constructed a giant Nerf launcher, and even built a dartboard where it’s impossible to miss the bullseye.

For his latest adventure, he traveled to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park to explain why you can never win the giant stuffed panda at the ring toss, even if you end up spending your life savings. Most carnival games seem quite simple, some even look ridiculously easy, but the creators have science on their side that ensures that you’ll end up shelling out many times what the prizes are actually worth before winning – that is, if you manage to win at all.

The basketball toss is one example. Even if you’ve got a killer three-point shot, you’ll likely come up short at the carnival. That’s because the rims are 11 feet high, rather than the regulation 10 feet. A regulation three-point line is 24 feet out, but at the carnival you’re shooting from 28. Even the back of the attraction is draped with a slanted tarp, to make the basket appear closer than it really is.

“Which is subtle,” Rober explains. “But if you have a deadly three-pointer locked into your muscle memory, you will tend to miss short, which is exactly what we saw a bunch.”

Rober enlisted the help of an army of churro-fueled volunteers to track each game over the course of a full day to see how many people played, and how many actually won a prize. The results are hardly surprising, but it highlights how much money these attractions bring in. Rober estimates the amount at $20,000 per day, just from the carnival games alone.

There are many factors that skew your observations, making the games seem easier than they are. For instance, the beer pong table is slanted, making the balls bounce in a different direction that you’re used to. The milk bottles are weighted differently than normal bottles, making them harder to knock down than you would expect.

In addition to basic physics, the carnival operators have math on their side. For a one-dollar game that has a 10 percent chance of winning, you’ll drop ten bucks (on average) before scoring that pink teddy bear. A pink teddy bear that cost the carnival two dollars.

The entire video is entertaining; Rober even highlights one game that’s actually a test of skill, which you can win every time after a little bit of practice. There’s a catch, though, so you won’t be impressing your date any time soon. Maybe you can impress them on the Ferris wheel waterslide instead?

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  • Not looking for a group? Blizzard’s beta now lets you appear offline
  • Improve your golf swing with the sensors from SwingLync
  • Master ‘FIFA 18’ Ultimate Team with our beginner’s guide


How to create a pivot table in Excel to slice and dice your data

Microsoft Excel 2016, found in the Office suite, is the latest and greatest spreadsheet application from Redmond, and there’s a good reason so many number crunchers use it for all of their number crunching needs. While Excel is fine for simple spreadsheets to track expenses or build calendars, it comes into its own when you need to slice and dice and then present complex data. Here, we show you how to create a pivot table in Excel to take advantage of one of the application’s most powerful tools.

Before we start, just what exactly are pivot tables good for? Simply put, pivot tables let you look at the same data in different ways and from different angles, to make it easier to perform in-depth analysis and to spot important trends. When you’re evaluating sales results, for example, you may want to look at an individual person, a specific product, or a specific timeframe. With a pivot table, you can create one pool of information and then easily change your focus from one thing to another — an analysis that would be tedious to perform manually.

Note that you’ll need the full version of Excel 2016 to use pivot tables. The Universal Windows Platform (UWP) Windows 10 version of Excel doesn’t include that and many other advanced Excel features. Finally, if you want to try out new Excel features, join the Office Insider program and perhaps be the first to experience a new pivot table function.

Step 1: Prepare your data

Perhaps the most important step in using Excel pivot tables is to carefully organize your data. The easiest way to do this is to use Excel tables, which let you add rows that will be included with your pivot table whenever you hit refresh. But at the very least, you want your data to be in tabular form with informative column headers and with consistent data within columns.

For example, let’s say that you want to analyze sales information for your company. You have six salespeople who sell three products across a number of regions. Your products are tailored for each customer and so pricing varies. Here’s a sample table with fictional information to give you an idea of how data can be organized with a pivot table in mind.

The table was created simply by first entering the data, then selecting the entire range, and then going to Insert > Table. Again, you don’t have to take this step but it’s recommended if you want to add more rows of data later and make it easier to update your pivot table.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Step 2: Try a recommendation

Excel is full of nifty tricks to make working with data easier, and whenever possible it will try to guess what you want to accomplish and then automatically carry out a few steps. This helpful nature is demonstrated here by the Recommended PivotTables tool, which takes a look at your data and offers up some logical options on how to analyze and present things.

To use a recommended pivot table, simply go to Insert > Recommended PivotTables. Excel will present a few options for you to consider. In our example, Excel offers to create 10 different pivot tables that take a look at a number of different angles on our sales data. Note that how you label your columns matters; Excel reads these headers and offers up recommendations that make the most sense. If you want to look at sales prices, for example, don’t use the term “cost,” because Excel will base its recommendation accordingly.

One recommendation is “Sum of Total Sales by Customer.” If we choose that option, then Excel will proceed to create the pivot table.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Notice that the pivot table is displaying only the data that’s pertinent to our present analysis. On the right-hand side, you’ll find the criteria that Excel used to create it in the PivotTable Fields dialog. We’ll cover what each of these field means in the next section on customization.

Step 3: Customize your pivot table

Each of the items in this dialog is important to determine how your pivot table will work. Click the configuration cog to alter this dialog’s look to whatever works best for you.

Fields selection

Here, you are choosing which columns to include in your pivot table. How that data will populate in the pivot table is determined by the type of data that it represents — Excel will figure out for you whether to add a column to your pivot table or add the field’s data within the table. For example, if you select “Items,” Excel assumes you want to add the number of items for each customer.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

On the other hand, if you select “Date,” Excel places the data into the table and organizes the sales by when they occurred.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

As you’re working on your own pivot tables, you can experiment to see how added and removing fields affects the data that’s displayed. You’ll find that Excel does a great job of making selections that make sense, but you can also change things around if Excel’s choices don’t make sense.


Drag items from the fields selection list into the “Filters” section if you want to limit which data is shown. For example, if you drag “Customer” into the “Filters” section, you can easily show only the data from one or a selection of customers.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends


By dragging fields into the “Columns” section, you can expand how your data is being reported. Again, when you drag a field into this section, Excel will try to figure out how you want the data presented. For example, if you drag “Date” into the “Columns” section, then Excel will display the sales as summarized for the most logical timeframe, which in this case is per month. This would be helpful if your primary concern was how much was sold on a monthly basis with an eye on customer purchasing patterns.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends


Similarly, you can drag fields into the “Rows” section to embed different data into pivot table rows. Again, if we drag “Date” into the “Rows” section, Excel will break out the sales by customer per month, but the data will be summarized by customer and not by month as in the previous example. In this case, you’re mostly worried about how much you sold to each customer, but you also want to spot any time-based trends.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends


Finally, the “Values” section determines how you’re analyzing your data. In all of our examples so far, we’ve been looking at total sales. If you click on the down arrow key in this section, you can configure your value field settings to look at a different numerical calculation.

For example, let’s say you want to look at sales averages instead of total sales. You would simply select “Average” in the value field settings dialog. You can also set the number format so that the results make the most sense.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Now, instead of considering total sales by customer, and then calculating a grand total, we’re looking at average sales by company and then average sales across the company. This would be helpful in evaluating which customers are above or below average in sales, for example, and therefore which deserve the most (or least) attention. In our example, perhaps Acme Engineering and Jones Roofing don’t merit as much sales attention as the others.

Clearly, pivot tables offer a slew of options to make slicing and dicing your data easy. The trick to using pivot tables effectively is to decide exactly what you want to see before you start applying options. You also want to make sure that your data corresponds to how you’ve laid out your table and how you’ve named your headers. The more careful you are in setting things up, the more effective your pivot tables will be.

Step 4: Create your own pivot tables from scratch

Once you’ve played around with the pivot table feature and gained some understanding of how the various options affect your data, then you can start creating a pivot table from scratch. The process is similar to using a recommendation, only you go to Insert > PivotTable and then manually select your data as your first step.

In our case, that means selecting Table1, but we could also select a range of data or pull from an external data source. We can also decide if we want to create a new worksheet or place the pivot table next to our data at a certain location on the existing worksheet.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Once we’ve made our selection, we’re presented with a blank pivot table and our PivotTable Fields dialog.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Creating our own pivot table is then just a simple matter of selecting fields and determining how we want the data calculated and displayed. Let’s say we want to see how salespeople performed per month, with a grand total of sales for the year. We would select the “Salesperson,” “Date,” and “Total Sales” fields, drag the “Salesperson” field to the “Filters” section, and configure the values to display as currency. Excel automatically adds the relevant date items to the “Rows” section and assumes that we want to see sums.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

By default, Excel will show all of the data for all salespeople. We can also select a single salesperson to see just his or her data. In this case, we see that Judy French had sales in only three months, even though her sales totals were significant. That could mean that her sales process was longer because she was going after whales instead of fishes — a valuable conclusion, if accurate. Perhaps investing in an assistant to help Judy close her sales more quickly would be a good idea.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Step 5: Invest in some learning

If you want to get really good at using Excel pivot tables, invest some time in learning a bit more about how it uses the various data types. Microsoft offers its own training resources and there are a host of third-party trainers to consider.

Generally, though, this means digging into Excel in a way that’s beyond the scope of this guide. Nevertheless, hopefully you now see how pivot tables can be a powerful tool in analyzing your data, and it’s relatively easy to get started as long as you have your data configured into the right kind of table. And we can’t stress enough how important it is to know what you want to accomplish with your pivot table before you begin.

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