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Passions in Poetry

Access

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Poet deVine
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0 posted 01-23-2003 06:52 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine


OK. Had a class today in Access - it was Level 1 - the beginners class I think.

I liked it - but everyone else in the class (12 of us from work) was bored silly. Three people had the gall to leave early!!! I'm sure our supervisor will hear about it.

I want to take more classes but it took me seven years to get to take THIS one!! I've wanted Access since I started in this department and for one reason or another, I've been told I can't. Now I'm going to push for more.

The teacher today was pretty good. He had a half gallon of orange juice (cardboard container with a big green straw in it). And he played sounds throughout the class:
http://www.soundamerica.com/


and then he gave us this:
http://mvps.org/access/

So I guess if push comes to shove, I'll borrow an Access book from work and play with it in my spare time.
Ron
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Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
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Michigan, US


1 posted 01-23-2003 09:12 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I don't normally toot my own horn, but what I'm about to say requires that I establish some credentials if it is to be taken seriously. I've been working with MS Access since version 2.0, or roughly about ten years. A large portion of the software in my old company was written in Access. I teach Access development at four different levels, Visual Basic for Access at two levels, and have designed and taught a semester course at WMU on Relational Database technology, including normalization and SQL. I ain't the best by any means, but neither am I a neophyte. And I really, really, really hate to say anything bad about someone if I can avoid it.

Sharon, that link you were given to mvps.org includes some of the WORST advice I have ever seen about Access or any other database software. I admit I didn't read a lot, but that Ten Commandments of Access page was written by someone who has a very superficial understanding of Access. Just enough to be dangerous.

Obviously, I think Access is a powerful and useful tool. I wish I could recommend a good, beginner-level book to get you started, but I just don't read that many beginner-level books any more. About the best I can offer is a recommendation on Sam's as a good publisher, having used a few of their books for other classes. Access is definitely worth pursuing, and you'll find a ton of uses for what you learn.

But, uh, not at that site.
Poet deVine
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2 posted 01-23-2003 09:40 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine


You can toot your horn all you want but I knew you have a strong background in Access! I posted the link here in hopes that you would tell me the truth about it. In fact, knowing you as I do, I expected to see YOUR name all over the site! (I admit I was going to go back to work tomorrow and tell everyone I knew someone who contributed to the site! )  

I'm glad you warned me off though and I won't waste my time there!

This brings up another question. How can I know I'm being taught properly? This class was arranged and paid for by my company. It was held at COMPUSA and the teacher had all these credentials....so? Do I have to go to a local college instead?

Thanks for your time Ron.
Ron
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3 posted 01-23-2003 11:36 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Honestly? If your instructor recommended that site, I would probably be a little concerned.

On the other hand, the things I found offensively wrong at that site are things that would never be covered in a beginner-level class. You're probably safe.

Learning Access isn't easy and, by extension, that means that teaching it isn't easy either. If you took a class in MS Word, you would logically expect to be taught how to use the software. You would NOT expect them to teach you how to write a good short story. But everyone comes into an Access class wanting to write their own Great American Novel. A database program isn't much fun without a database, but designing a database - like writing a short story - is a very different skill set. Access is one of those rare things where the sum is much greater than the parts. But ya gotta learn the parts before you can do the sums. For many, that can be discouraging. A good teacher, I think, can bring the student's focus back to something within reach of their skills, while at the same time, making at least most of those parts they need to learn seem like fun. Building forms, for example, can be a blast once you get past the "it has to be perfect" stumbling block. I always give out an award for the ugliest screen in class, rather than the best. "If it ain't ugly," I tell them, "You aren't trying anything new. You aren't learning."

A teacher is useful to learn concepts. What is a table? Why are Queries almost the same as a table? Is a Form really a separate object, or is it just another way of viewing Tables and Queries? Once you've learned the concepts they become building blocks, and the best way to learn how to use them is to USE THEM. Someone can spend a whole semester telling you how to play the piano, but until your fingers actually touch the ivories you really aren't learning anything. The problem with a classroom is that new concepts immediately follow old concepts and the student has very little time to put anything to real use. The little bit of hands-on they get usually isn't even enough to generate good questions. And until they start asking questions, they're just accepting and not really learning. This is true in a one- or three-day seminar, but it's even more true in a 15-week semester. Ideally, your "second" class should come when you need it, and not just because it's been a week since your first class.

Pick a small application that interests you. Maybe a Contact Manager, little more than names and addresses. Or a database for poetry? Your first project should be something you could just as easily store in an Excel spreadsheet (which is nothing more than flat-file database). Keep it simple and use what you've already learned. Questions will inevitably rise, and you'll learn more. Every time you've reached a point where you're satisfied with your application, think of ways you can extend it. At the point where you would need two or three worksheets to store it in Excel, you'll probably graduate to a relational database model and you'll have a whole lot more questions. Each answered question will grow your skills a little more. It won't happen overnight, and you'll likely end up throwing away most of what you do so that you can start a new one that is better, but one day you'll look at it and realize - you've got yourself at least a pretty decent American Novel.
Poet deVine
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4 posted 01-23-2003 11:53 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

Thank you.


I've always taught myself how to use the software at work - we rarely get training. That's how I ended up as the trainer and 'unofficial' help desk.

We just got XP Professional at work and some of my instructions have to be redone. We  have a shared drive where we store digital photos that we use for a monthly presentation. We used to be able to create folders on that drive from our own computer and load the photos there. But XP never watched Mr. Rogers and doesn't 'share' very well. So I had to figure out how to do it. Our IS department won't give everyone in our department 'administrative rights' to that computer..so? Sigh.

I was hoping that Access would help me develop a database that we could pull info from that would save us typing the same information over three times! So the day before our class we got XP. Lo and behold it wasn't on the load. We asked and found out that 18 months ago the company decided to move away from Access as a database creator and go with something else (at this point all I've heard is Kona?).

Anyway...I won't always be working for this company and plan to pursue the next level.

Thanks Ron!
 
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