Salty Old Grumpy ADP Fan (1 Viewer)

aaronkempf

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Hello


I've been using Access for 23 years now. I mean, when I first SAW Access, and what it could do to transform a company's communication; that was when I went back to college in order to study databases. I was working as a QA tester for a video game company in the summer of 1997. I had TWO fulltime jobs. One job was waiting tables at Sharis, and the other job was testing video games. We had about 30 testers, and I think that we had about another 100 people in the company. On one of the first few days on the job, we were pulled into the backroom so we could look on the BIGSCREEN, and her name was 'Ruth Lopez'. She had developed an Access Forms app, and it did a good job of keeping track of the bugs, but it was my understanding that she didn't know how to do VBA or Macros. So we were basically all taught how to write our own queries. I had been studying 'Management Information Systems' at Washington State University, and I had learned TONS of information about MS Office. I mean, I don't think that we were really taught about Access in college (just yet) but we had studied Excel, Word, Outlook, and we were taught the importance of things like OLE automation. I hadn't studied VIsual Basic at the time, but after working on this summer gig, I went back to college for my last year, and I took a class on Visual Basic.


I was amazed with how easy it was for THIRTY people, to pick up Access Queries in order to FIND existing bugs. I mean, every time that we had a new software BUG, we had to spend 10 minutes looking through our Bug Catalog to make sure that we didn't have some sort of Duplication on our bugs. I picked up learning queries quite quickly, but it wasn't because I was taught how to do it... it's just that the 'Query By Example' dialog in MS Access is pretty straight forward. I probably wrote 30 or 40 queries per day for 3 months, looking for similiar bugs. Searching through descriptions, I mean, the application and the database schema really wasn't THAT complex. But I was utterly blown away by the experience that our company had. 130 people communicating about 40,000 software defects.. and this app was built by someone that knew ZERO programming (from what I understand and remember). I was impressed. I knew that Microsoft had been steamrolling companies for the last 10 years, and since I grew up about 100 ards from the Redmond city limits, I HAD to cheer on the local team. I knew that MS Access was just ONE piece of the puzzle. But it wasn't until my first fulltime job, throughout 1999 that I was working in a role, where it was my job to automate making a spreadsheet inventory on EVERY phone call that I made. I mean, I had to take data from a couple of different places, the SQL Server-based CRM system. Existing spreadsheets, and a text file that had been logging all of our licensing information since the company was created. It was simple. I had to calculate a) how many licenses a company had purchased. b) How many licenses the company had recieved, and thus c) how many licenses the company was due. I mean, this software was thousands of dollars per copy, and I couldn't afford to get this wrong.
 

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aaronkempf

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But I did. I mean, I started writing macros in Excel to do all of the formatting. I would take the Log file (that was still being written to) and open it in Excel, do stuff to the columns, record a Macro, and then to modify the macro that had been recorded. I mean, it was a struggle to figure out some of this stuff. But somewhere along the way, I started having a little bit of Success, and I knew that I wanted to do something more exciting than what I was already doing. I told my bosses that I wanted an extravagent amount of money. and they gave me about half of what I was seeking, and then they sat me down, and they told me: "Aaron, nobody in tech support is ever going to make XYZ dollars per hour. If you want to do that, you have your choice between doing Sales, or becoming a developer'. Somewhere along the line, I had encouraged my company to start wit this TRAINING program. We were all studying to become MCSE certified. I knew that great things would happen, if we just worked hard to become more technical, more knowledgeable. The sky was the limit. And WHILE we were all studying to become MCSE, I started ALSO taking classes to become a Microsoft Certified DBA. I went to the local Community College, and paid about $1500 for a class on DB Development, and a class on DB Administration. and then I kept using MS Excel, Macros, and combining data from Text Files, and Excel Spreadsheets with MS SQL Server data. I mean, the data was SO easy to get to if i could just get a connection to the SQL Server via an ODBC connection instead of using the CRM sofftware.


ALtogether, things were great. Somewhere along the lines, my weekend and evenings job (at Sharis) led me to leave my fulltime job, and to start contracting at Microsoft. I mean, that first project at MIcrosoft, we had one or two people that were certified. We had about 10 people that were better than me at using Visual Basic. and I just had a couple of redeeming qualities that ended up being worth their weight in gold.
 

aaronkempf

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I was POSITIVE that I wanted to work doing databases. I mean, the Visual Basic side, it seemed kindof beneath me, and I was a real 'go-getter' at that time. For example, on this project at Microsoft, we had 15 people sitting around in a room, asking 'How are we going to finish this project on time?". I mean, we were supposed to find volunteers to come in and help us to test this software, and there were a couple of pieces thrown together, and I Was the only one who really 'got it'. I mean, someone from Microsoft had promised us to give people FREE software from Microsoft. and then they brought us LISTS of people that had PREVIOUSLY volunteered, and somehow... nobody could figure out what needed to happen except me. I mean, we screwed around for HALF of that 3 month project, and then one day, I come up with this GREAT idea, and without direction, without permission. I start looking at the lists of people that had previously volunteered, and I started friggin CALLING THEM. I mean, I built a little Access database to keep track of volunteers, and I started working the circuits and doing whatever I HAD to to make sure that project started happening. Nobody in their right mind would have took the RISK of starting to do stuff like that, without permission. I mean, they gave us the lists. But nobody TOLD US to call these people. and somehow, I figured it out, and started making calls, I got people in the door, and I was really thanked profusely for basically saving the project. I mean, it was still a LOT of work. But I had done a lot of calling in the previous couple of years, and I wasn't going to back down unless someone told me REAL seriously to stop doing it.


If I fast forward a couple of months, I started doing contracting for Microsoft Access. and I didn't know my abilities well enough. I mean, I was on this project where this company, it was a division of Fujitsu Network Communications, and they had this WICKED amalgation of Microsoft Excel combined with a product named Visio. Their software was flawless, it just needed a couple of TWEAKS. and for about a month, all I could do was to talk to the guy in charge, and to convince him to get rid of Microsoft Excel and to move to MIcrosoft Access. I mean, sometimes, I don't do the best job at listening to the requirements and coming up with a SOLID technical reccomendation. But I stuck wit it. I went to CIrcuit City, and I bought a series of Training Videos on 'How to do Microsoft Access'. and I dubbed those VHS tapes onto audio cassettes, and I listened to those tapes, all day, every day. I tried my best to understand, to be able to differentiate between a recordsource and a control source.
 

aaronkempf

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and then a couple of months later, I walked into a company that had about EIGHTY Access applications and databases. I mean, I still don't understand how a company can have MORE Access applications and databases than they have EMPLOYEES. But the Access databases they scrubbed the data that was being transferred via dialup connections. There were applications that would do things like 'Fix an accounting error when a store manager forgot to run an 'end of day' report'.


and the REAL project that I was hired to work on, it had some crazy requirements:
- import data from six or eight other systems
- support more than 255 columns per table (at least that was MY diagnosis. I had difficulty with proper normalization for a long part of my career)
- support reports that ran quickly
- didn't take 10 minutes to open


I mean, we seriously had Access applications that took 10 minutes to open. I mean, everything was in Access 97, and they were close to the 1gb limit, and Access just wasn't holding up it's end of the bargain. So I invested REALLY heavily into Access Data Projects (ADP). and still to this DAY, I don't work on a SINGLE project where my FIRST reccomendation ISN'T these things called 'Access Data Projects'. I just love SQL Server. I've worked on some AMAZING projects. I've done DataMarts and Data Warehousing for at least a dozen companies in the Seattle area over the past 22 years.


and now, at age 46, I'm semi--retired, and I want to play with technology again. I *KNOW* that there are MANY people that will remember me from my days of being a TROLL.
 

aaronkempf

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I just didn't LIKE how I was out selling people on MS SQL Server, and then Microsoft pulls the rug out from underneath me, and they cancelled a superior product. Maybe I should have been clued into the FACT that ADP were kinda marginalized in 2007 and 2010. But still, to this day, I'd rather use ADP than ANYTHING else in the world.


but today, I can't get Microsoft Office 2010 to Activate any longer. I have some REALLY fishy bugs going on with Office 2010. I don't know what's going on with it. But I go to edit data in a data sheet view, and the data that I type is NOT the data that is entered. SO I guess that this is it. Today might be the day that I give up on MS Access Data Projects, and with it, I'd rather chew on glass than to go back to DAO.


Cheeers. I hope you enjoy my story. Attached is my RESUME. and YES, I need to rewrite it. but the LAST thing that I would ever do is to use the wrong tool for the job. and Microsoft Word is NOT the right tool for this job. I think that the requirements, where people EXPECT a Word Document to magically keep track of everything that happened throughout my career, I just think that Microsoft Word is the wrong tool for the job.


The last time that Microsoft was taking a look at hiring me, I built a database with about 500 pages of documents. I had to go into GREAT detail, talking about ALL of my jobs, and what I did, and what I learned. I mean, I guess that Microsoft uses this company called Brassring to take a look at their new employees work history, and then BrassRing tells Microsoft what a particular person should EARN. And on my mother's grave. I was told that BrassRing had a limitation in their database that said 'No Real Person would ever work more than 25 jobs in their lifetime'. and I had to argue and argue and argue. and I wasted MONTHS of my time pretending to write a resume. and all I want to know is: WHEN IS SOMEONE GOING TO BUILD A RESUME FORMAT THAT ALLOWS DRILLDOWN AND DRILLTHROUGH AND FILTERING AND LINKS TO OTHER DATASETS?'.


I've ad 38 fulltime projects, 38 fulltime gigs in the last 22 years. and somehow, that makes me unhireable. I'd GLADLY work again, for nearly anyone that listened to me, and someone that challenged me. But I'm just DONE working for people that don't listen, and I'd rather play around wit my OWN datasets, and my OWN clients, and my OWN projects than to ever work for a nontecnical person ever again.


But I'm sure that I'll return to work sometime soon. It's just been a few years, already. So CHEERS, to early retirement.


Aaron Kempf
Microsoft Certified IT Professional
 

Isaac

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Thanks for the intro! ... and welcome!
 

theDBguy

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