Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No Respect for Access

Microsoft Access is one of the least respected but most powerful development platforms available.
Case in point I saw a post on G+ today that pointed to free online e-books for developers. I clicked on the link, excited that I might see some other methods/techniques that I could use in developing my Access databases. Not a single link that I clicked on had anything for Access developers and VBA (Visual Basic for Applications – the programming language used by Access and the other Microsoft Office applications Excel, Word and Outlook) listed.

It amazes me that as prolific as Microsoft Office is today, that more people aren’t developing for Office or aren’t having applications developed for them for their Office platform. Or is it that I just don’t see things published as much for the Office Platform as for others for some other reason?

Are you a developer? If you develop for Microsoft Office suite of applications, why did you choose to do so? If you choose some other platform what do you develop in and why didn’t you choose Office and VBA?
I love creating Microsoft Access database applications and am truly amazed at the things I have been able to do with it. Here are some of abilities of Access I have included in various applications that could very well make you a fan:
Create a data entry application that could perform data validation then output the data into fixed length records which are then imported into a main frame system.

Create databases that scan your Outlook email inbox for specific emails, import the content into the database, parse the information and store it to track statistics or even respond in a reply email to provide specific requested information.
Database applications that can open web browsers and navigate to specific locations and complete specific fields. This works well for my day job when it pulls an address from a record and then navigates to a map showing the location using Google Maps, or even showing a 10-day weather forecast, all with the click of a single button. Or how about opening Google Maps and displaying calculating a route using two addresses using a browser control in an Access form.
Create applications that can store data, perform mail merges with Microsoft Word documents, save the document as a PDF file and then attach it to an email, all with the click of one button.

Open an existing Excel spreadsheet and import the data or open an new or existing Excel file and export the data. I have one in which the Excel file had graphs that are updated as the data is written to it from the Access database data tables.
Some people use Microsoft Excel to store their data, but Excel files, being flat file databases, have all sorts of problems associated with them that can be solved by using an Access database. One weakness of Access is that it does not have all of those fancy calculation functions that Excel has, but that is easily remedied by creating an Excel file that as all of your most used functions set up in it, then having your Access application open the excel file, populate the fields to be calculated, then importing the calculated result back into your Access application. And it doesn’t take very long to do this when you automate it using VBA!

These examples are just scratching the surface of what Microsoft Access can do. If you develop in another platform, can your platform do these things? What kind of cool things can your platform do? Are you considering switching to developing for Office?
If you use Microsoft Office and would like to use such automation features, let’s get you set up with some resources so you can learn how to do this awesome stuff! Just be warned, it can take a bit of time to learn this stuff, just as with any programming platform.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Knox Saga Continues After All

So what are your opinions on the Amanda Knox trial, acquittal and the possibility of Amanda Kercher’s family suing Amanda Knox? The morning news today reports that the Kercher family may plan to sue Knox for £8 million for planning to profit financially from the case. With a storyline seemingly taken from the OJ Simpson story in which Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldmark but was later successfully sued by the Goldmark family.

In the Simpson case, the most striking or glaring error made by the prosecution was that they didn’t seem to point out to the jury that the reason the Simpson had difficulty putting on a pair of tight leather gloves was really because he was wearing latex rubber gloves while trying to put them on during the trial. It is doubtful that he wore latex rubber under the gloves at any other time. Videos of Simpson working as a sideline commentator show him wearing tight fitting leather gloves but there is no indication of latex rubber gloves on underneath them.

In the Knox appeal trial much of the evidence was discredited as being either tainted or not of sufficient amount to prove that Knox was present at the crime scene. One could argue that you should expect at least some of Knox’ DNA present throughout the entire apartment since she lived there. Supposedly the amounts found were more like the amounts one would find in cross contamination, in other words of minuscule amounts that it was most likely transferred from incidental contact with DNA from other parts within the apartment. As one expert (I cannot recall who it was as it was part of a report on CNN or some other news program) put it, you can get someone else’s DNA on your clothing just by them rubbing against you in passing, or by touching something that they had touched earlier.

As the videos of evidence collection from the crime scene show, the people gathering the evidence whore the same gloves to examine multiple pieces of evidence which surely would have been contaminated by DNA from other articles within the apartment. And let’s look at the bra clasp from a bra belonging to Kercher, said to contain very small amounts of Knox’s DNA. Kercher herself could have transferred such a small amount of DNA belonging to Knox simply by touching something Knox had touched elsewhere in the apartment.

So another question would be, if there was insufficient evidence to prove that Knox was involved in Kercher’s murder, should the Kercher family really be trying to sue Knox? What is their real motivation? If they are considering suing Knox for her plans to profit from Amanda’s murder, wouldn’t the Kercher family be doing the same thing? Would they not profit from Amanda’s murder if they were to successfully sue Knox? Are they also considering suing Sollicito as well? How about suing Guedo, the only one currently imprisoned for Kercher’s murder? And in that vein, was there really more than one person involved in the murder?