Re: The 4 horsemen of the internet...
I have Office 2010 on a Win 7 VM on Linux Mint, though it can connect to the internet if need be. So I'm not quite as much of a naughty donkey...
363 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Jun 2011
Low code always seems to be about generic business needs, and it never seems to allow digging in to the code to allow modifications to that code that are often needed by very specific business needs. As such there's always some demand for actual coding even on the business side of the 'I.T. Wall' to be able to get solutions put together to meet very particular business requirements.
The problem I have, and I don't think it's that uncommon, is that I currently work on the 'business' side of the I.T. 'wall'. I.T. won't give business-side developers servers with a database and web server installed. They want to control it themselves, provide it in a data center as far away and cheaply as possible, yet still charge an exhorbitantly high price for an inferior, difficult-to-get-changes-made, end result.
With that in mind, I can develop solutions using Access far more quickly, far more cheaply, and far more responsively. However, Access's 1990s interface, its network hogging, its low security, etc, are all serious limitations that are difficult if not impossible to work around.
What I'd really like to be able to have is a server on site, with a suitable database system for the tasks at hand, and a web server installed, and be able to do all the work locally. That way I can get my work done and users aren't limited to Access on the desktop as the only way to use the apps.
I'd be interested less in speed of usage, and more about just how far folks can take the VBA. My usage of it in Access goes way beyond anything Access was origamally designed for, though it's getting threatened now that employers (i.e., my current one) are starting to feel that VBA's Win32 API capability is a 'risk too far' and are blocking it using the Virus Scanner when in an Excel file.
While users may try to build data analysis solutions, they'll keep coming up against the same problem with the available systems: that the predefined modules will only cover 80-90% of general business needs. The remaining 10-20% is industry/business/department/team/user specific, and the predefined modules will be black boxes that no-one's allowed to go in and modify the code. It simply won't work for the really customised requests, the likes of which I see regularly where I currently work, and that just simply can't be met by 'one size fits all' systems. That's where VBA (Access in my case, but also Excel) wins out as the code is unfettered by such constraints, even if the applications themselves really aren't where serious coding should take place and the VBA hasn't been improved in any real sense since Office 2010, if then).
For my sins I use VBA extensively in Access, and indirectly in Excel and other Office applications due to the built in OLE automation. I have no choice because, as others have said, the powers that be consider me to be on the 'business' side of the brick wall between business and I.T., so I.T. won't even consider providing proper hardware and software to do the programming jobs 'properly'.
IMHO I reckon that no matter how fast any wireless technology can be, its reliability will always be an issue. Also, the faster it gets the more difficult it becomes to get it to work through objects (like walls), I think that might be down to something called physics.
When I want to know that my connection will work 99.999% of the time, I'll use a hardwire thanks, and wouldn't touch wireless with a barge pole.
I agree for the most part. Unfortunately I think those of us with such a mind are in a dwindling minority.
When it comes to older Office versions, I use 2010. My only worry with any of them is activation and if Microsoft eventually turn off the activation servers. It wouldn't affect Office 97, and I have that and could go back to it, but there are some features that I use in 2010 that would of course be missing, and it's not possible to roll back Access files from .accdb to .mdb in a single move. I believe it would involve quite a lot of exporting from 2010 to files, then importing them into 97.
As far as LibreOffice is concerned, I have that too (my OS is Linux Mint, with Win7 in a VM with Office 2010 on it), however I still can't get round Calc not having an Excel keyboard shortcut mapping that can be applied. I often have to use Excel at work, and I can't memorize too different keyboard shortcut schemes for spreadsheet programs.
This 'article' is a request for hands to be raised on just how many people out in the world are actively using Microsoft Access, and also the Office VBA language, whether they want to use them or not. I'm not imagining this will be those on the I.T. side of 'The Wall', but rather those people on the business side who don't have access to 'normal' development software due to I.T. department policies, and have no choice but to use Access and Office to try and fulfill the requests from the business (that includes me).
It certainly looks like Microsoft are condemning Access to 'death by obsolescence' and VBA to a 'death of a thousand bugs', despite, as I understand it, claiming that they have no plans to stop including Access in Office. I'm not sure of their stance on VBA but the development of the add-in system suggests there is every wish on their part to eventually remove it from the Office programs.
Do we care? Does anyone care anymore about Access, and of using VBA? Both are unloved by us who use them.
With VBA that's apparent from programming language polls where VBA is consistently at the bottom of developers' choice of languages they use. That's hardly surprising, bearing in mind that the IDE for VBA is from the 90s. It's missing a whole host of features that help new developers learn to write better code, and help existing developers get their job done quickly and well. It also has no ability to use .Net to the best of my knowledge, and relies on API calls to achieve more complex operations for which the documentation specific to VBA is now almost, if not entirely, non-existent on Microsoft's websites. Add on the bugs in the 64 bit version that don't appear in the 32 bit version and that only adds to the misery of coding with it.
What of Access? It's known that the Jet database engine is buggy and missing capabilities from the standards for SQL. I'm sure some of those aren't readily able to be implemented in what is effectively a flat file system, but it can undoubtedly be better. In the Access interface itself, so many useful features are missing, particularly in the query designer, which I find to be one of the most useful things in Access. Where is the aliased table name in the field list box? Where is the interface for non-equal join types? Where are the text features for finding, replacing, etc in the SQL view?
The Access GUI interface itself is missing things. Continuous forms can't disable controls on a by row basis; the form system can't properly use disconnected ADO recordsets, and there's no way to use DAO recordsets disconnected; what about something simple, like being able to draw a circle on a form directly instead of having to import an image of a circle? So much missing.
But does anyone care?
I'm not an I.T. professional on the I.T. side of the 'The Wall'. My 'bread and butter' has been developing within the Office system, with Access predominantly. The businesses I've done development for (some big, some small) have needed my skills to help them understand their requirements for larger projects, and do smaller scale rollouts for smaller teams or even just for one person. If I lose Access due to it being removed from Office (which seems likely will happen some day no matter what Microsoft says), and VBA due to it being removed from Office as a non-standard language within Microsoft, then I certainly won't be able to do such things for such businesses again. My experience has been that the I.T. departments will not allow proper development software to be installed on business-side computers, and won't allow software developed by a 'business user' to be installed on such computers. How does 'discovery' and 'experimental' programming get done then? Most people in businesses do not want (and may not have the time) to sit down for months or years to try and work out specifications for a system which is going to cost millions and once rolled out doesn't do half what they need and can't get anything fixed or added to it without a lot of hassle.
What I'd like to see is Access allowed to live, and be improved. Could that be done by open-sourcing it? Could an alternative be created independent of Microsoft that would still be able to automate the creation of complex formatted Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, Powerpoint presentations, etc., if it wasn't a program inside Microsoft's control? Both Access and VBA could be very useful in helping new developers to design better databases and write better code if they had better features.
I know only this: that the way things stand, it's now becoming practically impossible to rely on Access and Office VBA to get things done reliably. The 'move fast break things' culture, the 'death by obsolescence' and the 'death of a thousand bugs' are putting paid to that.
But does anyone care?
I have pretty much the same feeling. When, not so long ago, I first drove a vehicle with simple cruise control turned on, I felt my right foot not being on the accelerator pedal meant I wasn't ready to respond to conditions on the road should I need it to. There would be a delay, potentially fatal, in my reactions. It was then I figured there were only two states of vehicle automation - totally manual or totally autonomous. I believe that's 0 and 5 in the levels of autonomy as they are currently understood. The only exception I might make is for emergency braking, but I'm not even sure about that as it still requires accurate identification of what constitutes an emergency.
I take it that a decent replication of the shortcut keys in Excel are still missing? If I am to 'convert' to another spreadsheet program, it has to have Excel shortcuts available as I will most probably always have to use that when working for employers, and I can't get my finger memory to do two different shortcut systems.
...I have to code in VBA in Office (Access mostly), which defaults to Courier New. '1' and 'l' (lower case L) basically are the same appearance wise. There is a very subtle shift in the pixels on screen between the two but it's practically not noticeable. So I've got used to making sure I try not to use a single 'l' for variables, in case when I come back to code in future I confuse it with a '1'. Fortunately variables in vba can't start with numbers, so anything that looks like a '1' at the beginning should only be an 'l'.
These high level BI tools are too generic, presuming that all businesses can fit their data to the tool's way of seeing things. Unfortunately most businesses have a good percentage of their activity that simply can't be analysed or visualised using them. So they always reach a point of failure where the manager wanting info says 'but why can't it do xxx...'
As far as I can tell, MS is trying to get people to use JS via add-ins. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, these need to be coded in an environment that isn't part of the default Excel install (say, Visual Studio, as against the built-in VBIDE for VBA). Consequently, all the business-side user-written VBA won't be possible as IT departments won't give anyone business-side a VS installation. So VBA remains the built-in code solution. I can see the attempt to let formulas be functions as part of a strategy to kill VBA, but they'll never be able to replace the complex functionality in most long standing automated Office applications.
"Tool on the Stool" - love it :D
Can I ask for a Happy Microsoft Access Day? If we're talking about Excel and the like being used to innappropriately stand in for properly developed applications, then Microsoft Access also has to be nominated as such a culprit. However, in both cases it happens because Business-side people want something developed, but the willingness of I.T. departments to work to the Business-side needs for a price that isn't astronomical and a development time that isn't measured in millennia seems lacking, so Excel and Access get used instead.
It's not just old games. Some other (albeit obscure) software of the same vintage hasn't been updated for later operating systems so requires XP to run, and also old hardware (and not always obscure either) often doesn't get driver updates for later operating systems. I feel the best course of action with these situations is to ensure that the computers (if physical) are air-gapped and have restricted physical access so that who can do what on them is locked down to essential needs only. Obviously then they are no use for network or internet based usage, but unfortunately any old software or hardware that requires that will just have to be junked if the risks are perceived to be too high to take.
...we didn't expect this to happen, did we?
I deleted my FB account many years ago when they started to try and force connection information to be linked to group pages and preventing it being kept in separate 'silos'. No way should any, any company be telling us they will do whatever they want with our private data. We should have final say, always. If laws need to be made to force this to be so, then so be it.
Surely the telemetry of both Office and Windows 10 is of concern here, not just Office?
The easiest way to comply with GDPR is to not collect the data, or at a minimum give us back the ability to say 'no' to data collection of any kind. I'm hoping this will focus some attention on Windows 10 and have Microsoft put back the ability to stop telemetry from the OS, and with all the update screw ups, maybe give us back update control too?
It all 'worked fine' up until Windows 7, so maybe if it wasn't broken, it didn't need fixing.
I combine NoScript with Privacy Badger, AdBlock Plus, clearing my Firefox browser history completely on exit, and using a password manager (KeePass with Kee add-on). This way there is far less chance that I'll be hit by a nasty. Not impossible, I realize, but the 'attack surface' is much smaller.
I have one of these. I like it :)
My main niggles are that the sim card and sdcard slot are combined, there is only one speaker (as far as I can tell) and there's no notification LED.
Apart from that, it's working fine, battery lasts ages if lightly used as I do, but I would imagine could hold up for a day of medium-heavy use.
For those of us who didn't fall into the trap... I guess we'll just keep our automatic updates turned off and watch the industry news carefully to see if they try pulling that crap again.
Hear, hear! I have now installed LM on a brand new lappy. Win XP 64 bit and Win 7 32 bit in VMs which can be backed up and easily restored should MS try that trick again.
The Win 10 install that came with the machine is on the HDD but that's been removed and replaced with an SSD for LM. I've made a clone of the HDD just in case I ever need to restore and use the Win 10 install, and eventually the 500GB HDD will get put in a caddy as a useful little* backup source.
God, when did 500GB become 'little'? :lol:
I was thinking along the same lines. Here in the UK (and EU) there are unfair contract terms acts (1977, 1999, etc?) that include words like 'reasonableness' in relation to terms in contracts between consumers and businesses. It basically means silly terms and terms which try to undermine existing rights basically cannot be enforced in a court of law.
We have a term in some transactions here - "sold as seen" - where sellers try to sell products and not have the responsibility for them actually working. It works with secondhand sales between private non-business transactions, but when it comes to any business-to-consumer sales, it is actually completely meaningless except in the case of property (i.e. buildings such as houses, etc). But funnily enough most buyers think it's legal and have no redress against a business using it when the thing they bought turns out to be faulty.
Win 10 is currently what I have to use at work, and to be honest, as an OS it works fine despite the schizophrenia that is control panel (two different places, still?)
But on my own PCs (personal or business) I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. The data collection policies of Microsoft are just too much like malware. Give me the option to completely turn it off, and proveably so, and to be able to permanently reject unwanted updates, and I'd happily reconsider.
Until then it's Linux Mint, and VMs with older MS OSes (if only I could get the updates to install properly on them without 100% svchost.exe usage for days on end).
As for the 70% accepting full telemetry, I doubt many of them even know that they're sending data to MS. Of those that do and keep the setting at maximum, they've probably bought into the Cortana thing, which requires way too much personal data to be shared with MS in order for it to work. Most people would probably be very uncomfortable with it if they really knew just where the data had to go in order for Cortana to work.
At the price, I stopped reading after I read that it had no expansion option. For me, even if the microsd slot is inside the phone, it's an essential. If I want to move data between devices then I'd use USB-OTG anyway these days. The internal card means I can have my entire music library on MP3 in the phone on a 128GB card with headroom, and don't have to keep plugging in a USB card to either move files onto the phone for listening, or listen via the USB card directly (which uses more power).
I have a new laptop coming with Windows 10 on the HDD. The HDD will be cloned to a 'backup' file (using Acronis) and that file buried deep within my file store. Then the HDD will be wiped for other use.
Then I will fit a replacement SSD which will have Linux Mint installed on it. From there, I'll install Win 7 in a VM so I can do the few software things I need to that Linux can't handle.
Win 10 won't even figure, because I cannot trust Microsoft won't grab data from me they simply shouldn't (confidential documents, passwords, etc), even on their 'basic' privacy setting. Also, with the forced updates there is too much risk of destabilizing the PC and leaving me without an essential work tool. OK, those updates don't have to be installed straight away, but even after 18 months there remains the possibility that components of the OS could be removed that I use (Paint, anyone?)
So even with all my reservations about the Linux having too much reliance on CLI, I'd rather tackle that fight than the whack-a-mole with Win 10's lack of privacy and unpredictable results of the updating.
+1 for KeePass.
I switched to KeePass from Roboform when Siber System's Android app for Roboform turned out to be cloud only.
While the move to KeePass wasn't entirely straightforward (as Roboform's export to HTML is crap) once done it's been fine. I do only use it for passwords and safe notes though. I don't use it for filling in credit card details on websites as I prefer to do that manually anyhoo.
Also, I think most businesses are thinking that all their users can be forced to cloud if they're presented with that as the only option. It's similar to the way Microsoft forced Windows 10 on users, by effectively killing the older systems by not supporting updates on newer processors running older OSes.
Few people in the world want a stripped down OS that doesn't update drivers, software and security.
Duh. it's not about NOT updating stuff, it's about having control of the updating instead of it being MS who just forces out updates as if PCs were XBoxes (which I have no problem with getting 'auto' updated due to the limited uses such gaming consoles are used for). PCs are tools of the trade and need to remain functionally capable of what the user needs them to do and without loads of adverts getting in the way. Had MS created a suitable, stable, secure version of Win 10 for small business and professional users (who all have confidential stuff to deal with in the shape of their business accounts) then this problem would simply go away.
I still have to code in VBA (don't ask) and that creaky, old system uses tabs to insert spaces, and iirc it does so anywhere in the line (though I don't have an example to hand right this minute to check for sure).
I use it at four spaces, though I've seen two, and even three used by other developers.
Do I get paid even £43K? Like hell I do :(
People can make their own choices, but when they decide to spend money and not save for retirement should stop complaining about what they have to do later in life. Problem today is people want it all. To spend all their money now on living life, whilst still expecting others to fund their later life/retirement. Either live life a little less and save more, or accept some compromises later in life.
While I have some sympathy for the views expressed, people working in minimum / living / low wage jobs are supposed to save for retirement how exactly?
This is what I was thinking - if wages are staying down, and for quite a lot of people that's far below the median*, then how are they (we) supposed to save for anything, let alone a pension? Minimum wage, even the Living Wage Foundation's living wage, isn't enough to be paying for pensions out of it while there's massive rent or mortgage to pay (that's if you can even find a place to rent these days).
*The median, which, by the way, at around £26K hasn't changed much in 15+ years, or so it seems, while top level wages have gone stratospheric, meaning there are far more low paid jobs in this economy than there were 15 years ago.
MP3, I'll be back in fashion when the hipsters ironically adopt it.
I'm fine with it as long as the compression is kept to a minimum. Hell, I still use Winamp Pro (on a Win7 partition as it won't see the CD drive on WINE in Linux Mint for some reason) with LAME set to VBR quality 0 and the bit rate from 32kbps to 320kbps and it works. Far smaller file sizes than FLAC and when listening on the move or with other noise around it sounds fine to my uneducated ears.
The thing we should really remember is CD is a 'compressed' format too - with arty farty facts as well. It's 'only' 16 bit and 44.1KHz, so a fair bit of the original sound of a performance has been lost. But that gets us onto the merits (or otherwise) of HD formats like 24bit 96KHz, etc, which will probably just end up with us all flaming each other...
Businesses using Enterprise versions of Win 10 seem to be allowed to stop an update completely if they don't want it, and can stop all (or nearly all) of the telemetry, but consumers are considered to be fodder for advertising and constant destabilizing updates.
I'll stick to Linux Mint and Win 7.
...Microsoft offered a paid for version of Win 10 that could have all the telemetry home calling switched off, and allowed proper user control of updates, then Win 10 would get more installs (and if you don't like the interface, use something like Classic Shell?).
Instead MS seem hell bent on this demented trajectory of 'We want your data! All of your data! Now!'