Iron Rules

IF memory servers me correctly (and I believe it does), great database administrators have a saying that goes, “Normalize, normalize, normalize.” By which they mean that you should apply at least the first three rules of normalization to your database design in order to get the best design.

“Iron Chef” references aside, there’s a lot of truth to this rule, and it’s one that I believe in very much. However, like any other rule, you must recognize when it applies and when it doesn’t apply.

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In My Craft or Sullen Art

WHEN writers get desperate, they can always fall back on the “unrelated-work-of-art” ploy. What you do is take some book that you’ve been reading and write about how it relates to the real topic. The goal is to say the most trite and obvious things that you can, but make it sound profound by relating these truisms to some other work. This ploy works best when 1) the other book is completely unrelated to the real topic, 2) you can count on most of the audience not having actually read the unrelated work, and 3) the unrelated work is sufficiently esoteric and famous that it makes you look good for having read it.

Okay, so I’ve been reading The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. Kuhn has a lot to answer for, as he’s the person responsible for the current mania for the word “paradigm.” Prior to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, “paradigm” just meant the format for conjugating verbs. Now the word means… well, practically anything. Continue reading

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In Defense of VBA

IT’S amusing to read the trade press these days. Netscape, Sun Microsystems, and Oracle would have you believe that they speak for the average desktop computer user. That’s right, Scott McNealy of Sun knows what the average business and home computer user wants even though to date he’s only sold workstations that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and use one of the least friendly operating systems in the history of microcomputing—UNIX. Also speaking for the desktop computer user is Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who is leading the push to build Network Computers and put Microsoft out of business. This from a company whose only real achievement has been a great minicomputer-based database server. Suddenly, the people at Oracle also are experts in desktop computers and operating systems.

Then there’s the matter of Netscape Corporation, which is crying to the U.S. Justice Department about Microsoft trying to put them out of business by giving away Internet Explorer. This from a company that for years gave away Navigator in order to put other browser companies like Spry out of business. Continue reading

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Helping Out

I occasionally get invited to present at some of the developer-oriented conferences that are put on over the course of a year. While I don’t get paid for these presentations, it’s a free trip to somewhere interesting, access to some of the industry gurus who are also presenting, a chance to see some friends, and an opportunity to talk about something that I find interesting. At the last conference at which I presented, I realized that one of the parts I enjoy most is the question-and-answer sessions that follow a presentation. Continue reading

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Get Ready for an Exciting New Year!

Let’s face it: Access 95 was a dud! While it had lots of promising new features (including replication, Visual Basic for Applications, form classes, and a 32-bit database engine) when it was released a bit more than a year ago, it ran only on 32-bit Windows operating systems and the corporate world is just now making the move to Windows 95 and NT 4.0. Even if you made it over that hurdle, you’ve likely found that Access 95 is significantly slower than its predecessor, especially in user interface operations. Add Access 95’s initial stability problems (most of which were corrected by a couple of patches), and you end up with a major release of Access that hardly anyone is using to develop serious corporate apps. Continue reading

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