Competitive Advantage

MY oldest son, Christopher, is deeply interested in video games and, as a result, I’ve been exposed to computer gaming more that I probably wanted to be. I should also add that none of my three sons are computer programmers—or even interested in programming (in fact, Jason’s computer seems to actually hate him). As part of his interest in computer games, Christopher picked up a book called Postmortems. This book consisted of nothing but discussions of games by the people who had built the games. Much of the discussion assumed some understanding of game programming, and so I was called on to provide some background. Continue reading

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Communication

For someone who makes a sizeable portion of his income from technical writing (there are years when my tech writing revenue matches my consulting revenue), you’d think I’d be better at communicating. As I get older and deafer, most of my problems arise when listening to people—especially people with accents (I, of course, have no accent). Continue reading

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Changes

THERE are a number of technology changes in the wind for Access developers, and they can be summed up in two phases: ADO.NET and Access 2002. It’s important to remember that none of these technologies make your current tools obsolete. You don’t have to upgrade to Access 2002, and you don’t have to install ADO.NET.

That might not sound like the typical advice from the editor of a technology-driven newsletter. However, technology should be your servant, not your master. For any particular technology, you should move to the tool only if it offers you real benefits in your current and future applications. The benefits are relatively easy to enumerate: increased developer productivity, greater stability, and more functionality for your clients. What does drive you to change technology, more often than not, are changes in the business that you support. Continue reading

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Bugs and Quality

I have to admit that I don’t pay much attention to bug reports. Most bug reports that I hear about are either so obscure (witness some of the problems in the Excel calculation engine) or so easy to avoid (like not using DESC at the end of a field name in Access) that it doesn’t seem important to me. As this month’s lead article points out, that attitude isn’t always viable (see “An Access Nightmare”). Continue reading

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Bad News

I’VE been flying a considerable amount lately and have developed an unhealthy interest in the safety movie that’s shown at the start of every flight. Currently, my favorite part of the show is when the stewardess (and it’s always an “ess”) shows you how to use the life vest when the plane augers into the freezing cold North Atlantic at 2,000 miles per hour. After telling you that your life vest is under your seat (I’ve never looked, but I’m willing to believe them), the video concentrates on when to blow the thing up. You’re not supposed to do it, apparently, until you’re right at the door, ready to leave. Continue reading

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