Saturday, April 22, 2017

Canadian River Heads the Other Way

Been busy getting fit recently and working on my first phone centric website, that I haven't posted so much.  So here is an interesting environmental story from The Guardian to fill in your time.

An immense river that flowed from one of Canada’s largest glaciers vanished over the course of four days last year, scientists have reported, in an unsettling illustration of how global warming dramatically changes the world’s geography.

For hundreds of years, the Slims carried meltwater northwards from the vast Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada’s Yukon territory into the Kluane river, then into the Yukon river towards the Bering Sea. But in spring 2016, a period of intense melting of the glacier meant the drainage gradient was tipped in favour of a second river, redirecting the meltwater to the Gulf of Alaska, thousands of miles from its original destination.  Read more

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Online Web Content - Should You Organise or Engage ?

This article provides a back to basics comparison between FaceBook and a website.

I have a new hobby, I love to ride easy trails on my bike. So as I rode, I started to document where I went in Facebook. This was good but I didn't want post too often in case I annoyed my small fan base.  I then moved to a Facebook Page to hold my posts. After a while the content became unstructured because FaceBook really loves to show newest posts or notes at the top and the original content trickles out of view. That's not the only problem with the Facebook medium....

Read more in the LinkedIn article I wrote called
Online Web Content - Should You Organise or Engage ?

If you haven't time to read that post, have a look at the site I have put together in Wix.  Especially look at how it runs on a phone.  I structured the site to work using pictures on a phone. 

My new site is called

Friday, March 31, 2017

Mopping Up March

Given the recent announcement on the phase out of Access Web Apps, I thought I would revisit the pertinent articles that I wrote at linkedIn.

Excel Data Online - Look at the File Types and other basics

Create a Smart Online Data Spreadsheet

Excel Sub Totals in the Cloud

Power Apps - its time to explore

and even though I didn't guess there would be much work in Access Web App conversions, we are already upgrading desktop apps to Access 2016 as per this article on Garrys 2017 predictions.

Finally, if you would like the see my best photos from my recent bike rides, have a look at or join me on Instagram @garryphotoman

and if you like those pics, click here for @sstano, his desert bike shots are fantastic

BTW: After a few months of writing articles and posting them in LinkedIn, do I find LinkedIn worthwhile ? The answer is I enjoy the writing environment, its easy to create an article and that's the important thing.

Access Web Services Is On The Lunar Clock - Its being closed down

In 365 days Access Web Services Apps will be decommissioned completely from Office 365. That's it, no more, caput, finito, bon voyage.

The full announcement from Microsoft is here

This means three things

  • If you have written a web app, its time to plan. You have a year.
  • If you are an Access Desktop developer, this is good news. The Access team now has no distractions, Access Desktop is well and truly a part of Office 365, you can see it in the offerings now. If you are an Access developer, you may wish to look to the future in user web development and that is PowerApps. No rush for this though.
  • If you have never written an Access Web App, don't bother. You could for history sakes listen to my talk on Access Web Apps here. It will be deleted soon.
So lets assume that only people who have Access Web apps will reading the rest of the article. What will your planning take.

I would contemplate a plan as follows.

  • Review what is happening with your AWA, tell your boss or clients and go into care and maintenance to save wasted time.
  • Write down all the essentials of your AWA, if any parts aren't being used, close them down.
  • Review the path that Microsoft are suggesting you follow which is create SharePoint lists, create a PowerApp and maybe even get into Microsoft Flow
  • Review if your App can be supported by Excel Surveys or Excel Online spreadsheets and Dropbox and OneDrive.
  • Review if your AWA can be replaced by a cloud tool
  • Start building prototypes or testing new solutions.
  • By October, 2017, you will need to be writing your solution or in full test mode with your cloud product. Any later and its Xmas and your upgrade project is going to go off the rails. There will be no AWA in May next year. Make a list, get cracking.
Notes: I believe the schedule for OnPrem AWA's is different. When I find that article, I will let you know.  I am not a fan of the 1 year shutdown. Personally, I would have stopped new AWA's from being developed tomorrow, and I would have let the existing apps go for a minimum of two years and I would have taken AWA's out of the next version of Office.

I hope this news is no news for most of my readers, I suspect that the number of people effected is going to be low. One of my good MVP friends has been hit very hard by this decision. I feel for him.   Garry

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Simple Email Sending PowerApp

If you want to see a very basic Microsoft PowerApp in code, read my first article on how to build a Email posting App.  Here is a LinkedIn intro to the same article.

If you are using Office365, you will very ready to start experimenting with PowerApps. Its early days but as long as you follow Microsoft's samples, you will get a feel for this new language.  If you get even more curious, its probably a good time to read about PowerApp the Common Data Service pricing.

Here is an interesting post on including a PowerBI report into a SharePoint page

Monday, February 20, 2017

Where was that Bing Photo taken ?

Have you ever wondered where that Bing login or home-screen photo was taken. Holiday anyone? Well you can find out by going to the Bing Homepage Gallery. There you can find the image, read about it and even download it to make your own custom wallpaper collection.

Automation in the Ivory Towers

I remember a good mentor of mine saying he was happier that his son was going to be a horticulturalist than a banker because he would less likely to be made redundant and because he would be happier. Read this story about automation at "Goldman Sacks" and think about what you would recommend to the younger ones.

Garry has written his first mobile ready app using PowerApps - Read On

I wrote myself a personal specification for an App.  "I need a way to data enter timesheets on a mobile phone so I can replace my browser only Access Web App. " I have now gone live with two people, myself and I. Read and see my first thoughts on Microsoft Power Apps on LinkedIn

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stop the meltdown - Boxing Day and Beyond in Australia

Christmas day in Australia is like most other Christmas days around the world, presents, food, don't give the spare ham to the dog and lying around with too full a belly. But there is one fundamental difference "Its HOT". So as a general rule, the following two or three weeks are not for work, they are scheduled so that you can have some fun whilst you melt.

Firstly there is the Boxing Day dash which can happen in a number of ways

There is the mad dash out of the city - everyone makes the same mistake every year
If you are really mad, you get in a boat and head for the worlds most dangerous ocean and Hobart

If you have no imagination, you head to the "Boxing Day Sales" and use the store card your uncle gave you

More than likely you will aim to end up in a motel or a caravan park somewhere near the water

So now you are established in your now busy caravan park or motel, you can enjoy the heat with just about everyone else. The boring people who are left in the city will find no traffic jams, empty beaches and empty air-conditioned shops to spend uncles store card in peace. It happens every year, that is January in Australia.

I thought I had heard most of the ways to avoid meltdown but this year Sue Waters who works for us visited Parkes in central NSW.  She committed to this last year and arrived in the middle of a heat wave. Imagine donning your Elvis silk and poly and heading outside when it is 111 Fahrenheit. Yep Aussies do silly things in January. Here are some of Sues pictures from the Elvis Festival in January in Parkes  and a few words as well. 

 Sue Writes  Elvis Presley died 40 years ago, but for the last 25 years an Elvis Festival has been held in Parkes in January – 377 kms west (ish) of Sydney.  This year was baking!  The temperature on the Friday reached 44C but still Elvis tribute artists did their thing in the main park in that iconic white jumpsuit.  All that polyester!

 It was a hoot.  On the Thursday evening we went to the Priscilla Dinner where people dressed up just for heck of it (see image), while prizes were given for best Priscilla.

Saturday morning was Parade Day!  Hundreds of Elvis look alikes paraded alongside cars, Californian Police motor bikes, Priscillas and more Elvis related 60s icons than you could possibly imagine.  I’ve never seen so many sideburns, rhinestones, white shoes or sunglasses.

On Saturday afternoon we had front row seats for  the Grand Final of the Elvis Tribute Artist competition, where 8 of the winners from the heats performed 3 songs each.  All amazing.  The winner gets to go to Memphis for the international competition.  

It was fantastic, then came the long ride home in the hot sun.  

You may ask why did you write this Garry and Sue. The reason is its 100 Farenheit outside and its January and we are going crazy.  Have a good day....

Building Your Own Data Mining Interface

Back in the early 90's the mining company I was working for was being taken over and all my bosses were busy protecting the company. So  I had lots of time to learn Access. In that time I quickly understood the data exploring potential of Access and I created a data mining product called Graf-FX.  It sold a 100 copies and found me my first big client when I setup my own business.

So the other day I was looking through my article archives and I found a cool little sample that builds basic drilldown queries on the fly. I thought I would finish that sample off and write the story that goes with it. Here is some background to the story

Tucked away in the bowels of Access is a powerful graphing tool called MS Graph.  A lot of Office users will be familiar with the graphing capabilities of Excel but very few people seem to have successfully implemented graphs of much use inside Access.  Both products use similar core elements from the Office charting engine.  The difference between the two is that with Excel, you derive your graph data by pointing the graph to cells in a spreadsheet.  This allows people to manually move the cells around until they end up with a graph that they are happy with.  In Access, you have to manipulate queries until you end up the graph that you want.  This is a lot more difficult but the end result is far more versatile as the Access graph will work irrespective of the number of rows of data that you introduce via the query.  The other important feature of Access that you will deploy for data mining is the direct support of Structured Query Language in Visual Basic code. This allows you to easily change the exploration queries on the fly.  Read more on how to setup your first data mining interface here

The sample data link will appear on this page when the article is published in my newsletter.

Here is the download link for this article...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How I Deploy - a story about Azure Websites that can apply to any ftp website

In this article at LinkedIn, I am going to show you how you can publish your website into the cloud using Azure and Dropbox. This is a way that you can move on from a old style FTP host into a Microsoft Azure. To see my website that runs this way, go to

As you can see the site it is very big and it runs fast. Before I moved it to Azure, that was not the case.  Even the site search engine is slick and that has a lot of work to do. So first of all a bit of background as to how I make the website. I use a Help Authoring tool called Help and Manual.  It can create Visual Studio help files, pdf books, kindle books, word books and chm files. But for me, it creates my website on my local computer. The second tool that I use is a combination of Dropbox and Azure.  Here are the steps that I follow to update the site.  If you are still reading at the end of this article, I guide you how to make the site in Azure.

Note: If you are running an FTP authoring program, ignore the help and manual section and continue reading because anything that can be posted into a local folder can be adapted into a Dropbox folder and this article will become very relevant.

So here is the link to the article once again.  I hope you Like it    Garry

Late Update:  Help and Manual loved the article. They posted a note into their website here

Sunday, January 08, 2017

European Holiday Anyone - How About An English Speaking Conference in Vienna ?

Karl Donaubauer is the guru of conferences for MS Access in Germany. They are pretty big. Now he wants to run an English speaking conference in Vienna, Austria.

The conference will likely take place on April 1 and 2 in Vienna.  << Link is working now

All you have to do is convince your boss.

Below are some of the great buildings in Vienna.

Schönbrunn Palace 

Vienna Town Hall

Belvedere Palace

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Microsoft Access Conferences Coming Up In the USA

There are two Microsoft Office/Access conferences coming up in the USA in April. If you live anywhere near them you should make an effort to go. If you don't live nearby, what about one of those working holiday's that you have always dreamed about.

Conference One

Office365Day is a FREE 1-day event for MS Office users, power users and developers to learn from industry leaders and local experts. It’s also a great way to network and share knowledge with others. The event is free, thanks to our generous sponsors & those that volunteer their time to make the event a success.

Learn more about:  Word   Excel   Access   PowerPoint   OneNote   Power BI   PowerApps

Event:  Office365Day – Grand Rapids
Date:  Saturday April 1, 2017
Times:  8:00am – 4:30pm
Location:  Davenport University, Grand Rapids, MI
Open To:  Everyone
Cost:  FREE!

Conference Two

The Portland Access User group is having its yearly 3 day conference in late April. Speakers lined up thus far include Luke Chung, Alison Balter, Jack Leach, Juan Soto, Thomas Moller and Armen Stein. This conference is almost full and is always a sell out.  

Event: Portland Access User Group Conference
Dates: April 29, 30 and May 1, 2017

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

What will 2017 bring for Office Access Solution Specialists ?

Garry polishes up his crystal ball and discusses what may be the big thing for MS Access professionals in 2017. Read Garry's prediction here in a new LinkedIn article.

Search for GarryPhotoman in Instagram to see my best photos

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Access Desktop Sputters Back to Life

In 2016, Donald and Nigel surprised all with election results that were obvious if you wanted to look somewhere other than CNN or The Telegraph. The same also applied to the old fashioned world of Microsoft Access desktop solutions because contrary to the prophesies of the IT gurus, MS Access started to crank back into life. "What say you Garry ? " Here were the late surprises as best described in the FMS December newsletter.  Another take on this can be found here in Linked In

  •  MS Access was added to the small business editions of Office 365
  • Support for dBase tables were added back to Access 2016
  • Support was added for links to SalesForce, Dynamics CRM and more
Look these are not huge changes but given that Access is not cloud and its not phone, these are signs that Access is still loved in Microsoft.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Excel at Sub-Totals in the Cloud - Another LinkedIn story

Excel online is different canvas to Excel on the desktop. Your audience is likely to be less familiar with Excel, they are very likely to have a small screen and they probably couldn't "be bothered" to scroll off the first page of your report. In this article I will show you how SubTotals in Excel can make big data concise and then ExcelOnline can expand that information so you can see detailed data.

PS.  Soon I will publish the vba that goes with this article on this page at

The Big One - NZ Earthquake

Recently New Zealand had a monster earthquake centred in the southern island north of near a xmall town called Waiau.  Here is a page with many great pictures and another page showing how far the earth was moved. Finally a huge canyon filmed by drone

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Products That Are Related To Microsoft Access

Following are a list of products that are related to Microsoft Access and Office that I haven't posted about before but its possible I will post about in the future. The quick summary on the products comes from Microsoft itself.

Power Apps  and the Common Data Service

A development environment on the desktop to build mobile and tablet and web forms that connect to your systems and create new data. Typically your data will reside in the cloud in something like a Azure SQL table or a sharepoint list.
Build apps without writing code (not sure that's a feature)
Publish and use on web and mobile

Power BI
Power BI transforms your company's data into rich visuals for you to collect and organize so you can focus on what matters to you.

Power Query for Excel
Microsoft Power Query is an Excel add-in that simplifies data discovery, access, and collaboration. It's provided as part of Microsoft Power BI self-service solution.

Microsoft Graph  
Don't be fooled by the name, its purpose is a unified API endpoint, for accessing data, intelligence, and insights coming from the Microsoft cloud. And just for reference about why Microsoft may have used the term Graph, see Graph for Facebook I mainly bring this up so you don't get excited about this being part of the next big thing to create an Access graph.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Amateur Hour for the Access Solution you have just been shown ?

Armen Stein has a simple list that you can use to evaluate if a database was created by a person who has not had the time to properly learn Microsoft Access.

In the list of flaws, Armen singles out splitting, compile errors, weird field names, the lack of database relational design and popup dialogs and others. Apart from late binding of Excel which my guys leave until we do have a problem and splitting of databases which we don't do until the database goes into production, I  like Armen's Amateur Signs list , 

If you want to dive deeper into the topic of the "Less the perfect Access solution", have a read of Luke Chung's article on Taking Over Someone else's database.

That's the heavy reading over, have you ever dreamed of going to Hawaii. If so, Armen's wife Lori with a little help from Armen has written a travel guide for Kauai, the most spectacular of Hawaii's great islands IMHO.  If you have never been to Kauai, think of this book as the guide that introduces you to the great things about why you should visit the island rather than the guide that says such and such a hotel is 3 star and has good parking.

All the best and Happy Birthday MS Access

Garry Robinson
Programmer who didn't ever use Access 1.0 or 1.1

Microsoft Access is 24 years old - Its Time to leave home

On November 13th, Microsoft Access will be 24 years old. Here is a timeline commentary from Wikepedia

"1992: Microsoft released Access version 1.0 on 13 November 1992, and an Access 1.1 release in May 1993 to improve compatibility with other Microsoft products and to include the Access Basic programming language.

1994: Microsoft specified the minimum hardware requirements for Access v2.0 as: Microsoft Windows v3.1 with 4 MB of RAM required, 6 MB RAM recommended; 8 MB of available hard disk space required, 14 MB hard disk space recommended. The product shipped on seven 1.44 MB diskettes. And so the story goes and you can read it in Wikepedia.

This old stuff is is all fine but what has Access become in the world of clouds and phones ? Is it like a cat and ready to be replaced by a cute little kitten or is it a teenager that is now 24 years old and really needs to leave the house, get a job in an Office and learn some respect.

Clearly the post about Microsoft Desktop joining the Small Business plans on Office 365 tells you that Microsoft has not given up on MS Access. I was in Seattle this week with other MVP's and now that I have seen what Microsoft has published lately I personally feel that Access has both a place in the world and certainly is ready to do useful work in the Office for years to come.  So now you know my views, Happy birthday MS Access, its time to head off to the real world.

Some of Access 1.0 MVPs at the 2016 MVP Summit
In order top to bottom

Scott, Tom, Peter
Karl, Dirk, Doug, Jack, Andres, Ben
Brent, Andy, Luke, Miriam, George, Adrian, Armen
Jack, Juan, Garry, Jeff

If you want to find out about an MVP, click here

How to give Access a birthday present, next time someone asks you what you are working on, don't just call it an Access database, call it an Access Solution. But if you have a better phrase, Post your alternative words for Access Solution here I will be glad to put it here in the blog.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Knock me down with a feather - Mary Jo talks about MS Access

Every now and again I will look at ZdNet to get a decent fix of tech news. Anytime that Microsoft is mentioned, Mary Jo Foley is usually the author. So when I saw an article on MS Access, I wasn't expecting big things. But the news was nice, MS Access 2016 is going to be auto downloaded to 365 small business subscribers that use local versions of Office. Read the full story here and a slightly different take on the story.