Sunday, December 20, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Microsoft Surfaces In the real world

The other day I went to my sons secondary school to discuss his progress in year 10 and get his marks. 50 teachers moved around and sat at temporary tables. When asked marks they casually whipped out Microsoft Surface 3's and reviewed a variety of current and past papers and trends amongst his pears. The Surfaces seemed like a very suitable tool for the on the move world of teaching. The school is just a normal Sydney boys high school.

BTW. My son earned his bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich and chocolate milkshake, his marks were up. Now for study and the final big year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

3 Surprising Reasons Microsoft Access is a Good Fit for Your Project

 writes a little piece that might help you sell your next Access project. It goes like this.
For IT developers, the truth still remains: Microsoft Access is an excellent option for businesses who need database solutions in a short time frame compared with other technologies, or a solution that can connect to multiple data sources with ease. Access is actually awesome for several types of business projects: Custom Invoice or Quoting Systems, Document Handling Systems or Oil and Gas solutions, the range is truly endless.
Once you have made the transition to Access, you can use the data along with Microsoft's wonderful PowerBI tools to create dashboards and drill down analysis. In addition to avoiding Excel overkill, Access offers a variety of database solutions for businesses with diverse needs. With Access, you can develop personal applications, small business applications, departmental applications, corporation-wide applications, web applications and more.
Head to Linked In for more using this link

Thursday, December 03, 2015

From the Microsoft Team - Connecting with our customers on Access UserVoice

Straight from the Access team is this message

Product teams across Microsoft are striving to follow the spirit of being customer focused, and the Access team is no exception. The Access product team has been conducting onsite customer visits and talking to customers from all over the world to learn more about who our customers are and how they use Access in their business and personal lives.

Our goal is to maintain a continuous dialog with the Access community to discover user scenarios, pain points while working with the product, ideas and suggestions for improvements. To achieve this goal, we’ve set up a new dedicated Access UserVoice site. This is a great platform for customers from all over the world to suggest ideas for Access and then vote on them. This platform provides an opportunity for the entire community to voice their opinions and to directly influence the Access roadmap. The Access product team is closely monitoring this site and is responding to suggestions.

Please check out our dedicated site at Access UserVoice and let your voice be heard!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Big PDF Conversion Part One

One of the problems I had converting the smart access articles when I bought the magazine was that a huge number many of the articles were wrapped up in the published format of the magazine.  I converted many of the articles into html which took FOREVER and many into pdf because that took Less than Forever. Unfortunately the pdf articles were hard to find on my website because the search engine didn't index them. Now I have substantial introductions to the articles in html and that means those articles will be easier to find. Here are links to some of the article that are in pdf from 2003 through to 2006.  I hope you enjoy them because that is all I have time for in this newsletter.

Before you read this list, do you have a work colleague or friend that loves Microsoft Access and may like to read this magazine?  If so send them to the AWeber page where their details will be professionally handled by a large professional company that specialises in email distribution and security. And hopefully they will enjoy the newsletter like you do :)

Navigating through recursion

Dates, Data Access and Presentation

Using Invisible Forms to Track Users

Combining Tables

Using Triggers

Using Invisible Forms to Track Users

Managing Cursors, Quotes, Subforms,and Missing Data

Choosing Options (with Option boxes and other controls)

Deleting Records,Reports, Data Design

Calculating the Median

Replace Your File API’s With The FileDialog Object  

Ordering Controls, Speed Up Remote Databases

Outputting Flexible Report Data

Simplifying Complex SQL

Flexible Normalization and Denormalization

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Official 2016 Upgrade Page

Here is a link to a page that Microsoft posted about upgrading to Office 2016.  After inquiring, it turns out that my email host has Exchange 2010 but so I have a way out eventually.  Time to get back on the horse.

Monday, November 16, 2015

"Whoa There Nelly" - Office 2016 Install Is A Horse Without Stirrups

The other day I was reading this article on the Office blog and this comment caught my eye.

7. Can I install a subset of the Office 2016 applications?  No, the ability to selectively install individual applications is not available with Office 2016. 

Bonanza (from Wikipedia)
 So being a good little Office Access MVP, I thought maybe there is a story in that , I can get the pictures of what the install process looks like but not actually install the software. As a veteran of installing every version of Office since Bonanza appeared on TV, I knew I could have a look at the install screens and then cancel at the end.  So I downloaded the combined 64 bit/32 bit Office 2016 ISO install package from MSDN.

I clicked Setup.exe and the words "We will be done in a minute" appeared instantly on my screen. I fell off my horse. I climbed back on and checked to see if Access 2013 was still there, the icon was blanked out. "Whoa there" I cried but alas things seemed to be progressing across the screen. I waited about 10 few moments and then Figure 2 appeared on my screen. I walked my horse back to the saddle yard thinking its 2016, its going to be exciting so I will learn to live with it.

Alas my horse had one last trick up its sleeve. I opened Outlook 2016 and there was the message  "Microsoft Exchange 2007 is not supported". Figure 3.

Alas I have now found out that my service provider for emails is running Exchange 2007 which I have always found to be a really good product. I doubt my service provider will change anytime soon so I guess I will have to unistall 2016. My horse bucked up high and ran out to the far end of the paddock. I now have to go and get it back.

Figure 1 - Instant Setup

Figure 2 - Install Finished

Figure 3 - Exchange Server 2007 Error

Summary:  If Office 2016 on your agenda, prepare well, your old versions of Office are going to be wiped off your computer, your Office VBA references will be made into 2016 references and no doubt there will be other inconsistencies and 2007 Exchange Server will definitely stop you in your tracks.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Setting Up A Survey Database - In Pictures

Hunting thru my old articles and I found one that I never got around to publishing on Survey databases. In the article I give all the basic steps so that you can enter data using Option Boxes (as in Figure 1 below).

Figure 1 - Survey database where users choose from option boxes for each question

Other articles on Surveys at include  Flexible Normalization and Denormalization and an article written by Helen Feddema also on Questionaires

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Sydney Microsoft Store - Who Says Australia is Backward

The other day I was invited to a preview of the first Microsoft Store outside America. This store is smack bang in the centre of Sydney's main shopping center and will look great when they open it tomorrow, job well done.  The store is packed with lots of Surfaces, Surface Books, a few phones, xboxes, giant touch screens, mice and keyboards. What I liked is Dell and other vendors also got good floor space. An article on the store here but the picture is from another store in USA. More pictures here

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The New Silk Road

Here is a really interesting 4 part series (45 mins x 4) on the railway and road system that China is building to Europe and even to America eventually.  The scale of project is pretty impressive.  Part one of the series is here

Favourites are not my favourite

In Outlook 2013, I find the Favorites (Favourites English spelling) folders list a little annoying.  The picture below shows you how to turn it off in the Ribbon

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Articles that I Wrote a While Back for Microsoft

Over the years I wrote articles that appeared on the Microsoft Site.  Not all the content is relevant now but they certainly were the subject of much research.

Restricting who can use your database

Security Considerations and Guidelines for Access 2007

Real World Microsoft Access Database Protection and Security

Conditional Formatting Using the Field Format Property and other Articles.

Tom Wickerath posted this article on conditional formatting many years ago and I found it quite intriguing becuase it didn't use the standard conditional formatting that is front and centre of later versions of Access and Excel.

This article was one of many that I refurbished from my old collections into this week. The other two by Tom that you may want to look at are

Use these techniques to optimize your Access/Jet applications
How to create a Crosstab Query

If I add an article to, you will find it on this page

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Jamaican Kids Learning Basketball

A few months ago I asked if any of the readers wanted to sponsor a Jamaican basketball program for kids who don't have a lot. 20 coaches volunteered their time and flew into Jamaica and  the video for that funtastic event is here.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mapping Americas disgusting riverways

Here is a great story about data collection using google mapping technology. You've probably seen pictures of the cars driving around towns sucking up pictures of everything and mapping it with GPS. With these super little camera's, people are paddling around dirty rivers photographing and collecting data about the environment. Well done Google and really well done to the guys paddling in those rivers.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Open a Word Template and pass text strings to it using Bookmarks

In this VBA article, I show you how to fire up a word document and fill it with some data. A good example of this is filling in someones address details at the top of letter.

I have used this simple class library on quite a few projects.  Garry

BTW: Never over promise on automating Word, if you promise the world, you may not be able to deliver.

Access 365 Isnt Being Touted As A Office 365 Product

If your clients jump into Office365, don't be surprised that Access 2016 cannot be downloaded as described in this article.

See the Office 365 Business Plan Here. No mention of Access.

You will though find it front and centre in the desktop versions of Office 2016 as per this Microsoft online sales page

Be prepared to find clients that don't have Access licences anymore that thought they did. Guess they will have to stump up 9 bucks extra a month for the desktop version. I will stick to my philosophy from Sergeant Schultz in Hogan's Heroes. "I know nothink"

Friday, October 09, 2015

How To Improve Microsoft Access Desktop

You will never get a chance to ask the Microsoft Access team for improvements to good Access Desktops again. Trust me, the time to get any changes to Access 2019 is quickly closing.  Just to whet your appetite, here are the top voted requests as of the 9th October

  • Make it possible to stop Access Desktop from being an Automation Server so that security is improved

  • Please make Access able to handle more data types as are commonly used in Server databases

  • Gracefully handle ODBC connection lost failure

  • When creating forms and reports, checkboxes should be centered in the space

  • Enable Ctrl-Spacebar to Popup Intellisense in Queries
  • add event: Before Leave Record

If you want some ideas, back in 2006 I wrote an editorial for Smart Access where we got the readers to send in their best ideas.  Maybe Garry's list will give you ideas for the Access Desktop requests sites above

How to Improve Access Web Apps

Surprisingly Microsoft has setup a website where you can enter/vote for your favourite request to Improve Microsoft Access Web Apps

As of the 9 October, these topics had 4 votes each

  • Give us a relationships window!

  • Enable saving of query layout

  • Please either do not take away public-facing Office 365 sites or enable anonymous access to AWAs elsewhere in Office 365

  • Please provide action queries, i.e. append, update and delete queries.

  • Increase the maximum size of an AWA database

  • Enable copying of objects in the Navigation Pane

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Windows 10 Privacy - IOS9 Ad Blockers

After reading this zdnet post on Windows 10 Privacy, I feel better about Microsoft's approach to collecting my data. In particular I love this quote

Unlike some other platforms, no matter what privacy options you choose, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you. 

From the Apple camp, there is a different approach to socking it to advertising based business models. I looked for these ad blockers on our Ipad2 that is running IOS9 and it was not available. My older son also assures me that these tools in the old days mucked up pages that had embedded video content so he gave up on them. Maybe the new wave of blockers will work better like the story suggests.

On good ol facebook, Sheryl Sandberg says Facebook can do what it wants with adverts on the phone because it owns the app. You the consumer have now been warned by good ol Garry the editor.

Centennial Park Sydney - Advert Free

Friday, September 25, 2015

Whats New In Access 2016

Here is a link to whats new in Access 2016.

Clearly Access didn't make it into the brave new world of multi operating systems and different types of machines as did Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote and Publisher   But given that all these online solutions seem to be devoid of programming, maybe waiting wont be a bad thing because Access without programming wont be Access anyway. Thats my editorial opinion.


Followup Notes:

Here is Q and A on programming in the 365 cloud (read not really)

Sunday, September 06, 2015

A Variety Of Windows 10 Power User/Developer Posts

I have rolled two Windows 8 machines up to Windows 10. The most drama free upgrade in my long windows life.  Only thing I can suggest is watch for your anti virus support immediately after the launch.  I would check with your own antivirus company about compatibility before making the switch.

Here are some links that I have been asked to inform readers about. If you click on them, you will get me some credits with the people that decide my MVP award

Many Windows 10 Related Videos at the MS Channel9 site

Developing in Windows 10

Starting with Windows 10 Development

Windows 10 Development in the Microsoft Virtual Acadamy

Enterprise support for Windows Edge and Internet Explorer 11

The Azure September virtual conference 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Way of the Microsoft These Days - Read Cloud - Read Portable

Satya Nadella - the CEO of Microsoft has changed the way Microsoft works and his vision is well described in this article.

Editorial Note: Read that and consider where will Microsoft Access be in 2020. My personal view is that bits and pieces of Access Web Apps will scattered across other Office Apps like Excel Surveys. Beyond that we hope that desktop computing has made a comeback or that the well intentioned Access Web Apps hit the big time. For now, Access desktop lives on and those databases can certainly work with Azure web app databases in the cloud thru linked tables. See the MVP video I recently posted on how this works or the videos I posted last yearGarry

Saturday, August 29, 2015

2015 Microsoft MVP Virtual Conference for Access

Julian Kirkness, Brent Spaulding, Crystal Long, and Pat Wood discuss Access Web Apps on the Microsoft video channel. This also includes demonstrations of linking to SQL Azure from Access, Excel, and SQL Server Management  

NOTES:  This video is ranking no 2 from the conference

and a few more photos from the slide decks



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Digging Deep Into The Past

Many years ago I was very good at persuading Alta Vista and other search tools at the time to visit my Access web sites.  In sub folders on the sites I even had 10,000 pages devoted to getting link fees from CD Rom and book sites. Each of these pages said little more than If You Want to Hear the Music of The Bla Bla Band, Click here. These pages brought in 500$ a month till Mr Google came along and ignored them.

Hippos at Werribee Zoo
In those days I also had many good Access Articles articles organized to attract the search engines (they were called landing pages) across about 3 different domains. I found a few of them the other day and whilst they are a little old, they are worth bringing back from near extinction to my new site  See if these links get you interested.

A nice introduction into Lookup tables by Doug Thatcher called Lookup Tables – Improve data quality in your database

A simple article by Nirmala Sekhar called Track All Changes Made To A Database

and three pieces by your erstwhile editor entitled Exploring Your Data With Subdatasheets
plus SubDatasheets In Access 2000 
and an article that has been part of many of my jobs called    

Cleaning Up An Access Database

Friday, August 21, 2015

Building an Access Database from a Spreadsheet

A number of the Microsoft Access projects that I have been involved with are rescue missions for spreadsheet systems that have outgrown themselves. When I examine these systems they tend to have characteristics such a 12 individual monthly spreadsheets, one yearly spreadsheet that draws the results from the monthly sheets and maybe even another set of weekly report sheets jumbled into the system as well. Once these interlinked spreadsheets hit their second or third year, all the monthly spreadsheets have changed in design and the old information is only accessible by by a lot of manual cutting and pasting.

With good design and a few compromises, you can turn these into database systems that have easier navigation for input for users, report equivalent output and they do not require spreadsheet skills to run. This article tries to capture the techniques that I have used over the years to get these conversion projects up and running smoothly

FYI: I am currently working through my old content that didn't make it into the conversion.   This is one of those stories.  Apologies for lack of content lately, life's deck of cards haven't been so good lately. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rosetta and New Horizons

Recently man has visited Pluto and tracked a comet  << Fixed link. See if these articles will whet your appetite on these magnificent achievements. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Building using Azure

If you are a little old school and build a website using old ftp technologies, Microsoft's very successful Azure has a  Content Deployment that uses Dropbox and other modern cloud synchronization tools. The interesting thing about this is that you can build a website completely on your desktop and not worry much about the internet at all. And if you were happy hosting content in a site called, you could be off and racing in short period of time.  Anyway to get a feel for what I now do to publish to Azure, look at the pictures on this page.

My Sharepoint Web Site Is Closing

The sharepoint public facing website is almost closed.  This photo describes this short adventure for me. is the new star. It runs on Microsoft Azure websites. It is really fast and I will bet it is one of the few websites that provides not only search but indexed words to find content. Give it a rip, I certainly haven't wasted my recent research time. :)

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sub Atomic Particle Collider Doubles Down

Here is a really positive story about the restart of the sub atomic particle collider hidden under the mountains of France and Switzerland. Its a 27 km circuit and they are now searching for black matter. By the way, if you are bored with your online newspaper, try RT news, the provider of this story. The have good news and interesting TV documentaries.

Friday, April 03, 2015

In Through The Out Door

In 1979, Led Zeppelin finished their last album called In Through the Out Door. That was the last vinyl record that I ever bought, my tape collection at that stage numbered about 200 and I seemed to be moving house every three months.

In through the out door describes my current dilemma with websites. Last year I did what I thought was the right thing and upgraded from a front-page based website [see old format here] to the "latest thing", an Office 365 public facing website. In January this year Microsoft announced that public facing websites would be phased out in a sliver of time, 2 years.

So now I have to workout a new way to present the 600 articles that makes up This is going to take time and in the meantime you won't see any new content from me.

So what is the plan you may ask ? At the moment I will aim to put the content on site that hosts SQL Server, and probably will need to serve the framework for a WordPress site. A list of these types of hosts can be found here. I also need to find a way that I can edit content and change and drop pages in the website and still reflect those changes elegantly in the website. 

As I value my recently re-awarded MS Access MVP badge far more than my old collection of vinyl, I will attack this project and get back to you as soon as I can.

All the best till then, Garry Robinson

Friday, March 06, 2015

Google Search Engine Pointers - Content is King

Many years ago I ran a database that produced 1000's of html pages that pointed people to well known compact disk sites where I could make a little commission. That fooled search engines like altavista and excite back in the 90's to where I was making 100$s a month.  Google came along and I gave up that pursuit and just concentrated on my own content.  Here is a great article on what google is probably concentrating on. In particular I love this quote

"Google’s biggest threat is that users start going elsewhere (social media, smartphone apps) to find what they’re looking for"  Does that sound familiar Microsoft lovers ?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cyclones have their good points, a very rare and cute animal and a weird shark

Last week two cyclones/hurricanes hit Australia at the same time and they were really big. Whilst that was bad news for some, surfing on the gold coast was amazing as shown in this photo from the Daily Mail.

The Eastern Australian Quoll is a carnivorous marsupial like the Tasmanian devil and has been totally wiped from mainland Australia because of feral cats mainly. It survives in Tasmanian in reasonable numbers. In the picture is a rare black Quoll that I confess I have never heard about.

The other day I spied one of these wobbegong sharks where I snorkel every other day. Never seen one in Clovelly bay before, unfortunately it was quite murky so I didn't get a great look.  Talk to you again in March.   Garry

2014 - The Three Access Amigos

My most used third party products that helped me with my Access development in 2014 were

  1. MUST - the upsizing tool for turning Access apps into good SQL Server apps
  2. Total Visual Code Tools - Clean up your VBA code and lot more
  3. FindandReplace - find any vba variable or access object or property and change it
Garry Robinson
Access MVP since 2006

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2014 - Access Web Apps - Send Emails

Jeff Conrad from Microsoft just posted this new email event feature for Access web apps.  I have been using it in our Timesheet app for a few months now and it works well.  The trick I use is to get it to post to SharePoint account and then AutoForward the emails from that SharePoint account to my own account where I collect my emails.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

SharePoint Public Facing Websites are Being Phased Out

I was notified by one of my readers that Office365 wouldn't let him create a public facing SharePoint website. This is detailed here at Microsoft and covered by ZdNet in this article. I will have more on this in the future. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Australia Day Iconic Photo

This selection of photos of people lying on blow up footware in blue water on Australia day will surely make you want to fly to Australia on a one way ticket. Unfortunately our local attempt at Bondi was cancelled due to rough conditions (and a bit of rain).  Finally good luck to all those in the New York - Boston areas with that huge snow storm. Garry

2014 - Switching Versions of Access

I invite anyone else to join in by following this article's link to and tell us your own way of switching Access versions (2013, 10, 7, 3). In the meantime lets get started with some ideas.

Scott McManus writes "The biggest thing for me is using Hyper V to manage different versions of Microsoft Access.  Scott discusses hyper V, the Access document search function and OneDrive for Business and SharePoint here

Ian Andrew from Canberra uses the Access icons on the taskbar as his database work is in 2010 and 2007.  He finds that and the MRU list in Access is enough.

León Carpay, a DataWareHouse specialist from Amsterdam and a long time user of the Access Workbench said "I’m really enjoying working with 123 for Microsoft Office though I do miss the version number feature of the Workbench". Don't worry Leon, there is a way around this which I will explain one day.

Garry, your editor, used to use The Access Workbench to switch versions  of Access.  Now I use 123 for Office which does switch versions of Access but has a smaller feature set than the good old Workbench. Alas I had to give up visual basic 6 eventually. That said, it now opens my most used Word and Excel files as well. I wrote the program, I had to give it a plug. 

123 for Microsoft Office in action

Chernoblyl Photographed from A Drone

Here is a neat video and story about the devastated lands that were Chernobyl. Its a lot more than just a ruined power station and the photography is well worth the trip.

Given that Chernobyl is in Ukraine, why not try an essay that discusses the different way that Russians handle adversity. Given the hoopla that is cranked out daily in the press about the how Russia is the bad guy in the Ukraine, its worth a read.  

2014 - Sue used these techniques a few times

Sue Waters came up with this list of code that she has been attaching to her databases in 2014

  1. Using reg keys with Access for keeping client settings, including client specific backend
  2. Giving user menu option to compact and repair currently connected backend
  3. Giving user menu option to change backend
  4. Adding ALL xx option to a combo box - eg. Combo box of all company divisions, and also having ALL DIVISIONS as default first option in drop down.
An article on Reg key 1) and Combo Box 4) can be found in the first link on this page

2014 - Outer Joins - How to write a query that gets all values from two tables

We continue the series of articles on things that helped us get through our Microsoft Access 2014 year with a piece from Kent Gorrell in Brisbane.

"What is an Outer Join? If we have two tables, in this example Sales and Orders and we want to see a full list of customers who have placed Either an Order or a Sale and also see the details of both. And not only that, we want to see what they haven’t done."

Click on the Outer Joins link on this page for the article

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Along with Windows 10 launch, is an interesting new interface that uses holograms that are projected into your real field of vision. Read all about it here and if your kids are into MineCraft, you will see how you can build MineCraft into your living room.

Friday, January 16, 2015

2016 - January - Microsoft Access, Boat Cricket and a large Pina Colada

Armen Stein and Andy Tabisz have just announced a Microsoft Access conference on a cruise liner in the Caribbean. This is defiantly a first for venues for Access conferences but its old hat for JStreet Technology as they have run many Access Day conferences before. Head to JStreets website to dream and book