Monday, January 24, 2011

Rant Time Again: Microsoft Access

This started with a brief post on Facebook, but I felt it necessary to expound upon this with a little more digressive digestive congestive festive and restive zeal.  Enough of that already.

Where do I begin.  Hmmmm.  Finger's are tapping…  Here goes:

I hate Microsoft Access.  I despise it.  It might just provide enough evidence that "evil", as it were, can and does in fact exist, even in the skeptical minds of agnostics and atheists.  My atheist colleagues would likely say "there is no 'evil', there is only man; trying desperately to blame some ethereal scapegoat so as to avoid responsibility for his own actions".  That may be true.  I'm not Nietzche or Wittgenstein, so my rebuffment to this would be "Oh yeah?  Well, then, what about Microsoft Access?! Hmmmm?!"  At this point they begin stammoring and stumbling and stuttering and hemming and hawing. I've handed their Superman belief system a fresh wheelbarrow of Kryptonite.

Less educated folks would respond to my response with "Well, Mr. Rational - Access was created by man, so it still qualifies as wrong-doing by man, not the transendental force called 'evil'".  I ignore them and continue picking my nose.  Confident of my superior defectiveness.  Those with a greater understanding of it would then be nodding and saying something like, "Sorry buddy.  Access transcends the potential evilness of mankind alone.  It digs down to a whole new level of treachery and depravity."  And then they'd all form a line to the Confessional and heavy drinking.

Where was I?  All this quasi-intellectual bullshit I'm spewing forth… Oh yeah…

When Microsoft decided to bundle this little land mine called "Access" into their Office suite, they essentially created a toolbox in the shape of a crack pipe, that enticed idle fingers to begin doodling and tinkering.  If they would have simply used it as a "database" and left the GUI (forms, reports, etc.) to REAL applications, things would be fine. 

But noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…. 

They HAD to build "applications" inside of Access.  Thus began the existence of the Taliban.  Darkness and horror suddenly had a new face.

Everyone working in an IT department of anything resembling a large business, corporation, municipality or Federal organization is nodding in full agreement already.  And if they're not, well, they are idiots.  Why?  Because…

As soon as these garage mechanics turned NASCAR professionals throughout our office departments everywhere started dabbling with Access and building "mission critical oh-my-f***ing-GOD-our-company-will-self-destruct-if-you-take-away-this-mission-critical-oh-my-GOD-access-application", they essentially created what is now referred to as the "shadow IT operations" of our world.  They spent company funds on MS-Access self-teaching books ("Access for Idiots", "Access for Dummies", "Access for Asswipes", "Access for Pedophiles", and so on).  They spent hours building tables, queries, and then (I get nauceous at the next few words): forms, reports and VBA code to glue this festering pile of rotting carcas meat into a "business application".  One or two was expected.  Three dozen were born in the first month, and they've only multiplied exponentially ever since.

But, as Ron Popeil would say: "But wait!  That's not all!"…

Then came the revealing moment of true evil: The next Office upgrade.  When they tried to open their little wunderkind uber-creations in the newer version of Access, guess what happened?  Go ahead. Take a guess.  A wild guess.  I'll wait….     That's right - they crashed. 

The solution?  Upgrade all the stupid Access trashware crapplications (heavy emphasis on the plurals).

The Results?  --- IT was typically forced to hold off deploying what would otherwise be a routine Office upgrade, because this Access "oh-my-GOD-we-have-to-have-this-or-Revelations-begin" database "application" with crappy VBA forms that required hours and days and weeks of upgrade torture and testing and more torture - IT was forced to shelve it for months, often a year or more.  Has this lessened?  Subsided?  Relented?  Hell no!  There are just as many of these little six-legged pieces of fecal matter running around as ever.

The feeling in the pits of our IT stomachs, after being ordered to wait for the non-qualified simpletons to do their own upgrades, was about the same as what an OB-GYN would feel when being told to wait while the stumbling husband setup the video camcorder.

We tried.  IT folks begged them to move their data into SQL Server or Oracle.  They refused.  We tried to educate them on de-coupling.  They blew us off.  We cried to management, but the little weezels got there first.  Today, we sit in meetings that still end up with someone going "well, HOW are we going to move forward with all these Access database apps?" with a tone like a bad Victoria Jackson impersonation.

It started with Access 97.  Then they had to hold everyone up while they upgraded it to Access 2000.  Then again for Access XP (2002), and again with 2003.  Then another upgrade to Access 2007.  And now we're suffering through this mind-numbing cesspool of idiocy to get to Access 2010.  "Wait!  You can't deploy that upgrade because ---" 

IT cuts them off …

"yes, we know, because you need a few months to upgrade the ****ing piece of **** Access **** you insist we never migrate into a REAL application environment.  All in the name of YOU justifying your pathetic existence and diversion of corporate funding away from our training budget and Summer picnic and all that.  Go ahead.  We'll wait.  Maybe by the time Office 2014 ships you'll have it ready for Office 2010.  That's fine.  Not like we need to improve any efficiencies around here."

Want a little entertainment?  Walk over to one of your overzealous Access "developers" and (with a straight face) say "So, did you get the word that we're moving all the Access databases into SQL now?"  Then stand back and watch them implode.  It's like taking crack from an addict.  I've actually tried this.  It ain't pretty.  I almost felt sad watching them have a complete mental meltdown and defending their application as if pleading for their life at gunpoint.  Sad.

Can you tell I ****ing HATE Microsoft Access?

Yes - you will now have the urge to say "But Dave, Access is a great little app!"  Yes.  By itself, it's not a bad thing.  It's what it ALWAYS gets glued into that ends up screwing up IT operations everywhere.  Thousands of Access database apps, culled and coddled together by hours of self-learning effort, in the name of impressing the co-workers and the boss and making themselves vital to the company.  And when these self-made Access folks speak up in a meeting to say we should use Access as the backend to all of our intranet portal apps, with thousands of employee users - I grit my teeth to the point of shattering them in little pieces.  Anger.  Anger!  The angst is overflowing… breathe…. breathe…. aaahhhhhh…. mmmmmmmmmmm…. happy thoughts - yessss…. happy thoughts.  It.will.be.ok.  Aaaaahhhhhhhh….. mmmmmmmmmmm…

Epilogue -

The council has voted.  Dave is now supreme leader of the cosmos.  The emperor of the galactic federation.  He emerges from the ominously tall heavy wooden doors, sauntering casually down the long polished marble walkway to the grand podium, to greet the masses, cheering in elation at the hope that has now, finally, materialized into the promise.  The promise of a better tomorrow.  So much hope.  So much pent up excitement at the potential he brings to the Universe.  He approaches the podium.  The gathering masses begin to quiet.  They await his first words… shhhhh…. he speaks:

"My fellow galactians, or, er, uh.. whatever the **** you call yourselves.  I have decided to begin this first day of my administration with the following decree:  All instances of Microsoft Access are to be vaporized immediately." (massive cheers).  "And… anyone, speaking in favor of this horrific little beast shall be dunked in ice water and then lit on fire and tossed into a nuclear wood chipper.  Any questions?"  after the long silence… "Good.  I didn't think so."  And again the masses erupt in cheer.

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