Author Topic: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?  (Read 3334 times)

Mountainbug

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So I am familiar with using Access but I would definitely place myself in the novice category. I'm trying to brush up on job skills during a stay at home mom stint, and I'm wondering if $145 is too much to pay for the local community college class. It is 3 sessions, each 3 hours. Alternatively, I could try to teach myself during my spare time, but I don't know where to start. Does anyone have any recommendations? What would you do?
Also, I'm learning Access with a particular position in mind that will be opening up later this year. It is working for a previous supervisor who told me I should apply.

Goldielocks

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2017, 08:23:33 PM »
That was how I started, and it was immensely helpful.  High value.

Miss Piggy

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2017, 08:26:17 PM »
$145 doesn't sound like much for 9 hours of formal learning.

Also check for YouTube videos.

SwordGuy

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2017, 08:32:50 PM »
Or some how-to books. 

In fact, go thru one of those before you hit the continuing ed class.  Why waste a human instructor on the basics you could pick up from a beginner's book?

batemama

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2017, 09:37:15 PM »
I would see if you could talk to the instructor about the skill level for the class. I took an excel class that was offered by my work (a university), and it ended up being a waste of my time. The class was supposed to be more advanced, but it was the basics (like "did you know you can use formulas? Nifty, huh!" basic).  There are some really good YouTube video trainings out there that would might be able to teach you what you need to know.

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2017, 10:13:39 PM »
I'm self-taught. I hate reading manuals so for me the best way was to: 1) look at stuff other people had built and try to figure it out, 2) force myself to try to build something in particular, and 3) google stuff. The problem with some training is you learn a bunch of little things that can be done but how it fits all together isn't so clear unless you have a specific project in the works. Definitely take some time to learn the basics of joins/relational algebra and basic SQL (I often encounter people who can "use" Access but get their joins all wrong).

brian313313

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 05:36:41 AM »
$145 is not a bad price to pay for education. You also meet people there and that can lead to thing...job, friendship. YouTube has been suggested. I find that great for specific tasks but it can sometimes be hard to get good coverage of a topic without videos starting to repeat themselves. Sites like PluralSight also have low monthly fees for unlimited access to video based training. I use that. They do have some Access training and you should surely be able to complete in a month which is about $20. Coursera is free although I'm not sure if they have it. I don't  use them much and I'm not sure if they have Access.

Good Luck.

misshathaway

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2017, 06:58:24 AM »
If you have a library card, check to see if your library offers access to the lynda.com website for free. Mine does. lynda.com is a site that offers training on software like Access as well as other tech skill training.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2017, 07:25:22 AM »
I would also recommend seeing if you have a way to access lynda.com for free.

I have to say I've been extremely disappointed with any technology class that i've been sent to at the local community college. I took an "advanced" Adobe Illustrator (work sent me)- and the instructor had to explain how to scroll down on the screen to one woman.  Who then didn't understand that white filled shapes would hide shapes behind them.  What we learned in 3 days could have been covered in 15 minutes...

Proud Foot

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2017, 07:46:35 AM »
I would suggest looking at your library for information books.  Most of what I know in Access is what I taught myself through google searches when there was something I wanted to do but did not know how to.

Dave1442397

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2017, 07:57:42 AM »
My company (55,000 employees worldwide) is getting rid of Access because of how Microsoft decided to package it with the latest version of Windows. See this article for details - http://www.techrepublic.com/article/microsoft-drops-the-ball-access-2016-not-included-in-office-365/

We are going with SAP/Business Objects instead.

Mountainbug

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2017, 08:25:44 AM »
My company (55,000 employees worldwide) is getting rid of Access because of how Microsoft decided to package it with the latest version of Windows. See this article for details - http://www.techrepublic.com/article/microsoft-drops-the-ball-access-2016-not-included-in-office-365/

We are going with SAP/Business Objects instead.

Interesting! Will have to read this when I get home.

I would also recommend seeing if you have a way to access lynda.com for free.

I have to say I've been extremely disappointed with any technology class that i've been sent to at the local community college. I took an "advanced" Adobe Illustrator (work sent me)- and the instructor had to explain how to scroll down on the screen to one woman.  Who then didn't understand that white filled shapes would hide shapes behind them.  What we learned in 3 days could have been covered in 15 minutes...

That's exactly what I'm afraid of, especially since I have so little free time away from baby I really don't want to waste it. Thanks for your comment, I think it pushed me over the edge to not take the class.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2017, 11:56:40 AM »
I don't think you can go wrong for $145, but I would not have that be my only learning resource.

I would try:

1.  Free on-line resources.  Even You-tube!
2.  Library resources.  Personally, I prefer interactive learning as in training DVD's as opposed to books.
3.  Inexpensive books and DVD's (Amazon and the like...).

As someone else said, try to build something relevant to your life with Access.

nobody123

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2017, 01:35:35 PM »
I would be wary of taking any job where Access is a major requirement.  There's a reason why MS doesn't include it in the standard Office 365 packages anymore, it sucks.  My megacorp has been trying to kill Access internally for almost a decade, but some applications written against it back in 1995 still run, so some folks still have it installed.

+1 to just watching YouTube or tutorials on Microsoft's website.

mydnite

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2017, 03:06:45 PM »
$145 is cheap for an intro to access course but if you are already at that novice level I recommend getting a second hand book on access programming, searching the internet for tutorials and utilizing stackoverflow for help on hard problems - http://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/ms-access

It also comes down to what you are planning to achieve with this ms access knowledge and how far you want to take it.  Yes ms access sucks for multi-user / concurrent access usage due to write locking design at the database level.  Access does excel at one shot access based apps like time clocks or data entry via forms where only one computer has access to the database file.  There is a scale problem with access that can we solved by using access as the app / form front end and connecting to a real DBMS like sql server or mysql via ODBC as the backend.  Again you need to work out what your problem is, folks I've worked with in the past have used access as a hammer hence the dislike in the thread.  Each problem has its simple solutions, for a low complexity problem access may suit.

mydnite

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2017, 03:09:42 PM »
Additionally teaching yourself from the start trains you to be more resourceful which is complimentary and more valuable then just the access skill.

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2017, 07:57:00 PM »
I would be wary of taking any job where Access is a major requirement.  There's a reason why MS doesn't include it in the standard Office 365 packages anymore, it sucks.  My megacorp has been trying to kill Access internally for almost a decade, but some applications written against it back in 1995 still run, so some folks still have it installed.

+1 to just watching YouTube or tutorials on Microsoft's website.
Whenever I get really depressed and start looking at job postings, I see Access mentioned almost invariably as a desired skill at fortune 500 companies. It's every large company's dirty little secret; yes, they all try to get rid of it. I understand and embrace all of the criticisms leveled against it but the fact remains that it is ubiquitous and it is also not the worst way to ease into understanding databases and SQL. It's good for automating those functions that never have the ROI for an enterprise level solution and is certainly better than the alternatives I've encountered (shared excel spreadsheets with many, many tabs and no data validation).

Mountainbug

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2017, 10:19:27 PM »
I would be wary of taking any job where Access is a major requirement.  There's a reason why MS doesn't include it in the standard Office 365 packages anymore, it sucks.  My megacorp has been trying to kill Access internally for almost a decade, but some applications written against it back in 1995 still run, so some folks still have it installed.

+1 to just watching YouTube or tutorials on Microsoft's website.
Whenever I get really depressed and start looking at job postings, I see Access mentioned almost invariably as a desired skill at fortune 500 companies. It's every large company's dirty little secret; yes, they all try to get rid of it. I understand and embrace all of the criticisms leveled against it but the fact remains that it is ubiquitous and it is also not the worst way to ease into understanding databases and SQL. It's good for automating those functions that never have the ROI for an enterprise level solution and is certainly better than the alternatives I've encountered (shared excel spreadsheets with many, many tabs and no data validation).

Access is not actually a requirement, it's just the best tool that I currently know of for a solution to this programs data problem. Currently, like nobody123 said, the data my supervisor uses for the entire program is in a fucked up bazillion tab google sheets/excel spreadsheet. I'm actually volunteering to write her a database and I know the form entry on Access and the report options it would give her would make her life a million times easier and stop shitty data entry by the couple of people who have used said spreadsheets.

What I would really like is if anyone could suggest an alternate program that I could use to create a simple form for data entry that would allow different report queries (that works with mac as well if that's not too much to ask). I'm not computer illiterate but I would say I feel like I know nothing. I googled sql, guys. Its that bad. But that's why I love this forum, helpful people who are making me smarter!

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2017, 11:14:10 PM »
One simple question to determine if Access will work is: how many users will the product have and are they all located in the same office?

I've seen a deployment of an Access database that was a pure marvel: 60 locations across the US pinging a back-end (where all the data resided) at corporate. This monster was in place for 8 years at a $3B revenue corporation. The enterprise solution we eventually replaced it with cost $1M integration costs + $200K/year fee. The problem is this Access database corrupted frequently due to problems in network latency that Access could not tolerate, requiring a compact and repair to be run on the back-end, which required every user from all 60 locations to exit the application to eliminate the record locks (IT could force the users out on their end centrally but they didn't want to own this mess). Don't EVER try this unless you want your life to be a meaningless hell.

If your users are all co-located and there aren't huge network latencies accessing a shared location, and if there are not too many users (I felt comfortable using Access for <10 concurrent users), it should work OK. If any of these criteria are not met, you could still use Access as a front-end if you bolt it onto an Oracle back-end, or somesuch. Using more robust back-end database architectures might eliminate most of these constraints Access faces.

Disclaimer: I'm entirely self-taught and this sort of work was never more than a minor part of my day-job.

damyst

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2017, 01:22:46 AM »
Access is not actually a requirement, it's just the best tool that I currently know of for a solution to this programs data problem. Currently, like nobody123 said, the data my supervisor uses for the entire program is in a fucked up bazillion tab google sheets/excel spreadsheet. I'm actually volunteering to write her a database and I know the form entry on Access and the report options it would give her would make her life a million times easier and stop shitty data entry by the couple of people who have used said spreadsheets.

What I would really like is if anyone could suggest an alternate program that I could use to create a simple form for data entry that would allow different report queries (that works with mac as well if that's not too much to ask). I'm not computer illiterate but I would say I feel like I know nothing. I googled sql, guys. Its that bad. But that's why I love this forum, helpful people who are making me smarter!

This thread is really interesting for me because I didn't know people would hire a non-expert to set up a data management system for their business. Not trying to disparage - on the contrary, this is awesome! But I suspect that it wouldn't help you much if we prescribe a full-blown data solution with proper security, automated deployment, backup/replication, disaster recovery, high availability, monitoring, upgrades, migrations, etc etc...

I haven't used Access before, but when googling your question it does come up repeatedly as a convenient way to build simple applications on top of a database. Most DB-backed applications are built as web apps now, but even the most accessible web development frameworks (Ruby on Rails? AngularJS?) are much heavier lifting than Access.

Then there are the likes of Tableau and PowerBI, which can generate lovely reports for you, but they don't support data entry at all (as far as I know).

nobody123

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Re: Pay to learn Microsoft Access or find a free way to teach myself?
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2017, 08:22:23 AM »
This thread is really interesting for me because I didn't know people would hire a non-expert to set up a data management system for their business. Not trying to disparage - on the contrary, this is awesome! But I suspect that it wouldn't help you much if we prescribe a full-blown data solution with proper security, automated deployment, backup/replication, disaster recovery, high availability, monitoring, upgrades, migrations, etc etc...

Obviously Access *may* be an acceptable solution depending on the use case.  If the boss only wants to throw $100 at the problem, sure, Access may have to be your golden hammer.  If this spreadsheet system is supporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, they might want to consider a better solution.