Yes, Microsoft Access was a recalcitrant beast, but the first step is to turn the computer on

I've got the power! Psyche. I definitely don't


12BoC On the fourth day of Christmas, the bork gods sent to me: one dead DB, petty angry user, flightless Windows signage, and a server they said had ceased to be. Welcome to the Twelve Borks of Christmas (12BoC): a collection of Register reader stories of amusing and frustrating tech sightings over the festive period.

Today's instalment takes us back a few decades to the 1990s, when Bros had ceased to be and Take That were chewing up the charts (the first time around).

"Joshua" (not his name – there are no Christmas breaks for the Regomiser) was one of the many who, during the decade, discovered the delights of Microsoft Access. He'd put together a system for sales support at a small roofing materials retailer, running atop Windows for Workgroups. The database ran from the office manager's PC.

It is hard to believe that Access is nearing the 30th anniversary of its first release. Arriving in 1992, it was Microsoft's first crack at a mass-market database for the Windows desktop. Version 1.1 in 1993 gave the world the Access Basic programming language, but it was version 2.0 in 1994 that really cemented the product's dominance.

It also inflicted the Jet database engine upon the world, but we'll draw a veil over that for the benefit of those still bearing the scars. Access (and Jet) served a purpose and had their place, but were frequently abused by the sorts of people that want to build a database fit for an enterprise but on a shoestring budget.

As for Joshua, on the day in question he "got a frantic call from one of the salesman's PAs that the database was totally dead."

Not an uncommon occurrence for Access, although Joshua was curious as to why the call had come direct to him rather than the office manager.

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"Oh, she's off today," came the cheerful response. The PA went on to explain that everything had been working perfectly yesterday. But today, well, it was like Access had upped sticks and left the building.

Before embarking on a lengthy bit of Access database fault diagnosis, Joshua started with the basics.

"I asked her if the PC in the manager's office was powered up," he told us.

There was a lengthy pause.

Somewhere a penny dropped.

The response: "You mean her PC needs to be on in order to read the hard drive?"

"Sorted," said Joshua. ®

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