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It's Valentine's Day and because I love you, I'm going to go over some very basic terms that you need to know when using Access (or, frankly, any database software). YES the terms I’m demystifying today are quite basic and there's a reason for this: I have found that many people are using Excel when it's Access they should be using.
(Yes, I know that Excel is a wonderful program on its own, of course. I am NOT bashing Excel. But there are times when Access has a clear advantage over Excel. This article explains it beautifully.)
And why is that? Why are some of you reticent to start frolicking in Access? Fear, my friends; fear. Ever see the movie Defending Your Life? It's one of my all-time favorites and it's all about how holds us back from getting what we need and where we want to go.
Okay! Enough pontificating. Let's get to those terms.
I was talking on the phone to a fellow in Seattle named Dave (who is helping me get some cool Crabby swag made) and the subject of telecommuting came up. He said he tried it but with three kids around, he just couldn't do it. (I suggested hiring out the kids during the day but that idea didn't really fly). It got me thinking about telecommuting—something I'm fortunate to do a lot of these past six years or so, and something that a lot of people wish they could do.
But is it right for everyone? Let's look into this...
Excel is up to bat this week. I like Excel. It's a versatile program—straightforward, no-nonsense, and linear(ish)—and one that many people use. With Excel you know what you're getting (whereas in Visio or in Publisher, you sometimes feel like you're in a large hardware or fabric store with all those patterns and widgets to choose from).
But don't get me wrong: Excel is as versatile as the next Office program. In fact it's a pretty powerful tool for a variety of tasks, from coming up with charts and graphs, to keeping track of lots …and lots…of numbers.
And since Excel is just about the most widely used spreadsheet software around, it's a good idea to know some of its basic terms, because just like with any other product or topic matter, it's not a good idea to assume that everyone around us understands the jargon and vocabulary that we use when talking about Excel.
In other words, I don't want you feeling lonely and isolated, standing there with a smile pasted on your face, when your coworkers start talking about formulas and PivotTable reports. There's only so much faking you can do before everyone is on to you.
Today's post is about Word. Here are a few of the most requested terms calling for attention from your feedback and comments. Some of them are pure definitions, while others explain the difference between two or more related things (you'll see what I mean).
Again, some of you know these like the back of your hand (although why you spend so long staring at the back of your hand, I have no idea), while others are gently relieved to now know that those brown spots are of course not age spots; they're sun kisses.
Today, as we continue creating our "Demystifying Chain," we move on to Outlook.
Ah, Outlook. Good old Outlook. We use it every day, all day, and still…some of its terminology vexes us. Let's see if I can't assuage some of that pain today so that we can get you to understand your right-hand program a bit better.
Today I'll talk about rules, .pst files...and a few other things.
Welcome to the first post in a series I'm hereby referring to as "The Demystifying Chain." If you read Friday's post , you know that my goal, for you, is to uncover, illuminate, and simply explain some of the language of Office software and computing in general. Why? Because I know that feeling of YAY!—you've found the help article or training that you're pretty sure will explain what you need! But then, from the very first paragraph, you suddenly find yourself lost (maybe even bereft) because the writer assumed that you were already familiar with one or two words or phrases that are now stymying you as you attempt to cross that highway of do-it-yourself knowledge.
So shall we begin the beguine with e-mail terms? Oh yes; let's shall. Got those thinking caps on I suggested Friday? Good. (Off topic: In my mind, I see thinking caps and dunce caps as the same—you know, those pointy triangular hats. Does anyone know or have an idea what a thinking cap should look like? Talk to me in comments.)
It never fails. I'm at a party or a family gathering or even interviewing a new dog sitter, and the conversation eventually winds around to, "So. What do you do?" Sometimes I want to collapse onto the floor into a horizontal position and start twitching and drooling (and maybe gesturing in an unladylike way) and look up and say, "Sometimes I do this—usually just while I'm sleeping, though." And then that would bring the ha-ha-has but eventually I would have to fess up and tell Curious George or Georgette that I'm a writer and I work for Microsoft and I used to write a column and now I write a blog and it's a sort of techie and sort of humorous and it's supposed to help people use the Office products and survive life in the office.
And then the questions begin.
What does this X mean? What's a protocol? What's a profile? What is SMTP? What's a macro? What are BIOS? What's CSS mean? What's the difference between a Rumba and a Beguine??? Why don't you guys talk in regular language? Is it a conspiracy?
Yep, that's it: It's a conspiracy. And me with all my Crabby Office Lady power, I have all the time in the world to be in on this.
As you know, I like to post tips that solve problems that maybe I heard just ONE person mention. And if you know me, you know why, but let's go over it again. Because it's never just one person; all it is, is that one person actually trying to do something about it. The point being, there are probably several of you having this same problem that we're going to solve today: Jay, a youngster who's new to the world of Crabby, posted a comment about a strange Outlook issue.
And on this bright and shiny (or, where you are, more likely cold and snowy) day, I'm going to attempt to solve Jay's issue.
Last week and this week I spent most of the time researching and writing about accessibility in computing. (You can read the first post and go from there if you're interested.) During my research I came across many references to computing for seniors (seniors being a group that also often prefers and even requires accessibility features in order to be able to use a computer). The overlap was obvious.
So I decided that after I was finished with my accessibility series. I'd look a little deeper into the subject of how to offer our senior citizens access to the world of computing and show how it can open up worlds to them that they never knew existed. But perhaps the most important thing that I discovered is that being able to use the computer as a senior citizen is a great way to lessen feelings of isolation and uselessness, especially if you're housebound or have limited mobility.
It sounds sort of hokey and self-serving, but knowing how to use and make use of a computer can open up a whole new world for the seniors in our culture.
Last week I wrote about what accessibility is and who it's for, and this past Monday I talked about what accessibility features are already available to you in Windows.
For today's post (which is the last one in this series) I'm going to give you a snapshot of what accessibility features and technologies are available Office and also how and why to make your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other Office files accessible to ALL people.