Monday, April 21, 2003

Embracing Databases Part II
Tag! You’re, IT?
Embracing Databases Part I

In general the average earthling is only vaguely aware of what a database is and more often than not this has to do with their job or office environment. It may not be totally obvious that databases are already a part of your everyday life.

Some examples of databases already in everyone's day-to-day life:

Cell phones -"phonebooks" are in fact databases of contact names and numbers. In fact, when you press the menu button on your cell phone you are searching a database in which all the options or sub menus are databases sitting within this searchable database and are likewise expressions of relational database properties*. *I'll explain that in the future

PDA's contain modified database like applications because it is able to structure and store data, which is basically or fundamentally what databases do. You may consider the program feature of your stereo to be a crude model for database conceptualization if for no other reason than the program feature enables storage of CD and track information to be replayed. So, there is some data being stored in this instance.

You could look at your voice mail or answering machine as a temporary voice activated database because it enables data to be stored via recording. When you are willing to splice it down to the barest essentials databases are to text and numeric data what music is to a CD, tape, or digital recording.

Suddenly, I am hoping that any lingering doubts about what databases and data are defined as are all but eliminated. Database applications in the context of this discussion provide structure to text data. Text data is basically information that comes in the form of text.

The difference between what is considered data vs. what is considered a document really is the structuring relevancy. Unstructured data rests in more complex applications. This page of text for example could be considered unstructured data. Structured data is data that must be categorized in order to make sense. Like Name: 'Bob Marley' Address: '725 Cornawall Road, Montego Bay Jamaica W.I''and so on. This data has value in a different way that may be collected and compiled to form conclusions, queries, analysis, and communication.

You could just as well say at least in the present time that unstructured data is defined as large bodies or chunks of information and structured data is smaller or concentrated bodies of data. I say presently because such basic definitions will not stand the test of time when unstructured data shrinks and structured data grows in size. They will still be different data types, size is not so much illustrated for literal relevancy, rather to provide visual concepts based on "common environment examples" that may be located where ever you may be when you happen to find this article. This doesn't mean to provide literal "in the box" explanations rather to provide the myriad of reader types with the ideas necessary to create completely realistic and logical ideas in ones imagination about how to mentally and emotionally regard these types of software applications and feel comfortable using them, learning them, and engaging in conversations about them. It is now officially 'safe' for earthlings to begin doing so. Part of becoming familiar with software developments, like everything else in life depends mainly on: interest, information, imagery, and experience.

In Part I of "Embracing Databases" I discussed using Spreadsheets and Databases for personal organizational efforts. In this portion of Part II I will continue from where I left off and expand on tools available.

Spreadsheets function as flat data pages. Current Excel spreadsheets have more elaborate tools, which enable: queries, filtering, import/export, table lists and reporting. There is definitely a nice blend of offerings for personal applications as well as, profession. This is what makes it such a great choice for beginners looking for calculations record keeping assistance. By the time you have exhausted the complexities of Excel you will be more than prepared for working with Access.

To Finish up with Excel Spreadsheet capabilities, with Excel Spreadsheets you may: Analyze Data, Automate tasks, Create Charts (for visual aids), Collect new or additional data, Format your spreadsheets, Create Forms & Tables, Print, Store, Review, and Collaborate information. An asset when planning parties, weddings, family reunions, and other group oriented personal events.

For more on getting the most out of Excel spreadsheets click here:
*To note everything that Excel can do Access can also do with only subtle exceptions.

Accessing Access Databases. Why Access, there are so many? I say start with Access for a couple of reasons. One because it’s the most widely available and accessible database software in general, Two because I have interviewed several different types of people with no knowledge of each other similar levels of basic experience and they all agreed that Access would be the first database software they would reach for as a beginner.

Access, is not a bad choice even if you don’t have it and have something else and are a "novice" with databases you may want to start off with access because there is a considerable amount of support, tips, suggestions, and assistance available. It’s a powerful complex desktop system that is fun to use and interact with to keep you in control of your data management while you learn.

For a list of cool things you can do with Access databases click here:

Conceptualizing access relational database tools is a 3-dimensional idea that data may be linked in sub data categories within one database. So that search queries may result in thorough findings for any given topic or data entry field. This aspect of data collecting is of greater relevancy for professional or business requirements but may become relevant for personal use when larger families or households are concerned. In that sense relational databases are a practical personal management application! RDBMS (relational database management systems), just to familiarize you with the "lingo" when exploring databases you will find terms like flat database, tables, and relational databases. Not to worry, things pretty much fall in the order of the most simple to complex, a flat database is just one step from a spreadsheet, tables slightly more complex, and relational database features sort of round out and enable incorporating all data files in one searchable and organized database situation.

Some of this is fairly intuitive the rest comes from hands on experience. Still where there is interest there is evolution.

Newer MS Office Features are broadening further to accommodate more HTML and Publishing requirements. This makes some of the publishing dynamics of FrontPage become more relevant in addition to illustrating "web service" like integration capabilities with other software tools and applications.

For example Synchronizing PDA's, many of the database offerings both standard and as added software functions are created to communicate with MS Office files. Extending the Import/Export features as well as, updating information, collecting new information. Nice to know that all your organizational efforts to make your life easier and more orderly may now travel with you, wherever you go and remain available to you. The only thing better than getting organized is staying that way.

The best way to avoid over spending where technology is concerned is staying informed there are so many software and hardware tools available one could easily over invest and still be at square one. Go slow or should I say at the pace that is natural and sensible for you and your needs. The more informed you are the better decisions you can make to determine what your real needs are. Remember that time plays a key factor in retail prices this is true for software as it is for hardware. In time, things become less expensive and more efficient. So the less experience you have to less obligated you should feel to be on the cutting edge especially, if you simply cannot afford it.

It's good to know what is out there if only to reassure you that you are not wasting your time. Your efforts to assimilate software tools into your life will never become obsolete rather you have more tools to add to your efforts, new ideas, and new mobile opportunities to grow with your needs.

News : Father of the RDBM dies


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