Hello, grateful for any advice

Discussion in 'New Members Introduction' started by Ed, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. Ed

    Ed New Member

    Hello everyone. I am interested in retraining in IT and would be really grateful for any advice. I think I am interested in databases, but I am not absolutely sure so I will begin by explaining what first got me interested in the possibility of working in IT.

    I have done lost of admin jobs and have therefore had to use many different computer systems. Almost every system I have ever used is total rubbish. I have seen at first hand the havoc that these systems can cause - huge numbers of customer complaints which then have to be dealt with at great expense, data which cannot be believed because it is self-contradictory, people having to be employed to input the same data again and again onto different parts of the same system. What really frustrates me is that the mistakes in the computer systems are always easy to spot - they are always very basic data modelling errors.

    The fact that I felt I could see why these systems didn't work made me think that perhaps I might enjoy helping to design them. (No doubt someone in the forum will tell me if this sounds arrogant). I have taught myself Access to a reasonable level without too much difficulty and have found it interesting. But I do not know what I should be studying next. Visual Basic for use with Access? SQL? Should I be trying to get this MCDBA?

    I am also uncertain about how to study. I have been visited by a Computeach salesman, sorry, "selection executive". He suggested a Database Administrator course. However, I have decided I will probably not do the Computeach course, partly because of what I have read on this site about them and partly because I am suspicious of the hard sell. (I particularly don't like the fact that you can't ring the enquiry number and have an initial discussion with someone over the phone - they insist on sending a salesperson to your house).

    I am attracted to the idea of studying alone, which some forum members have recommended on other threads. It is the cheapest option and I have lots of spare time at the moment. However, I know that sooner or later I am going to get stuck and I do not know how I will cope without someone at the other end of the phone to help me out. When I was teaching myself Access, I understood 99% of the material, but sometimes I would make a silly mistake and it would take me hours or even days to work out where I had gone wrong. I would therefore be really interested in hearing how forum members who are studying on their own cope when they get stuck.

    Sorry if this is a long post, but I wanted to explain my situation in full. Thanks for any advice anyone can give me.
  2. Phil
    Honorary Member

    Phil Gigabyte Poster

    Hi Ed,

    I don't think you're being arrogant, there's an awful lot of flawed software out there. The question is what aspects of learning Access did you enjoy? Was it the programming, UI design, database design, tweaking Access for performance? If you have a clear idea of what tweaks your propellar it may help us to point you in the right direction.

    Certifications: MCSE:M & S MCSA:M CCNA CNA
    WIP: 2003 Upgrade, CCNA Upgrade
  3. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Greetings, Ed. Welcome to CertForums. Glad you found the place. While I know zip about databases, I do agree with Phil that you will probably get the most mileage out of the type of work you love doing.
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  4. AJ

    AJ 01000001 01100100 01101101 01101001 01101110 Administrator

    Welcome to the boards Ed :biggrin
    Certifications: MCSE, MCSA (messaging), ITIL Foundation v3
    WIP: Breathing in and out, but not out and in, that's just wrong
  5. Ed

    Ed New Member


    Thanks for your reply to my first post.

    You ask me which aspect of Access most interested me. Of the four possibilities you mention, I would probably rule out "tweaking for performance", but I am not sure which of the other three I would choose because I am not absolutely sure what the difference is between them.

    This is where I will reveal my ignorance. I don't truly understand what the definition of "programming" is. I know that Access uses Visual Basic and I know that VB is a program and the people who work with it are called programmers. But I also know (well, I think I know) that database designers can use SQL. SQL looks like programming to a layman like me, but it doesn't appear to officially count as programming. Why not?

    I suppose what most interested me about Access was getting the relationships right between the tables, working out which queries were needed and making sure that all of the data was presented in the simplest way possible to the user. Sorry if I'm not being very specific.

    May I draw on my work experience to give a rather long-winded example of what interests me? I recently worked for a water company. Supposing a customer, Fred, moves out of a property in January and a new customer, Mary, moves into that property in June. For the period January to June, we would send letters to that property addressed to "The Occupier". The computer system should have defined "The Occupier" as "whoever is living at the property at the moment, identity currently unknown". Instead, the system treated "The Occupier" as if he were a unique person like Fred and Mary. When Mary moved in, the account of "The Occupier" was closed, but because we obviously had no forwarding address for "The Occupier", the system would continue to send letters addressed to "The Occupier" to Mary's address asking "The Occupier", which as far as Mary was concerned was her, to pay the bill for the period January to June. Eventually, we would threaten to take "The Occupier" to court for non-payment.

    The result of this carelessness in defining a piece of data was a customer relations disaster, with thousands of worried and angry customers phoning in every month and clogging up the phones. I wished I had been part of the team that designed the system because I knew I would not have made this blunder. But I do not know whether this makes me a potential database designer or a potential programmer.

    I certainly am interested in UI design if by that you mean making sure the system is designed so that the user has to do the absolute minimum work and that all the information the user needs is easily accessible. (I have worked in call centres and I know how horrible it is not to have all the information you need at your fingertips when someone is yelling down the phone at you.) But isn't this all part of designing a good database? Or is UI design considered a distinct profession?

    Sorry if this all sounds a bit vague. I hope I have managed to give some idea of what interests me. Thanks for any further advice you can give.
  6. Jakamoko
    Honorary Member

    Jakamoko On the move again ...

    This sounds like one interesting discussion, but as I know nothing about this field, I ain't gonna hijack the thread..

    I'll just say Hi Ed, welcome to CertForums, and I hope you stick around and enjoy your time here on the Boards :D
    Certifications: MCP, A+, Network+
    WIP: Clarity
  7. Bluerinse
    Honorary Member

    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

    I don't know much about programming, SQL, scripting either so I can't really give sound advice. However, I would like to welcome you to the board too!

    Ed, the thing is, in THEORY everyone can find their own niche in IT and IT has so many different types of avenues to explore that there is bound to be something or other that interests you, something you can specialise in. To me, databases are boring and I find M$ Access one of the most tedious programs to work with. Database administration does appeal to many people and you may be a perfect candidate. Only time will tell.

    The truth is that in practise whichever avenue you decide to pursue, you will find a lot of the necessary knowlege to be tedious, over complicated and tough to learn. This MCSE thing that I decided to do three years ago has enlightened me as to what is expected from someone that calls themselves an expert in this field of IT. Training NEVER stops, exam after exam followed by more exams and someone might employ you, IF you are experienced and lucky.

    The other thing to mention is that it seems everyone and his mother wants a job these days in IT. Kids are told by their schools that they should go into IT, the truth is that the bubble burst years ago and now the money is not good, there just aren't enough jobs to go around. People are being misguided!

    If you are really passionate then go for it, but if you just fancy the idea, then drop it like a hot potato. The people that are earning big time in IT have generally been doing it for years, are real experts and it is the combination of practical experiance and knowlege that gets them the jobs and the money. Without BOTH many people are left high and dry, asking questions like "how do I get experiance if nobody will give me a job?" There is NO answer to that cunundrum unfortunately!

    Just my 2 cnts, good luck in whatever you decide,

    Certifications: C&G Electronics - MCSA (W2K) MCSE (W2K)
  8. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

    Hi Ed and welcome to the forum. Just be aware that there is a lot of crossover between the different areas. For example, you can be really interested in the UI part of DB design but if you know nothing of what goes on behind the UI, then that's all you have, a pretty interface that does nothing. OTOH you may be a programming guru and you design the world's best DB, but if it has no reasonable UI then people can't use it to the fullest. As you probably found out by teaching yourself Access, you need to know how to design the DB, programming, scripting etc. You make the UI, define the relationships, program the cde, write the scripts to run the code, tweak the code and scripts to get it right and so on.

    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP (270,271,272,290,620) | MCDST | MCTS:Vista
    WIP: MCSA, 70-622,680,685

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