I think I broke my brain

Since one of the wishlist items the good folks at Emma want me to do with my time is to create a client information database, I spent a good portion of the day researching Access database basics. Owwie.

It’s been far too long since I did anything with Access and what I did do was several levels simpler than what they want and need for their center. Basically, my experience comes from one college computer class (take several years ago, that covered the entire Office suite and just scratched the surface of Access) and a few simple databases for simple information recovery that were only marginally more complicated than a spreadsheet. What they need is…well, much more than that. We’re talking multiple tables all cross indexed, several forms, several designed queries and so on.


Now, it isn’t so much that I don’t think I can do it. I mean, it’s Microsoft, for dog’s sake. Give me enough time and enough free online tutorials and I can manage just about anything. That’s not the problem. The problem is the first half of that equation – enough time. Which I don’t have.

I’ve got just about 1.5 month, most of which will no doubt be spent learning and updating their TimeDollar software, a time-barter databased created on Access. I don’t have to reinvent this wheel, just get it working again and up to date. No biggie, once I can get someone to give me a tour or a manual – as with many small-production software solutions of its type, the GUI is about as intuitive as a nuclear power plant dashboard with all the buttons captioned in Klingon.

The thing is, that doesn’t leave me much time to create what is essentially damn near a professional database set-up from scratch with a rusty beginner’s skill-set.

But just in case, I’ve been hitting those online tutorials like they were free booze, and somewhere around 3pm, I think I broke my brain. One too many pages of tables, relational connections, qualifiers and dog knows what else. I just heard this nasty grinding sound and then all the pretty words stopped making any sense. I think I saw smoke, too, but that may have just been bleary eyes.

Anyway, I’m going to sleep on it and hope I don’t spend the night dreaming in data fields. And, hopefully, some of it will make more sense tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m hoping I can find some downloadable template that will get me at least halfway there. That’s a lot of hope. So, I hope I’ve got some good luck reserves left in my karma bank.

Otherwise, I think this idea may just be toast. Just like my mind.

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3 responses to “I think I broke my brain

  1. Michael Tardie

    Have you thought about modifying Microsoft’s Contact Management database to suit your needs? It’s one of the Access 2003 templates available from Microsoft. That might be the easiest way to start since you are facing a time constraint.

    The template is available at


  2. It’s a thought, certainly. Although there’s so much other stuff to add – which classes they’ve attended, which services they’ve accessed and when, their needs, family size and so on – that I’m not sure how much closer to done it’ll get me. ;-D

  3. Pingback: Victory is mine, sayeth the geek « Getting Things Done: A Year of Service

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