(How an old 1996 database version kicked the tail endof ... Access ... ... is it that I feel like I've been to hell and back?If you email your ... or ... or if you kno
(How an old 1996 database version kicked the tail end of Microsoft Access 2000!)
Why is it that I feel like I've been to hell and back?
If you email your prospects or customers, or if you know you should but don't, hopefully my experience will be of value to you.
Does any of this sound familiar?
I had a list of names and email addresses I desperately needed to send emails to. These were people who signed up to resell my product, "The Amazing Formula That Sells Products Like Crazy."
I had a ton of duplicates in my list. For some reason, people sign up multiple times. Yet, I only wanted to send them one email.
Emailing your list of associates, customers and prospects is absolutely essential. I felt humiliated that a stupid database problem was preventing me from contacting my associates on a regular basis.
My list was in this format:
12234 firstname lastname email
The data was listed on a password protected web page. I tried to copy and paste the list into Excel, so I could manipulate it, but that wouldn't work. It wouldn't separate the data into columns.
I tried Boxer 99, an ultra-cool text editor with remove duplicate liens feature.
But it wouldn't remove the duplicates because the first number on each record was different. But the name and email were the same. To Boxer 99, it wasn't a duplicate record.
My email program is supposed to remove duplicate records. For some reason I still don't understand, it wouldn't zap the records for me.
Feeling exasperated, I decided to "get tough" and import the names into Access. Surely the heavy duty database programs would pull through for me and end my misery and humiliation!
Have you ever tried to remove duplicates in Microsoft Access? Oh my gosh. Don't even try unless you're a professional!
I used a "find duplicates" query to locate the duplicates. But how do you remove them from your list?
Whew! What a nightmare. I never did figure it out. I tried to follow the 15 steps in the on-line help file, or however many there were.
But it didn't work.
You'd think there would be a button to click on that says, "remove duplicate records," right? It isn't exactly an unusual or exotic procedure.
Anyway, I hunted all over and tried out some other email programs, figuring that one of them surely would import the data in a format that would allow me to de-dupe the list.
But nothing would work. I tried exporting the list out of Access and then importing it into my email program.
Finally, a friend of mine said, "Hey, why don't you try Lotus Approach? You can do what you want in only one click!"
I tried to buy Lotus Approach at their web site. But if I remember correctly, I couldn't download it. You had to wait for the CD!
What are they thinking? It's called downloading. Hello!
Anyway, thank God I had an old 1996 version on CD. I wasn't confident I could install it since I probably didn't have the unlock code.
Thankfully, Lotus didn't require multiple unlock codes like a lot of software does today. And it wasn't an upgrade version that required you to hunt down the original version you bought back in the dark ages!
Like you can ever find the original version before the 3 upgrades you bought. You know what I'm talking about?
To continue, I fired it up and the names imported like a champ. About 10 times easier than Microsoft Access, I might add.
To de-dupe the list, all I had to do was select "Find unique or distinct records."
In an instant my list was de-duped and ready for mailing!
Could it be that a database actually made something easy? What a relief. Next, I needed to export the list so I could pull it into an email program.
I needed the list in pipe delimited format separated by pipes that look like this: |
In database lingo, that's called a pipe.
It took only an instant in Approach. Again, I found it 100 times easier than Access. But I don't want to blame Access. I had downloaded some other databases from the Net whose names I won't mention.
They were no easier to use for this simple task than Access was.
Finally, I talked to a friend of mine who is a techno whiz. He uses Q & A because he had problems using Access also. He makes lots of queries to Access to find customers who bought products one and two, or who bought within the last 60 days and so forth.
He got quotes from database experts about making these queries and they told him how complicated it would be.
He does it in a flash with Q & A. I'm told that database isn't even marketed any longer. So I'm headed down to my used bookstore to see if they have an old copy.
And I'm also checking out query procedures in Approach. Interestingly enough, though, when I asked my friend if it was easy to de-dupe records in Q & A, he said he didn't know of a way to do it.
So there you have it.
Now, I only have a few more windmills left to joust. For example, my list of associates isn't clean.
Some of the email addresses are in the name field! Oh boy, have you ever tried to move data from one field to the next?
You'd think you could select the cell, and drag the data to another cell.
Answer? Guess again bucko! Here's another, know all those ding dongs who type their names in capital letters? So when you suck their names into your database, it's in all caps? Then you send them email, their name is naturally in caps, and they email you back nasty things blaming you for screaming at them?
Of course, only after complaining to your ISP that you spammed them and the capital letters are proof you're a novice who doesn't know yet that spamming is a no-no.
Well get this: In Q & A, you can hit a button and put all records in a column into caps and lower case.
Sure would be cool if you could do that in Approach or Access. You'd think there would be an email program that would also do this for you.
I mean, this being the age of email and all...
Hey, for all you database gurus out there, I've put up a little discussion board you can visit and share your wisdom with the rest of us database hacks.
And don't spam it with mlm ads or I'm putting YOUR email address in all caps, firing up my old database program, exportin' your name in pipe delimited and zippin' a nasty note off to your ISP about how the caps prove you're a novice spammer who doesn't even know caps mean screaming!
Marlon Sanders, author of "The Amazing Formula That Sells Products Like Crazy" at amazingformula.com and, in spite of his database woes, author or "How to Create The Ultimate, Automated Web Business at: http://www.amazingformula.com/auto.html