Today, I started learning how to use Microsoft Access in my Database Concepts class. While I have only messed around with a few simple tasks, I am already beginning to see how powerful this program can be for creating my own personal databases. I have had a Website since 2004 that has had a database in use for a Web forum, and I have some old versions of the database that I have wanted to pull information from. Hopefully, I can load that database into Microsoft Access to pull out the information I want. I know I am not ready to do something like that yet, but maybe I will give it a try in a week or two.
Databases is one of those things that I have wanted to learn for a long time mainly because of the Website that I operate. I can perform modifications on my database, and I have, but I don’t always understand why one thing works and others don’t. I am starting to understand how the Web forum created the database and why as well as the different relations and the reasons for each table. I know by the end of the class that I will have a much better understanding of my database and be able to manage it much better.
Access is the first database application I have used, and I have to use Access for my class. However, I am interested in locating some open-source applications that perform the same functionality because I would like to do this type of stuff in Linux rather than having to boot into Windows every time I want to practice working on databases. I have not begun to search for the options just yet, but if you happen to have some suggestions for me, please add your comment to this post and share them with me. I will then look into those suggestions.
Later this week I should begin to learn SQL, and I really looking forward to that. I understand bits and pieces of SQL already, so I do want to further my understanding. Once again, I have a huge interest in this because of the Website that I operate. The more I learn, the better I will become at modifying and even creating my own applications for my users.
I am now four days into my database class, and I already have a major headache trying to figure some things out. I thought this class would take a slightly different approach than what has been thrown my way this week. The title of the class is “Introduction to Database Concepts.” I figured it would be a class that would prep us for our later database programming class(es), so I was looking forward to it. However, I haven’t really seen much of an introduction just yet. Instead, we are being asked to conduct discussions on stuff that I would have guessed would have come later after we learned the basics of databases. Instead, we are being asked about database views, which only one person in the class has ever heard of, and today’s discussion focused on newly proposed optimized ways to retrieve data before we have even discussed and fully understood what a relational database is.
Many of the students in the class are thoroughly confused at this point, and I am starting to feel like one of the confused students as well. I would have hoped we would start with the basics and work our way towards learning things like database views and different methods of data retrieval on databases, but I guess the instructor feels differently. I seem to recall another class where I felt just as lost after the first few days. Unfortunately, I cannot remember what that class is anymore. I guess the memories of it were so bad I repressed them. :D
The good news is, I am picking up on this higher-level stuff using what I already know about relational databases, flat files, and spreadsheets. After some research, I discovered that I like concept of views in databases because they remind me of a function in some object-oriented programming languages. Once I compared it to that, the concept of it immediately made a lot more sense to me.
I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that our discussions eventually focus on what we are reading in our textbooks and learning. I would hate to continue in a class where I keep scratching my head and hope that I am understanding the articles my instructor keeps throwing at us.