YteneWeb The Weirder Side Of Life…

October 18, 2015

IT Idiocy Awards – New Candidate…

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:32 pm

So a new work assignment has resulted in my spending some time working with Microsoft Access, from the Office suite. It’s been a few years since I last experimented, but having just forked out £240 [ouch] for a copy of “Office 2013 Pro” I’ve come to the conclusion that the major changes since the Office 2000 days I am more familiar with are several layers of complexity and a healthy dose of idiocy…

For example, I wanted to store all the Access databases I am working with on my personal NAS box, on my home network. Easy enough, right? No. Oh, for sure, you can map a drive from a workstation to the NAS, and you can open, update and access the files there, but every time you do, the database will open with a “Security Warning”. Not helpful when you want something to simply auto-start directly into a menu form…

Microsoft spotted that people could write really, really nasty macro viruses in office files – virus code that could easily wipe your PC. So: do they rewrite the cruddy macro system in their office suite to make this impossible? Why no, of course not… Instead, they come up with the insane idea that they will introduce the idea of trusted locations. What this means is that if you try and open a file from a trusted location, it will open without bother. If you try and open a file from anywhere else, or stored anywhere else, you will get this crummy “Are you sure you want to trust this file?” style alert… But what possible help can this be if the user concerned downloads an infected file from somewhere, stores it in a “trusted location” and then opens it in office? Kinda blows a hole in the model, right?

It gets better. Back to the NAS. My NAS box is on my local network; I have a SMB share to the thing and I use it all the time; it’s fast, it’s shared across my home-based tech, and it’s got a stack of drives in a RAID5 array for data protection purposes… Except Access doesn’t trust this. So I follow the directions on Technet to the letter. No dice. Hit Google and search; try all the recommendations. No dice.

One helpful post suggests that access doesn’t like hard-coded IP addresses, so hinting I should change my existing drive map from the ubiquitous “\\192.168.x.y\ShareName” to something along the lines of “\\ShareDevice\ShareName\” Nope.

So I tinker around a bit more until tonight I came across someone who suggested that I actually had to hand-hack my “Windows Hosts” file. For those who don’t know, this is a simple text lookup file that acts like an on-your-PC copy of DNS – a place the OS will go to look for an IP Address before it bothers to ask a DNS server for help. The thinking was: manually add a server name for your destination IP address and use this in Microsoft Access “Trust Center” [sic].

So I did… A quick manual hack of the hosts file, which, if you’re looking, can be found at:-

C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

on most systems. The file has to be edited with Notepad using “Administrator” privilege… Find the file under Windows Accessories from the Start Menu, then right click and select, “Run as Administrator” …

And, curiously, it works. Well, a good response to this is “Whoo!”… A better one is, “Why the #### was it necessary for me to have to come up with this contrived and stupid way of forcing Windows to look for a particular network configuration in the trust centre?” Was it deliberate obfuscation? Or do we just assume that the programmer who came up with that little wheeze was pathetically lazy and came up with just one accepted work-around, that failed to recognise basic platform best practices? As a good friend of mine often says, “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.”

Microsoft – stupidity comes as standard…

Powered by WordPress