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Try it Yourself
By Richard Rost   Richard Rost on LinkedIn Email Richard Rost   2 years ago

Always Try It Yourself Before Asking for Help

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In this public service announcement, I'll explain why it's always better to try things yourself, or to try a Google search, before asking a question in the comments section or an online Forum. Whether you're learning Microsoft Access or just about anything else, you'll do yourself a favor if you train yourself to experiment and figure things out on your own!

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When I was a kid, if I had a question about how something worked, I had three choices: I could look in my grandpa's then-30-year-old encyclopedia, go to the library, or ask someone. So kids from my generation were used to asking questions of people (parents, teachers, authority figures, etc.) It was much easier than the alternative. We were taught "there are no stupid questions." But there are lazy questions!

Today, you literally carry a device in your pocket all day, every day, that can answer pretty much every question known to man within seconds. So before asking questions of other people, try giving the Google Machine a whirl first. It's a whole lot faster than sending an email, or posting in a Forum, and then waiting hours or days for a response.

The first computer I learned to program on was an old TRS-80 from Radio Shack. I had a few books, but I learned most of what I know now from tearing apart other peoples' code, and from experimentation. Want to see if this bit of code will work? Sure... Let's give it a try! No? Oops. Delete. Try again. Play with it! Get crazy.

The same logic goes to learning Access. Want to see if you can apply that format? Try it. Want to know if you can copy that control? Give it a shot. Want to know if X works with Y? Best way to find out... Try it yourself!

Actual Questions

Here are some actual questions I've received, either in email, comments on my YouTube channel, or posts in my Forums, in just the past week.

  • Does conditional formatting work in reports?
  • Can you insert the time with Ctrl-Shift-; like you can in Excel?
  • Is it possible to have a field name start with a number?

Here are some other questions. Now these aren't that bad because there may be some minor issues, but still, you could figure it out by trying it yourself...

  • Can I copy a combo box from one form to another without having to run through the Wizard each time?
  • What would happen if I tried to index a field (no duplicates) but there were already duplicate values in that field?

Keep in mind, these are good questions. I'm not saying the people asking are dumb by any means. I get asked questions like this a lot. People want to know the answers to questions like these. The point I'm trying to make is that you can answer these kinds of questions yourself in less time than it would take to post the question and wait for a response!

Think For Yourself

  • Think before you ask.
  • Don't get addicted to being fed answers.
  • It's OK to not know the answer. 
  • Learn how to find answers.
  • Ask yourself before asking others.
  • Ask Google before asking others!
  • Laziness is no excuse!

Now, by all means, if you've tried something yourself and you can't figure it out, and you've checked with Google, then please ask. I'm not saying to never ask a question. I love answering questions. But... If it's something you can figure out yourself by trying it on your own, or with a Google search, then do it!

You will learn more by trying to figure things out on your own. If you're curious as to whether or not something will work, then try it! Have fun. Experiment. Be a mad scientist! Just be careful not to go faster than 88 MPH!

You know that "ah-ha" moment that happens when the lightbulb finally turns on after you figure out something yourself? I love that. You will feel better about yourself and have a sense of accomplishment by figuring things out on your own.

Experiment Carefully!

  • Be sure to backup your database!
  • Work on a non-production copy
  • Feel free to play and have fun!

My Moderators and I love helping people out and answering questions, but from now on, if your question is something you can easily figure out on your own, you're getting sent to this video.


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Comments for Try it Yourself
Age Subject From
2 yearsAccess HelpPhilip Lombardo
2 yearsA great topicThomas Gonder


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