Welcome to a new level of Service


Usarian M. SkiffHello, my name is Usarian Skiff.  I am a database specialist.  If you own or work for a small business – Welcome!

What I do is solve problems, specifically data problems.  If your business uses software like Microsoft Excel, Access, SQL Server, or CSV files, XML files, Crystal Reports, Reporting Services, etc – then chances are very good that you have problems with data.

  • if it takes too long to enter information into spreadsheets – I can create automation – saving you potentially HOURS every day
  • if you have multiple copies of Excel or Access files all containing different information – I  can fix this for you
  • if you have shared files and people keep locking each other out – I can prevent these frustrating and time consuming problems
  • if you have employees that have accidentally deleted files or entered bad information – I can make a system that keeps quality backups in very small files
  • if people type-in the same information a dozen different ways (eg misspellings, abbreviations, different words, etc.) making your reporting a nightmare of copying and cutting and pasting and finding and replacing – I can create a system that standardizes your user’s input
  • if you spend days compiling your monthly and quarterly inventory and financials in Excel or some other homegrown system – I can automate this from hours to seconds
  • if you have a SQL Server database but it was set up once a long time ago and no one has looked at it since – I can do a health check and make sure your database is healthy and fast

Maybe you can’t justify hiring a full-time IT person, and standard consultants are very expensive and have no loyalty to you when their time is up.   What I offer is SERVICE, FLEXIBILITY, and SUPPORT.

Call me now for a free consultation to see what I can do for you.

(972) 275-6864

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Using ODBC

In my experience, one of the most frequent data-related helpdesk calls is for ODBC errors.

ODBC is a way to connect Microsoft Access and other Office products to a database such as SQL Server.  You can set your ODBC connections by going to:
START–>Control Panel–>Administrative Tools (in Vista’s classic view)–>Data Sources(ODBC)


In a corporate situation with a Domain it is common for the administrator to set up a login script to run on each desktop that will make sure a bunch of standard ODBC connections  are in place.

ODBC errors can be very difficult to resolve.  The error messages themselves are rarely helpful – often saying nothing more than “ODBC Error”.  Here are a list of some common causes of the annoying ODBC error:

            • 32 bit/64 bit architecture – The ODBC error has to have the same architecture as the *APPLICATION* not the Operating System.  If the user is running Windows 7   64-bit and Microsoft Access 32-bit then the ODBC driver for the database they need to connect to must be 32-bit

            • Bad SQL Code – This can take many forms.  If the user is trying to open a query that points to a View or Stored Procedure or Function, and if there is a problem with that object, then the user will get an ODBC error.  Also keep and eye out for triggers failing on the database after Inserts, Updates, and Deletes.  One of the most common situations I have encountered is where an Access or Excel query uses a view and the columns in the view may change – removed or an altered data type.
            • Permissions – If the user is a member of an Active Directory group that has permissions to an object on the database, or if the user’s network login has direct access to an object – sometimes administrators can get accidentally remove or change a user’s permissions indirectly during a clean-up effort.  Or sometimes if a generic SQL user is used, the password may get locked or changed.

            • User Tampering – If a temporary situation is encountered by a power user (or at least someone who thinks of himself as a power user) they may try to correct the situation, and actually end up breaking the ODBC connection.  One example of this is changing the password setting from Active Directory to SQL and then typing in their network username and password.

This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the myriad of problems I have encountered, but these are some frequent issues – reliable first places to look.

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ODBC Errors in Access 2007 32-bit running on Windows 7 64-bit

Found a fantastic article explaining and fixing a problem I have seen many times as of late:

here’s a link to a MSDN question on the same subject:


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Free resources for the web and other media

Over the years I have accumulated a number of resources for creating new websites.  These are a few of my most-used:

This is a collection of public domain photographs covering numerous subjects


For icons I use several resources, but bar none the one most developers turn to is FamFamFam’s Silk icon collection

A brand new one (to me) is this one for free music of all genres

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Need to convert .NET data types into SQL data types? Here ya go..

I was conversing today with Patrick about a project he’s working on that involves data quality checks on CSV files.  He’s working on a component to determine SQL data types of the imported columns and I suggested maybe somebody already did that — thus I ran across this: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1058322/anybody-got-a-c-sharp-function-that-maps-the-sql-datatype-of-a-column-to-its-clr

It’s not what he needed, but I still thought it was pretty darn cool


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Database Server hosted on a Raspberry Pi!?

This is crazy stuff here, but it’s an interesting concept:


I can see many low-cost industrial uses for this.  As a data historian for example on a manufacturing line, or collecting data from scientific instruments.  Perhaps running a cluster of these units for less than $500!

There are space savings and power savings at play as well — how about combining with a Pi based webserver to create a mobile wifi data hub during disasters running out of an SUV or RV?

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