Tales from the Script
by Brian Dunning
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was a dark and stormy night...
Sheets of hard rain drummed the roof of his car as he squinted
through the streaked windshield. The thick planks of the bridge
cracked with age as his heavy wheels rolled slowly over the torrents
below. A shock of white, as lightning snapped a photograph of
the crumbling stone towers. He slammed the door and ran through
the crazed maelstrom of water and shrieking wind. His shoes skidded
on the wet cobblestones.
Rivers of rushing water cascaded down from the dizzying stone
heights above. He raised the heavy iron knocker and let it fall
once, twice, thrice. His suit jacket flapped in the wind as he
stood waiting. A metallic thud from deep inside the heavy castle
foundation, and the cacophony of chain rattling through cogs and
machinery. The oaken gate shuddered as it rose. The tall gaunt
figure, draped in a musty tuxedo, regarded him through dark eyes
set deep in his pale gray face.
"You must be the FileMaker consultant," he said at last. "Please
The Consultant stumbled forward and tipped the water out of his
"I understand you're having some problems with your files."
"This way, sir." The tall man held aside some cobwebs and led
the way down a murky spiral staircase, hewn from the living rock
of Crag Horn. Startled by the torch, a furry spider scrambled
into a dark crack.
"Ah, you're here at last," said the Professor, flipping the magnifying
lens up from his glasses. "We've had a dastard of a problem with
A villager, bound to the table with thick leather straps, groaned
"See here," said the Professor, and worked the mouse. "Connection
to the host has been lost."
"No problem," said the Consultant. "Where's your server?"
The Professor stared blankly. He turned to his buxom Assistant,
"The server," repeated the Consultant. "The computer where your
files are being hosted from."
"Ya ya, is over here," said the Assistant, and her yellow pigtails
swung as she turned to a workstation on her tidy desk. "Zis is
hosting ze Procedures file and ze Patients file. Ze Instruments
and Experiments files are on ze Professor's laptop. Except for
his backups, which I keep here," and she clicked open a folder
on her desktop.
The Consultant scratched his head and opened his mouth to speak,
but the Professor interrupted: "And this file is losing records.
I'll spend half a day inputting data, and the next morning they're
"Ya," said the assistant, "and whenever ze Professor does a Replace,
I get ze coffee cup."
"You get the Professor's coffee?"
"No, I get ze coffee cup icon, and I have to force quit."
"While you're hosting other files?"
"And that's when the Professor's connection is lost."
The Professor and the Assistant exchanged a confused look.
"We think we need to switch to Access," said the Professor at
last. "Can you help us do that?" The villager nodded his assent
vigorously, as much as the restraints would let him.
"Hold it! You mustn't do that. You're already invested in FileMaker.
Your report layouts are in FileMaker. All your data is in FileMaker,
" he clicked open Define Fields
"look at all these
calculation and summary fields. Access can't accommodate those.
You'd lose almost everything you've done."
"But young man, we're having so many problems. FileMaker is a
"There's nothing wrong with FileMaker. What's wrong is the way
you've configured your machines."
They gathered behind him as he sat down in the Assistant's orthopedic
chair and launched FileMaker.
"See here. When you have backup copies of files on the same network,
with the same name as the originals, there's no telling which
copy FileMaker might open. That's why, Professor, some of your
records appear to vanish. It's because you entered them into a
different copy of the file.
"And look at this. This machine is hosting some of the files,
and that machine is hosting others. If either machine crashes,
or someone force-quits, both users are going to have corruption
or a dropped connection."
"What should we do?"
"Install FileMaker Server! Put it on a dedicated machine, and
don't let anyone touch it."
The Professor staggered back, clutching at his breast. "I can't
afford that! A dedicated computer, and FileMaker Server! The cost!
I'd have to excise dozens of
The villager scratched at his hollow cranium.
The Consultant silenced the Professor with an outstretched palm.
"The cost? What is your time worth? What does it cost you every
time you have re-input data? What does it cost you every time
you rebuild corrupted files and reconstruct lost layouts? I say,
you can't afford NOT to use FileMaker Server."
"It handles the backups automatically and unattended, so there
will be no more multiple, unsynchronized copies on the network.
When you crash your computer, or force-quit FileMaker for any
reason, the files are unaffected. Your performance will improve
dramatically, and you can say goodbye permanently to all the problems
"Sold!" said the Professor and his Assistant in the same breath.
The Consultant felt the tall man's sturdy hands close around his
arms from behind.
"Now be a good lad," said the Professor, "and climb up on the