Saturday, March 05, 2005

A strange bug with Microsoft Office Outlook and Access 2000 and Palm HotSync and PocketMirror and ...

Microsoft Office Online Home Page

I wanted to consolidate and manipulate about 1100 contacts stored in an Outlook file. The history of those contacts is probably valid here. They've been through a myriad of applications over the years: FileMaker Pro on a Mac. FileMaker Pro on Windows. Palm Desktop/Mac. Palm Desktop/Windows. PocketMirror. PocketMirror Pro. Exchange. Outlook.

And that's the short list.

I export them from Outlook into Access. So far so good. In Access I can parse, manipulate and clean-up the data.

Except my queries don't work. I query 'not null' and get records with empty fields. I know Access 2000 had problems (2003 is better), but this is ridiculous. It can't be that buggy. The fields, however are empty. I run all the database repair utilities -- no effect.

Or are they?

I export all the data to a delimited file. Then I use a text editor to set the character set to ANSI and save the text file as PC format. They I reimport. Now all the queries work.

My guess is that there were 'illegal' characters in those fields. I know Access 2003 can handle UTF-8 data, maybe there those characters would have rendered in some way. In this case, they didn't. They were there, but Access couldn't get at them and couldn't delete them.

The risks of moving data between a LOT of platforms ...

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