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Keeping track of books, records...

McGrath of Harlow 15 Aug 09 - 09:52 AM
dick greenhaus 15 Aug 09 - 10:00 AM
GUEST,Russ 15 Aug 09 - 10:31 AM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM
Susan of DT 15 Aug 09 - 12:32 PM
GUEST,Russ 15 Aug 09 - 01:12 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Aug 09 - 01:33 PM
Will Fly 15 Aug 09 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,Russ 15 Aug 09 - 01:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Aug 09 - 02:05 PM
Joe Offer 15 Aug 09 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,bigJ 15 Aug 09 - 03:09 PM
Owen Woodson 16 Aug 09 - 11:05 AM
Bill D 16 Aug 09 - 11:37 AM
Rowan 16 Aug 09 - 06:05 PM
Will Fly 17 Aug 09 - 04:32 AM
Susanne (skw) 17 Aug 09 - 05:52 PM
Rowan 17 Aug 09 - 06:29 PM
BB 18 Aug 09 - 08:56 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Aug 09 - 02:18 PM
Rowan 18 Aug 09 - 06:23 PM
dick greenhaus 18 Aug 09 - 06:39 PM
Rowan 18 Aug 09 - 09:41 PM
Susanne (skw) 21 Aug 09 - 08:35 PM
JohnInKansas 22 Aug 09 - 01:10 AM
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Subject: Keeping track of books, records...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 09:52 AM

I'm having a go at keeping track of stuff scattered around my home - primarily DVDs, recirds, CDs, books. So what I want is to make a catalogue, which can be modified as I get new stuff or get rid of old stuff. Something as simple as an old-style card catalogue, but using the computer.

I've been googling around looking for something to use, but everything seems to be geared to far more information than I'm interested in - dowmloading details I can't give a fig about, or typing in IMDB numbers and suchlike and downloading irrelevancies - and half the time my stuff predates such modern inventions and won't be up there anyway.

So can anyone out there point me in the direction of a simple straightforward no-bells-and-whistles programme that gives me what I want, which is type in the name and maybe the author/performer , and whether it's a CD, a DVD, a book etc? And give me something I can then print out if I feel like it.


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 10:00 AM

Kevin-
The absolute best program for this I've ever encountered runs under DOS--
it's called askSam. If you can live with DOS, let me know and I'll send you a copy. It's a tiny,very flexible database system.


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 10:31 AM

McGrath,
If you have Microsoft Excel
One column per field, e.g., name, performer, type
One row per item

If you have Microsoft Word
Create a table
One column per field, e.g., name, performer, type
One row per item

Actually any program that lets you organize data in a row/column/tabular format will do the job for a SIMPLE database.
Unfortunately, databases start out simple and get complicated quickly.

Dick
askSam...
That sure takes me back.
What OS are you using?

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM

Never could cope with DOS, I'm afraid. And I've never got beyond using Word for writing things.

I'm hoping there's some simple off-the-shelf thingamebob that will save me having to get myself up to speed on that kind of stuff. Failing which I'll have to learn how to do it.

Maybe there's a tutorial on YouTube about it...


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Susan of DT
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 12:32 PM

Russ
We use XP, which runs DOS windows. The master of the Digital Tradition is still in askSam and that is the version I always use to look up songs - the search is MUCH better than the one online.

Kevin
I second the Excel recommendation. It is worth learning (and not difficult) and is great for anything that works as a table, which is what most databases really are. There are specialized little programs, but if you do it in excel, YOU decide what you want to track and see.


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 01:12 PM

Kevin,

Start Excel.
A new worksheet should appear.
in Row 1 type in your column headers.
1 header for each field, e.g., name, performer, type
you only need to do this once.

in row 2 type in the information for a specific thing, e.g., one of you LPs
repeat for rows 3 through N.

Once the data is input, sort and autofilter will be your friends.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 01:33 PM

I'm trying that with Works - haven't got Excel. Looks straightforward enough - except that I can't find a way of making it sort entries alphabetically.

I feel a bit like someone posting here and asking what tuning a guitar means...


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 01:41 PM

If you've got Excel or a spreadsheet that looks like Excel - such as Works - you sort alphabetically/numerically by:

1. Selecting the whole spreadsheet - all cells

2. There should be a SORT command in one of the menus on the menubar

3. when you select SORT, it should ask you which column you want to use as the sort columns and whether you want the sort to be ascending or descending

So, if your main Name (for example) is in Column A, then sort on Column A - and the whole sheet will sort itself by that column.

Just a rough guide...


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 01:57 PM

Kevin,
What Will Fly said.

My memories of the Works interface are vague.

Look for an item on the Menu bar labeled "Data".
Sort should be in that list.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 02:05 PM

That worked!

The thing I love about the Mudcat (well, one thing I live about the Mudcat, one of many) is that pretty well always you can rely on getting anything you ask for here, simple, complicated, absurdly simple or ridiculously complicated.

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 02:20 PM

And Works has a very nice (and simple) database program that I've used for books and CD's for years. My CD database goes back to version 1.5 of Microsoft Works, updated through a number of versions. I think it was about 1990 that I started that database.
It works just like keeping a database on a spreadsheet, but it has lots of extra options.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: GUEST,bigJ
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 03:09 PM

Kevin,
If you go to abebooks.com you can download their book database for free which could probably be adapted for other items.

It's here:-
www.abebooks.com/books/homebase/main.shtml


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 16 Aug 09 - 11:05 AM

I've been logging my record collection for years and use a spreadsheet to enter the data and a database to store it. The problem I have is that, while spreadsheets are fine for entering, copying data etc, they are not designed for storing large amounts of information and are not as good as databases at extracting it. On the other hand, data entry via database is laborious and time consuming.

I therefore have a spreadsheet set up with the following fields:-

Country of origin. ID No. Medium. Dolby setting (for cassettes only). Record Label. Catalogue No. Type of music. Track Title. Performer's Location. Recording Date. Recording Location. Field Collector/Engineer. Roud No. Child No. Other Nos. Ensemble/Artist. Notes

My database file is set up with the same fields. Therefore, once I've entered a set of data to the spreadsheet, all I have to do is cut and paste it to the database.

Obviously, unless you're a raving nutter like me, and you need to list every track in a huge and multifarious collection, you won't need all these fields. And you certainly won't need them if you just want to make a list of your record titles. But the principle remains the same. If you've got a collection of any size, it's much easier working on it via a database.


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Aug 09 - 11:37 AM

If you have something that works now...fine.... If you want other options, I have seen several (free) programs that are specifically designed to do that kind of database. I will post them if you wish.


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Rowan
Date: 16 Aug 09 - 06:05 PM

At work I have had to create several databases. Most are equivalent to card file systems and I've found Excel adequate for all of these; basic spreadsheets such as those in Works and iWork/Life/whatever are every bit as good for most things. Having been tasked (by my then missus, for her PhD thesis) with creating text tables on a Kaypro using Perfect Calc running on C/PM (it was almost 30 years ago) I got into the habit of using spreadsheets to create tables of text and I've never been caught short.

When I had to compile a bibliography of papers and publications relevant to the archaeology and anthropology of the New England (Oz) I got myself a copy of EndNote and it worked well for even the strangest objects of text. Fortunately my employer has provided free updates of EndNote, so have been able to use it for personal library info as well.

I expect I'll have to come to terms with relational databases in due course but basic spreadsheets will do fine until then. If you get into trouble, Kevin, feel free to PM me and I'll try to give you a hand.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 04:32 AM

If you do ever want to invest in a database program proper, I can recommend Filemaker Pro. It's very straightforward to use in simple mode but can get more complex if required, and contains lots of templates for easy use. I've used it for years - mainly for family history archives - and found it very, very useful for collating and sorting information.


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 05:52 PM

Has anyone tried the OpenOffice database programme?

I've used Q&A so far but need to get rid of it as it won't run on anything higher than W'98. It's a shame because I've never ever come across a programme that was as easy and flexible to use - certainly a lot more so than Excel or Access.

I've been told the OpenOffice one is easy to handle as well.

BTW, I'm a raving nutter like Owen, so if I lose these data it's a lifetime's work, and I don't want to risk that!


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Rowan
Date: 17 Aug 09 - 06:29 PM

Will Fly's right about FileMaker Pro. I have used it for some things but I got the impression that McGrath was after something more basic and available either as a free download or as part of his existing software; basic spreadsheets fit much of that bill.

But, I confess to being the sort of nong who has created an Excel spreadsheet to provide stats, court maps and coaching info for the netball teams I've coached. With matches on Saturdays and coaching after school on Mondays I had to reduce the time spent on such things to a minimum; Excel allowed me to get it down to 20 minutes for both of two teams.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: BB
Date: 18 Aug 09 - 08:56 AM

We're still using Paradox which we got when we first had a PC - basically very simple, but works for us in all the things we've needed it for - and it certainly works up to XP.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Aug 09 - 02:18 PM

True enough, I was after something simple and basic, and for the time being anyway the database on Works seems to fit the bill.

The other thing of coyurse is, while working out all the stuff I've got tucked away invarios places would be bad enugh, there's also the problem of finding where I have it stashed away. Too much stuff, that's the real problem...


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Rowan
Date: 18 Aug 09 - 06:23 PM

Too much stuff, that's the real problem...

And that's just the stuff between the ears!

The real problem with setting up any database is trying to work out which questions you want to ask of it; how you identify those questions determines how you structure the categorisations into which you put your data.

Have fun!

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Aug 09 - 06:39 PM

Rowan-
The joy of a full-text search database is that you don't have to decide in advance what questions you are going to want to ask it.

If you use a spreadsheet, the golden rule is always use one column per category; DON'T COMBINE IDEAS. Columns don't cost you anything.


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Rowan
Date: 18 Aug 09 - 09:41 PM

Well, Dick, I do know about full-text search databases, having used EndNote, but I was still concentrating on my understanding of McGrath's needs. And, while your advice about one column per category is straight to the point, my observation of "novices" (for want of a more supportive term) is that they bring a host of combinations of categories to the task when they start thinking about creating databases.

More than once I have created a database in Excel and later found that I needed to add an extra column or two, because I had insufficiently separated (in my mind) categorisations that turned out to be combinations of a set of useful subcategories. And, while extra columns don't cost and are easily added/inserted, they can be cumbersome. Excel can have extra sheets in the file and cells can have conditional formatting applied but I suspect that such features might (in the beginning - now there's an inspiring phrase) be beyond McGrath's requirements, let alone his interests.

Thinking ahead about how you want the database to work for you can be very time saving.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 08:35 PM

No one's reacted to my question, so it seems no one has tried OpenOffice for this.

???


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Subject: RE: Keeping track of books, records...
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 01:10 AM

We made a small catalog of our music books some years back, in Word.

Just use tabs to separate columns, and a consistent and fairly compact pattern for the info in each column and it shouldn't take much adjusting once you have a few items entered.

I made a section where I listed books, giving each book a "short title" (sometimes essentially an acronym) that would fit into the separate section where I listed all the songs/tunes in each book.

"Hank" became the short title for "Hank Williams: The Complete Lyrics, Don Cusic ed., St. Martin's Press, N.Y., 1993, ISBN 0-312-08892-2"

and

"HankCom" meant "Hank Williams Complete, Hal Leonard Corp., ISBN 0-634-00694-0"

In the main section, separate "columns" (separated by tabs) listed the song title, book title, number of verses, and a code that I made up to show whether the book had lyrics only, lyrics with chord notations, a "melody," melody with chord notations, or "full score."

We kept at it for several years, but eventually ran out of music books that "needed indexing" and had reached the point where there was a whole lot of repetition - same song, same tune, same lyrics - in too many different books. Last time I pulled up what we had, 03 March 2003, we were at:

38,840 song/tune entries        
647 pages in the index
208 books and 233 CDs indexed

Word Help for recent versions says that the maximum file size for a Word document is 32 MB, but our index was at 4.3 GB in Word 2002. It still opens okay, but sorting and editing was getting a bit "unwieldy."

A question above was:

I'm trying that with Works - haven't got Excel. Looks straightforward enough - except that I can't find a way of making it sort entries alphabetically.

I believe Works is much like Word, and if everything is in tab-separated columns you should be able to sort just like in Excell, except the Sort Command is in the Tables group on the tool bar.

You can convert text to tables, but don't really need to for most uses. Highlight what you want to sort, and then "Table | Sort" should let you pick a column to sort on, whether to sort up or down order, and if you really need to be fancy whether to sort numerically, alphabetically, or treat number entries as dates, etc.

Older versions of Word, if you had sufficient memory and temp space, should be able to sort a couple of hundred pages of one-line paragraphs, and if it complains about your selection being too large just sort each half separately, and then sort the part where the halves overlap.

Up until Word 2007, you could also easily flip tab-separated columns into and out of table format, but with Word 2007 the command to convert text to tables is on one end of one of the nine top toolbars (each of which has about eighty commands on it), three levels down in a place sane persons wouldn't look, and the command to convert tables back to text is on a different one of the nine top toolbars, at the other end, about two levels down, also in an "unexpected" place unless you're some sort of illiterate psychotic or an ex waitress used to serving only the intoxicated like the "headmistress" for Office at Microsoft.

If you're fortunate enough to have an older Office version, just click on the "Table" command on the top toolbar in Word, and you'll find all sorts of interesting things to try. Recent Works versions claimed to contain a word processor that "really is Word" (with "but with limitations" in fine print), but I would expect the Table menu items to be functional if it actually is "like real Word."

John


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