iPad & iPhone Kung Fu – by Stan Tusan

July 2014:

pastedGraphicpastedGraphicStan Tusan has provided us with his review of a new book titled iPad and iPhone Kung Fu – Tips, Tricks, Hints, and Hacks for iOS 7″ by Keir Thomas.  Click on the graphic at left to read Stan’s informative review.

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Bento Database may finally “be there”.

Bento, the “inexpensive” and “user friendly” database app is now up to version 4.  I recently downloaded a trial version to compare to my current V 3. The good news is that some long-standing bugs have finally been fixed, and two features that users have been requesting from the beginning are finally implemented: label printing (built-in Avery label templates) and the ability to do simple spreadsheet-like calculations on numerical data in the records.

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Bento 4.0.2 – by Peter DeGroot

March 2011

From the Publisher:

“Bento is a personal database from FileMaker that’s as easy to use as a Mac. Bento organizes all your important information in one place, so you can manage your contacts, coordinate events, track projects, prioritize tasks, and more faster and easier than ever before.”

If you are purchasing Bento for the first time, V 4, in my opinion, may finally be worth the $49 ($99 Family Pack) price.  I would recommend downloading the trial version and see if it fits your needs. Keep in mind if you have an earlier version and are considering upgrading that any changes you make with the trial version will be lost if you decide to stay with the earlier version. Earlier versions can not read a later version’s database format.

You can see Bento 4’s features here. There are some significant issues that are still outstanding in Version 4, as noted below. If you can live with them, I’d say go for it. Some of them will probably be fixed in future upgrades, but Bento’s upgrade history has been checkered. Only about half the bugs seem to be fixed and only a few of the many heavily-requested features have been added with each major update, and each update costs money. For example, if you started with version 1 as I did and upgraded to version 4, you would have $156 invested for the individual version and $356 for the Family Pack (up to 5 users in one household). Bento is now a pretty expensive inexpensive database, and it still has all the shortcomings listed below.

Limitations:

● This database application looks pretty on the screen, but readability has been sacrificed by forcing you to use built-in color schemes, most of which have low contrast between text and background, especially the field labels.

● You can’t set the tab order and field order in the field list, so you have to point and click to move from one field to another, and you can’t reorder the list of fields so the ones most frequently used in searches are together at the top of the list.

● You can’t have separate libraries (databases) in different locations. Everything is in one big database.

● You can’t select and update the field contents in a group of multiple records. You have to do it record-by-record.

● No Edit/Find/Replace function.

● You can share your database over the local network, but Bento has to be running continually on the host machine for others on the LAN to access the shared Libraries, and everyone must be running the same version of Bento (more $). Databases created by newer versions are unreadable by previous versions.

●  Bento has an unusual and cumbersome method of handling relations between records in either the same or different libraries, although it works pretty well once you get used to it.

●  Limited flexibility in the layout of fields and labels on the screen.

● Can’t choose font and size. You can use only 5 fixed sizes, and you get one of two fonts, depending on what size you select.

● No text styles (bold, italic, underline, etc.) or text colors whatever.

● There is no Mail Merge function.

● Still can’t import Appleworks databases directly.

● There is an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch App ($5) which can sync with Bento on your computer, but it has flaws too. The worst is that you lose all formatting in the field contents, e.g. a list of recipe ingredients comes out as one long, ugly, nearly unreadable, run-together line. You can choose which libraries to sync, but if you have more than 1 device, say an iPhone and iPad, you can’t sync different libraries to them. You have to sync exactly the same items to both.

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iDatabase – by Jeanine Englehart

September 2010

iDatabase is a shareware database offered by Apimac Intuitive Software.  Versions are available both for your Mac and for your iPhone. The price is normally $29, but if you’re interested you may want to check current pricing on the Internet.

System Requirements of iDatabase for Mac:

Any MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro, PowerMac, iBook and PowerBook, running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or newer.

This database offers an easy-to-comprehend organizational structure for your needs that doesn’t involve a great deal of customization or computing power.

When you open the application, you are presented with three buttons across the top left of the window. They are Open, Use, and Define.

Open gives you the opportunity to open a database you have previously created, or to create a new database.

The company has made creating a database an easy experience. There are sixteen database templates available for the user, The following templates are included: Accounts; Classes; Computers; Contacts; Customers; Events; Exercise Log; Expenses; Inventory; Movie Catalog; Membership List; Mobile Phones; Notes; Projects; Recipes; To Do; and Vehicle Maintenance and None (to create your own database).

Accessing these different databases is easy – once you know how to do so. Selecting File>New or Clicking on the Plus sign at the lower left of the Open column gives you access to the customized templates.

Use is just what it says. You may start entering data immediately once you have selected or created your own database. If you want to customize your database, move to the Define button on the right of the Use button. There you may refine your database, moving fields vertically, adding fields, deleting fields, naming fields and customizing your fields to meet your needs. A simple numeric field is also included – Quantity times Cost, for example.

One very nice touch is the addition of an image field. It’s great to have a default image field, but there are some minor problems. First, you cannot simply drag a photo from iPhoto – it must be exported from iPhoto and then imported into iDatabase. Secondly, if you add another image field, it cannot be moved around – say next to a prior image, it can only be placed under or over another field. Images in an image field may be opened (in Preview), changed or deleted just by clicking and holding on that field.

Another minor quibble is that the fields cannot be made smaller horizontally. However, once in use, a field will automatically expand as is needed.

Records you have created are shown alphabetically in a column to the left of the records window. The order of the records can only be changed by renaming them.

If you want delete a record, simply press the Delete key while you are viewing it.

Records may be protected from changes or deletions by requiring a password. A small check box in the lower right provides the opportunity to protect that record. (You simply enter a password – twice – to protect that record). To remove the password, click on the small box again, enter the password and the protection is removed.

iDatabase imports and exports CSV files, that is data files that have the pieces of information separated by commas.

iDatabase can synchronize between your iPhone and your Mac if you are connected to a Wi-Fi network that supports Bonjour.

Exporting a database as a csv file – i.e. as a comma delineated file was only partially successful. The file did open automatically into Excel, but the records only showed the name field and a date field (Dec. 31, 1969) – where did that come from?

iDatabase did crash on me once, but I was able to open it again with no loss of data. I did send a report as was requested.

To analyze the program more fully, I created a database for an embroidery business I am creating. I did find it easy to use, although it is limited by some of items noted above. Attempting to import the iDatabase into another database such as Bento, FileMaker Pro, Excel, or Numbers was not very successful. In particular, the photos did not successfully transfer. However, I do like the way iDatabase works. It is simple, without a lot of the complexity of the more expensive databases.

If you don’t need a complex database, iDatabase may be just what you need.

Jeannine Englehart

 

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2/09 – FileMaker

Presentation:  FileMaker Data Base Software: Manage Projects, People & Assets

FileMaker database developer Stefan Chauveau demonstrated the award-winning easy-to-use database software from FileMaker.  He told great stories about applying this powerful, flexible database to businesses from surgeons to tailors, while explaining the easiest ways to manage people, projects, assets and more.

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