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Getting Your Collections Organized

eople like to collect things. I know I’m certainly in that category. When our hobbies involve collecting, it’s easy for things to quickly escalate to the point where keeping track of what you have and how it’s organized can become a challenge. Computers are once again a perfect tool for calming chaos.

A site called Collectorz (www.collectorz.com) offers specialized collecting databases for various things. They have a version for DVD movies, video games, books, MP3s, music, comics and photos. What’s really great and innovative about this software is that the amount of typing and entering you have to do is limited. For example, if you key in (or scan in if you have a barcode reader) the UPC number from the back of a movie or a video game for example, the software will connect to the Internet and download all of the specifics about the item. This includes the title, a photograph, and more. This handy feature has saved me a lot of time and the amount of information that is obtained is quite surprising. You can also include your specific information like where you obtained the item, how much you paid for it and what it is currently worth.

Once you have all of your items cataloged, you can then sort your collection, print lists, and search to look for things you have and things you are missing. In the case of the Collectorz programs, you can even export your list to your PocketPC or Palm Pilot and take it with you on the road. This is a great feature if you travel and have a hard time remembering everything you have.

One of the most popular and long standing hobbies is coin and stamp collecting. EZStamp (www.ezstamp.com) has software that takes a different approach than the Collectorz program. The seven CD’s that are available contain an inventory of all known stamps and their current market value. You then select which ones you have to add to your collection. There are over 115 countries represented and you can choose to buy only the CD’s that interest you. The same company also has a product called EZCoin that does the same thing for coin collectors. The only downside to this software is the need to acquire updates every year, which are thankfully available at a reduced price.

Cook’n Recipe software (www.dvo.com) does a lot more than just organize your own recipes. It contains a vast selection of recipes covering various food styles. You can even enter into the software the ingredients you have on hand, and it will come back and let you know which recipes you can make with the items you have. No more wondering what you can make for dinner tonight. The software includes some extra notables like a nutrition analyzer, meal planner and even a Grocery Shopping Tool.

Collection Explorer (www.collectionexplorer.com) looks a lot like Windows Explorer and essentially allows you to store information about any kind of collection. It comes with templates for common items (Beanie Babies, Dolls, Coins, Stamps, Movies, Books) and like many of the programs mentioned here you can get a free trial to see if the software suits your needs.

Users of other operating systems like Mac OS X or Linux will have a tougher time finding this very specific sort of software, but there are some out there. The best place to go (and an option for those on a limited or zero budget) is CNet’s Download.com (www.download.com). Here you will find free software for coin and stamp collecting, and links to download trials of many of the packages I have mentioned here.

 Regardless of what you collect, you will find value in using your PC to help keep you organized. This is the perfect application for a computer. Another side effect of using a collection database application is that you are actually extending the enjoyment you get from the hobby. It’s definitely a win win.

Article Copyright ©2005 by Syd Bolton. Original publication date: 7/30/2005.
Reproduction requires permission, please e-mail for more information.

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