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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Where to put it all... » » Organizing magic on mac (or PC) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Brillus
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Italy
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I would to keep track and make a searchable list of all my books, DVDs, effects and props.
Which software can I use on my mac?
Any experience?
Jeff Haas
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You can start with a simple spreadsheet. If you don't have one, download Open Office, it's free. This will allow you to experiment with a spreadsheet for books, one for dvds, one for props. You'll be able to search and sort through the info.

Then later, you can export all the info in the spreadsheet program to a database. (It's standard to be able to import info into a database from a spreadsheet.)

I also think Open Office has its own database software, but you'd have to put the database together yourself.

The other way is to see if there's an existing database that you can tweak for your use. There may be something designed to allow you to catalog books or music CDs that will work for what you want. I'll let others add in suggestions.

To check Open Office out, go to:
http://www.openoffice.org/
It's open-source software (free!) and it's available for almost everything. Features are described here:
http://www.openoffice.org/dev_docs/features/1.1/index.html

Jeff
Bob Sanders
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Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
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Mine started with MicroSoft Works and the database that comes within it. I liked it better than the spreadsheet because it will give both a form and listing view. Later I re-entered all that data into MS Access back when I used MS Office 97.

Now I have upgraded machines several times and no longer have Access and I am unwilling to pay extra to go from the over priced software that came with my newest machine (September 2005) to MS Office Pro again! Looking back, MS Works was my most practical solution. I never should have changed. Nothing ever worked any better either!

Sometimes the latest stuff is stuff you wish you had never seen! My best magic database inventory died in the 90s with MS Office.

There should be plenty of $50 old pre Pentium machines that are still loaded with the good versions of Works. Unfortunately it is one product where MS has dropped the ball. It was very practical and useful stuff. Life isn't long enough to teach a beginner to use Access now. Nor is it worth an extra $10. (As if you could buy it for that!)

I am using Excel for smaller stuff (silks, cards, music) but it's way behind what I had in the early 90s.

Good luck with your project. We look forward to learning of your selected solution.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

AmazedWiz@Yahoo.com
Kent Wong
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Inner circle
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Wow! You guys are so high tech. Smile I just use a set of three ring binders with alphabetical tabs. Each instruction sheet is placed into a protective plastic cover and then inserted into the appropriate section of the appropriate binder. I then use an excel spreadsheet to create a table of contents. But my table of contents is a little more detailed than normal. It sets out the name of the effect, which binder volume the instructions are located, the type of effect, and the ideal type of show in which it may be used. The "sort" feature on excel really comes in handy when picking out tricks to fit into a new show or routine.

Kent
"Believing is Seeing"
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AndrewBarbour
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Bob - if you have your old file in MSAccess I can produce a runtime version for you. Meaning... you do not need MSAccess / license. You can add data to the tables, manipulate the data, but not change the design. Let me know if you have an MDB File or anything else to work from. It is the least I could do for someone who contributes so much great content and advice to the Café.
Andrew
Jeff Haas
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Bob, also check out Open Office...it has a database component. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Jeff
LostSoul
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Dave
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Andrew,

I was going to make the same offer to Bob.

As far as Open Office goes, some support people I work with state it’s great for the “simple” users, but when you start to get into the database portion or programming side, it begins to fall down. I’ve never used it, so I don’t know. (Maybe once my computer gets updated I’ll get a copy and try it out, it sure would solve some problems for me).

Dave
Jeff Haas
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Dave, after you mentioned that, I did some digging. You're right, Open Office database isn't nearly as far along as Access is. The word processor and spreadsheet are fine, but the database is too new to be a real replacement yet.

It might be interesting to discuss the level of detail a project like this needs, because I can see how it could get complicated. For example, to categorize books, I think I'd need not just the info about the book, but a list of the tricks in each book and which ones I think are worthwhile, and what type of situation each trick can be used under.

So that's already several things...
- List of authors
- List of book titles
- Info about each book (price, where bought, condition, etc.)
- Category of the book (stage, closeup)
- List of tricks
- Info about each trick

Then, to make this a working performer's database, we need to have tricks listed by themselves (for items sold on their own), or linked to a specific book they're described in.

You should be able to search on several things, for example:
Parlor/rope, or cards/gambling/table
To get a list of tricks that fit the criteria.

Anyway, it's food for thought.

Jeff
AndrewBarbour
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Jeff - Still a relatively simple design for a database from what you are suggesting. I would actually suggest being simpler on the design and leveraging text searches - possibly a database plug in for text searching would be the way to go.

For my day job one of the things we use is just a series of text files with data organized by row and then use free text editor (TextPad) that has a pretty good search tool that can look into the appropriate folders for the lines in the files for the data we are looking for. It can handle huge volumes of data with incredibly fast response time. We look through over 20 files with 30,000 to 60,000 rows of data and get results back in 4-5 seconds. I personally use this for all my notes from meetings. I can save the minutes or my notes in text files and then use TextPad to search for the exact lines where a given word appears. It is actually quite powerful and useful for this sort of unstructured data entry, coding, and searching.

Something to consider....
Andrew
Jeff Haas
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I gave this some more thought...I think a database, to be really useful to a performer, should be oriented around tricks/routines.

You could classify each routine by props, performing circumstances, main theme, where it came from (book, DVD, sold separately) and a rating (one to four stars) as the trick has played for you.

You could then search for tricks that fit a certain criteria and put together a set list. Depending on what info you stored about each trick, you could spot possible conflicts (whoops, two borrow objects to impossible place tricks.)

Of course, you could also just enter the contents of each new book plus keep info about the book (price, condition, etc.) so you could look up the contents of any book you own to figure out if you missed something good...but that may be overkill.

I know it's not really sophisticated, but searching through a bunch of flat files may not be enough. On the other hand, Andrew, can you go into more detail? Give an example of process?

Jeff

P.S. I looked up TextPad...it's not free. It's not too expensive, but it's not free.
Mike Segal
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Canada
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Hi Brillus
I too have a Mac operating system (Tiger) and have 2 programs that can do what I think it is you are looking for. The first, and best, database I know of for Mac is FileMaker Pro. It is easy to set up, very intuitive, and can be customized however you want and need.
The second, primarily for books and DVD/Videos is a program called Delicious Library.
Check with google to find the links.
I am a huge Mac enthusiast (I have been using Mac since starting with computers back in the eighties) and am always happy to help out others. Feel free to PM me if you need any more info on this.
Cheers,
Mike
AndrewBarbour
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Jeff,

re: TextPad - it is free to try.... so you can see some of the potential uses. You can search in files. So if you have each effect on a different line with comments/ratings you can easily search for books by title or author (in the file name) and effect by keyword/rating by using the textpad feature for finding matching lines in files.

BOOK FOLDER
Author_BookTitle.txt
FILE CONTENT
Table of Contents
1. Effect 1 Name - ring rope scissors parlor close-up RATING*****
2. Effect 2 Name - card post-it close-up RATING**
3. Effect 3 Name - card sticker smiley face close-up RATING****
4. Effect 4 Name - keywords RATING?

So searching for close-up RATING** would find effects 2 and 3 in this file and return the lines in the results window. If you structure your files properly it can be very powerful. As I say - we use this for masses of data and the results are incredibly fast.

An alterntive is to use something like File Search Assistant and then putting each effect in a separate file (you could even use word docs with photos or pull effects from web sites...) and then search for files that had all the keywords you were looking for. Just append the files with a rating system that is unlikely to appear in a text string within the records themselves (like the "RATING*" I mentioned previously"). Something to consider - as it allows for rich content in comparison to a database. Thin of it as your own personal magic google.

Just some thoughts.
Andrew
http://www.aks-labs.com/products/fsa_home/index.htm
LostSoul
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Dave
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I’ve done a little more thought, being an old DBA, I’m always going to be looking at the database approach, I think keeping things in text files is just too prone to misfiling.

To be honest, I still think in the “network” style of databases and less “relational” (relational is what most modern databases claim to be, but I still like owners and members).

I could create a table for tricks, which would contain ratings, types (coin, card, ???), name, and instructions and a link to the source. Perhaps throw in a video or something like that.

I would also have a table of sources; this would be web sites, authors, friends, basically, people and places.

The next table would be for books, videos, and things that “contain” tricks. It would link to the source, author, price paid, when purchased, rating, and pointers to all of the tricks it contains. I would also add in my thoughts and perhaps a link to others.

With the proper relationships set up, I could do a search on anything in the table, plus I could set up certain controls so things always get filed in a consistent manner.

A few thoughts on setting this up for the non-techies…Links, such as trick to source, are optional. You can force some links, such as book to source to be required. There are really 2 types of links, a 1 to 1 link and a 1 to many link. An example of a 1 to many would be book to trick. (I can’t think of a 1 to 1 at the moment.) Links can be stored in a separate table that consists of, for example, book ID (ISBN number) and Trick ID, this way you could say “Give me all of the books that contain trick 5”.


Well, that’s all I have for now,
Dave
Okami
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Germany
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On my PC I work with the freeware DVD Treasury. It is a searchable database for DVDs, but it is not a problem to list books and tricks in it. You can add information to any listed item, choose a category and it is easy to work with.
rumburak
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There is a very useful collection of sheets to fill in for your effects and your shows in the book "The Magic of Michael Ammar". It has the advantage that it allows you to organize your material in a manner which is likely to survive a few decades.

If you are willing to use computers and risk to lose data with the death of a software - like it appears to have happened to other people before on this thread - I would recommend "OmniOutliner". That is what I use and I find it to be rather practical. However, it may not be effective for several hundreds of tricks. So the "right" choice does depend on the amount of material you want to store.

To Bob Sander: Did you never try to run your old version of M$ Works on a contemporary machine? Windows can run older software on current machines, only you don't have the fancy user interface. But most programs could do what they did before.
VBall
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Toronto
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I've been thinking about this for about a year now... I believe using a database would be the best approach. I'm currently working on the DB design figuring out what is needed, etc. If anyone else would like to work on this with me... pm me.
Bill Palmer
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Eternal Order
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WOW!!!! This whole thing looks like a convention of Adrian Monk clones.

About 2/3 of organizing props is making sure that everything you need for a routine is stored together. For example, when I put an illusion in a case, it is accompanied by all the wrenches, pliers and spare parts I need to do the show. That way, if I have a failure, I have the parts ON HAND to fix it.

Otherwise, as I have stated elsewhere, I use a pilot program to store and organize my props. When I have retired a trick, I take it to my warehouse, and I pilot over in the corner.

I've waited way too long to organize anything I have. The only thing I have organized is my cup collection.

For that, I use Notepad. I have my cups categorized by type. Then I assign each set a number when I receive it.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
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