Address Books

claire_de_lunaJuly 22, 2008

Yikes! I had some old software I just loved that my computer outgrew with our latest update, and was having trouble finding something similar I could use. Having it all on my computer was so handy, and always the first place I would go to find a number, address, information on contractors, children or pet names...well you name it! I recently found something similar (I bought Hallmark Card Studio's latest software mainly for their Event Planner and Address Book, which works for me) and set about the task of retyping all my entries. My system includes putting businesses in CAPS, while friends and family are typed normally, so I can see in an instant what type of entry I'm looking for. The Calendar (a/k/a Event Planner) is where I keep all my notes, so I can check everything at a glance from Dr.'s appointments to when my library books are due.

OH MY. It's taken a full week to check and recheck old information, cross reference certain numbers, enter birthdays, anniversaries and even include Hours of Operation for businesses. (Currently, I'm a little brain fried.) My reluctance to print this out yet was a good idea, as it seems we keep thinking of new numbers to add! Once it's done, I'll be adding a copy to my car so I'll know who is open on Sundays, or where the closest branch is with the exact address. (Think GPS, which we can finally take advantage of.) Just this morning, I realized I had missed posting AAA, when my husband's truck needed to be towed for faulty brakes. (Enter the name of a good garage to make repairs.) I'm thinking of just putting friends and family in my old leather book, and leaving everything else out, which will go to the electronic version.

So here's my question: How do you manage your address book and keep it current? Is it a simple system, or have your OCD tendencies somehow come into play, like mine? Do you have it available electronically, or do you have a hard copy to periodically update? When did you last go through your entries to see if the information is still current?

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Mine is all in my PDA, sync'd with both my home and work computers, so I always have a backup "somewhere". If I didn't have a work computer, I'd save the backups to a flash drive once a week or so. I can't imagine having to input all that information again! My address book is catagorized, so I can look at all entries, business entries, personal entries, pet entries, etc. I have separate catagories for things like guest lists too. My calendar entries are color-coded by catagory.

My pda will sync to outlook, but I prefer the Palm desktop software, so I use that primarily to add big chunks of information or edit entries when I'm at a desk. It's a little slower going to add them directly to my pda, but if I'm out and about, I normally just make a "note" (which is in my own handwriting) on my palm, and then type the information later using a keyboard (computer, or I have a portable one for my palm as well).

I go through it every few months and delete old addresses or whatever...if I'm aware of a change though, I edit it right away (since my PDA is always with me, I can do that whenever, wherever).

Good luck! :-)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 3:53PM
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Jamie, your post makes me think I'm old fashioned...since I thought updating software was so progressive of me!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 4:22PM
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I am envious. Last month, my Entourage program mysteriously dumped all my address book, and four years of e-mail saved for various reasons.
It should be somewhere, but it isn't.
And you know what? I felt sort of....liberated.
My old paper-and-pencil system, however, has kept me from utter disaster.
This method involves a Rolodex in the kitchen, a marked-up Filofax at my desk, a small 2"x3" address book with local phone numbers for my pocketbook, a few things programmed into my cell phone which I rarely turn on, and a physical Christmas card list on a label template in the drawer which I update every November. I have no idea how to turn my computerized information into a physical list.
Somehow I get along this way, but I need to enter the 21st century, don't you think? So I am certainly going to follow this thread with interest, for your ideas on how to be more efficient. Or even a little efficient!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 5:03PM
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I think the most important thing to consider when picking out software for something like this is to make sure the software will grow *with* you, or at least be compatable with whatever you upgrade to. I'm fairly confident that the Palm software will always be around, and if it somehow disappears someday, it will sync to a Microsoft outlook program, so I always have somewhere to go "next". If I were you, I'd explore your email program (outlook, or whatever you might use on a Mac if that's what you have), and see if you can make it work. That would be better in long-term planning than your hallmark program, simply because you can be reasonably sure it will update *with* your computer next time. :-)

Ironically, everyone around me thinks *I'm* old fashioned, since most everyone I know keeps all that information in their cell or smart phones. I don't have or want a cell phone of any kind, and my PDA (the Palm Z22) is one of the simplest ones on the market (and the cheapest). Honestly, its simplicity is what makes it work for me. It doesn't do movies, sound, or any kind of internet activities - it's purely a "personal digital assistant". Until I got this one, I stuck with paper...but I had to haul that around with me, and it just got heavy and tiresome to carry it everywhere. Some people prefer that though, and that's fine too - but all of the things I keep track of in my pda would be the equivalent of carrying around a thick address book, a yearly calendar, several books, a thick stack of notes and memos, several shopping lists, a typewriter and projects I'm working on, and several alarm clocks that go off automatically at different intervals during my day/week. I don't need all of those things at the same time, but it's extremely handy to have them at my fingertips when I do need or want them. I wouldn't be nearly as organized as I am without it.

Backup is the key though. Without at least a couple different backups, electronic information is more frustrating than it's worth when a device (of any kind) decides to die...And a paper system will only be totally lost in some major catastrophic event (flood, fire, etc).

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 5:26PM
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Well, personally I tried to use my e-mail program, after I couldn't find software that was similar to what I had previously. I hated it; I didn't like the way it was laid out, and there was nothing user friendly about it. Like your PDA, Jamie, my old software was simple, which is why I liked it, and it worked off-line, so I don't need a server to make it work even when the ''server'' is hosed. I tried to use a Google calendar, but there are so many things to input, I wasn't really interested in using it for everything because it's too time consuming if you don't want it to become public for the world to see. Yes, I could integrate it with Outlook, but there were too many other things wrong to make it simple enough to use. (I also used to be able to integrate my Hotmail account with Outlook as well, but I can't do that any longer either.) Besides, I don't need the same calendar on two different systems; one is enough to keep track of!

People told me to create my own address book data base, but it was too overwhelming. I just wanted my old software back, which is basically what I got with this Hallmark system. I'm glad you feel confident the PDA will upgrade as long as you need it to...I thought that with my old program, since I imported it at least four different times. (Unfortunately, it just didn't work with Vista this time around.) Luckily for me I had a hard-copy printed out so I didn't lose it all completely. You'd better believe I have backed it up every night before the computer goes off. The thing is, the old system was backed up as well; the software simply quit working with my hardware. With ''upgrades'' come obsolescence.

Bronwynsmom, I agree that starting over can be liberating! After all if I do it right, hopefully I can make it work better than it did before. I didn't get my software until last Wednesday, so I basically started again (almost) from scratch. The website is my new best friend, and any business that has a web page, I've copied the address to. (I love that I can get menus for restaurants, Store Locations which often have Business Hours listed, Check-in times or additional information.) When that isn't available, I just dial the phone and ask. I certainly weeded out some old phone numbers I had no idea were no longer current! I also went through my old business cards to make sure everything is included, which has been an invaluable source of information. (Most of those included contractors names/numbers which I really didn't want to lose, as there is too much remodeling energy surrounding the ones I want to keep track of!)

This program allows me to put Account numbers (for businesses like AAA Auto Club to be printed with the phone numbers) so if I get stuck, I won't have to search for a card, but instead look it up in the directory. I'm starting to have more peace of mind! If you need any tips, it's all fresh...

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 6:32PM
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Okay, time to show my dinosaur-ness.
Jamie, what kind of PDA do you have? I've never had one.
How do you get the data into it?
Do you back up into the "cloud"?
My Mac relationship allows me to do that, which my husband assures me is the safest and best thing, and it makes me crazy nervous, although I believe him, as he has been computer literate for thirty years.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 7:21PM
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Isn't it funny but I still use an address book with a pen. I was wanting to computerize it so this is a good thread. I first have to finish putting all my pictures in order. I may look into a PDA also.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 8:27PM
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I've had my address book and all other pertinent information on PDA for years. Now, I have a smartphone (combination PDA and cell phone), and everything is there. I back it up to my home computer at least once a day, and I back up my home computer to an external hard drive daily, as well.

For anyone who's even thought of getting a PDA, take the plunge! There *is* a learning curve, a couple of weeks during which you won't be as fast as you were with paper and pen. But once you're used to it, you're golden.

Bronwynsmom, there are two main ways to get data into a PDA - you either enter it directly into the PDA, using a stylus (a pencil-type thing) or a keyboard, if your PDA has one, or you enter it into the accompanying software on your computer and then synchronize "synch" the PDA to the computer, using a cable that comes with the PDA.

The main things that a PDA does are to keep your calendar, your contacts (address book), your tasks (you can set reminders for all sorts of things and have alarms pop up to remind you, if you like), and your memo pad. Many PDAs have an expansion slot that allows you to store more data, so you can also use your PDA as a music player or book reader.

There are two main operating systems for PDAs - Palm and Windows Mobile. I find the Palm system to be simpler, and the Windows Mobile system to be more customizable. Palm is a great place to start, and a great place to stay if it does everything you want.

The Zire, which Jamie has, is Palm's entry-level PDA (it comes in several models - the higher the model number, the more features, and the higher the price). The Zire does all of the PDA basics, and isn't too expensive. If you like, look on Ebay - you can often find used Zires for about $35, delivered.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 11:58PM
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All four members of my family (me, husband and 2 kids) have tried PDAs (two different styles).... all four of us hated them.

The kids now use their cell phones for their info. DH and I still use the address book and a pen.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 8:15AM
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I used Microsoft Access to make myself an address book database. I can print reports to remind me of upcoming birthdays & anniversaries. I can print a different report that is my Christmas card list. You get the idea. And if I ever need a new kind of report, I just set it up myself.

I can customize the reports with whatever font and size I like. I can arrange the info on the page "just so."

Access is part of Microsoft Office Professional. It takes a while to learn, but it is very useful to me. I admit that it's a bit like using a dump truck when a shovel is sufficient.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 8:53AM
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I made just such a data base eighteen years (count 'em!) ago with the really simple Word software available for my original Mac, and the merging to lists and labels was easy, even for Ms. Technodolt, and now I can't figure it out to save me.
Can I do this with something in my student version of Office?

Thank you for helping me with this. I have tried the various Mac user websites, and as far as I can tell, they are all 14 and speak Hungarian. If I could just blorble my snickerfneh and pull up the gorkle file, move it to my deep water terminal zone, create a fashnits list, and sort it by hinkledors, I'd be fine.

I have no bloody idea what they are talking about.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 9:12AM
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If your version of Office has Access, then I can give you a crash course in database building.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 11:30AM
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I just made a table in Wordperfect and put in all the names and addresses, phone & fax numbers. Thats my Christmas list. It gets printed often and distributed. My telephone list of personal numbers is simply a list in table form. Client lists and contacts are another list. I always have copies of the phone numbers and can update in a minute. I can sync it to my Garmin which schedules, calendars and also is a GPS. (its best feature in L.A.)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 1:24PM
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I'm going to start a thread of my own, maryliz, so as not to hijack Claire's...

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 10:00AM
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modern life interiors

You will still need to hand write and photocopy all your names addresses and phone numbers for a back up to your electronics.

Electronics get wiped out very easily

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 7:39PM
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Nope, no handwriting or photocopying here...I just printed them all out.

I do agree gitananoel, about getting wiped out easily though!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:20PM
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I actually don't keep paper copies anywhere. I back up to my home computer, my work computer, and a flash drive. If one gets wiped out, there are several other places to restore the information from, so I don't worry about it.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 1:46PM
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Well, I'm a back-up kind of person, and although my computer IS backed up, sometimes I need a hard copy. (Currently, I keep a copy in my car, which is my version of a telephone book so I have addresses on hand when I need them! Also, the print is much more user-friendly than that of the phone book, which could/has been a problem in the past.) Also, when the power is out, it's handy to know where the hard copy can be found after I have the flashlight in hand so I can call in the power outage. I would never assume that the battery in my mobile phone would always be charged...

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 4:10PM
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Making a phone list was the first thing I ever used Excel for, about ten years ago or more. I quickly discovered instead of listing name first to list the ten digit phone number since that column will always be the same size. And it is easy to keep alphabetized since a new entry can be inserted anywhere.

I've never re-typed the list once. Just add or delete to the original. I print copies and three hole punch to put into a folder by our phone. Shrunk another copy to half size for the glove compartment of my car.

At some point I started using the tabs at the bottom of the page to make new pages for: medical, school #'s, stores & restaurants, car info (insurance & parts & mechanics) and at least 5 or 6 more catagories. It is probably the most useful thing (even though it is fairly simple) I've ever done on the computer.

The other very successful Excel file I started ten years ago was for medical appointments. I made a few columns that I fill in each time I schedule and complete an appointment. When I get the Explanation of Benefits in the mail weeks later and wonder what THAT was for I can check my own notes, in laymans terms. I also cross reference if I had a copay or needed some kind of follow up. It has helped me at the end of the year when I've had to claim Flexible Spending Account money. I have a medical condition so it has also been helpful to track my meds.

The most helpful book I ever read on organization discouraged the use of PDA's. One of the common negatives that people fed back to her was the inevitable loss of data through a dead battery or "accident". I would never trust my dayplanner, medical history or address book to a PDA. At least on Excel you can have a hard copy printed out. I also have a copy on a flash drive. And I'm not that computer saavy!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 10:24PM
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Dead batteries don't mean data loss anymore. Most PDA's have "flash memory" now (just like your flash drive), which keeps your information even if the battery goes dead. So that's not really an issue. Since I have backups of all my PDA info both at home and at work, it would be hard to actually "lose" any data for good (something would have to happen to my PDA and both computers at the same time for me to lose my info)...and the new PDA I'm getting has an extension card slot, so I could back up to a card while traveling, and restore from that if needed. I don't need a print out of addresses/phone numbers, because my PDA is always with me - paper would take up more space, and be less environmentally friendly since I'd have to print out new every time I made a change.

I don't carry a cell-phone either, so I don't need phone numbers in the car (just addresses, and the PDA comes in handy for that).

But I work in computers all day long (have for almost 10 years now), so I am quite comfortable with technological solutions. I have a reminder alarm on my PDA to charge it every night, so I don't forget, and it's always charged. Medical history always comes from the dr. in paper anyways (whatever they give me at the office or mail to me), so that gets filed in the file cabinet. But everything else is on my PDA.

Everyone has to do what's right for *them*, of course, but I think a PDA should at least be an option to look into, and not just dismissed out of hand right away for people looking for an organizational system.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 11:29AM
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I just watched Julie Morgenstern (on my local PBS channel) talk about Time Management. One of the points she made when she went through a file box of ''planner'' options, was to ask the question of which one is right for you. She talked about those people who are tactile and visual, and work best with paper and pen; linear people seem to work best with electronic devices. I'm a combination of the two, as I like my computer calendar/planner, but I seem to like to make lists with paper and pen. The point here is Whatever Works for you is the right thing to use!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 12:19PM
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I go w/ paper; but I wish I had followed my own advice to photocopy the entire thing every six months or so (or scan it, and stash the scans on the hard drive).

I hadn't, and then lost my address book when my purse was stolen. Grrr!

Neesie, that Excel system w/ the tabs sounds useful!

I lost everything when an old PDA ran out of power; it's good to hear the manufacturers have figured out that they need to deal w/ that issue. Technology moves fast, doesn't it?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 10:45AM
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Like Jamie, I rely heavily upon my PDA (Palm TX). So much so that I have a backup unit. In case the main one gets lost/stolen/breaks, my down time is about an hour.

I keep all kinds of info on there, including grocery lists, what size batteries/light bulbs fit in what appliances, what size a/c filters to buy, where to buy things (you know, when you think to yourself, "I just saw that someplace recently & don't remember where..."), what sizes everyone wears, what drugs everyone is on, etc.

My husband has alot of business associates who have become good friends, but I only see them once every year or two. I make notes in my PDA about the names of their children/grandchildren, approximate ages and even names of spouses (if I don't see the spouses often). In fact this week, a reminder came up on my PDA that one of these friends' father died last year in Sept & I wanted to send her a card on the anniversary of his death.

And the best part of this is that since I'm pretty good about backups...if it gets lost or stolen, the only data I lose is what wasn't backed up to my PC! I honestly don't know what I'd do w/o my PDA!!!!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 1:02PM
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I have the Hallmark Card Studio, too. I love it. I use the Event Planner, too. I try to update it once or twice a year. I print the address book off and use it for my Christmas list. It automatically prints off my address labels for my holiday cards.. If I receive word that someone has moved I lay it aside and add when I have the time...

This CD has been in the mail to friends more times then I can count.. I share it with everyone... Even a new neighbor. She was thrilled to get all her addreses put together in one place...


    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 10:28PM
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Susie, I wish I was still in love with this software. Unfortunately, after typing at least 700+ names, addresses, phone numbers PLUS everything else, the program crashed on me and will not be resuscitated. Two error messages and at least 5 hours on the phone trying to get technical support rated me a BIG ZERO. (Perhaps I shouldn't mention that I spent SEVEN 8 hour days feeding this program information. Apparently my time was worth NOTHING.) So...I've started my own d*mn phone list in Microsoft Word and am going from there. At the very least, Word is a program that doesn't crash and burn on a regular OR irregular basis. Bite me! (OH. I think it already did.) Not Recommended By ME Any Longer.

Not only that, I have yet to receive a refund or rebate for my purchase. Ouch! Bit me again! Did I mention I DON'T RECOMMEND THIS? I'm glad someone can use it, but it isn't me!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 12:04AM
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I have had mine almost five years now and not had any problems. Hope you get some things worked out with them. Something like this can make a person crazy.. I would not recommend it if I were you either but for me I love the program.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 10:11PM
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I feel really outdated. I keep my address book in a word file on a CD. I like having the hard copy in a notebook by my desk. I don't have a land line anymore & the simplest cell phone ever made I think. I have names & phone numbers in there, but I don't think there's a space for anything else, or I've never bothered to look.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 11:22PM
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I still use an old-fashioned address book that I update in pen. I'm one of those people who like to have a book in hand and it works just fine for me. I usually replace it every six or seven years when I run out of writing space or the cross-outs make it unreadable. I have a word document of frequently-used phone numbers that I update from time to time and print out. The phone number list hangs in my office. I guess I'm just very visual and tactile, and like to have things on paper right in front of my nose.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 11:09AM
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