One of the biggest problems with today’s world is that it’s far too easy to accumulate so much stuff. I’m talking DVD movies, video games – both downloaded and purchased – books, music – downloaded and purchased – and more. Then there’s the information like all of your personal and business contacts, your personal picture collection and of course all of the information about the stuff you own – who produced that movie, who published that book, or what developer made the free application that you downloaded.
Here at MUO, we’ve always offered you tools to organize your things. For example, Justin introduced you to Qigga for organizing academic papers, and Jessica offered up some tools for organizing PDF files. But what if I told you that there’s a tool out there that will help you to organize just about everything? That’s right – everything. OK, maybe not your gigantic recipe collection that you’ve been accumulating over the last two decades, but at least the sorts of things that regular people tend to accumulate – movies, books, video games, free software, and even contacts.
Organize Your Stuff In One Place With Data Crow
Data Crow is a free open-source application that lets you organize your collections of movies, music, and information in a much simpler way than most other media organizers out there.
I’ll get to what makes it so easy in a minute, but first you’ll need to set up the software. What is nice is that Data Crow can be customized to be as simple or as multi-functional as you like. If you want to use it as a simple book organizer to track and record information about all of the books you’ve read, you can just install the book module and the installation will be small enough to fit on just about any thumb drive.
By default, only a few modules are enabled.
If you have a lot of stuff to organize, you can do like I did and just install all of the modules for full functionality.
When you first launch Data Crow, it’ll ask you what experience level you want to use. Advanced will offer the full assortment of tools and options that the software provides. There are so many available options that the developers offered a “beginner” mode that enables the software with just the basic tools available that most users will ever need.
When first starting, you’ll also see the “Tool Select Wizard” that gives you an overview of all of the modules you’ve installed. These are the core features that are available in Data Crow. As you can see, with all modules installed, you can use the software to track and organize you audio CD collection, your book collection, all of your installed computer software, downloaded music, images, all of your phone book contacts and even containers you have that hold multiple CD’s.
When you select any module, either from that intro screen or from the main application window and click “Item Wizard“, you’ll see a window like the one below. The Item Wizard is what will save you hours of research. For example, let’s say that you have an assortment of open source software that you’ve downloaded from SourceForge, and you want to keep track of the software in Data Crow. The software item wizard lets you select an Internet source (server) including Mobygames, SourceForge, Amazon and more.
When you click the Find button, Data Crow will extract anything from those sites that relate to the software you’re trying to get information on. In the case above, I found a software package called Audacity AudioMonitor. Data Crow pulls in information like the description, platform, title, and more.
Now, when you click on the various tabs of the Software title in your electronic library, you’ll see that Data Crow has filled in the most important fields for you.
Now all you have to do is fill in any additional information that you want to include. Adding information is completely optional, because Data Crow has already done 90% of the work in importing the most important details.
The same holds true when you use the Item Wizard for other items in your library like movie titles or music. When you’ve selected to add a new movie, the dropdown list of servers includes websites like IMDB, Metacritic and Amazon.
In this case, to import information about the TV mini-series Band of Brothers that I have on DVD, I went with IMDB. Sure enough, a detailed description and lots of other information got imported into my personal library. Now, not only will I have my movie electronically cataloged, but I’ll have lots of details about the movie available right in my own personal, locally stored library.
The software will also import the product images from sites like Amazon or IMDB if an image is available. You don’t have to do anything to make this happen, it’s completely automatic.
Data Crow also provides you with a module called “Media Items“, which is basically a module that combines all of the software, movies, images and other media that you’ve imported into your electronic collection, and sorts them all by item type (software, movie, etc) as well as by the year that item was released.
Of course, Data Crow doesn’t just serve as a library of your collections, it’s a data warehouse of item information. Along the same lines, you can also add information like Contacts, if you included the Contacts module when you set up the software.
This is your basic contacts database, which also lets you add additional information, beyond just a phone number and address, like a profile photo of the person you’re adding.
As you work through each module, you’ll see that the menu items change completely depending what module you have selected. This means that it’s very important to keep that module selected when you’re working on a specific part of your library, otherwise you could get confused when you see the wrong menu items if another module gets selected.
For the most part, this software really comes across as a well-written, valuable tool to organize not only one collection, but all collections. It’s a great electronic organizer that will let you turn that jumbled pile of movie DVDs and video games into a well defined list, complete with all of the information you could even want about each item.
Give Data Crow a try and see if it suits your own needs for sorting out your collections. Do you find it useful, or is there anything else you might add or remove from the software? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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