Going Home

At the end of June, I’m retiring, and this weekend I’m doing what my father wanted so badly to do when he was in Korea—I’m going home. As I’ve already written, I have moved the computer and since then the desk and most of my belongings. I even bought a new computer, which is still in the box, waiting to be the new workhorse of the project. Next weekend my remaining furniture will be moved home and I will be driving back and forth to work from there until the end of June. You can read about my failed career in my portfolio or not if you aren’t into dystopian literature.

I’m anxious to get back to the project which has been on hold while all my stuff has been scattered between two states, but I still pay attention to how other letter collections are cared for (see the next post for an example) even though I haven’t been doing the actual work for a while. I have also put off the annoying learning curve and transfer of data to FileMaker Pro, who now wants a hefty $179 upgrade to a newer version that looks a tiny bit better, but is still not what I enjoyed with Bento. Unfortunately, no one else has stepped up to the plate to replace Bento and most of my letters data is already there, so I need to learn to live with it.

If you have the opportunity to go home, take it.

changing software in midstream

So sad about Bento. Photo Credit: Aylanah via Compfight cc
So sad about Bento. Photo Credit: Aylanah via Compfight cc

I spoke too soon in the last post about my adored software Bento, which is no longer being offered by FileMaker, as of September 30. As you can see in the notice, FileMaker will continue to support Bento through next July, but who would feel comfortable working in software that doesn’t get updates, particularly one for iOS 7? I have painstakingly entered data about each scanned letter and will be adding lots of topical detail to each record as I transcribe the letters. I can’t depend on software that is on its way out.

So I put up a big chunk of money–big for me, even with the discount offered to former Bento users–for FileMaker Pro 12 and its free iPad app FileMaker Go. On the surface, it would seem that the new pair would simply be a more professional version of the Bento pair, but there’s a huge drawback–syncing of data is one-way, from computer to iPad. With Bento, you could do ALL your work directly on the iPad and sync it with the computer software in an instant. Now I will have to do all the work on my computer and wait for it to be pushed to the iOS device, or use a clunky copy/paste/email route to the desktop. Read this mess of methods that are not “true syncing, either”: http://help.filemaker.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7720/kw/sync  The chances that I can develop a customized syncing script, as noted in the last option, are zero.

So, it currently appears that I would waste my time creating new records on the iPad and then trying to integrate them into the computer file, using iTunes of all things–I thought we were so past connecting our devices to iTunes for file transfer and backup. I am currently saving the file in DropBox and opening it on the iPad, but how will looking at it be of any use? And there is this comforting warning:

Important: When you transfer a file to your device, you are creating a copy of the original file. Data changes made on your device are not synchronized to the original file, and vice versa. You will need to transfer the file back to the computer and use FileMaker Pro to import data to the original file in order to update data.

Routine backups are strongly recommended for any document stored on a computer or iOS device.

Well, anyway, I did convert my Bento file into FileMaker and I still have the original, but no longer updated Bento file as a partial backup. I have yet to work in FileMaker, except to change the theme for readability. I’m looking around, seeing what’s different, and figuring out this monster professional database. It will all work out, but I will be tied to my computer, waiting for FileMaker Inc. to wake up and give us true syncing with the mobile app.

another section in the Bento box

I have added Bento for Mac to my technologies, supplementing and backing up the Bento 4 for iPad that I have been working with since the beginning of the project. Everything seemed to sync fine this morning, although the records on the iPad took on a slightly different arrangement on the screen. I have moved everything back into place and hope that is not going to be a regular occurrence. I like being able to see all my fields on one screen for each record. The sync also created a new blank page on each record called “untitled form.” I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with that!

I also attended a webinar on the new Bento 4 for iPad features. It did not answer all my questions, but I think I see a few interesting things I didn’t find on my own. I asked some questions, but the webinar was attended by an army of interested users and the primary direction of the speaker was toward business users, and my questions were not addressed. I have suggested that they conduct a webinar focusing on higher education research, and I asked the following questions in their web support forum:

Title: entering and sorting for keywords
Post: I have both Bento 4 for iPad and Bento for Mac.

I am recording data for a collection of historical documents (349 handwritten letters), including the dates of the letters and keywords. I would like to be able to sort them for the keywords, to find all the letters that contain a particular keyword.

–will I be able to sort for both keyword and date of letter?
–when a single letter has multiple keywords, should I put each one in a separate field (keyword 1, keyword 2), which creates separate columns in the spreadsheet view?
–will I have to export the final spreadsheet to Excel or Numbers for such sorting?

I am at the beginning of the project, scanning and recording basic information, and have only transcribed a few letters so far, so I’d like to know before I get too far into the project.

Thank you,

Hoping for answers soon.