Swiss Army Knife On Your Palm

In the October 2001 issue of the HAL-PC Magazine, I wrote about HandyShopper 2.

In that article, I mentioned that this free software was not only a great program for shopping lists, but also is effective for project management.

While this already sounds pretty good for a free program, the Readme file that comes with HandyShopper lists 20 other uses for the program, which have been submitted by other users. Here is a sampling of databases you can construct with HandyShopper:

  • Gift Ideas: My preferred approach to gift shopping for birthdays, Christmas and other events is to be blunt and direct – I go to the person and ask, “What do you want?” That way I know that my gift is something that they actually do want.
    However, some people are put off by such directness, and I’ve started using HandyShopper to keep a list of gift ideas. Instead of Stores, I enter the names of people I’ll be buying gifts for. I use the Price field to record the cost of the item, so I’ll have an idea of what I’m planning to spend on that person – or for everyone on my list. When I hear a person mention something they’re interested in, I make a note in HandyShopper under that person’s name.
  • Travel Preparation: I always forget something when I travel, and it finally occurred to me to use HandyShopper to make a list of things to pack. I set up two Stores: “Pack” and “Prepare.” I use the Prepare list to remind me of things to do before I leave – stop the newspaper, hold the mail, make a reservation to board the dog, set VCR, etc. All of these items are on the All list, and I check off the items that should go on the Need list. For example, if I’m traveling for business and my wife will still be home, I don’t need to do things like stop the newspaper and mail. On the Pack list, the All view shows everything I might ever want to pack. Before the trip, I will check off the things that I actually need to pack for this trip. Then as I pack each item, I check it off.
  • Movies to see or rent: I often don’t get around to seeing all the movies I’m interested in while they’re in the theaters, and I want to make sure I remember to look for them once they’re out on video. Even if I did see the movie in the theater, sometimes I want to buy the DVD. In this database, I just have one Store set up, called “Movies.” I use the category to specify how I want it: Buy DVD, Rent, or Theater. Now when I get to the video store or rental store, I can quickly scan the list and recall what I’m most interested in.
  • Home Improvement Projects: A suggestion in the Readme file mentions that you can track plans and progress for home improvement projects. Months of the year can be entered as stores (enter them in the format of “01 Jan” so that they’ll sort in calendar order), and categories can be “Indoor” and “Outdoor.” If you include a store named “99 Someday,” you can use it to enter projects that you’re not ready to schedule for a specific month. When you decide which month the project should go in, it’s easy to move to that month.
  • Remodeling a House: An alternate approach suggests that the Stores list have the names of contractors, or specify that you’ll do the work yourself, or names of stores for required purchases. With everything preplanned and prepurchased, there will be no last-minute trips to the store.
  • Recipe Database: Use the Stores list to create one level of categories, such as meat, pasta, vegetarian, dessert, etc. Use the actual Category field for a second sort, which could be something like Low-fat and Low-cal, or Spicy, Mild, Super-Spicy, or whatever might be important to you. Enter the recipe name in the description field, and the instructions in the Note field.
  • Wine List: Use the Stores to specify Red, White, Sparkling, etc. The category field can specify information like Chardonnay, Shiraz, etc. Use the Priority field to record your rating for the wine, and the Note field for any additional comments.

This is just a sampling of the ideas that have been submitted for HandyShopper, but it should give you an idea of the power and flexibility of the program. It could easily become the most-used program on your Palm.
Support is provided in the HandyShopper Yahoo group, at handyshopper. This group has additional databases that you can download.
HandyShopper is free, but the program author asks that you send him a postcard if you like the software.
HandyShopper 2.7
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© 2003 by Charles M. Olsen