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April 12, 2010

My Stuff - Wonderful iPhone Database App!

Do you have a lot of books? We have a lot of books. We have an ungodly amount of books. We have so many books that, if a cataclysm were to befall Vancouver tomorrow, we would have enough kindling to last for a couple of years at least.

How about movies? Lots of movies? We've got lots of movies. Video games? Not quite as many, but some.

Suppose you just want to keep an inventory of all of your electronics, for insurance purposes?

Oh, most importantly, got an iPhone?

Then I would definitely recommend the "My Stuff" database app for your iPhone.

We've had this book problem for a long time, and I created an Access database to keep track of them all.  Back when I had a Treo, I had installed an app that could read Office documents, so I would just export a spreadsheet from the database periodically, install it on my Treo, and voila!  I had a searchable list of all our books if I happened to be at a book store or a thrift shop.

When we got our iPhones last summer, I discovered that there wasn't a good (and, most importantly, cheap) app that would read Excel spreadsheets. I do have one, but I can't search! That's the most important part, when you have 1779 books in it (we don't have all of them in the apartment, don't worry!)

I stumbled upon My Stuff last weekend and decided to give it a try. It's currently $4.99, and I don't like to spend a lot of money on apps, but it looked really good, so I decided "why not?" and took the plunge. The key ability for me is that it will import CSV (comma delimited) files, which you can create from your Excel spreadsheet.

I installed the app, and discovered that it already has a number of categories on it already, including books. You can set up more categories, of course. Ever put your household items somewhere so that you wouldn't forget where you put them? And then, next time you were looking for one of them, you couldn't remember where you put them?

Happens to me all the time. Do what I did and create a category for "Household items." You can then make an "attribute" called "Location" for the category. Say you want to know where you put the flashlight. Just type "flashlight" into the name field and then type "kitchen supply drawer." Next time you can't find the flashlight, just look it up!

But back to the books, the main reason I wanted this. I looked at my Access database, checking what fields I had in it. I then added the same attributes into the Books part of the My Stuff database. Exported an CSV spreadsheet from the database, and then imported it to the My Stuff database with a couple of clicks (as well as choosing which fields I wanted to import). A couple of minutes later (it *is* 1779 books!), and there they were! Every book in our database, there on my phone for next time I'm at a bookstore and not sure if I already read something.

You can then keep your computer database updated and periodically export the data to your My Stuff database. Next time you import, just "skip duplicates" and only the new stuff shows up. Or you can update your phone directly. Either way.

You can sort your database by any attribute you've put in there. You can filter it, you can search it, you can do pretty much anything with it.

My Stuff is simply an amazing app. I already have all of our books and movies in it, and will definitely be using it for a long time to come.

Incidentally, in case any app developer is reading this, I was seriously going to go with BabiBooks over My Stuff when I was looking for a books database app, mainly because you can scan your books into it using the iPhone camera on the barcode, and then you would have a bunch of book information from the Internet on it.

However, the CSV importing feature sold me on My Stuff, because there was no way in Hell I was going to scan 1779 books again when I already had the information in a database. Ultimately, I like My Stuff better anyway for the extensive database you can create for everything in your house, not just books.

But to the developers of BabiBooks, if you're reading this: if you had CSV importing, I would have bought you in a heartbeat.

So, my recommendation?

If you already have a books database, or if you want to keep track of more than just books, My Stuff is definitely the best way to go. If you just want books and you're just starting a database, BabiBooks might be worth a try too. Since I haven't tried it, I can't say anything definitive about it, but it's worth a look.


  1. Boy I did so not know what you were talking about.LOLSounds good. I can't believe you have that many books. You could open a book store & make a fortune.

  2. I hope you knew eventually what I was talking about! I'd hate for you to read the whole thing and *still* be lost.

    As I said, not all of the books are here. Some of them were library books, and others we've donated. But we probably have a good 1300-1400 at least.

  3. i wish i knew about this app before i bought my bb and before my mom decide to give away all (378 exactly) my comics books away.. :(

  4. yay. we can buy more crap that we don't have instead of more crap that we do have.

    did i say "yay" yet?

    and who is "we"?

    - the wife

  5. Ta large part of the books are mine, a large part of the movies are yours. :P

    And yay!!!! We can buy more crap! *does happy dance*

    Renee, you should see if there's some kind of database app for the BB. I looked and there isn't a version of My Stuff, but there's gotta be something out there, doesn't there?

  6. Hi Dave, Paul (aka magicdarts) coming in via real bloggers united - amazing what you can do with the iphone these days - look forward to reading more of your stuff!

  7. Thanks, Paul! You've got a great blog as well. The world needs more inspiring stories. :)

  8. Definitely something that would be of use to me, but no iPhone yet. Gotta wait 1 more year...must control myself lol.

  9. It'll come, Anahid! It will come. :)

  10. My Bookshelf is up there with Babibooks when it comes to a book catalog.

    My Stuff is the best I've found so far for keeping track of things.


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