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  1. #1
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    Default Shed House & Shed inventory For Insurance Purposes

    I want to do a complete inventory of all the stuff in the house & shed for insurance purposes. I had intended to do it in a spreadsheet (Open Office) and have a pic for each item either linked to a cell or in the cell but I am wondering if using a database wouldn't be better. The problem with using say Dbase in open office or any other data base is I like most people am more familiar with spreadsheets and have done no work with data bases apart from a cursory look a long time ago which went nowhere. Has anyone done this and what software did you use? any suggestions on using either approach? The problem I see coming at high speed is if I link the cell to a pic in a spreadsheet then if that path is broken all the work goes down the slot. Does a DB hold the pic in its own file or is it linked like in a spreadsheet? Any suggestion of a better approach or better ways to do it would be most welcome as I only want to do this once. I know there is some specific out there has anyone used any of this? Thanks.

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  3. #2
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    Hi Chris,

    Not sure about open office ... But with ms office, you can embed the object rather than link to it. Which means a copy of the image is put into your spreadsheet, rather than a simple link.

    This will obviate your fear of changing path to the image, but will increase the spreadsheet file size.
    Glenn Visca

  4. #3
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    Using Open Office Writer would be OK, and easier to do than using a database or a spreadsheet. I would use the Writer or Spreadsheet document to create a catalogue containing the textual description, model numbers, serial numbers, etc of the items. Create a unique key for each item in the catalogue. The unique number can be something as simple a consecutive numbers starting say at one, or some other more complex series of number and letters - it's up to you - simpler is better.

    Then store the photographs and document scans in a tree style directory (a.k.a. folder) structure. One arm of the tree for each room, then in that 'room' on the directory tree, have a directory for each item in your catalogue. The name of each directory would be the unique key that you dreamed up for each item. You will need a fair number of photos of each item (e.g. an overall view, a view of any accessories, a close-up of the manufacturer's Serial Number Plate, and a scan of the receipt if you still have it) - the photos also need to show the overall condition of each item, so add extra photos as needed to fully support an insurance claim if you ever need to make a claim. That all adds up to a fair number of pictures, and hence the reason for my recommendation that you keep the photos separate from the Open Office document.

    For such important documents as these, I'd recommend ensuring that you keep a few different sorts of backups of the document, in various locations, away from your home. The types of backups could/should include:


    • An electronic copy of the Open Office file, along with a a copy of the directory tree containing the photos and scans - stored on a backup disk, just in case you loose the original on your computer.
    • An electronic copy of the Open Office file, along with a a copy of the directory tree containing the photos and scans - stored on a USB Memory Stick, CD, or DVD. Store this digital copy away from your home. (Remember, if there's a fire at your home, the original will likely be lost either in the fire or as a result of fire fighter's water damage.) You could lodge it with a relative for safe keeping. Or do as I do - mine is stored with the Solicitor who also holds my Will.
    • And lastly, as a computer professional who has worked in the industry for nearly thirty years, I also recommend that you print out a paper copy and store it with the USB Memory Stick, CD or DVD.
      • The reason is that if you need to access the digital files in five years time, you'll probably be able to do it without too many challenges. However, in fifteen or twenty years that could be a different matter. Twenty years ago my preferred Word Processor was WordStar. Just try to find a way of opening a WordStar document twenty years later - it can be done, but it requires very specialist skills, and may not work anyway.
      • There is another reason for having a paper copy - Writeable and Re-Writable CDs and DVDs have a limited life, and they will start to degrade over time. For some brands this is said to be twenty or more years, but I've have good brand Writable CDs become unreadable after three years of storage in ideal conditions. Some High Quality USB Memory Sticks come with guarantees of storage life of up to twenty years, but as these items were invented less than twenty years ago, the guarantee is based on design expectations, not on practical experience.
      • Lastly, the computer industry has a habit of making commonly used hardware standards obsolete every few years. In five, ten or so years, that may mean that your computer does not have a USB slot, or a CD or DVD Reader. Remember, it wasn't all that long ago that we all had 3 1/2 inch floppy disks in our computers.....and they are now almost extinct.


    Well, all of that is a bit long winded - hope it helps.

    Regards,

    Roy
    Manufacturer of the Finest Quality Off-Cuts.

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by AussieRoy View Post
    Using Open Office Writer would be OK, and easier to do than using a database or a spreadsheet. I would use the Writer or Spreadsheet document to create a catalogue containing the textual description, model numbers, serial numbers, etc of the items. Create a unique key for each item in the catalogue. The unique number can be something as simple a consecutive numbers starting say at one, or some other more complex series of number and letters - it's up to you - simpler is better.

    Then store the photographs and document scans in a tree style directory (a.k.a. folder) structure. One arm of the tree for each room, then in that 'room' on the directory tree, have a directory for each item in your catalogue. The name of each directory would be the unique key that you dreamed up for each item. You will need a fair number of photos of each item (e.g. an overall view, a view of any accessories, a close-up of the manufacturer's Serial Number Plate, and a scan of the receipt if you still have it) - the photos also need to show the overall condition of each item, so add extra photos as needed to fully support an insurance claim if you ever need to make a claim. That all adds up to a fair number of pictures, and hence the reason for my recommendation that you keep the photos separate from the Open Office document.

    For such important documents as these, I'd recommend ensuring that you keep a few different sorts of backups of the document, in various locations, away from your home. The types of backups could/should include:


    • An electronic copy of the Open Office file, along with a a copy of the directory tree containing the photos and scans - stored on a backup disk, just in case you loose the original on your computer.
    • An electronic copy of the Open Office file, along with a a copy of the directory tree containing the photos and scans - stored on a USB Memory Stick, CD, or DVD. Store this digital copy away from your home. (Remember, if there's a fire at your home, the original will likely be lost either in the fire or as a result of fire fighter's water damage.) You could lodge it with a relative for safe keeping. Or do as I do - mine is stored with the Solicitor who also holds my Will.
    • And lastly, as a computer professional who has worked in the industry for nearly thirty years, I also recommend that you print out a paper copy and store it with the USB Memory Stick, CD or DVD.
      • The reason is that if you need to access the digital files in five years time, you'll probably be able to do it without too many challenges. However, in fifteen or twenty years that could be a different matter. Twenty years ago my preferred Word Processor was WordStar. Just try to find a way of opening a WordStar document twenty years later - it can be done, but it requires very specialist skills, and may not work anyway.
      • There is another reason for having a paper copy - Writeable and Re-Writable CDs and DVDs have a limited life, and they will start to degrade over time. For some brands this is said to be twenty or more years, but I've have good brand Writable CDs become unreadable after three years of storage in ideal conditions. Some High Quality USB Memory Sticks come with guarantees of storage life of up to twenty years, but as these items were invented less than twenty years ago, the guarantee is based on design expectations, not on practical experience.
      • Lastly, the computer industry has a habit of making commonly used hardware standards obsolete every few years. In five, ten or so years, that may mean that your computer does not have a USB slot, or a CD or DVD Reader. Remember, it wasn't all that long ago that we all had 3 1/2 inch floppy disks in our computers.....and they are now almost extinct.


    Well, all of that is a bit long winded - hope it helps.

    Regards,

    Roy
    Thanks Roy and I appreciate the input, I go back to 5" floppies so I guess I am an old fart! I have given this a bit more thought and I would like to give some experience a friend had when he had a break & enter to his workshop. They cleaned it out while he was OS and he then had to claim when he got back and found that for some time later he was constantly remembering stuff he had not claimed when he decided to do some job around the house. He did not have anywhere near the amount of stuff I have so my chances of claiming everything from memory are somewhere between none and bugger all. I think that this point is missed by a lot of people who are generally more worried about if the insurance company is going to cough up and how much. The big ticket items such as machinery are not an issue, it is the smaller stuff that gets ripped off and sold. The long term accessability and preservation is a real problem for digital as you know and it appears that nothing beats the written word on paper which is a bit ironic in this day and age. I reckon by the time I can't access the digital information I won't be pushing wood through a saw, more likely using a walking frame.

  6. #5
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    Have a look at this one Chris
    http://download.cnet.com/Frostbow-Ho...-10781679.html

    Free download. I downloaded it and had a bit of a play and it seems pretty good. Reasonably easy to use.
    I'm going to start with the house, one room at a time to get the hang of it then move to the shed. Could be a long project.
    Those were the droids I was looking for.
    https://autoblastgates.com.au

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCArcher View Post
    Have a look at this one Chris
    http://download.cnet.com/Frostbow-Ho...-10781679.html

    Free download. I downloaded it and had a bit of a play and it seems pretty good. Reasonably easy to use.
    I'm going to start with the house, one room at a time to get the hang of it then move to the shed. Could be a long project.
    Thanks Tony, I looked at a few others and didn't like them. I am sure it is a project that will keep me busy for quite a while.

  8. #7
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    I personally store all the details in a spreadsheet online through Google, no pictures though.

  9. #8
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    Let me relate my experience with Google Drive. I established a G drive and uploaded and created on line a lot of files as a safety back up and thought nothing of it. I then deleted the email account some time later (it was a business account and had to be deleted) and found I could not get back into the files and they are still sitting there in G Drive. Google themselves had no answer as the original account could not be re-establshed.

  10. #9
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    There are a few things you can do to keep the excel filesize down. Crop off all the excess background from the pic (there's a tool for this within excel itself), and compress the pics in the file. Those tools are on the toolbar that comes up when you select a picture (dunno about Open office). That actually saves quite a bit of storage. You can also print the file as a PDF which should make it even smaller.

    The pics in the Excel file need not be all that large (area wise) because in the unlikely/unfortunate event that you have to make use of them you can still reference back to the original pic(s).
    Regards, FenceFurniture

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  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCArcher View Post
    Free download. I downloaded it and had a bit of a play and it seems pretty good. Reasonably easy to use.
    If you are going down this road it would be worth while keeping a copy of the program installation files on the same USB stick as your inventory file. There would be nothing worse to do all that work only to find when you need it you can no longer open it as you have lost the program.
    Now proudly sponsored by Binford Tools. Be sure to check out the Binford 6100 - available now at any good tool retailer.

  12. #11
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    In this day and age I don't think file size is a real issue. I can buy a one terrabyte HD for about $100, put everything on that and remove it from the premises. The biggest issue I see is no single digital medium is as fool proof as a pen and paper for guaranteed access to the data over a long period. Brett, I was going to use Open Office because I have very little use for an office program and it is freeware and very capable.

  13. #12
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    I just had a look at this http://download.cnet.com/Frostbow-Ho...-10781679.html The reviews are less than inspiring so the search goes on. All any of these things are is an interface for a database and it can't be that hard to learn one of those sufficiently to do the job.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parks View Post
    In this day and age I don't think file size is a real issue.
    Hmmm, maybe not but saving time could be an issue, as well as crashes. Maybe a series of files might be the go. Room by room or summink.
    Regards, FenceFurniture

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  15. #14
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    I_wanna_Shed is offline Now I've got a 6x7m shed! I need a new name...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parks View Post
    The biggest issue I see is no single digital medium is as fool proof as a pen and paper for guaranteed access to the data over a long period.
    A mate of mine pretty much did this in Excel (no pictures, though). When the unfortunate day came that his house was burgled while he was on holidays, he was very glad he made these records. He wasn't so glad that he only kept them on his PC, which was stolen

    I've got a list in Excel that pretty much has "Room / Item / Description / Purchased From / Replacement Cost / Serial #". I want to add pictures to it, but will keep it in Excel somehow as that's where it is now. I have a copy on my PC, a soft copy and a printed copy in the safe at my parents place, copy on Dropbox, and a copy on CrashPlan.com (an online backup service - no point backing up to a HDD if the house is on fire, and I'd never remember to regularly swap them offsite).

    I initially made it for home contents insurance. Remember to add carpets, blinds, clothes, kitchenware etc - all that stuff adds right up to a lot more than you initially think.

  16. #15
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    I'd like to post some info from a policing point of view-

    Record your item's unique identification numbers
    This is usually a serial number, but phones come with IEMI numbers which will uniquely identify them. If we can store them, we can search by them later if and when we find stolen property. Too many times people come in to report their 'Black iPhone, no case, crack in the screen' has been stolen/lost etc. We have a couple of hundred that sound like that, if you can come in and say the serial is ##### then we can search for it and verify that it's your phone/drill/dropsaw etc.


    Mark your property
    Best option is a last name and your drivers licence number. No one can find out any info about you if they come across it, and like serial numbers, your drivers licence number uniquely identifies you. If we find property in a crooks house and there are 10 different items with multiple licence numbers on them, we have a better chance of believing they are stolen and we can seize them. We can then look up the number to find out who you are and if you've reported it stolen.

    Cash Converters and other pawn shops will record peoples licence numbers when they sell and loan money against items. They have in the past notified us when a marked items number doesn't match the persons licence who is selling it.


    Storing of data (This is from the point of view of someone with a Computing Degree)
    If you want a robust way of storing data about your items, keep it simple, keep it safe.

    My personal preference for storing of this kind of data is excel spreadsheet files- you'll be able to manage them in excel, the open office equivalent and Google Drive. The file system is relatively old and will be with us for the foreseeable future. I'd store the original photos as they were, storage is cheap and will only get cheaper. Keep two copies, keep three if you want- you can easily get 1000-5000 images onto an 8Gb USB that will cost you all of $10 from office works.

    For $20 you could have all the original information on your computer, a copy stored on a drive in a draw incase the computer dies and a copy that you give a mate to hold onto incase your house burns down. Having 2 drives can be helpful because you could copy the latest onto the drive and drop in on your mate for a cuppa while you swap drives so he has the latest copy.


    *Disclaimer about Google Drive*
    Google stores it's data in the US, which is covered by the Patriot Act. In simple terms, the US government can look at any data stored on US servers at any time without warrant. You might not care if Uncle Sam looks at how many persian rugs you have, or how much you paid for a drill set 10 years ago, but some people might.

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