Why Use Software to Catalog Your Antiques?

Collectors invest much of our time and resources into collecting valuable antiques and other collectibles yet we do not take the time to adequately catalog them. Yes, it takes time to carefully document what we have collected but the benefits will outweigh the costs for many of us.

Like many people my age I grow up with antiques. As a poor boy on a small farm I was surrounded by antiques but did not recognize them as such. They were our tools, our furniture, our farm implements, our means of transportation and even some of our toys. I was surrounded by antiques but they were just an every-day part of living.

As a grown up I wish I still had some of these every-day items from my youth. Today they are worth so much more than I could have imagined back then. These days I spend much of my time searching various on-line forums and auctions searching for items from my youth as well as other antiques. As a result I have built small collections of various categories of specialty antiques.

For many years I relied on my memory and scanned written notes and receipts to track my inventory. As time went by I began to forget what I had and would sometimes catch myself considering the purchase of an item that I already had. Sometimes I would consider an item at a local show and wonder if the one I already had like it at home was in better or worse condition than the one I was looking at. Without a description or, even better, a set of pictures it was very difficult for me to know for sure. This lack of information at my fingertips ruled in some purchases I probably should have made and passing on items that I should have purchased to improve my collection.

Other times I would join in a discussion with a fellow collector of like interests and try to describe an item I had only to realize that I was unable to recall some key aspect of it that would be of interest and worth sharing. In a similar manner, when visiting with friends or family and the topic of my collecting interests would come up, I was unable to help them to fully appreciate items in my collection and the value of collecting them.

I am sure many of my fellow collectors share similar experiences and sentiments. These days, with all of the technology available to us, we no longer have to be limited by lack of key information at our fingertips. There are many computer programs available to help us catalog our collections so that we no longer have to rely solely on our memories and scattered notes and receipts. They enable us to electronically track key information about items in our collections as well as detailed pictures and even scans of our receipts and other written materials associated with each item.

Although without this software we could keep detailed hand-written manuscripts describing any and all aspect of our collections that was of interest to us, it is much more difficult to change hand-written records than it is to change electronic records. We might want to update our records and descriptions as we learn more about our items. For me, this meant throwing away my previous writing and rewriting my notes from scratch in order to incorporate important changes to what I had written before. With software, these changes become trivial.

Also, with software, we can much more easily retrieve information electronically that we ever could from hand-written records. In many software packages this information can actually be manipulated, accumulated, organized, and re-organized however we like. Not only can your organize your data how you want, you can gather and accumulate valuable statistics such as total cost, total value, appraised value, current value and more.

With some of the more flexible packages we can even modify what data we collect to suit our individual needs and preferences rather than what someone else thinks we should track. Even better packages allow you to manage multiple collections in one package or run multiple copies of the software, one for each collection.

Some cataloging software can be run directly off USB flash drives or other removable media without installation on the computer that they are running on. This provides the advantage of being able to take your collection everywhere to show others on their computer without lugging a computer around with you. When your collection resides on a USB Flash Drive, or other removable media, you can also secure it without leaving it vulnerable on your computer.

Today's mobile apps open up a whole new realm when it comes to having information available at your fingertips for checking your collection when considering the purchase of a new item or for sharing information with others. However, with their limited keypads, it can be very difficult to manually enter information into mobile apps. On the other hand, mobile devices make it very easy to take pictures of items and include them in mobile app databases. That is why the best of both worlds is when data can be entered using a desktop or laptop computer and then downloaded to a mobile app where pictures can be easily added and then the results uploaded back into the desktop application.

The software I use runs off of a USB flash drive and allows me to manage one or more collections. With this software I can easily enter information about my antiques and other collectibles on a USB flash drive running on my desktop computer. I can then take the USB flash drive with me to share with others on their computers and lock it up for secure storage when I am done.

I can also download my collection into a companion mobile app on my Android phone to take with me anywhere. This makes it easy to bring up pictures at anytime and anywhere when visiting with others or considering the purchase of a new item to add to my collection. The android app also makes it very easy to take pictures of items in my collection. I can then upload those pictures back into the desktop application. This two-way communication allows me to take advantage of the best features in both the desktop application and the mobile app when managing and sharing items in my collections.

Although it does take time to enter data into a software application, in my opinion, the benefits collecting software provide well worth the effort.

Wireless Networking, Part 1: Capabilities and Hardware

Wireless Networking, Part 1: Capabilities and Hardware

These days it isn’t uncommon for a home to have multiple personal computers, and as such, it just makes sense for them to be able to share files, as well as to share one Internet connection. Wired networking is an option, but it is one that may require the installation and management of a great deal of wiring in order to get even a modestly sized home set up. With wireless networking equipment becoming extremely affordable and easy to install, it may be worth considering by those looking to build a home network, as well as by those looking to expand on an existing wired network.

The first installment in this two-part series of Tech Tips will provide an introduction to the basic capabilities and hardware involved in wireless networking. Once that foundation has been established, we’ll take a look at a few setup and security related considerations that should be addressed once the physical installation is complete.


The basic standard that covers wireless networking is the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11, which is close kin to the wired Ethernet standard, 802.3. Many people will recognize 802.11 more readily when accompanied by one of three suffixes (a, b, or g), used to specify the exact protocol of wireless networking.

The 802.11a protocol first hit the scene in 2001, and despite a small surge in recent popularity, it is definitely the least common of the three at this time. The signals are transmitted on a 5 GHz radio frequency, while “b” and “g” travel on 2.4 GHz. The higher frequency means that the signal can travel less distance in free space and has a harder time penetrating walls, thus making the practical application of an 802.11a network a bit limited. The maximum transfer rate, however, is roughly 54 Mbps, so it makes up for its limited range with respectable speed.

As mentioned, 802.11b and 802.11g networks operate on a 2.4 GHz radio band, which gives a much greater range as compared to 802.11a. One downside to being on the 2.4 GHz band is that many devices share it, and interference is bound to be an issue. Cordless phones and Bluetooth devices are two of many items that operate at this frequency. The range of these two protocols is about 300 feet in free air, and the difference between the two comes down to speed. 802.11b came first, released back in 1999, and offers speeds up to 11 Mbps. 802.11g first appeared in 2002 and it is a backwards compatible improvement over 802.11b and offers speeds up to 54 Mbps.

On top of these protocols, some manufacturers have improved upon the 802.11g standard and can provide speeds of up to 108 Mbps. This doesn’t involve a separate protocol, but just a bit of tweaking in areas like better data compression, more efficient data packet bursting, and by using two radio channels simultaneously. Typically, stock 802.11g equipment is not capable of these speeds, and those interested need to shop for matched components that specify 108 Mbps support. I say “matched components” as this is not a standard protocol and the various manufacturers may take different approaches to achieving these speeds. In order to ensure the best results when trying to achieve these elevated speeds, components from the same manufacturer should be used together. For instance, only Netgear brand network adaptors rated for 108 Mbps data transfer should be used with something like the Netgear WG624 wireless router (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=WGT624NAR).

Considering your typical broadband Internet connection is going to offer data transfer rates of 10 Mbps or less, it can be seen that even 802.11b would be more than adequate if you just want to surf the web. Sharing files on your LAN (Local Area Network) is where the faster protocols will really make a difference, and comparing the prices of 802.11b and 802.11g components may show that there is little to no difference in selecting a “g” capable device over a comparable “b” capable device.


Access Point – Wireless Access Point (WAP) is the central device that manages the transmission of wireless signals on a network. A base access point may be capable of handling up to 10 connections, and more robust APs may be able to manage up to 255 connections simultaneously. The D-Link DWL-1000AP+ (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=37) is an example of a wireless access point capable of 802.11b transmissions.

Router – In somewhat technical terms, a router is a network device that forwards data packets. It is generally the connection between at least two networks, such as two LANs, or a LAN and ISP’s (Internet Service Provider’s) network. For our purposes, and for the sake of simplicity, a wireless router is basically an access point with the added feature of having a port for sharing a broadband Internet connection. The D-Link AirPlus G (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=DI524-R&cat=NET) is an 802.11g capable router that provides access for numerous wireless connections and four hard-wired connections to one WAN (Wide Area Network Internet) connection. A typical router for home use will generally cost less than an access point, and via settings within the firmware, can be used as just an access point anyway. Wired or wireless, all the computers using the router can share files over the network, as well as sharing a broadband internet connection. Communication between wireless computers (or a wireless computer and a wired computer) will max out at 54 Mbps, while communication between wired computers will take full advantage of the 100 Mbps provided via the 802.3 protocol.

Network Adaptor – A network adaptor is required for every computer that you would like to be connected to the wireless network. Many laptops, such as this Sony Centrino 1.5 GHz (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=PCGZ1RA-R&cat=NBB) now include a wireless adaptor built in, so no extra hardware is needed. For those with systems that don’t have wireless capabilities built in, adding them is fairly simple, and can be done using a variety of connections. Desktop computers can go wireless by adding a PCI slot network adaptor such as the 802.11g capable D-Link DWL-G510 (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=308). Notebook users can easily add wireless connectivity by using a PCMCIA adaptor, such as this 802.11g capable device (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=PBW006-N&cat=NET). And for truly convenient plug-n-play connectivity to wireless networks, USB adaptors such as this 802.11g capable dongle (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=80211GWUD&cat=NET) are available.

Antenna/Extender – These items are not essential, but given the specifics of a wireless environment, they may be helpful. Devices such as the Hawking Hi-Gain Antenna (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=HAI6SIP-N&cat=NET) or the Super Cantenna (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=SCB10&cat=NET) serve the purpose of increasing the wireless signal strength, and therefore extend the range of a given wireless network. Not only can a large area of open space be covered, but the signal quality may be improved in structures with walls and floors that obstruct the signal transmission.

Final Words

In this Tech Tip, we took a look at the basics of wireless networking as it relates to capabilities and hardware. In the second part of this two-part series, we will look at some of the basic setup and security considerations that should be addressed. The physical installation of a wireless network may be exponentially easier than a wired network, but the more difficult part is setting up the software and security to make sure everything stays up and running without incident.

Top Ten Reasons to Start an Online Business at Home

There are currently over 24 million people working from home and each and every day the list grows larger. Everybody makes the decision to work at home for a large variety of reasons; Here are some of the most popular.

10. Be your own boss.

Within the high pressure working conditions found in the cut throat modern office environment today, employees are taking a stand and walking away from the stressful life they are placed under. To work for yourself gives you total freedom and the drive to succeed.

9. No Alarm Clock

No longer do you have to report to your office at 9.00am, you can choose your own hours. Release the stress and tension and throw that alarm clock to the wall.

8. No morning and evening commute

Save all those hours spent traveling to and from work, plus save on those high gas prices and lower your car maintenance costs.

7. No business start up expenses

All you need to work from home is your computer and an internet connection, no business office rent to pay, no expensive outlay, no staff.

6. Nothing too Complicated

Business employees in today's modern office are usually highly trained in computer internet technology, this experience makes it far easier for you to adapt to an online business set up at home.

5. Work from Home or Anywhere in the World

Once you have set up your online business to run on autopilot you have the enviable position to be able to just log in and check your internet accounts from anywhere.

4. Travel & Vacation to Suit You

No longer do you have to go crawling to the boss, unfortunately seeking some time off. Now you can escape whenever and to where you please.

3. More Time with the Family

Employees today complain that they are spending long hours at work, coupled with very long commutes to and from the office. All of this time takes them away from their family and friends. By working at home you have the added benefit of seeing your children grow up and releases more time for fun and relaxation with friends.

2. Opportunity to Increase Earnings.

There is nothing to compare with the chance to earn money by running your own business. With everything in life, the harder you work, the greater the rewards. Obviously there is no guarantee as to the amount of money your can earn on the internet, in all business ventures some people will earn more than others. However it is interesting to note that whenever those lists of the world's richest people are compiled, not one of them is ever an employee. They are always business owners.

And the Number 1 reason to start your online business is:

To be Happier.

A Guide to Help You Pick Your Next Piece of Furniture

Buying furniture does not have to be a stressful or painful activity. In fact, it can actually be a bit fun when you know how to distinguish the quality pieces from those destined for the dumpster. The following guide will hopefully demystify the inner workings and construction of furniture so you can focus on picking out the perfect color, print, and texture for your home.

Upholstered Furniture

Your furniture sets the mood, tone, and overall feel of your home just as your wardrobe conveys these same exercises about you. Upholstered furniture is perhaps the most telling sign of these characteristics as the use of color, design, and texture come into play more here than with any other type of furniture. Pieces that generally fall into the 'upholstered' category include chairs, sofas, love seats, sectionals, and sofa beds. This guide is designed to make your decision less daunting by eliminating some technical terms and giving you some insight into what lies benefit the cloths and cushions.

Woven Fabric Covers

Woven fabric means simply that the fabric is woven by a machine that interlaces two yarns running at right angles to each other. The most widely used group of decorative upholsteries sold in the United States consist of woven fabrics. These woven fabrics can be natural, such as linen and cotton, or man-made fibers like polyester and olefin. In most cases, fabrics are blends of various fibers like the popular cotton-polyester blend. The most popular types of weaves are as follows:

O Jacquard weaves are fabrics with differently colored yarns or fibers woven into highly decorative designs. These weaves are most often found in traditional furniture styles.

O Pile fabrics have loops or cut fibers standing up densely from the surface to form a three-dimensional texture. Depending on color and design, pile fabrics can be suitable for traditional or contemporary furniture.

O Textured fabrics are woven from yarns that have been processed to give them more bulk, crimp, stretch, or otherwise altered. Chenille is an example of a very popular textured weave. Textured fabrics are often woven to resembble antique, homespun cloth.

O Plain-woven fabrics consist of one color with their character resulting from the type of yarn or fiber used. Depending on the texture, plain weaves can be used on formal or informal furniture and with a variety of styles.

O Printed fabrics are first woven and then printed with a decorative design. Chintz and polished cotton are examples of fabrics that are often used for prints, although textured fabrics with blends of nylon, rayon, cotton, and polyester fibers are also often printed.

Non-Woven Fabric Covers

Non-woven fabrics are produced by the bonding and or interlocking of fibers. These fabrics can be made by mechanical, chemical, thermal, or solvent means, or with an adhesive, or any combination of these. Examples of non-woven fabrics include:

O Vinyl , which may or may not be laminated to a fabric backing. Vinyls are preferred on furniture that is subject to hard usage. Also called Naugahyde®, vinyl is often thought of as a substitute for leather, and can be printed in a variety of patterns.

O Flocked fabrics are made by gluing pieces of cut fibers onto a flat woven cloth base. These fibers form a three-dimensional surface much like pile. Flocked velvet is an example of this kind of fabric.

O Knitted fabrics are made by interlooping one or more sets of yarns. This is a reliably inexpensive way of manufacturing fabric.

O Suede-like fabrics , such as Ultrasuede® are often used in decorative upholstered furniture covers to give the look and feel of genuine suede, without using animal hides and usually at less cost.

Inner Construction

The construction and inner workings of an upholstered piece of furniture can be as mysterious as an episode of Murder, She Wrote (ask your Grandma). But hidden under the decorative fabric or cover lies the secret to the piece's overall function, comfort, and longevity. No need to call Angela Lansbury in order to solve this case, read on as we forget what makes your chair or sofa tick.

The frame is the single most important component in determining whether or not a piece of furniture is going to stand the test of time. You probably figured wood as being the most commonly used frame material, and this, of course, is true. But any old hunk of tree will not due if you plan on passing this wonderful chair, sofa, love seat, or whatever on to your children or grandchildren (they'll probably just put it in storage or sell it at a yard sale anyway ). Hardwoods, such as oak, alder, ash, beech and birch are what you're looking for in a frame. These hardwoods have a tighter grain and allow for screws, pegs, and nails to be set securely. Also, the best-made frames use wood that has been kiln-dried . This process consist of heating the wood in an industrial oven to remove excess sap and moisture. The process also makes the wood resistant to absorbing any outside moisture. If you're wondering what the problem is with moisture, I'll tell you. If you already know the answer to this, then skip to the next paragraph Mr. Egypt Smarty-Pants. Moisture can cause warping and swelling, can lead to loose joints and fastenings, and in severe cases can cause mildew or rotting, other than that, it's great.

The quality of the frame depends not only on the materials used, but how they're joined and held together. To create a strong, rigid frame, a variety of woods and laminates can be used in joints and for blocking and doweling.

O Joints are places where one piece of the frame meets another. These points of intersection need to be secured and reinforced with blocks and dowels to allow the frame to hold up over time.

O Blocking reiter to placing additional 'blocks' of wood behind or diagonal to joints and corners to help relieve the stress these areas encounter. Blocks also provide lateral support and create a larger area for screws and fasteners to set wood elements securely.

O Doweling is the process of drilling into both pieces of the joint and then placing a pin, or dowel into the hole, so further connecting the two pieces and adding extra support.

A quality chair or sofa will employ some type of inner spring system, usually in the back as well as the seat area. These systems add comfort, as you might expect, but they also work to take some of the stress off the joints of the frame. Here are some of the spring systems being used:

O The coil or cone spring system uses eight-way, hand-tied double cone springs to provide extra comfort and support. This technique involves fastening the cone springs tightly to the base and expertly tying their tops together with a strong cord. This is the only system that allows for side-to-side movement in addition to up and down movement. Hand-crafted quality comes at a price, though, and while this is widely considered the best spring system, it is also the most expensive.

O The sinuous wire spring is made in a continuous zigzag or "S" shape. These wires run parallel to each other and are quickly directly to the frame and to each other. Similar to this system is the formed wire spring, where the continuous wire is formed into rectangular bends and angles instead of the zigzag pattern.

O The grid suspension system is composed of a wire grid, sometimes covered with paper or plastic-coated wire, which has one side fastened directly to the frame. The other side is connected to the frame by helical springs.

O Some manufacturers use elastic webbing instead of wire springs. The strips of elastic usually intersect and weave together and are fastened directly to the frame. It is best to avoid furniture that uses this technique.

Arm yourself with this knowledge and make a more informed choice the next time you purchase furniture.