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ITSBITS Catapult Garage Software
Personal Inventory Tool

Purpose

Most people need a way to keep up with "stuff" in such a way that they could prove to the insurance company what they had if it were destroyed. This tool provides a way to do that and keep 1 or 2 pictures of each item(s) you're keeping up with. Finally, you may want to share and synchronize the data with someone else, e.g., your spouse.

The data saved here will be encrypted using your own personal password. Other than that, it will be stored just like any other ITSBITS® Catapult Garage configuration file in the garage. (While no one can fully guarantee the security of your data, the fact that it needs your ID/password (or many hours of work) to decrypt the data certainly helps.)

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Start The Tool

On the Catapult Welcome page, go to the "View" menu option and double-click the option for Personal Inventory. When you select the "Personal Inventory" tool the workshop will be displayed. You'll immediately note that only the login fields are enabled. Menu options are not enabled and no data is displayed at all. You'll also notice that there's a timer below the login-area showing how long (in seconds) this form will remain up before it disappears. There will be a notice reminding you about this time limit further below the login area.

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First Time Tool Is Used

The first time into the tool, the system will try to find a configuration file appropriate for your ID/password combo, but it won't yet exist, so you'll see an error message. Notice that the message says that if this is the first time you've run the tool, you should simply ignore the message. Click on the "OK" button to continue. you should enter an ID/password combination you'll be able to remember and happy to use to secure your information. NOTE: use an 8-character, case-sensitive password and include alpha (A-Z, a-z), numeric (0-9) and exclamation point (!) characters. (Example, "Nellie" could become "Nell1e1!" to build a secure password.)

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Add A Record

Once you have correctly entered a UserID and Password, the workshop will go to an "ADD MODE OPERATION" screen with the tool strip and menu items enabled and a setup for data entry that looks something like the one shown below:

The fields you need to know about are as follows:
  • Inventoried Item -- (Required entry) Just use a name that you can quickly recognize. As an example, if you bought a new notebook computer, you might want to use an entry like XYZ Notebook Computer
  • Purchased From -- Enter the name of the place or person you purchased the item from
  • Cost -- Always enter the cost of the item--insurance companies are very big on this
  • Image file path -- a path to the 1st image you are using, if any. (Notice the configuration information below.)
  • Image file (2) path -- a path to the 2nd image you are using, if any. (Notice the configuration information below.)
  • Notes -- Whatever your heart desires and you think you'll need. We recommend you put in the model number and serial number if it has one--insurance companies are big on that and it helps identify what level the item was if the same thing is manufacture-discontinued when/if you need to replace it.
  • Their website -- If the manufacturer has a website where you can do most/all business, put it in here, e.g., www.ITSBITS.com would be a valid entry.
  • Purchase date -- Again, insurance companies are very big on the purchase date--they want to see that so they can say how much it should be depreciated. (Some states--not all--allow heavy depreciation allowances to the insurance companies. We recommend that you check on this and if your state is one of those, purchase a "100% replacement cost" rider so that if you ever need to replace your "stuff" the insurance company will be forced to repay the full amount needed to replace things. Usually this coverage is very inexpensive and it can save you a lot of time and money should you ever have a major claim.)

In addition, you need to know about these buttons:

Once you have entered the data for an item, just click the "OK" button, to make the actual addition. Notice that only the Inventoried Item field is required. You could leave all the rest blank, though why you would do that is unknown. You can also stop an addition in mid-stream by clicking the Cancel or "STOP" button should you desire to do so.

Once you've clicked the OK button, you'll see the item added in the list of "Known Entities."

Anytime you add an entity, you'll go through the same procedure. The only difference will be that you can click the red "plus" icon or use the menu item for UPDATE>>ADD to initiate the activity.

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Change/Delete Records

Click on the Green-arrow icon or use the menu option for "UPDATE--CHANGE" to initiate a change activity. If you don't have an item highlighted in the list when you do this, you'll need to double-click on an item in the list of known entities so that it comes up. You can change any field in an entity's record as needed.

And, finally, you can click on the "skull-and-crossed-bones" icon or use the menu option for "UPDATE--DELETE" to initiate a delete activity. If you don't have an item highlighted in the list when you do this, you'll need to double-click on an item in the list of known entities so that it comes up. CAUTION: Once an item is deleted, it is deleted, gone, kaput! You can restore the configuration and get it back, but that's all you can do. That might mean other changes--those made since the configuration was backed up--are lost.

If you go out and look at the file on disk, you'll find your data is encrypted. Your password is required to decrypt it. You also have an "EXIT" button that will close the tool. Additionally, you'll find there a timer for the item-details-group of information. Whenever that time expires, the entity's detail-view will disappear. There's also a timer for the entire form--it's used to close the form after a given time. For security reasons, if you're in a place where other people might access your computer, you'll want to keep these times short and be sure to try to remember to use the EXIT button if you leave the computer.

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Configuration Menu

You'll find on the configuration menu that you have an option to set both the delay times just mentioned. If you work where there's no worry about other people accessing your computer, you can always set these two timers at some very large value--say 99999. If you don't work in a place where your computer is truly private, we recommend that you use this trick only after thinking about its security implications for your data.

Now we come to a special feature for the tool. Due to the nature of the data involved, you may want to share it with someone else, e.g., your spouse. You may also want to make a backup of your configuration data on a different computer so that if your hard drive dies you know you'll have the up-to-date file. For this to be effective, that means you must also share your item pictures and back them up. But, that takes up disk space you may not want to use...so you have the option of setting it up as you want it to work. It's all on this menu.

To do these, click on the CONFIGURATION menu. There you'll see the option for an optional Backup Path and for an optional Share Path. Clicking on either of these will bring out a box asking you for the file path to be used. It's a standard box with a browse button to help you find the path you want. If you are specifying a Share Path, you'll then be asked--just to be sure--which configuration file to use--the normal one (on your hard drive) or the shared one. If you are actually sharing the data with someone else, be sure to select the option to use the shared configuration path. (Just as a sideline note, the normal backup option is not changed--it still backs up your configuration file(s) on your own hard drive.) When you're setting up such a share with someone, have the share path on each computer point to the other computer: this will keep the 2 machines' data files synchronized for you. (Notice, both computers will have to have permissions applied in the operating system so that sharing can take place.)

Now, if you're sharing and/or backing up your data, be sure to click and check the appropriate "copy pictures to..." menu item(s).

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Output Menu

The output menu offers several options whereby you can generate needed output from your data. The "Output" option shows "Category," "Not Category," and ".csv file of all items" as sub-options. The first is designed to let you see a list of all the items that are not in a given category, and is most often useful only to you. The last option will let you quickly generate a comma-separated-values file that can be imported into many other programs, e.g., Microsoft's Excel® spread sheet program.

The most extensive sub-option here is the "Category" option. Each sub-sub-option here will ask you to specify which category is to be used and you must enter the category you're interested in. Once this is done, the options will produce different kinds of reports.

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Picture Viewing

There's one last little trick you should know about in the tool. You'll see each item's images in the picture boxes at the far right of the form. Often you'd like to see them "enlarged." To do that, just click the picture. After you view it, click it again to continue normally.

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Find Item

While you have only 1 or 2 items cataloged, finding them is easy. Once you get a much larger number of items cataloged, you'll have problems finding the one you want. In the "Known Entities" box, you can enter something you're looking for, then click the FIND button at right to find what you're looking for. For example, if you had a "diamond ring" in inventory, you could enter the word "ring" and click the button to find what you want.

When you find the item in question, the display box will also show a down-arrow or MORE button you can use to search for the next item that meets your search criterion.

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Insurance Notes

If you're taking time to make a personal inventory for insurance purposes, chances are you're looking to homeowners or business insurance for replacement money should the worst happen. Here's something you have to know about. We've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. If you live in a state where the insurance company is allowed to do it, they will depreciate your "stuff" drastically, thus cutting way back on the amount of money you'll get. If you don't purchase a rider for your policy that does "100 percent replacement cost" the insurance company will want to depreciate everything you had. Put that another way. The insurance company will want to pay you a depreciated amount for every item you had. Hence, a 3-year old big-screen TV that originally cost you $2,000 may have a replacement cost of only $1,000...good luck with that. The real trick is to insist upon a 100% replacement rider for your policy. Some agents and companies don't like to talk about this because the riders cost very little and have the potential to cost them lots of money. Insist on it. If they won't talk about it, talk to a different company. You want it. If you're in a state where they can't do this to you, call your state insurance commissioner's office and say, "Thank you."

If you have a personal library of books, music, videos, software, etc. (or a combination of the above), you should use the ITSBITS Catapult Library Manager to catalog and maintain your library's contents. Keep a copy of that catalog--think of it as an inventory--with your off-site copy of your personal inventory listing.

The other thing we can't say often enough is that making the inventory is a good start, but you must keep a copy of it in a remote location. If you plan on using it to recoup when your home is destroyed it won't do much good if the entire record goes away with the house. Make a CD or DVD and keep it as far away from your home as possible...then hope you don't ever need a copy in the first place.

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