THE DATABASE

After having a word processor, the most important program you can have is a database. There’s one called Blist that is a blast. It is free online and can be used in many written language, including European languages (with all theBlist accent marks), Mandarin Chinese, Kanji and Hindi. And, since it is based on the web, it can be called up from any computer that can go on the Internet.

To create a new database, sign up on the web site, Blist.com, and click “new.” On the right-hand side of the screen you’ll see a list of possible subject headings. To have a “text” column, drag a text icon onto the blankBlistspreadsheet type screen. Dragging the photo icon onto the work area creates a photo column, and so on. Columns can have any heading you want. You can even have a database within a database. In short, clicking on a subject that is actually a database, opens up the new database.

Blist has the look of a spreadsheet, with rows and columns for entering data. The intersection of a row and a column is a cell. But unlike a spreadsheet, the cells can contain just about any kind of information. And they contain an infinite amount of it. That’s right: infinite. (Though there’s a going to be a physical limit at some point just in storage.)

If you have a column of photos, these can be related to the names of companies, people or places. Let your mouse pointer hover over a name, and a thumbnail photo can appear as well, helping to jog your memory.

You can have columns for web sites and a column of stars. The stars can be used to rank those sites or rank the item in any list. Another column can hold documents. Another can hold links. You can have all related items automatically linked together so that when you call up a name, be it a person, company or subject, everything related to that name will come up in pages.

A set of “filters” let you search according to your own criteria. If you drag an icon for “ratings,” for example, onto Blist’s so-called selection canvas, and then click on “5 stars,” you’ll get a filtered list of only items that have received your five-star ratings. If you search for restaurants, only five-star restaurants will come up.

We have not seen anything this elegant in any other kind of program, except perhaps the new word processor, BuzzWord, that just came out from Adobe.

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