Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quicken Home Inventory Manager standalone on Windows 64bit

I got some comments to my previous posts how QHIM standalone that uses MDF files is much faster than the old versions, so I decided to give it a shot.

It still does not work on Windows 7 64bit!

However, that is not the main problem. I installed it on old XP box. The database is really faster, looks like indexes are properly used. However, the UI is still crappy and slow. It still looks and feels bloated. I really don't know why they do not use proper Windows controls provided by Microsoft, like most other inventory software does.

Most of the other issues are still not fixed like low resolution thumbnails, limited printing options, compatibility with newer versions of Windows and no ability to export data. The last one is really Intuit trying to lock the customers from moving away to better products.

And here's a solution:

Just use Attic Manager. It works, it's faster, it can import your QHI database and you can export it into Excel and then you're free from this crazy vendor lock-in.

What amazes me is that new QHIM standalone requires me to download about 600MB of software (Microsoft SQL Server, .Net support, etc.) while Attic Manager does all it does and more with only 3MB of download. That's 200 times less download for the same functionality. And Attic Manager works on Windows 7 as well. Now, somebody please tell me again that QHIM is not completely bloated piece of software. And yes, I understand that having Quick Books or other product installed would require less download, but we're talking about QHIM standalone here. What's the point of having a standalone version, if, in order to use it as standalone, you need to download a whole bunch of crap?

Anyway, let's just forget about that. As I wrote before: just go and buy Attic Manager. You won't regret it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How to use Quicken Home Inventory on 64-bit Windows 7 [RESOLVED]

Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel.

After all the problems with QHIM I had before, it looks like I'm finally moving away from it, but keeping my inventory instead. I noticed a software called Attic Manager before, but only now that I tested it, I can say that this is the real deal.

If you want to keep using your QHIM database on your brand new Windows machine, read on:

With Attic Manager you can import your Quicken Home Inventory database in just a couple of seconds. The IDB and QHI files I had imported directly on Windows 7 machine without installing anything else. I looks like import from MDF files works as well. I haven't tried myself, but it says so on Attic Manager website.

Beside being able to keep my inventory, I'm still happy about some issues that QHIM has and have been fixed in Attic:

1. Speed. Attic Manager is super fast even with my 2000+ items.

2. Item pictures. Attic Manager (optionally) stored full-resolution pictures. This means I can print all the receipts, invoices and other documents at any time - and they would look like originals.

3. Thumbnail browser. Just switch to thumbnail view, type some text in the search box and browse through your items visually. Have 500+ coins or stamps in collection? No problem, you can spot the exact one you're looking for at once.

4. Printing complete details. Unlike QHIM, with Attic Manager you can select which item attributes you want printed, with option to print all.

5. Export data. Ability to export data and import it into Excel. Makes all the calculations much easier.

6. Sub-locations. No longer pondering whether to clutter the location list with closets and drawers or make stuff harder to find later. Just add closet as sub-location to the room, and you're done. Searching the room searches the closet as well.

7. All this works on Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP - both 32 and 64 bit. And it also works on Linux.

Need I write more? If you're using QHIM and are desperate to switch... just go and buy Attic Manager right now. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Running on Windows 7

Another bump on the road for Quicken Home Inventory. I got a brand new laptop with Windows 7 and it simply does not work. Support says we in the dark about this, it's end of life for the product.

I'm searching for some alternatives now, but would hate to retype all my 2000+ items.

Update: I found a software called Attic Manager that is able to import the database and works on Windows 7. More details in my next blog post after I test it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

No Linux version

I switched my desktop computers to Linux about 2 years ago. Everything works fine, even hardware support is now great.

Of course, QHIM does not run on Linux. It runs so crappy on Windows, why would I expect more. I wish I could easily switch to some other program if only it would allow me to import my inventory database from Quicken (2000+ items).

A friend of mine advised me to try running it under Wine, but it does not really work. Apparently, all the custom UI stuff I wrote about before is not standard Windows API, so it cannot be ported. Oh, well.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

(no) Item images

Storing pictures of items in you inventory database is really important for multiple reasons:

First, you might want to scan the receipts, insurance policy, and other important papers and keep that close to the item data. It's a proof that you bought/obtained the item at some price. In case you need to prove anything to your insurance company, this is the real hard evidence.

Second, searching through a bunch of items with same or similar name can be exhausting. This is especially true for clothes, but also jewelry, furniture and all other things that are much easier to spot by sight than explain by words. If only QHIM had a feature to browse through item thumbnails combined with textual search/filter, like some programs from 2007 already do.

Intuit made a mild try to fix this in the latest release, and failed flat on their nose. The latest version of QHIM still loads the super-small thumbnail and if you move database to a different computer, you're doomed. Those small thumbnails are next to unusable. Not that you cannot print them, you cannot really read them in case it's an invoice, bill or other printed document related to the item.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Slow as hell

Let's take a look back at first versions of Quicken Home Inventory. The oldest one I used has .IDB format for storing the database. Apparently, there was a version with some ID2 format before. I searched the net for IDB format only to find various other file types with this extension. This format seems so obscure, maybe it was developed withing Intuit itself.

It looks like this old database format is storage only and does not have indexes in the database and most probably in the memory. It works fine for a couple of items, but slows down progressively as you add more. Once you have 500+ items, QHIM crawls to a halt - it takes almost 30 seconds to show details for a single inventory item. Even on today's hardware it is slow as hell.

Ok, I hoped Intuit would fix this. One of the subsequent versions of QHIM featured a new database file format, named QHI. As much as I was able to found out, it was developed by some German company. Beside the format being different, speed remains the same. It's slow and quite unusable as soon as you enter all your data in.

But, database is not the only problem. The graphic user interface is also very slow. I don't understand why is Intuit insisting on custom non-standard UI. Using non-standard UI means two things:

1. it works slower because all controls need to be rendered by the custom non-optimized code.

2. it does not obey any of Microsoft Windows UI standards. If you set different color scheme in Windows or font DPI, QHIM simply ignores that. This is usability killer for many users.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My first post

On this blog I will write about my experiences with Quicken Home Inventory Classic and Quicken Home Inventory Manager software.

Stay tuned...