Updates

Having been MIA for much of the fall of 2013, working on mailing lists for a local non-profit. I’ve learned a couple things: 

FileMaker Pro version 13 has been released. The price has increased, and the paradigm for multi-user deployment has changed in favor of their browser-based workstation client as opposed to the stand-alone client. I’m not sure that it is as economically viable for small deployments as it was in the past, but the Windows version of FileMaker Pro Advanced is still a terrific program for manipulating databases of any kind. About US $325.00 to upgrade or $500 to buy new. For anyone bogged down with a bunch of Excel spreadsheets, FileMaker is really worth a look; you can download a 30-day trial.  Works with Macs, Windows, iPhones, and iPads. and provides a very nice front end to … 
mySQL  An open-source alternative to SQL-Server.  There is a phpAdmin administrator program which is popular, and may be fine for administration, as opposed to querying, but for a really nice lightweight front-end SQL query generator HeidiSql is freeware, and it works really well (Windows only). Heidi has syntax checking and coloring, maintains a query history, runs batch queries, and does just about anything a normal user needs. 
Lenovo ThinkCenter desktops. A solid Windows 7 workstation, especially when the RAM is increased to 8 gigabytes. Utterly unglamorous, utterly reliable. A great alternative to Dell.  About $600.00 from NewEgg.  
SmartyStreets This web site provides address verification for mailing lists. It allows you to verify a single address at a time as you are entering or editing your lists, or it allows you to submit a full list of almost any number of addresses for verification and correction. It will provide the “plus-4” for zip codes, and will also provide the bar-code numbers if you want to put bar codes on your address labels. There is a lot here, and I’m just getting started with it. Free for non-profits for up to something like 150,000 names. Note it only deals with U.S. addresses. 
GroveStreams is a cloud-based charting a dashboard-display program. I’ve described this more over on TechforHomeHealthCare.com as I interface my Arduino heart-rate monitor to display data on GroveStreams. 
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