Darryn Lowe is a systems engineer who fixes other people's IT hardware. He works as a freelancer for both large corporate entities and home users, and even the odd museum. Find out how he uses Bento to help manage his business.Perfect for Freelance Needs
Darryn Lowe is a systems engineer who fixes other people’s IT hardware. He works as a freelancer for both large corporate entities and home users, and even the odd museum. His work takes him to a variety of locations every week and he needs to record the time he spends on each job, his time spent travelling, his car mileage, the type of work he is assigned and how long the job takes against expectations. To do this effectively Lowe was looking for a simple database solution that would capture this information for him and store it intelligently.
Lowe explains, “When Bento arrived on the market, I was thrilled. It was the database I’ve long been looking for; affordably priced and easy to use but with enough computing power to handle my data effectively. Bento is a great mix of useability and functionality. It’s definitely not a featherweight database; it’s actually capable of some pretty amazing database structures and it’s still really easy to use.”
When talking about the frustration he’d experienced prior to Bento, Lowe said, “Existing time recording applications just aren’t designed for the kind of work I do. They’re mainly designed for project work and even then mostly for people tied to a desk. Bento on the other hand has allowed me to create a database built to my specific needs.”
Lowe continued, “Additionally my work, more often than not, has me working on Windows machines but I don’t want to be held up, so I choose to use a Mac that comes with me. Now Bento on my Mac lets me get on with the job and not worry too much about the administration that needs to be kept track of.”
Information in logical structures
The specific problem that Bento 2 solved for Lowe was his need to have a means of recording the necessary job information required for tracking and billing but in a logical structure that is able to be referenced. He said, “Bento filled my need for a jobsheet application that allows me to record the information vital to making my role successful because it allowed me to create my very own jobsheet database.”
“Before I had Bento I had settled on using spreadsheets to input the data I needed but I wasn’t enjoying it at all because spreadsheets just don’t have the level of redundancy required for true database work. Bento however solves all this and even allowed me to import information from the numbers spreadsheets I’d been using prior to its release into the database I created from scratch,” commented Lowe.
He continued, “I’d call Bento a definite must for anyone who wants to manage a lot of data easily. Spreadsheets are alright but they should never be used as a database replacement. People make this decision and then wonder why their data is getting corrupted all the time. Databases have internal functions to maintain data integrity whereas spreadsheets are really designed for manipulating numeric data. There is no way I could reliably do in a spreadsheet what I do so easily in Bento.”
No Need to Look at the Manual
It took Lowe a mere 20 minutes to get completely comfortable with Bento with no need to refer to the manual. Since that initial look at the software it has just made total sense to him. Lowe explained, “Once I got the hang of it, I customised my Bento and created my own database for tracking job updates, and got rid of the features I didn’t need to streamline it.”
He continued, “I can’t say it enough but Bento’s ease-of-use really is its best feature. No one wants to have to sit a degree course in order to use an application, you want to just sit down, dive in and use it effectively. Bento is exactly that. It’s got a great feel to it and once you’ve quickly gotten used to the interface everything just seems logical. The fact that with just a little bit of playing you can figure out Bento’s capabilities all by yourself is testament to its truly great design."
Improved Working Life
Bento has improved Lowe’s working life immensely as he can now enter data clearly and easily. He said, “All the information I need is right there at a glance, in a logical form structure so I don’t get lost in table views like I used to with spreadsheets, and that improves my productivity.”
Lowe concluded, “Bento is great because it is so easy to use, has an excellent data backup function and is completely customisable to meet exact requirements. I would definitely recommend Bento. For those needing a simple database to track simple data needs, Bento is perfection. You can create quite complex databases within Bento’s limitations and it’s this that makes Bento ideal for my needs.”
With the release of Bento for iPhone a new dimension has been open to Lowe, “As soon as I got used to Bento it occurred to me that it would be infinitely beneficial to have it on the iPhone. FileMaker proved me right. I used to carry around my tools, parts required to do the job, and my MacBook Pro or worse... bits of paper but now I simply clip my iPhone to my belt leaving my hands free to carry my toolkit and the parts I need. It’s safer than having to juggle numerous things and far more comfortable. It’s hard to believe that something like Bento for iPhone can solve a health and safety issue just by existing but there you go.”
Getting data to and from the iPhone version of Bento is simple, “I simply copy and paste into a new record from our call system to desktop Bento where it is easier to do this sort of thing, then I synch to the iPhone and just carry around my iPhone. When I’ve finished the job and I get back to the office I synch from my iPhone into desktop Bento then copy and paste my updates into our call system.