Monday, July 02, 2012

Movie and Book Cataloguing for the Android

For a long time I've wanted to try and inventory both my book and movie collections; writing them out or typing them all in by hand would prove far to taxing. With the arrival of my new Android (why do I keep wanting to type Andriod?) San Diego from Orange This should now prove a piece of cake as I can use the camera to scan bar codes.

It should be simple.

Hmm not as many cataloguers to chose from as I'd expect with only one offering a combined Books/Movies/Games database - Shelves. This has a free ad-supported version to try out with an ad-removed upgrade available.

It's a little sparse in terms of design and lacking in detail for the titles. Adding books and movies was simple either singularly or in batch mode, but editing odd details was more difficult particularly for books. Books often have different covers and the only way to change it is by replacing the picture with one from your gallery. That means switching to the camera, taking the photo, cropping it, saving it and then finding it. Not user-friendly.

Listing is limited a view in which only six books/films can be seen at once a white backgrounded list view with covers, or the same without. Sorting is basic particularly with the lack of details available; for example there's no way to state that Book A is in the same series as Book B without adjusting the title to Series:Book A and Series:Book B.

As a basic cataloguer for a fair sized collection it will do the trick, but not for me.

It seems that I'm left with separate cataloguers. I tried a few before committing to My Movies Pro for movies.

Again a free 50 title limited version is available for free; a quantity I burned through with my first shelf. Single scan and multi-scan work well though the camera insists on being in landscape mode to scan across the bar and the phone then has to twist back to display information. Sorting is pretty standard with 30 titles per screen in default mode, but the choice of view is limited for those who want larger covers. As with Shelves though it's difficult to change information that it's pulled from the IMDB, though on the few occasions there's been a problem the "Report incorrect information" has been handled quickly and records amended or added.

A major benefit is the ability to add a "Sort by" entry. James Bond movies for instance were all defaulting to the title tapping in "James Bond - " selecting all and copying the text then going through each with a paste and a year addition means they all appear in the correct place and order. Time consuming, but only a one-off requirement.

It also synchronises online and can be viewed through a normal web browser if you have a desire to share your titles, but editing online is limited.

There are three main flaws though. The first is with batch scanning. It won't try to fetch data until you've finished the batch; that means if it can't find the information on an item you have to dig through the pile matching them up to find the one bad egg.

The second is in replacing covers. Unlike Shelves it will happily switch to the camera view and try to take a picture there and then, but that landscaping issue for scanning kicks in for that too. Whichever way around I try to take the photo it ends up either severely squished or rotated; or squished and rotated. Fortunately this hasn't been a major problem as only one title hasn't been found; but if you have esoteric items this might be an issue for you.

On the same note adding manually needs work. Enter a title in the box and hit search and it'll try to find it. If it can't, go back and hit "Create Title" and you have to type the title in again; shouldn't be any work in passing the value from the search field to the title field given that I'm likely to be trying to add the very title I've just been searching for.

For all that though £3.99 for this level of service and provision ain't bad.

For my books I ended up with Book Catalogue which got bonus favour for spelling "catalogue" correctly ;-). As a major incentive this is free, which is ironic as I'd happily pay the same amount of money for this product.

This has more limited view options, but I don't care as the default is excellent. A simple list view in Author order (Last, First) I then have it sub-ordered into series which in itself is ordered by series order. to the right of each entry is a small thumbnail of the book cover and to the left a tick to show if read or unread.

It uses the Google Goggles app for scanning and sadly I have to say that there is no multi-scanning batch option. On the plus side though this means I don't have the same problem with digging out the one failed book and as there's more variety in book covers and information it means I have the right book to hand to alter any information.

For the most part there's little to change - it pulls information from LibraryThing, goodreads and Amazon. It can be sluggish at times though and will sometimes return no cover on scanning that a subsequent re-scan will appear.

The major benefit is that all the information can be changed; don't like the default series set "The Horus Heresy" for example changing that series in one book to "Horus Heresy, The" will offer to change every book with that series. Each book can have multiple authors and series and each series can be set with its own order in that series. Ideal if you have say the Shannara series and want to set the order both within a single sub-series as well as chronologically overall.

Flaws, beyond the failure of multi-scan, are mostly user-interface-wise. It would be nice to be able to select a series that has multiple authors and chose to see all books within that series without having to change the overall sort order. It would be nice to be able to jump straight from a failed barcode scan to the manual entry page; it would be nice to have a full screen preview of a book cover to crop rather than the pre-thumbnailed version. Finally it would be nice if it added the authors of anthology titles to the authors section.

On a final minor note you can't add an omnibus number to a new series, but you can to an existing one. In other words I have the Blood Angels Omnibus 1-3. I can add each individual title in the anthology section, but under series I can only create Blood Angels #1; I then have to Add and then edit the series to turn that into "1-3"... at least I can do that though.

So My Movies and Book Catalogue; now only if I can find a stand-alone for video games.


Orphi said...

You can scan barcodes with a phone? Oh Jesus Christ, I hope my dad never ever discovers this function!

(My God, think of the massacre.)

FlipC said...

Why ever not? That was one of the main reasons I decided on a 'smart' phone.

Google Goggles can even recognise book and film covers and look them up for you on the internet. Hell it even works with ink cartridges.

Orphi said...

Because, my dear fellow, when it doesn't quite work right, it will be my problem to fix it. :-/

FlipC said...

Ah yes I take your point. I've had the same problem with DaBoss' iPhone

"This app isn't working!"
"So what do you expect me to do? I didn't write it; I have no say in what it does or how it operates"
"Yes, but it's not working!"

Orphi said...

I'm sorry, I didn't realise you work in a Dilbert strip. ;-)

Dan H said...

The San Diego is the Intel-powered one, isn't it? How's the battery life? Does it get warm in use?

FlipC said...

Yep Intel powered. I've been meaning to write a review once I've settled down with it.

Just quickly speed-wise I happen to be sitting with my phone and DaBosses iPhone 4 Both with Angry Birds on them. From cold my San Diego boots into it quicker by around a second.

It does use more power, but as with all these things it depends on what you do with it.

By default I have GPS and data transfer turned off so that helps with the life-span.

In 'sleep' mode maybe just under 1% per hour. Call power depends on strength. I've had a 5 minute call that's dropped it by 5% and another that's used half that.

Heat - hmm no real "Woah that's hot" moments; it does get warm with prolonged use, but not majorly so that I've noticed.

Without really monitoring it a half-hour session of Angry Birds (no sound) dropped it around 20% and the phone was warmer than normal.

Panther plan £15.50 a month ain't too shabby and I've just spoken to someone who's implied the Android 4.0 upgrade will be coming soon.