Digital Hamster

Copyright (c) Deep Cold Software 2005.

Introduction

Digital Hamster is a register program for the hobby enthusiast. With a few clicks you can create a register of just about anything. Catalogue your CDs, DVDs, your address book, or perhaps your wine collection. Digital Hamster is designed to be an easy to use program for the home environment. It can handle a couple of thousand rows of data without problem, but it is not a professional database. If you need to catalogue hundreds of thousands of items, or if you need to link multiple registers together, then Digital Hamster is not for you.

Digital Hamster is designed for Microsoft Windows XP, but should work on most versions of Microsoft Windows.

Remember to backup your files

Deep Cold Software can not be held responsible for any loss of data or other damage caused by the use or misuse of Digital Hamster. Use Digital Hamster at your own risk.

How to create a register

A register consist of columns and rows. To create a new register you must first define the columns. Once the columns are defined you can insert rows of data into the register.

Creating columns

Select File - New from the main menu. A dialog box will appear.

Click the add button to add columns to the register. The columns defines what kind of data is stored in the rows. If you want to create a register of people and their phone numbers, you will need a column for phone numbers and another column for names.

There are different types of columns for different types of data. Select the type of column that is most suitable for your data.

Text A text column is used to store a text of variable length. A text column can be sorted in alphabetical order.
IntegerAn integer column is used to store numbers without decimals in the range from -2147483648 to +2147483647. Integer columns can be sorted numerically.
NumberA number column is used to store numbers with decimals in the range from -1.7*10308 to +1.7*10308 with at least 15 digits of precision. Number columns can be sorted numerically.
TimeA time column is used to store the time of day (hours, minutes and seconds). Time columns can be sorted in chronological order.
DateA date column is used to store a specific date including year, month and day of month. Date columns can be sorted in chronological order.

Text is the most common type. In our example I would use text for both the phone number and the name column. You can also use the integer or the number type for the phone number column, but in such case you will not be able to store dash, plus, paranthesis and other kind of symbols that may or may not make up your phone numbers.

You must give each column a name. A column that is going to be used to store phone numbers could be called "Phone Number" or perhaps "Phone".

The register must contain at least one column. You don't have to add all columns right away. If you discover that you need another column it is very easy to add it later on. You can also remove columns you don't want or change the name or type of columns. Close the dialog box by clicking the OK button when you have added all the columns you need.

Notice that the columns you have created have appeared in the main window.

Arranging the columns

You can re-size a column by dragging the edge of a column header left or right. You can also re-arrange the order of the columns by dragging a column header left or right.

Inserting rows of data into the register

Select Edit - New Row from the main menu. A dialog box will appear.

Enter a value for each of the columns and click the OK button. A row of data will appear in the main window. Repeat the process a couple of times to insert a couple of rows of data.

Edit a row of data

To edit the values of an existing row in the main window, double click the row. You can also click the row and select Edit - Edit Row from the main menu. A dialog box will appear and display the values of the row. Now you can change the values if you want to.

Sorting

When you insert new rows into the register they will appear in the order you insert them. To sort the rows select View - Sort from the main menu. The register will now be sorted.

You can change how the register is sorted by clicking on the column headers. After the column names you will notice a number followed by a colon and an angle. Notice how the number and the angle change when you click the column headers. The number tells you in which order the columns are sorted. The last column you clicked has number one and will always be sorted first. The angle characters indicates if the column is sorted in ascending or descending order.

Searching

Digital Hamster has a built in function that helps you find specific rows in the register. Select Edit - Find from the main menu. A side bar will appear in the main menu.

Enter the text to search for and click the Find button. The first matching row will be selected. If you click Find again, the next matching row will be selected. The side bar has a list of columns. The columns that are checked will be searched when the find button is clicked. You can narrow your search by deselecting columns that you don't wish to search.

The find function is not case sensitive and will find matching words as well as parts of words.

Open & Save

Loading and saving works like most other applications. Select File - Open from the main menu to load a register from file. Select File - Save to save a register, and File - Save As to save a register as a new file. You can only have one register open at a time. Digital Hamster will notify you if you try to close the application without saving first. Remember to backup your files once in a while. Accidents can happen.

Editing columns

You can add, remove or edit columns even after data has been added to the register. Simply select Edit - Edit Columns from the main menu. If you add a new column that column will be empty or will be filled with default data depending on the column type. If you remove a column the data contained in that column will be lost. If you change the type of a column the column will become empty or filled with default data depedning on the column type. Either way the original data in that column will be lost. You can change the name of a column without losing any data.

Printing

It is recommended that you work in the following order.

  1. Select File - Print Setup in the main menu. A dialog will appear. Choose printer, paper size and paper orientation.
  2. Select File - Print Preview in the main menu. A dialog box will appear. Select the columns you wish to print and check that the output looks good. The columns will appear in the same order and with the same spacing as in the main window. If you don't like the order or the spacing of the columns, close the preview and adjust the columns in the main window (see Arranging the columns). You may also want to go back to step 1 and change the size or orientation of the paper. Repeat step 1 and 2 until you are happy with the print preview.
  3. Select File - Print in the main menu. A dialog will appear. Select which pages you want to print and how many copies you want.

Create a web page

You can create a web page from a register. You don't have to be connected to the Internet to create a web page. Digital Hamster will save the web page on your hard drive. When you are happy with the result you can copy the page to your home page on the Internet.

Select File - Create Web Page in the main menu.

A file selector box will appear. Select a style-sheet for the web page. The style sheet determines the visual appearance of the web page. There are several style sheets to choose from. When you have selected a style sheet another dialog box will appear. This time you must select the location of the new web page. When the web page has been created you will be asked if you want to open the page in the web browser. This makes it possible to examine the result at once.

The rows and columns will be ordered in the same way on the web page as in Digital Hamster. If you wish to change the order you will have to sort the register to your liking before you create the web page. If the register contains Internet addresses, ie "www.google.com", these will automatically become clickable links on the web page.

The finished web page consist of a HTML file and a CSS file. The HTML file contains the contents of the register. The CSS file contains the style sheet that determines how the page will look. It's possible to create your own style sheets. There are many guides on the Internet that explains how style sheets works.

You must publish the web page on the Internet to make it accessible to others. You need a connection to the Internet and a location on the Internet where the page can be published, like your private home page. A private home page is often included in the fee for the Internet connection. To publish the web page simply transfer both files from the hard drive on your computer to the home page on the Internet. Ask your Internet service provider how to access your home page.

Menu, Toolbar and accelerator keys

All commands can be activated from the main menu. However, once you become familiar with the different commands you will find that it is more convient to use the toolbar or the accelerator keys. You can say that the main menu is for the beginner, while the experienced user uses the toolbar and the master use accelerator keys.

The toolbar is the row of icons directly beneath the main menu. To find out how to use the toolbar simply let the mouse pointer hover over each icon on the toolbar for a couple of seconds. A tool tip (a yellow label) will appear that describes the function of that particular icon.

Accelarator keys are keys on your keyboard or combination of keystrokes that activates a particular command. You can find out which commands have accelerator keys by studying the main menu. Some menu items have an accelerator description written to the right of the command name. For instance the accelerator key for Edit - Find menu item is Ctrl-F (press F while holding down the Ctrl key).

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