KMUG member Daniel Mrozek runs a translating service catering to the needs of Japanese academics, researchers, and medical professionals aptly called English Medical Services 075-771-4180 with clients that expand outward from his Kyoto headquarters to all over this grand land. The reason I mention this is simple. He runs the entire operation primarily with one software, FileMaker Pro 3.
Not only does Daniel keep extensive records on his clients, the work, the translators, their work, the billing, the shipping, the labeling, all that you might expect of a corporate data base, but also when he downloads his e-mail, using a combination of QuicKeys and FMP scripts, that too gets sorted and filed, searchable in laser speed and backed-up for safe keeping. There is no need to import or export to a fancy layout or word-processing software, everything is done from within FileMaker Pro. Actually I use a combination of QuicKeys and FMP scripts, but it is theoretically possible. Indeed, FileMaker Pro, with built-in spell checking, has long replaced his word processing software for the bulk of his routine correspondence, e-mail, letters, and fax.
Daniel has followed FileMaker from its Version 1 childhood, through its teen years as Version 2, and now he feels with Version 3s power chip compatibility and relational databasing FileMaker Pro has finally come of age. Relational databasing is not doing crack with your family but a way in which all different files share the same information without having to copy everything in separate places. This saves disc space and speeds up processing, allowing anyone in Daniel's company to display, use, edit, and search at lightening speed every bit of information that passes through his company (that is if Daniel has set the fields for access, there are lots of ways to restrict or hide information with FileMaker Pro too).
I am pleased with FileMaker Pro 3 because it is fully cross-platform, and though it is brilliant with color (color really helps speed-up activities with color coding or color highlighting important tasks) FileMaker Pro 3 still reads well in black & white and shades of gray. which is something to consider if you need to share files with older hardware. Claris, the company that produces this software, is owned by Apple, but wisely it works on the enemy machines at full speed. If you want to increase your marketability learning this software would definitely be a plus, and actually relatively easy.
The built in tutorial will be enough to use any of the numerous templates for everything from home finance to wine lists, but if you want to compose your own database innovations Claris produces a well written user's guide, there is the Mac Bible Guide to FileMaker Pro, and also Internet sites where people share their own templates and insights. The CD for the latest version includes hundreds of companies that specialize in supporting this software, but I found it fairly fool proof and, for most of us, self explanatory. Any individual or organization with mountains or mole hills of information would benefit exponentially by being able to access their data in seconds and display selected information in layouts that can be customized while the data base is in use. Moreover, routine tasks can be automated by using buttons that trigger easy to create scripts.
Two points. . . if you are going to be working extensively with Japanese, as a company like Daniel's does, then buy the Japanese version and learn to read the Japanese menus (Japanese menu are primarily adaptations of the English version and should be manageable with the help of Claris User Guide in English). You can always label the various categories in English if you like, though kanji actually feels better suited for labeling forms. . . Also a personal job search, using FileMaker Pro 3 to data base your activities, send out resumes, and do follow-ups, would sure beat the clumsy attempts I have made in word-processing software in the past
if I were hiring, I would sure be impressed with your business-like file-making professionalism.