Being habitual apartment dwellers, both myself and my teenage son have accumulated an overabundance of what we consider to be our worldly possessions. If I entertain the thought of moving, a reoccuring nightmare of having to pack, and perhaps list, each and every item we've accumulated invariably quashes that notion. Numerous Software programs promise to simplify the task of itemizing, but, until now, and for various reasons, those that I have tested have proved unsuccessfull. However, Computerize Your Assets, by the developers at Custom Aps, is a program entirely unlike all the others. If a software tool for managing and itemizing your valued material assets is what you are seeking, look no further than Computerize Your Assets for accurately and efficiently getting the job done.
Described at the Custom Aps website as an "All-In-One-Home-Management" tool, Computerize Your Assets (CYA) provides much more. To their credit, the CYA developers truly thought of everything when brainstorming the initial design - I mean everything. The software does exactly what it proclaims to do -from start to finish. Along with providing catagories for every possible item imaginable to be listed (i.e typed or entered), locations exist for cataloging digital or scanned photographs, architectual home floor plans and diagrams, and amazingly, actual video clips. Clicking the toolbar's Video icon actually produces a miniature Windows Media Player for proving that, yes, that $3000.00 home entertainment system is, or was (for insurance purposes) really yours - and here's the 360 degree virtual video pan to prove it! What a terrific idea.
So amazed with the details of the program, I clicked into "Help" simply to browse around [NOTE: Anyone familiar with my Reviews is also familiar with my expectation of a software's "Help" section: that it be available for assistance, but not completely necessary to working the program. CYA's "Help" fulfills this expectation]. Inside the "Help" area, I discovered that CYA's author, who, in 2004, survived three Florida hurricanes within a two month period, realized, during the first one, as he frantically snapped pictures of his belongings before the destruction, just how unprepared he was for such an event. Thus, Computerize Your Assets was born - out of necessity, and from great experience.
The actual marketing of personal itemizing software is no easy assignment. Custom Aps stepped up to this challenge by creating a user-friendly, eye-appealing program that - most importantly - empathizes with the task at hand. After the opening Logo, a Set-up Wizard appears with a thoughtful introductory statement: "Making the committment to inventory your household and personal assets is a major decision. Choosing the right software is equally important. CYA is designed to make the task as simple, expedient, and enjoyable as possible". As an Ad Copy Writer, I have felt the creative pressure of having to present reasons for purchasing a product needed to perform a less-than-enjoyable task. With this intro statement, CYA cleverly chooses not to "pump itself up" (although it could), diminish the work ahead, or promise to make the task of itemizing your life's clutter the most fun you'll ever have. Instead, the intro simply states that CYA is available to not only assist with getting the job done efficiently, but also to assist with getting the job overwith. The combination of colors, font style, icon design, and textual content, present a pure, professional approach, and ultimately result in a program that look and "feels" great.
For CYA users, following the instructions provided by the Set-Up Wizard is essential. There is a "method-to-the-madness" for each step of the Wizard's ways. While most Wizard options (or steps) are noted as optional, Step #1, calling for the entry of "Personal Options" (e.g. user name, address, e-mail, and ap preferences), is, according to instruction, "crucial to the proper operation of the software and must be completed". I am unsure of the consequences in skipping this step, but I didn't dare to chance it. Basically, the Wizard's purpose is to perform the equivalent of setting up separate file folders for, say, 5 years worth of boxed-up receipts. Yes, a painstaking task, but someone has to do it. CYA's Wizard guides the user through the customizing of program Support Files, the end result being "a much smoother item entry session because the files will already be populated with familiar entries. We encourage you to start these now." The instructions seemed oddly "strict" throughout, but, with this type of software, and the high possibility of a user - such as myself - simply quitting at any moment, the continual "nudge" is much appreciated.
Screen 3 of the Wizard displays 14 pre-designated file set-up "buttons", giving the user a foundation on which to start. Here begins the software's flexibilty feature. The user can, for example, choose the "Catagories" button, and begin to add to, edit, or delete from the comprehensive listing of items (e.g. furniture, toys, videos, etc.) already written into program. The user will find that CYA's list attempts to cover every item/catagory possible or imaginable. I changed a few to suit my needs, such as adding my son's name next to "Videos", and then adding a new line that also said "Videos" but had my name beside it, and so forth. There is always time to return later to add or delete, so I found it best to move on after time spent in "Catagories".
Other pre-titled file buttons include "Condition", "Manufacturers", "Receipt Locations", "Status Codes", "Warranty Terms", and "Credit Card Types". By following the steps, the user will have created separate areas for documenting every item he/she owns, rents, borrows, has inherited, will inherit, and each item's corresponding value, estimated value, future value, etc. As items are entered over time, the user can, whenever needed, choose from a variety of print-outs based upon information now stored in the software. Pertinent data contained within the individual, customized files initially created by the Wizard, can be pulled, separated, and/or grouped together, in report or graph format, by working from options in the toolbar. In the event of an emergency, question of ownership, preparation of living wills [NOTE: As stated in the software, "The Extended Version of CYA does provide modules and reports designed to assist in the assignment of belongings and assets to individuals of the user's choosing" but, in and of itself, should not be considered in lieu of a legally binding Living Will], and to doublecheck the location of certain items or documents, information is now and forever instantly at your fingertips. Report/graph titles may include: Items by Location, Items by Owner, Manufacturer Listing, Insurance Agencies, Credit Card Reports, Warranty/Policy Dates, Receipt Locations, Items by Value, Items in Depreciation, etc. In addition, all reports can be saved in PDF format, as well as standard, and/or backed-up to the device of your choice for safe transfer to another location or computer.
To eliminate any question of this Review's concluding opinion, let me firmly state that Computerize Your Assets is one of the most important pieces of software I have had the pleasure of testing in a very long time. Released in 2006, CYA is a fresh, new approach to completing a task that is always overwhelming. The 30-day, free trial version is currently available for download via free-downloads.net, and the full purchase price - for the Extended Version of CYA - is a steal-of-a-deal at $29.95 from the Custom Aps website.
The author of CYA was kind enough to share his lessons learned. No matter where we live, or how safe we feel in our comfort "zone", we are all human, and we are not untouchable. Protecting the items that represent life's journey can only result in "peace of mind". Customize Your Assets contains the steps to guide us there.