Now that I am officially retiring from my new job I will have time to start development on a whole new suite of collecting applications that will have a common user interface and ability to exchange data across Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android platforms. I am calling it NM Collector Software Cross Platform, or NM Collector Software CP for short.
I will develop it in an iterative fashion. Once I get basic functionality running I will consistently seek feedback throughout development.
Illustration 1: Author with CMP M1 Garand shortly after Christmas 2011
I have been a software developer for 40 years now. At first it was just a way to pay for my college education where I earned degrees in Biology, Economics, and Business Administration. Once I earned my MBA I finally realized my most marketable skill was in enterprise software development.
I have been a Curio and Relics (C&R) license holder for over 25 years. Unlike many people, when I first got my license I loved recording my firearms in the bound book format. Despite being a software application developer, there is just something about paper records that appeals to me. With an economics background it just makes sense to me that not everything has to be automated. There should be a benefit/cost analysis done before the decision to automate. It seems these days I am in the minority with that opinion since most people think automation is the answer for everything. Well, it has provided job security for me these many years and promises to do so for many more.
Despite all of this, after collecting guns for a few years I had the bright idea of developing a program to help me manage my collection. At the time I learned that a “bound book” could actually be an “an orderly arrangement of loose–leaf pages” (https://www.atf.gov/firearms/qa/what-bound-book). This realization made the idea of developing a software application to help manage my gun collecting hobby a valuable proposition.
After developing my first gun collecting application for myself, I started sharing it with my fellow gun collectors. Many were very suspicious of it. I can certainly understand their skepticism so I incorporated features that would help ensure their data was protected. First, I added an option for password protection. Second, I made sure the software did not communicate through the internet. I explained to those who were interested how to validate that. It really caught on and I received lots of feedback which I incorporated through the years. I called it NM Gun Collector Software and it is still available at no charge to this day at https://www.nmcollectorsoftware.org/.
Illustration 2: NM Gun Collector Software CD
Many people requested Mac and Linux versions. I could not provide those with the current program because it was developed with a framework that only worked on Windows computers. Some people said it would be nice if they could manage other collectibles besides just their firearms in it as well. That could not be achieved without a complete rewrite. Seeing the need and with an interest in providing it, I wrote an entirely new program that could be run on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I call this program NM Collector Software. I retained the C&R license holder driven concepts and extended them to apply to other types of collections. A C&R collector will find the labels intuitive but the special bound book driven terms tends to throw other types of collectors off. However, with my love of the old C&R bound book, I see this as an opportunity to educate others in the beauty and applicability of it to other types of collectibles.
Illustration 3: NM Collector Software
I increased the security of this new collector application by allowing users to encrypt their data if they wished Although this database program can be downloaded and run on any computer, I further enhanced the security by designing it to be run completely self-contained on a USB flash drive. This USB flash drive can be plugged into any Windows, Mac, or Linux computer and used without installation. Nothing remains on the computer and the flash drive can be locked in your safe with your collectibles if you wish. The USB flash drive option can be purchased from Brownells (https://www.brownells.com/aspx/search/productdetail.aspx?pid=32292).
Illustration 4: NM Collector Software on a Custom USB
All seemed well until the requests for an android version started coming in! I thought it would be fun to develop and android version so I did so. My focus was on simplicity and the ability to interface with the desktop NM Collector application. It turned out to be a lot of fun to develop and use. You can find it on Google Play where I call it NM Gun Collecting Software. Okay, so I don’t have a lot of imagination in naming things! Perhaps that is why I like the C&R bound book format so well!
To learn more about this gun collector software you can read the documentation and download it for a 30 day trial from https://www.nmcollectorsoftware.com/. Once the trial is up you can still use it for free indefinitely. Even though you won’t get all of the available features in the free version, it may be all you need.