Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Changing Everything

I've kept files on my collection on the computer since 1997. Since that time, I've kept them pretty much the same way- in Excel, as lists. It has worked very well for me, if I want to know what cards I have of someone, I pull up the file, and go to their listing and see if whatever card is there.

But the way I was doing it did have one very frustrating limitation. If a player got more than one card in a set, the Excel sort feature wouldn't get the number correctly. For example, if a player got cards in a set numbered 1, 7, 11, 45, 99, Excel would sort them this way: 1, 11, 45, 7, 99. Not very accurate, and frustrating, as it meant if I wanted to put them in correct numerical order, I had to do it manually. It's a lot of work, and most of the time, I didn't bother. But it's been frustrating me for years.

As you can see it also basically used only the first two columns and the rest is blank empty space.

Then, today, I had an idea. What if I used the Text to Columns feature to to break everything out into separate columns? Would it work? The answer is....sort of.
You can see that in theory it does work. Now I can sort them by year, set name, or card number. This is helpful to have, even if most of the time they will be sorted naturally, like they are here. But if I want to see how many cards I have of Elton (or anyone else) from, say, the Topps Flagship, I can now do that. In theory it will help me figure out what cards I need to add to my collection.

The problem is...with Serially numbered cards, it doesn't move the numbers properly. It puts in new numbers which don't seem to be related to the actual numbers I typed into the chart. No matter what I tried to do it didn't do it properly. So, what I had to do was go through and type out the SN into Column E BEFORE I made the column splits with the Text to Columns feature. It's very time consuming. In an hour and a half time, I've accomplished only up to Elton in the letter B. I still have the rest of B and 24 other letters to work on. This isn't something I'm likely to accomplish in one day.

But, it solves the problem of sorting, and that's what's most important. It will slow me down in what I'm doing otherwise, but I want to do it. Luckily, I thought to do it before I finished my collection.

What I do is, as I scan the cards, I put them into the plastic cases I have here, and then when I finish filling all 36 cases, I type them into my charts. This part, the typing, is actually my favorite aspect of the scanning my collection process. I fill the cases on average twice a year. This is the third time in 2016, because I did a round of typing in January. The last time was May or June. (I write down the stats of how many cards are typed after each round but didn't bother to look) I am about halfway through my NBA collection, and this file- when it's complete- will form the backbone of my collection. It's the only place I have this information, and when the file was corrupted and lost circa 2005, it played a very large role in why I walked away from NBA cards from 2006-12. Now I know enough to have it backed up multiple places, so that shouldn't happen again. I have it backed up in 4 separate locations.

I do have my NASCAR collection all typed in, and eventually I plan to break out that file like this one is now going to be as well. But I don't know when. My NASCAR cases are almost full so it will probably be fairly soon- I will probably finish filling the NASCAR cases of this round before Christmas, so it won't be long before I tackle that file too. I keep plastic cases for NASCAR but need much less as I have finished scanning my NASCAR collection, so I only have to do new additions. Even though there are only 8 cases for NASCAR compared to 36 for NBA, I fill the NBA cases on average twice for every one round of NASCAR cards. This round of NASCAR is actually the fastest ever thanks to the gift I received of more than 1000 cards back in July.

Luckily (?), I have nothing more important to do,  so I can indulge my OCD tendencies.

And, with this post, I set my new record for most blog posts in a year, with 118. Still have 7 weeks of the year, I knew I would post more than last year but I'm not trying to hit a specific number. I'm waiting on a shipment of cards that should lead to 20 separate posts if I decide to do each one the way I'm thinking of doing now. I found a deal on something I couldn't resist, but I will post about that more when it arrives. Plus the regular posts I normally made...I have enough in the queue I could post one a day for the rest of the year as well. So much to post still.


  1. Keeping track of a collection can be so frustrating, as no one utility seems to do everything you'd like it to do.

    1. Very true. Excel works the best for me for tracking by player, but paper works the best for tracking by sets. It doesn't work as well for tracking inserts though.

  2. I had no idea that Text To Columns feature was there... That's going to be very useful! Thanks for sharing!

    That's a lot of data to be putting in spreadsheets. It's excellent that you keep backups, but you might want to look into creating a database of that information. I don't know what your computer background is, or whether you might have access to MS Access or something similar, but it might be worth looking in to. You can do a lot more with data in tables rather than spreadsheets... but, on the other had, with great power comes great ability to completely eff things up. There's also a bit of planning and work needed to get something set up in a useable format. Something to think about. For what it's worth, it's pretty easy to upload an Excel spreadsheet into Access.

    Congrats on your record-breaking achievement!

    1. Glad to help, even inadvertentlyūüėÄ I know and like Excel, so I plan to stick with it. Basically my computer knowledge ends at Excel and even then I need my brother's help to figure out some things. It can do everything I need, provided two things. First is that I keep multiple backups so I don't lose anything, second is that I actually keep up with it and don't get backlogged to the point where I forget what is entered and what isn't. Now that I use the plastic cases to keep track of what needs to be done if shouldn't be much of a problem, but back in the early 2000s when it was just stacks of cards it gave me some trouble.