For those of you already using a new-ish Apple Computer, a Mac that is running the newest Macintosh operating system known as Leopard, I have a treat for you!  (If you are not sure you are running Leopard, it’s easy to check.  See below, at the end of this article.)

The treat?  Bento from FileMaker.  Let’s have a look at the coolness and benefits of Bento, the new kid on the block from FileMaker, the same company that provides the very best relational database for Macs and for Windows computers!  FileMaker Pro is the business application.  Bento is the personal organizational and productivity program. (You probably are not aware of it, but I have always used FileMaker Pro as the engine behind MrGadget.com!  I insist upon it.)

The most difficult task I have right now is to let you know what Bento is all about.  I have no doubt that you will find Bento useful, perhaps even essential, but first I have to get you to understand what Bento is, since it is different from anything else you’ve known or likely ever thought about.

What’s it all about and how would you use Bento? Great question! Use Bento to organize your busy life as I doManage ALL your contacts.  If you are involved in fundraising activities, parties or any other kind of event, use Bento to coordinate all the pieces.  In your work, if you have to manage and track deadlines of your projects and assignments, Bento is the answer.  And because Bento integrates your existing iCal and AddressBook, all this related info comes together to help you to see more detail.  Bento can help you to prioritize tasks that you need to do.  Use Bento to catalog inventories of your stuff, including your CD and DVD collection, dolls and other collectibles, even your donations.  And if you want to create a killer recipe book, Bento is the way to go. When you have a garage sale or get ready to sell anything, let Bento help you to keep it organized.  In your work, if you need to track hours worked on a project or payments due, Bento it!  If you are used to the way you find things in iTunes, Bento works the same way.  Create libraries for your music, media and movies.  Store your files and photos related to projects and events and let Bento keep it all neat, tidy and manageable, plus, with Bento, you can find what you want when you want it.  Is this sinking in???

In a nutshell, FileMaker’s idea of the types of users who can benefit from Bento includes:

• Creative Professionals

• Business Professionals

• Consultants & Freelancers

• Doctors & Lawyers

• Hobbyists & Collectors

• Entrepreneurs & Execs

• Teachers & Students

• Coaches & Volunteers

• Event & Party Planners

That about covers it!  Everyone can use and benefit from Bento, that is, everyone on a Mac running Leopard!  Sorry, Windows users, at least for now.

I know many Mac (and Windows) users who press Microsoft Excel into service in an attempt to create and manage lists of things. This is just not smart, in my view. Excel is a spreadsheet program, not a relational database program.  Excel can easily do plain lists, monolithic and mundane-looking lists, but it cannot easily tie those lists to other useful information, in a relational way.  Bento is the can-do program that works with iWork, iCal and AddressBook on your Mac as well as with your iPhone and .Mac account. What’s not to love?  And it looks pretty, too!

Now that I’ve whipped you into a frenzy, I’d be disappointed if you thought you’d be on your own getting started with Bento. Remember, this is a Mac program, and that just isn’t going to happen.  Bento includes 24 templates to get you started, in addition to allowing the freedom to do your own thing, creating your own ways to use Bento. It really is up to the user and quite flexible.  That’s just more of the charm of Bento!

Open Bento and see the Home screen, with options that allow you to go to a tutorial; Learn about Bento, AddressBook and iCal – Where you can set up Bento to display AddressBook and iCal data so you can edit records, add fields, and create forms; Create a library to store data – Import data or use a template to create a library that has beautiful easy-to-use forms; or Start using Bento – Work with data in libraries in the Source list.  See?  How cool is that!

As indicated above, there are 24 templates to nudge you and get you started.  In this next screen you’ll see just a few by name in the selection screen.  Makes you feel better already, doesn’t it?

 

And so it goes.  Take a leap of faith and trust me that Bento really is as good as I’ve described here, and maybe even better.

Try Bento and you’ll love Bento, I’m sure. It’s clever and cute, but, of greater importance, powerful and fun to use. Most of all, Bento is useful and can become easily indispensible if given the opportunity.  It’s easy to try for FREE and I encourage you to do so – Click HERE to download the trial version.  It’s also easy to buy and well worth the measly $49 cost.

Bento is for dads, grads, moms, grandma and grandpa.  It’s for high school students, home workers and anyone who wants to get organized, and, of course, anyone using an eligible Mac, which can easily be determined.

If your Mac was purchased new since November 2007, it’s a safe bet that your Mac already has what it needs, Mac OS X Leopard.  Or, your operating system may have been updated if your hardware supports this version.  It’s easy to tell.

Running Leopard? Just go to the Apple menu at the top left of your monitor.  Click it and in the drop-down click on About This Mac.  You’ll get a little window on your screen that looks something like mine seen below:

Under where it reads “Mac OS X” is written Version 10.5.2.  Anything above 10.5 is Leopard, which I recommend for any Mac capable of running it, which you can check on here: http://www.apple.com/macosx/techspecs/.

Bento is something special, very reasonably priced and likely with capabilities you never wished for and will easily find so very useful in ways you just cannot now imagine.  That’s often the way it is with something so new that it was never part of your thought process.

Individuals with that they think is a great idea or a terrific product often contact me. Upon investigation, I find what they have is cool, to be sure, but the body of consumers that may find it useful and beneficial enough to buy and continue to use it is slim to none.  I call this technology in search of an audience.  Such is not the case with Bento.  Bento is the real deal, a well-designed application for the masses.  I “get it” and I think you will, too.

Now that you have an inkling about its capabilities and what it can do for you, don’t you owe it to yourself to investigate further?  I thought so.

You may also be interested in reading what other have to say about Bento, which I have linked for you, selecting ONLY those that reflect professionalism, and not the thoughts of some cranky person without a clue.  No, Bento is not perfect, but it is more than a great start that, knowing FileMaker folks as I do, will only get better as it continues to be developed.  Go ahead and check out all of them to get the consensus – HereHereHereHereHere.

Buy Bento online through the Buy now link on this page or from the Apple Apps Store link on your Mac.

And one last thing.  I love the name Bento.  Notice the product icon, that five-compartment tray?  In modern times, the name, from Japanese, has come to be used to describe a Japanese meal packaged and/or served in a lacquer box that has partitions for each part of the meal.  For example, one partition could contain rice, another fish, noodles in another, veggies, sauce, and so on.  It is this organized way of presenting the food and the relationship one “compartment” and its ingredient has to the others that is just perfect to describe what Bento the software is. Bento is another beautiful thing from Japanese culture that you can learn more about through these links – Here and Here.

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