Manage collections of different types with GCstar

Collector's Item

Article from Issue 164/2014
Author(s):

If you have a passion for collecting things, the smart GCstar tool can help you keep track of your treasures.

From license plates and lunch boxes to movies and magazines: Ultimately, you can collect virtually anything. However, as time passes, particularly zealous collectors often lose track of which treasures their collection includes and which are still missing. To avoid this situation, you only need two things: Linux and the GCstar collection management tool.

GCstar can be found in the repositories of most distributions and thus easily installed on your hard disk with just a few mouse clicks. If the distribution you are using does not include GCstar, you can find the source code for the program, including detailed installation instructions, on the website [1]. After completing the install, you can find the GCstar program and launcher under the Office submenu.

Well Prepared

When the software is first launched, it asks what kind of collection you want to manage. To do this, GCstar opens a selection list with a number of predefined collection types (Figure 1). If you cannot find your collection genre in the templates, you can design your own structure by pressing the New collection type button. Then, in an uncluttered window, you can create a matching database.

Figure 1: GCstar comes with templates for various types of collections.

All predefined types already have an individual database structure, so you can just start typing. For example, you can add a Movies collection record to the system by enabling the existing template. GCstar points out, in a somewhat convoluted way, that you should respect the intellectual property rights of third parties and then displays two horizontal menu and button bars at the top of the screen with various management and navigation options.

After pressing the + Add Movie button, you can enter the first movie. To let you do this, the software opens the existing database structure with the individual fields in the right panel of the program window, while the panel on the left shows you the movies you have already entered in a list view. To keep the view from becoming too confusing, the developers have divided the database into different categories. In the program window, these are represented by the tabs General, Details, Lending, and Tags.

Start by entering the movie title in the General tab's input box containing New movie. Then, press the Fetch Information button on the right to search the Internet. GCstar queries several online databases for the title you entered and displays the result in another small window.

After fetching the information from the chosen database, select one of the proposals and click OK to add the corresponding data to your database; if available, this information includes a synopsis and other relevant data, such as the release date, director, running time, and age rating where appropriate. If multiple editions of the same movie exist, you can use the preview feature to show the individual editions and then select the correct one (Figure 2).

Figure 2: James Bond is happy to be integrated with GCstar.

To help you select an online source, GCstar offers a large number of international databases. You can access the selection menu by pressing the wrench or sliders icon (Set your preferences) in the toolbar. In the Preferences window, now select the Internet tab on the left and open the selection box Site to retrieve data from in the Data import section.

If you set the option Ask (All sites) here, the software provides you with a list of existing online databases when you access a movie title via the Fetch Information button. GCstar also displays the language, so you can easily choose the right source(s). If you want to make one of the data sources your default for Internet searches, just check the Use selected site for future searches box.

After downloading the information, you can manually enter any missing information – such as the age rating, the genre, and the movie's country of origin. Once you have completed the data, save the database by pressing the floppy disk button (Save) and specifying the path and file name.

Audio Tracks and Subtitles

Recent movies produced abroad usually come with several audio tracks on the DVD or Blu-ray disk. Additionally, the disks often have subtitle tracks in addition to audio-synchronization in different languages. To record this data in the collection management tool, you need to enter the appropriate subtitle and language variants in GCstar.

Just change to the Details tab in the program window and expand the Languages line. Then, you can enter the relevant data in the Audio and Subtitles fields. Similarly, you can make entries below Country and Genre in the General tab – many online databases do not provide this information. GCstar applies the data without having to press Save.

Play

You can link movie files on the hard disk or other storage media with GCstar and play them directly from within the software. To begin playing the movie in GCstar, change to the Details tab and press Select File to the right of the Video file input field. Then, select the desired video file in the file browser. Next, press the Play button on the right to view the movie. If nothing happens, you might have a problem with the configuration of your movie player software.

Because GCstar accesses third-party programs to play media, you need to link the movie player you use with the software. To do this, open the Preferences menu again and in the Paths tab select the entry Override default programs. Pressing the Set Programs button opens another window in which you define the corresponding viewers or players for each media type (Figure  3).

Figure 3: You need to link the player software separately with GCstar for seamless content playback.

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