From Here to There and Back Again

It almost seems pointless to even mention the Maps features of TntConnect, because they are so obvious. Yet after 15 years of teaching people to use TNT, I have found that some of the things I do everyday without even thinking are a revolutionary epiphany to someone else. One of my mantras in teaching people about software is, “Even the simplest feature is an Aha! moment if you’ve never seen it before.”

So, real quick, here’s a reminder of the variety of features TNT offers related to maps:

  • You can launch Google Maps for the contact you are looking at. This opens a browser window to get to Google Maps, which is handy if you also want to create a travel map, from your location, etc. (unlike the Maps View, below, which plots contacts on a map).

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  • The Maps View opens a Google Maps view inside your TntConnect software.

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This view allows to change the map display in several ways:

  1. Show only the selected contact (“Individual” link at the top)
  2. Show the entire Current Group (as shown in the image above)
  3. Replace the Google pins with the colored Status Dot for each partner’s TNT status (e.g., Green for current, Purple for recent gift, etc.)
  4. Newsletter icon for each contact
  5. A teeny, tiny, thumbnail of the picture you have for the contact

Of course the best use for the Maps View is being able to display the contacts clustered on the map. The first time I used this feature (when it was released several years ago), I made the current group only my “newsletter recipients in X city” (it doesn’t do much good to have a map of the entire country). I have about 40 newsletter folks in my home city (roughly 25% of all newsletter people), and it was a delight to see them pop up. What was even more amazing was how many of them lived close together… since I had been building the list for several years from different channels, different referrals, etc.

One time I discovered I had two contacts completely unrelated to each other (different churches, different history with me), and they lived three houses apart.

Technical note: The first time you use the Google Maps feature, TNT tries to pinpoint the exact street location for each contact. There are some it cannot (for example, P.O. Boxes, or if you have an error in the address), but for those it can, TNT will then post the GPS coordinates in their hidden data log, so that future maps will be substantially faster.

It is possible that one reason I love this feature so much is because “Rand McNally is my middle name”. 🙂

 

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Happy Birthday!

One of the clever, yet subtle, things that TntConnect does is how it handles birthdays for your contacts.

In my experience—and I am obviously not unusual in this since TNT is designed this way—it is unusual to get the actual (full) birth date or anniversary date for my contacts. For most, I have only partial information. For example, I was visiting a partner who told me his wife’s 40th birthday was the previous month. So, assuming he remembered correctly (e.g., it was not two months ago), I knew she was born in April 1970. I may find out the actual date later (such as April 7).

Most often I have the month and day but not the year. In fact, I have asked new partners for this: “When is your birthday?”, and they will typically only give the month and day. Indeed, for some people it can be rude to ask the year they were born!

And sometimes I have only one item. I may know they were born in 1976, but not the month or the day.

TntConnect allows me to enter any of the three items independently, for either the primary contact or the spouse:

2017-07-03-Birthdays

I can then run the Birthday & Anniversary Report to see all contacts with birthdays and anniversaries. This report is exportable to Excel. Also, I can export any/all contact’s birthday and anniversary information using the Group Actions | Export Current Group tool.

Because TNT is not designed to store comprehensive information about children, I just put their birthdays in the Children field on the Family tab. This doesn’t show up on the Birthday & Anniversary report, but it is still helpful to me:

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And if today is your birthday… Happy Birthday!

 

He giveth and taketh away

One of the most well-known, and truly unique features, of TntConnect is the “universal filter”, the Lookup tool that allows you to add or remove any criteria from any Lookup. Most web-based tools (like shopping sites) allow you to narrow down the list, but very few allow you narrow down and add to, or “reverse” the lookup, or even combine disparate items.

TntConnect 3.2 adds some similar functionality to a little-known feature called Mass Change a Field.

TNT’s ability to change the value of a single field for all selected contacts has always been super-helpful to me. For example, I was adding the Church Name to about 20 contacts one time. I could do that for each contact individually… or I could make the Current Group those 20 contacts, then select Group Actions | Mass Change a Field and do it all at once.

Group Field Change in earlier versions of TNT: Deleted the old field value and replaced it with the new value:

2017-04-06-Groups_FieldChange31

Now in 3.2 the options are expanded:

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You can now (still) simply “replace” the old field value with the new one (that is, “Change Field”).

But you can also Add to Comma Separated List, which will take the value you have and place it after a comma in addition to any other items that are in the field. Or, Remove from Comma Separated List, which will delete the chosen value if it exists in that field.

Many people use the User Fields to make TNT unique and personal. For example, if I was in athletic ministry and I renamed User 1 to be “Favourite Sports Team”. Some people may have one team: “Montreal Canadiens”. But others might have two “Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Blue Jays” or more.

The beauty of TntConnect’s amazingly powerful lookups/filters (as mentioned at the top) is that I can do Lookups within a field. Let’s say, for example, that I want to find all contacts for whom “Montreal” is in Favourite Sports Team (whether it is the Canadiens, the Expos, the Alouettes, etc.), I can just do a lookup for that:

2017-04-06-LookupContains

To wrap up, the powerful Lookups, the versatile User Fields, and the nifty Mass Change a Field all work together to make managing a lot of information very helpful. Indeed, it is so exciting it is almost like sitting in a hockey arena watching the Stanley Cup. 😉