singer to computer maven Lansing man writes instructional guide to database program
Leach Lansing State
A funny thing
happened to Jonathan Stars on his way to becoming
national country music star.
He became the author of a book on how
to use a computer database program instead.
Stars, who grew up in Lansing as
Mitchal Stutes before taking on the more glitzy name to
help his musical career, played nightclubs around the
country and at one time lived in Bakersfield, Calif.
where singer Dionne Warwick's manager took an interest in
In the mid-1980s, he decided to try his
hand at country music and went to Nashville, Tenn., in
hopes of landing a major recording deal.
"The recording people liked my image,
my sound and my music," Stars, 50, said. "But they said I
was too old."
"They said most compact discs were
being bought by young women between the ages of 16 and 24
and they were interested in singers in the 20- to
30-year-old group. They said they knew what sold and it
As a night club performer, Stars said
he had difficulty keeping track of all the people he
needed to know to keep his career alive. That ended the
day he stopped at a computer store in Utah and a store
employee convinced him he needed a computer database
program called FileMaker Pro.
"I already had a computer that I used
to record my music," he said. "Fortunately, I always kept good
notes, so I was able to put the information into the
database program so I could quickly call up information
on the people I needed to talk to."
As he headed back to Lansing after the
disappointment in Nashville, Stars said he realized his
dream of becoming a famous entertainer was over. But he
also discovered something he had not wanted to admit to
"I realized that, as a performer, I
really enjoyed only about 5 percent of what I was doing,"
"The rest was making phone calls to set
up performing dates, traveling and setting up and tearing
FileMaker Pro, I enjoyed about 95 percent of what I was
He quickly shifted gears, working with
various business and government organizations to set up
FileMaker Pro systems and adapt them to their specific
"We worked with him when he was just
starting out," said Jeffrey Johnson, general partner in
Bake N' Cakes of Lansing. "We found an employee with only
10 minutes of training could do in a minute what it took
a highly trained person 45 minutes to an hour a day to do
Johnson said 20 actual orders were put
into the program as a test. He and Stars discovered that
human errors, such as forgetting to charge for cake
fillings or special decorations or charging for the wrong
size cake had resulted in customers being undercharged by
$100 on those orders alone, a situation that the program
He said Stars was very professional to
"He really wants to get at your
specific problems and work with you to fix them," Johnson
Stars clients have included the Yale
University Multiple Sclerosis Research Center, the Ingham
County Drain Commission and the Jackson Area Career
At a convention of FileMaker Pro users,
Stars met a man who was planning to write a book about
the program for beginners and intermediate users. Stars
had already written several articles for a FileMaker Pro
newsletter, and his new acquaintance asked him to
co-author the book. Stars agreed. Then the other man
backed out, leaving Stars with the entire project.
Stars used his mother, Leora Stutes,
who had never used FileMaker Pro, as a test subject for
the book. He persuaded her to work through the tutorials
and try to follow the instructions. If there was a
problem, he reworked the section until it was clear.
The result was "Learn FileMaker Pro
5.0" available at area bookstores. It includes 400 pages
plus a 28-page index. Stars said he hopes the book will
allow users to quickly learn what it took him more than
1,000 hours to discover about the program. Contact Hugh Leach at 377-1119 or
email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by KATHY KIELISZEWSKI
Lansing State Journal
Book maker: Jonathan Stars of Lansing published
a book to help people learn FileMaker Pro. Stars tried to
make a name for himself in country music before working
on his book.
To find out more about the
Lansing State Journal go to www.lsj.com