[thelist] OT: Barcode scanners and hardware inventory

David Siedband david at calteg.org
Tue Mar 23 19:31:32 CST 2004

One possibility that could be low-cost and interesting...

Have you seen the Cue:Cat?

It's a simple barcode scanner that Radio Shack was giving a way a while 
You can probably find one without too much effort.

You could scan product barcodes and be taken to the manufacturer's 

I think they are available in both PS/2 and USB versions.

They can be modified to provide a text input of the barcode you scan

there is a bunch of information about them online.  for example:

This opens a lot of possibilities.  On the simple side, you could use 
it to read UPC #'s into a spreadsheet, text file, etc.
Or you could code a little application, maybe a simple PHP/MySQL app 
running on a laptop.

If you develop something functional, consider open sourcing it, as 
others would likely find it useful.


On Mar 23, 2004, at 1:15 PM, Andrew Seguin wrote:

>> We are in the process of moving our office and to help with inventory 
>> and
>> tracking (for both hardware and furniture) I would like to implement 
>> the
>> use
>> of a barcode scanner.  The questions that I have are:
>> 1) has anyone used this technology before for this purpose
> Well, me... I used to take care of inventory where I work, at least 
> until
> web dev/web server maintenance for the intranet took over as full time
> work ;)
> During my time, our office purchased a bar code printer and two bar 
> code
> readers.
>> 2) do you have any suggestions on brands/packages/services/etc
> I only know of Intermec's products, as the buying was not left up to 
> me.
> Another office in a different city went for different kit. The 
> hardware we
> got was good, the software that comes prepackaged freely was far from
> super although the software they sold, and that I saw in use at another
> site, seemed fair but it was expensive to license.
>> 3) is it possible to customize the interface for the software in 
>> terms of
>> what we can track
> Well, in general just as is, the bar code readers won't come with
> inventory software unless you buy a kit I guess. Us, here, simply made 
> our
> own software to run on the hand held...
> Some bar code scanners simply interface via keyboard port (a bar code
> after all is just an encoding mechanism, nothing magical), they are
> probably less expensive, but you will be limited to carrying around a
> laptop of PC with you. On the good side, they'll work with whatever
> software you make buy, even a simple web based application (there was a
> thread a while back on Evolt seems to me about that .. or maybe the PHP
> mailing list..).
> Otherwise, there are some like we bought, which are actual little
> computers, LCD display and connect to the PC via a serial cable (ours 
> are
> Antares 2410 if I remember the model correctly). Even better, superior 
> to
> ours, there are some with networking via RF. Of course, cost increases 
> for
> these. These more powerful ones though might also be harder to 
> interface
> with software from other companies, or may even almost require custom 
> made
> software (for the price, it was simpler and cheaper for us to make 
> small
> software to work with CSVs that are transfered around).
>> Any input would be greatly appreciate!
> Well, I don't know how big your office is, but...
> The bar code equipment cost us several thousand dollars to purchase, 
> and
> then one week of my time programming (one weeks salery) before getting 
> it
> all to work, couple more weeks of on/off work to complete it.
> It was about two months before our site was fully using it, even now, 
> with
> our offices spread over three buildings/25floors... it isn't always 
> that
> great a bonus for us. What works best for us is simply keeping track of
> serial numbers and doing quick inspections every now and then by a 
> local
> IT tech.
> I finaly ended up making an online form where the techs enter their 
> info
> about any repairs, movements, etc. The person replacing me on inventory
> can then view the submitted forms. Also, she can quickly simply 
> 'return'
> the form to the user for corrections and moves via this system.
> Although it has only been in use for two weeks now, this system has
> generated a lot more support from the techs, then the bar code scanners
> over the space of 6months. The reason I think, is that it is quicker to
> submit changes to those takeing care of the inventory databases this 
> way
> then to use the bar code scanners.
> While I considered automizing the system via a web app, from my 
> experience
> on inventory, miskeyed information happens much too frequently (both 
> by me
> and the techs), so we ended up with incorrect labels and/or incorrect
> information in our database. Laziness is also a factor that was hard to
> work around... tagging thousands of items (PCs, printers, etc) gets
> dreary.
> Continuing in the field of inventory though, I would say that if you 
> are
> in the process of moving, considering implementing an inventory system,
> then it could be a good thing if you are truly ready to invest some 
> time
> to get it all working well. You could have the computers fully 
> inspected
> upon packing/unpacking.
> A few good things would be good to keep marked down for your 
> equipement is
> basicaly age, warrenty information(or contract #s, or where to find,
> etc..), and quantifiable qualities (like processor speed&ram for PCs,
> screen size for monitors, etc).
> Inventory for us is not really to make sure the location is correct 
> (well,
> we try to keep that up to date, especialy for empty cubicles), but 
> more to
> help management decide/know on PC purchasing / upgrade costs.
> "We need to upgrade to windows 2000, what will be the cost?" and via 
> the
> database it was easily possible to generate reports on PCs to replace,
> hard disk upgrades, memory upgrades, etc.
> If you are a smaller office though... you might not find this all that
> useful and spreadsheets might be easier...
> All in all though, bar coding doesn't help much for that kind of 
> process.
> I Hope that helps, but if you have any other questions, don't hesitate 
> to
> contact me offlist if you have any other questions.
> Andrew Séguin.
>> Todd
> -- 
> * * Please support the community that supports you.  * *
> http://evolt.org/help_support_evolt/
> For unsubscribe and other options, including the Tip Harvester
> and archives of thelist go to: http://lists.evolt.org
> Workers of the Web, evolt !

More information about the thelist mailing list