SiR and Barcodes The Background A ‘bright idea’ from Student Recruitment Try to get more Engineering students Offer them a free laptop “Great idea – let’s do it” “Should we discuss it with DIT ?” ( new name for Computing Centre ) “Only when we’ve finalised it”
SiR and Barcodes The dialog with DIT “We’re giving new Engineering students a free laptop” Reactions What machine specification ? Which software When How many Finally got some answers
SiR and Barcodes Fresher’s week 225 laptops delivered to secure store Do you know how much space that is ?? “We will be issuing them to the students tomorrow – we need to only issue them to eligible students and know which machine they got” How ? “We assume you can do a data base !!”
SiR and Barcodes The data base The approach had to be simple Adopt the KISS technique Each student has a unique Id number Each computer has a unique serial number Use these Issuing was being done at briefing session Type in 225 id and serial numbers ?
SiR and Barcodes I-day -1 Need a quick data entry method Id cards and box labels have bar codes Get a bar code reader Needed one quickly Ordered on credit card – delivery guaranteed before 1200 next day Briefing session started at 1430
SiR and Barcodes I-day -12 hours Engineering provided Excel file with students in Contained eligible and non-eligible Create a quick and dirty data base Go home feeling reasonably confident Why ?
SiR and Barcodes PQL forms to the rescue Just scan the information !!
SiR and Barcodes I-hour -4 A Burns moment Rabbie Burns The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men gang aft agley, I’d added myself as a ‘test account’ But PQL forms never found me !!
SiR and Barcodes Where was I ? The reader worked The system worked if I typed my number in What was wrong ? The....ing Id bar code has an extra digit This is the issue card number for each replacement !! I believe that PQL forms code could cope
SiR and Barcodes Quick coding I couldn’t work out how to make PQL forms do what I wanted Australia would / should be asleep !! Write a PQL programme to do a quick and dirty job Still coding as first briefing started to 100 students No chance to test properly – only my card
SiR and Barcodes Conclusion The bar code reader coped The coding coped The people actually handing out the machines couldn’t !! It also coped with the ‘chancers’ “Can I get my friends machine” “I haven’t had my machine” Non-eligibles
SiR and Barcodes Conclusion When / if they repeat this year then I’ll use PQL forms modifying the code to remove ‘issue number’ It will look more professional