March 2006


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Archive for March 28th, 2006

Death of a dinosaur

Posted in Geekery, Work on March 28th, 2006

Today I signed the Death Warrant for our last legacy system: the West-side shop’s Point-of-Sale machine.

This is the last machine in the shop running Win98. The cash drawer for that shop is electronic, and the only way to open it was to use the POS software it came with, which only runs on Win98. Seemed to me to be a stupid reason to keep a legacy system around, so I went down to the Shack and came back with a small bag of parts.

How the software works is pretty simple, and I could probably have found something on the net to duplicate the function on a WinXP box – all it does is route power to a serial connection. This would require a few hours of digging and configuring and testing though, time my cheapskate boss is unlikely to want to pay me for. Modding the drawer to use a switch and external power supply took me all of a half-hour.

For a moment I thought I was going to have to run an extension cable from inside a computer to make the solenoid fire – it takes 12V instead of the usual 5V. It turns out we just happened to have some 12VDC transformers with Molex plugs lying around though (we use them for showing off case lighting systems). So, a quick mod to the design involving the end of a Molex four-pin Y cable, and now I have a stand-alone cash drawer with an Evil-Genius-type Big Red Button.

What does all of this mean? It means that tax day is coming up, and everyone who hasn’t already spent their return on computer stuff is getting ready to pay the taxes they owe. This means our phones are eerily quiet, and I have time to do the little things I have been meaning to get to for the last couple of months. Of course, this won’t last – El Cheapo is going to start stipulating mandatory time off any minute now.

Hey Greyduck – maybe we should build a dual-resume and bill ourselves as a team gig…