Store database; Meat scale

Well it seems that missing every second post is becoming routine. That is unfortunate since it has not been my intention. I am sure you know how it goes when you start doing something thinking that you will only be a few minutes, then something else comes up, then something else, and so on, until at last you realize that an entire day is gone and you never did get around to what you had planned to do that morning. That is kind of what happened to me, with the exception of the fact that going to dinner, and watching a movie, with my wife will always come before updating this website. As for how I pissed the rest of the day away, you got me.

I have written over the last several posts about the tagging of the store leading to a requisite SNAFU, not knowing exactly what course we were going to take to remedy it. Well, I got my answer yesterday. If you recall, the options that I could see were 1) I would get word back from the people at RIS (the software manufacturer) about how to do a mass item delete. 2) I would have to start manually removing the items one at a time. 3) We would add memory to the cash registers so that they could take more items. Now if you knew the way my life works, you would never have thought the solution would have been anything other than having to manually remove old items one at a time, which was what I started to do yesterday.

The following is the process for manually removing each item, after I have brought up a listing of the upc’s I want to remove and the register interface, of course. First I have to click on the blank area where you input numbers (there is no other way to get the cursor there, none of the hot keys that you use in normal windows applications will work in this program) and type in a number, the first was 1120500048. Then I have to take my hand off of the 10key to move the mouse cursor over the button that says “Search PLU” (I actually can use the tab key to make the highlighted button be the correct one, but I have to hit it at least 30 times to get past all of the other paramaters) and click it. Then simply move the mouse over another button that says delete, after which the system will freeze for about a second and then I start the whole process again with the next number. Honestly, it’s not really that bad.

The biggest problem with the process, so far at least, is that if I mistakenly type in a number that I have already deleted, and it has happened a bunch of times, it is not like the list automatically removes the number once it is gone, the program will freeze and I will have to end task on it. It takes about ten seconds per time to open the program, connect to the register, get a listing of the upc’s and bring up the register interface, so you see it really sucks if I type in a number twice. I have taken to holding the cap of a pen on the item that I am deleting so that I won’t forget my place while I am screwing around with the mouse and the buttons, but still I sometimes forget that I have typed in 1120501113, but not 1120501114. It is all a bit irritating, but it is making it so that the program will work for its intended purpose, and I am getting paid to do it, so bitching is futile.

• If you read this page at all, you likely would also have read about the meat scale going out after a series of power-outages late last week. I managed to repair one of our old scales, the ones we used at the cash registers before we upgraded to the scale/scanner system, but they will not print tags, nor do they have Price Look Up numbers, so it is kind of useless for the task. I will say that it was a serious upgrade from what I was doing prior to fixing the old scale. The only thing that actually works on the meat scale is the weighing part. It will tell you exactly what the item weighs, then you just had to use a calculator to multiply the weight by the price; This is exactly what the now-repaired old scale does, which takes a lot of the work out of the process, yet it does not print the tags, so one must remember the price while they carry the item to the wrapping station, wrap it and tape it shut. I know this is the way they had to do it before printing scales were invented, but you see I have always used a printing scale so I often forget the price before the process is done. That is irritating.

I asked the owners what a new scale would cost, and they said it was about 1400 dollars. With a price to beat in mind, I headed for google. There I was able to find new scales with all of the necessary features for a shade under a thousand dollars. Now, knowing what it would actually cost to buy a new one, I hit eBay. Have you ever tried to search for something on eBay when you weren’t quite sure what people would be calling it? I did. The search for “printing scale” showed a bazillion results that were exclusively postal scales. A search for “meat scale” came up with a bunch of vintage crap that a collector might be interested in, but that would not pass health requirements even if they did print, which they didn’t. The term “retail scale” did get a few results for scales, but just the type that weigh but do not print, however, I noticed that they were all in the restaurant category and went to that directory. There were still tons of scales that didn’t have printers, in fact I only found two out of the whole section that did have printers, and, as luck would have it, one of them is damn near identical to the one that we have at work.

My hope had been that I would be able to find a scale that was exactly the same model as the one that we have at work, there are three reasons for this. The first is that we still have over four cases of labels for it. Those thermal printing labels are pretty expensive, like sixty dollars a case. If we have over 240 dollars worth of labels, it would be nice to find a scale that could use them. The second is that both of the owners know how to work the old scale for all of the things they want to use it for; To see how much bologna we sold that day, for instance. I would like to not have to learn the options of a different scale and then teach them, if possible. The third reason is that I spent a few hours of my own time, albeit years ago, making a list of all of the plu’s on the machine. I did it once in numerical order, which I could easily replicate on the new machine so that no one would have to learn different plu’s. But, I also made an alphabetical listing, by type, with a pork section, a beef section, a cheese section, etc. I did not include the first 35 plu’s in my alphabetical listing though, since they all have hot-buttons associated with them. That means, at the very least, I will have to redo that entire alphabetical listing if the scale is not the same.

The scale that I found on ebay does not match any of the three things I was looking for. Wrong labels, different face (therefore different plu format), though the switches on the front are the same, so it is possible that the daily reading options would be the same also. Of course there is no way that I could ever know since the model has been discontinued and the only way to get an owner’s manual for it is to buy it directly through the manufacturer. Now it would be one thing to buy the manual if you actually own the machine, there is no way I am going to do it just to see if I want to own the machine. This will all be pointless by tomorrow anyway, as the price of that scale is less than 10% the price of a new scale, and unless there is a real bidding frenzy I will be able to get it for a hundred bucks or so. Saving the company some 1300 dollars might take the edge off of having to pay 15 dollars for the owner’s manual, eh?

While trying to find an owner’s manual for the scale that we do not yet have, I found an actual scale that is exactly the same as the one that we have in the store. Well, it is not broken all to fuck and it actually works, so I guess it is not exactly the same. The problem is that the item is in a used machine warehouse that is on the east coast so every time I call to ask about the price I get an answering system. I have left my number with an inquiry about the price, but they have yet to call me back about it. My first thought is that they are concerned that the shipping might be so high that I wouldn’t want to buy it, but I tell you what, if we could get an identical system to the one that we currently have we would likely pay a bit more than what I am looking at paying for the one on eBay. So, hopefully, I will remember to call them tomorrow before I put in my bid on the other scale.

Well, I am going to call it a day. Tune in tomorrow for the end(?) of the meat scale saga…