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Chacham's Journal: Tape Library 7

Journal by Chacham

Someone started a tape library at a local synagogue. That is, there are tapes that are availible to be borrowed by anyone in the community. You may take any amount of tapes (within reason) and must return them within three weeks. A wonderful idea, and a great service.

Currently, when borrowing a tape, there is a small piece of paper in the case. The paper is removed and the borrower writes down his name and number. This is a hassle. Not to mention records of who borrowed what being tedious, and as the library grows, keeping tracks of tapes may get much more complicated.

So, I offered my services. I figured a small program ought to set things straight. I got the box from a friend, and now have to start working on the application. I figure a database is needed, and PostgreSQL shall suit the purpose well. Past that, I am not sure.

There is no reason to use X, but a (text based) GUI would be nice. There is also the want (in the near future) to enable barcodes to be read in for easy scanning of tapes, and possibly library member cards. Any ideas? This is a great oppurtunity for me to learn another language.

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Tape Library

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  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @11:20PM (#4324813) Homepage Journal
    Learn some electronics. allelectronics.com has card readers that came out of a video game for about $9. Wire it up to the thing, and set it up that the case holding the videos won't unlock without a card insertion.

    • Cool idea, thanx. I wasn't up to that yet, but I am going to keep it in mind. I was almost thinking of just using a CueCat. :-)
      • A CueCat was my first guess (I think I still have three of those things lying around) but I really want to get one of those card readers. I'm not sure, but it may work as a card writer as well, to indicate when money is removed when playing a game.

    • allelectronics.com [allelectronics.com] gives a boring message. It seems important to have a "www" in front like this: http://www.allelectronics.com [allelectronics.com]

      I did a quick search on "card reader" [allelectronics.com] and it came up with good stuff. Both MSR-2 [allelectronics.com] and MCR-6 [allelectronics.com]look nice for the reader. I seem to like MCR-6 better because it is self-enclosed, and therefore (it would seem) sturdier, and needs only the space for the reader, and none to swipe. The only real drawbacks would be that it says "when play is done" (here [allelectronics.com]). I also wonder if it reads all cards, since it also comes with a display. The display may be hard-wired to a specific card.

      BCS-84 [allelectronics.com]seems nice to read the actual tapes in. But, once it is used, couldn't it also be used to read a bar code on a membership card, instead of requiring a magnetic strip?

      Just so you know, they are not videos, they are audio. Although, it would seem possible that videos be there in the future. And, there is no case to lock them, they are in a room that the owner sits in a couple night a week. Cool idea though.

      As for hooking it up to a computer, I guess a serial interface would be nice. Would there be an easy way to do that, or would I have to read about protocols first? Then there's the driver. Sounds exciting, I just hope I wouldn't be taking on more than I could handle.

      • I figure the MCR-6 is really sturdy, as it's from arcade equipment. Have you ever seen that stuff? It is built like the proverbial brick shithouse. I'm amazed that people can destroy arcade games, pinballs, etc. in a home environment.

        I remember having an id card of some sort (meal card at college or a video card) that used a bar code reader.

        Serial interface is probably how these things work. With any luck, you plug it in, find the baud rate, etc., scan, and you get a stream of numbers in through ttyS0 (or COM1 if that's your poison).

  • Sounds like you are running *nix OS. If you were to use Windows, VB will get you what you want rather quickly.
    Other than that, you might try Perl, which is a fun language, or if you are feeling adventurous, make a web-based GUI in Java (that way, people can log in, put in there name, and see when the tapes should be back...).
    Wow, I'm already designing in my head, so if you want some advice on the design as a whole, just gimmie a buzz, and I'll go off into details.
    • Sounds like you are running *nix OS. If you were to use Windows, VB will get you what you want rather quickly.

      I plan to use Linux (Debian). That's what I'm used to. Windows gets harder for me everyday. And, I'd prefer to support something I'm more familiar with.

      Other than that, you might try Perl, which is a fun language,

      Perl is nice. I don't know it, and I feel that I should. So, it'll probably be what I use.

      or if you are feeling adventurous, make a web-based GUI in Java

      I am thinking of using only text. No reason to go install X and waste all those resources. I am not against it though. If it is the best solution, then so be it. I merely have a preference to stay as text.

      (that way, people can log in, put in there name, and see when the tapes should be back...).

      Neat idea. If it ever gets a card, swiping a card through and seeing a list is a good idea.

      Wow, I'm already designing in my head, so if you want some advice on the design as a whole, just gimmie a buzz, and I'll go off into details.

      I know the feeling. As a DBA I can't help but design logical structures to solve just about any problem.

      Any help would be appreciated. As good as I think myself to be, there is no question that I have what to learn, and you to teach. Shall we take this to email? This journal is probably a decent place as well, so others can jump in. That'll be my first open-source project. Woopie!

      My steps are as follows.

      1. Decide on what tools to use.
      2. Get the requirements.
      3. Get a basic outline for the design.
      4. Code.

      Decide on what tools to use.

      I can do step 1 before step 2 because I already know the basic requirements. Now that someone donated their old computer to the project, I can start working on it.

      Being the work is for pleasure, I am choosing what to use, instead of giving them greater flexibility. Eh, it's not like he'd care too much anyway.

      Get the requirements.

      This means I sit down with him and get three things. Needs, wants, and wishes. Needs create the basic program functionality. Wants are what would make life easier, and are within reason. Wishes, are, "wouldn't it be nice if...", for example, reading the user's mind.

      I won't really be able to do this (talk to him) before next week. Though, I plan to talk to him and set up a short meeting next I see him. I am guessing, Monday night.

      Get a basic outline for the design.

      This is the database layout. My love and joy. It ought to be pretty simple though.

      Code

      Work on making it work.

      I figure a text GUI would be best. Being a Debian user, I see it using whiplash(?) for dialogs. It has basic functionality, and probably what I need, though I haven't looked at it seriously yet. I've got to be able to have a reader redraw the screen with any pertinent information. (Should I get a reader).

With your bare hands?!?

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