i actually like playing with the U-scans at kroger --- it's a toy to me. the frustrating part is that they don't like me.
the cashiers make it look so easy --- swipe-beep! swipe-beep! there's mirrors all around so you can put the barcode just about anywhere within ten feet and it should scan. elysse has no problem --- swipe-beep! swipe-beep!
for me, it's swipe... swipe... wave... look for the barcode, yes i'm holding it the right way... swipe fast... swipe slow... wave left... wave forward... give up in frustration and start to swear - BEEP!
and today was our Trip To the Store for this month. we have the cart fully loaded with what turned out to be $150 worth of food (including $3 of 8-for-a-dollar ramen). it took longer to check out than it did to collect the stuff.
and when i was about halfway through, the Uscan got stuck. "please place the last item scanned on the scanner and wait. ... please place the item in the b-please place the last item scanned on the-please place the item-please wait for cashier assis-please place the item in the bag...." and so forth. nothing we did made it happy.
eventually we had both the line attendants working with us. she decided it was time to reboot the robot, and hope the order would still be there when it came back up.
appallingly enough, when she quit the app, we saw the NT desktop, followed by the oh-too-familiar "please wait while the system writes data to the disk" messagebox. so U-scans run as an app on NT4, this one powered by a 450MHz celeron with 128M ram. also noticed that the green blinkenlight next to the scanner is the hard disk activity light. it was set for auto-login, and automagically started the robot app, which hung on the last stage and refused to realize that it was a cashier (in the words of the attendant).
i honestly think the thing crashed because of me. i have always been able to crash NT boxen, usually by just walking into the room. for example: NT, the uncrashable system, came installed on my first PC in '96 (i was a late-bloomer in terms of PCs). uncrashable. NT crashed itself within three days, claiming it had lost the rather important ntoskrnl.exe file. i did a complete reinstall (no fun) before i'd even found out what dell had preinstalled for me. it wiped my drive without asking. that installation ran for two weeks before dying with the same problem, this time taking lots of my coursework with it. after the fourth reinstall in two months on my two month-old box, i bought a book with slackware '96 on a cd in the back cover and have not looked back. i think this has pissed off the gods of NT, the fact that i refused to accept crashes as a fact of life and had the gall to install another OS on my machine. so NT hates me, and crashes out of spite.
this explains why i have had so many problems with U-scans: they run on NT.
incidentally, we had to re-scan the entire order on another machine (actually the attendant did it, in half the time it had taken us to do half the order badly), because the machine never came back to life. despite the fact that it didn't have the bright kroger logo on it (well, there was a ghost where it was burned into the monitor) but instead a typical-looking Windows window full of courier text logging the load of the system to the point where it stopped doing anything useful -- people still walked up and tried to scan their stuff on it! we pointed this out to the attendant, who merely replied that "in a minute i'll put an upside-down basket on it and turn the monitor off, but people will remove the basket and try to scan on it. never fails."
and the attendant also remarked "it must be you, because even this machine is acting up now". it was interesting to watch. when it started to kevetch about "please place the last item scanned on the scanner and wait", she'd press her hand down on the scanner while looking at the other attendant at the console. the two of them worked together like a well-oiled, yet resentful, machine.
oh well, enough -- the fat black cat will not stop yelling at me in cat, despite my many pleas that she tell me what she wants in english, and elysse' first attempt at fried chicken smells really good and i'm going to go gorge myself silly.
Sun Mar 24 15:25:31 EST 2002