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What is the best way to do this?

Discussion in 'General Software' started by OrbitzXT, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. OrbitzXT

    OrbitzXT New Member

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    I have an issue at work that I'm trying to think up a solution for. I figured I'd ask the intelligent people here since I'm sure they'll have ideas better than mine.

    The task: I work for a contracting company, and the electricians they employ at the moment call into the office here to give a list of what parts they need for a particular job they're working on. My boss asked me to think of a way to make this happen in a more computerized way so that there are less errors, which there currently are now.

    My solution: I thought of creating something like an order form on Excel, and putting that onto a Tablet PC for them to email here to the office. In my head it seemed easy enough, just touch a Cell and enter the number of the part they need. I have been told though that Tablets and Excel do not exactly get along perfectly. But from what I can gather while googling, that was some years ago and things have since improved with Windows 7, Office 2010, etc. Are there still issues with touch technology and Excel?

    I'm very curious to hear the ideas others have here, I'm all but certain there has to be an easier and more efficient way. Thank you for any insight you may offer :)
     
  2. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    Perhaps inexpensive netbooks would be a better alternative.

    Not exactly as easy as touching the cell and entering the part number, but still just clicking the cell and entering the part number on the keyboard, and it would eliminate any problems that touch screen might cause(and I would think it would be less expensive to implement).

    Of course there is also the issue of getting internet access to these machines when they are on the jobsite so they can email the form, unless they are just filling out the form onsite then emailing it later when an internet connection is available? Of course something like Clear or Criket would do the job if internet is needed on the job site.
     
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  3. OrbitzXT

    OrbitzXT New Member

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    What is the best way to reinstall an OS on one of those netbooks since they don't have optical drives? Do they support USB booting or should I get an external drive? If I do go in that direction I'd want a clean installation of the OS to have it running as smooth as possible.
     
  4. DonInKansas

    DonInKansas

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    There's plenty of guides to install Win 7 off a USB drive. XP can be done too with some workarounds.
     
  5. OrbitzXT

    OrbitzXT New Member

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    I just talked to a couple of people in the office who have a better understanding of what's going on with these orders I'm supposed to computerize. As you said newtekie, these orders are likely coming directly from the job site. Were in New York City so there's probably a 50/50 chance of there being a wireless connection to use, but I can't go based on that.

    Could you go into a little more details about how Clear or Criket work?
     
  6. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    You can install Win7 from a USB drive pretty easily. However, I'd just go ahead and buy a cheap external USB DVD drive. You can usually get them for under $50, and you really only need one. It just makes installing other applications like Office a little easier as well as the OS.

    I picked up this one for my netbook: LG 8X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 6X DVD+R DL 8X DVD-R 6X DVD-...

    I'd avoid any of the top load ones though, as they break pretty easily(think the old top load portable CD players, the latch breaks very easily).

    Clear and Criket both use the 3G/4G cell networks to provide internet access to computers. They use a little USB dongle that connects to the 3G/4G networks. Most cell phone carriers also do this, I know Spring and Verizon both do, with their own USB dongles. So if you already have a contract with a cell phone carrier it might be cheaper to contact them and see if they will work out a deal to provide the USB dongles and data service. Basically, this will provide an internet connection(all be it sometimes a rather slow one) anywhere you have a Cell signal.
     
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  7. W1zzard

    W1zzard Administrator Staff Member

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    for the connectivity thing google: mifi

    you could have your parts list as an excel file, have a macro that adds the items to a list of items to get and then with a submit button send off an email. fairly simple if you have basic programming skills
    or ask your web programmers to make a web page that your guys can log on to remotely and "order" their parts (that's the solution i'd pick because it will be more flexible in the long run)

    if you have a budget and are interested in such a web based solution, let me know, i'm available for this kind of consulting work
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
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  8. ktr

    ktr

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    I would use Google Docs. You can create a form that records into an spreadsheet.
     
  9. OrbitzXT

    OrbitzXT New Member

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    I talked to some more people in the office, specifically the guy who handles these orders. The way it works now is, the electricians on the field will contact him in a variety of ways. Some email him, others call him, some even text him. I talked to him about making an excel spread sheet and he doesn't think it sounds very feasible. According to him there are just too many different parts and each different job uses different things.

    So I guess the tablet/netbook idea is sadly out. So I guess my goals here are to keep this a simplified process as it already is, but somehow computerize it more to reduce human error. Any ideas on how to best do that?
     
  10. W1zzard

    W1zzard Administrator Staff Member

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    you just need a clever method to search. either by category, or by most used or by most recently used or by partial string match etc etc
     
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  11. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    Use a database application
     
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  12. OrbitzXT

    OrbitzXT New Member

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    I have Access 2010 here at the office, while I've never personally used it I like to consider myself a quick learner. I'll play around with that any see what I can do with it. Any suggestions for that particular program are always welcomed =)
     
  13. CJCerny

    CJCerny

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    No reason to re-invent the wheel. I'm sure this is not the first time a contracting company has tried to solve this problem. My point is that there is likely already more than one software/hardware products available to address this problem. Businesses are very resourceful at finding niche markets. My company employs 120 people and all we do is write and sell point of sale products for car washes. Do some extensive Googling to make sure this is a problem for which no solution exists before you try to roll your own solution.
     
  14. OrbitzXT

    OrbitzXT New Member

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    They actually have a database list of the parts created with Lotus Approach. I imported it over to Access though. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to best make use of this =p
     
  15. W1zzard

    W1zzard Administrator Staff Member

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    how many parts ?
     
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  16. ktr

    ktr

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    How does this company track each job? Do you guys have a tracking system to create job orders?
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2010
  17. OrbitzXT

    OrbitzXT New Member

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    4878 different parts. As for creating job orders, I'll have to get back to you on that. This is only my second week so I'm still learning the workings of the company.
     
  18. OrbitzXT

    OrbitzXT New Member

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