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Sat, 15 Nov 2003

The AWESOME POWER of barcodes and MAC OS X

I'm still in book-cataloguing mode, seven shelves left to go. On the recommendation of the most excellent Pete Wargo I got a copy of Readerware, which has Magic Pixies in it which hunt down book details on Tha Intarweb when given a list of ISBNs.

Typing ISBNs is a pain in the backside. Thankfully, most books from the past decade or so have the ISBN in a barcode. And even more thankfully, the lovely people at Readerware are giving away free Cuecats to people who register their software. So I registered. And the Cat arrived yesterday. And it is good. It can be a bit fussy about how well the barcode is printed, but it's one hell of a lot faster than typing the ISBNs myself.

Incidentally, there are grave privacy concerns about Cuecats, although now that Digital Convergence, the company that makes them, has gone bust I don't know how valid those are. Either way, it matters not because I'm not using their spyware^Wdrivers. When you plug a Cuecat into a Mac, OS X recognises it and treats it as a keyboard. So the Readerware application just thinks I'm typing into it. And Readerware has code in it for deobfuscating the string from the Cat, which is the only useful thing the drivers ever did anyway.

I like my Cuecat. I think I'll get another off ebay and mod it to:

  • have no serial number
  • not obfuscate the barcodes
  • have onboard memory so I don't have to use it tethered to the laptop

All of these hacks are documented in various places online. They go for about UKP10 or so including postage on ebay, and I can think of all sorts of useful things to do with a pocket barcode scanner.

Posted at 12:14 by David Cantrell