The Micro User1st November 1984
Published in The Micro User 2.09
Playing Shop Brought Up To Date
Barcodes are very much a part of our world now. All items on supermarket shelves carry one. And when I rush to the library for information I am greeted with an assistant with a lightpen reading these black and white stripes in the books. Yet there are many of us with very little idea of what barcodes actually do.
One advantage for the shop is the relaying of the messages to a main computer, which will in turn organise the automatic restocking of shelves.
Beebshop is an attempt to demonstrate these ideas in the classroom, thus updating the "shop" found in many primary rooms. This project is aimed at a wider age range.
Although the printed notes suggest a lower-secondary group, I tried it out with my top juniors, and met with some success.
I have tried to avoid using the word program as the package - from Alpha Computer School - actually contains a program either on cassette or disc, teachers' notes and worksheets, and a small module which plugs into the AD converter.
In addition there are some acetate sheets with which you can make your own barcodes using the very clear and detailed instructions. The whole package is priced at £25, with further readers available at £18.
However the real test is how it performs in the classroom, and I have to report mixed results. When I first set it up I tried out the two barcodes which the company had thoughtfully provided for my review.
To the great delight of the children, the corned beef and the cod in mushroom sauce man aged to be read as cats supermeat, vinegar and prime back bacon smoked!
Eventually it became obvious that the speed of movement through the reader was fairly critical, and I soon became adept at producing faulty bills.
However the children met no such difficulty and so I had to bow to their superior youth.
Making the barcodes was easy, and quite a selection can be made simply and quickly. The software loaded with no problems. It allows each item passing through the reader to be displayed on screen. On pressing Esc a total cost is displayed.
A couple of months ago I used the BBC Buggy, which includes a program on barcodes, but I must confess that this one is a superior idea, having much more flexibility.