As the self-titled Head of Special Projects, I get a lot of oddball things thrown at me with the instructions to make them work flawlessly. This has allowed me to experiment with a lot of different things and have a good puzzle every now and then. These can be fun projects as they allow for deviation from the sometimes tedious tasks, but they are also frustrating because you are sometimes forced to take long roads around a previously dealt with problem or re-invent the wheel because of a manufacturer’s restrictions. Since I try hard to accommodate these odd-ball gadgets and work them into our system, it can be frustrating when the company that makes these devices can’t see beyond their default configuration and can’t accommodate their users in the same way I am smoothing the edges of their gadgets. This seems to be the exact situation I found myself in with the DLSG BookEye KICII scanner. Here is my review and experience with this setup:
You can access the scanner directly through a web-interface by just typing in the hostname/IP address. There is an admin, user, and power-user login through this web-interface, but it is typically unnecessary to go through. I believe the admin login is restricted to BookEye employees and the power-user login is in the documentation.
In order to get into a maintenance mode of the scanner, the scanner should have its power on, but be shut down. Press the power button and then hold down the red ‘Stop’ button until it goes into maintenance mode. You can specify the IP, Gateway, DHCP, etc. in here using the arrows on the front panel of the scanner. To save the settings press the green ‘Go’ button. It will need to be rebooted for settings to take effect.
The software takes advantage of the dual monitor setup and the only way to get out of it is to press Alt+F4. The keyboard and mouse are tucked away in the cabinet, as the monitor is a touch-screen and the KIC program provides a touch-screen keyboard when it is necessary. One can either unlock the cabinet and retrieve the mouse/keyboard or VNC into the machine.
The hardware is based on a mid-tower HP DC5750 loaded with a standard public image. There are two ways to connect the scanner to the computer: You can connect the computer to the network and then with a second NIC and a cross-over cable connect the scanner directly to the computer or you can connect both devices directly to the network. We have opted for the latter option with no consequences. Trying the cross-over cable option, I encountered problems successfully navigating network traffic to the network and not the scanner. This means that the 192.168.1.50 default IP that the scanner has (and that the company expects) is junk. They might insist that the scanner needs to be connected via cross-over cable (based on conversations where they tried to walk staff (without admin privileges) through an upgrade), but this is clearly not so in our case.
The profile refreshes itself exactly like the public machines, initiating a log out and log back in every twenty minutes of idle time. The scanner also turns itself off after a half hour of being idle. The scanner software is set to launch with the startup of the machine, but will generate an error and close if the scanner is not powered on. If this is the case, then the scanner merely needs to be turned on and given a minute to fully start up, and then launch the KIC software from the Start Menu navigating with the touch screen.
There are two clunky parts involved in this whole process, the software and the company’s “support.” The software does its job well enough, but it is a pain to configure and requires adjustments for every upgrade. The application looks for user.config file located here:
c:\documents and settings\<user name>\Local Settings\Application Data\DLSG\<jibberish folder><version number>
If the file is not found, the program will startup with a configuration window which then creates a new user.config. The file is an XML format document and thus very readable and easy to edit. The jibberish folder name changes with each version and seemingly with how the executable is accessed (shortcut in the startup folder vs. shortcut on the top of the start menu). Given that our setup is probably a little more complicated than their typical client due to the public machine setup and we are using our own hardware, it shouldn’t be difficult for them to fathom an easier way to store these settings (especially with each upgrade, which seems to come at their whim).
The newly created file (and up to the jibberish folder name) must be copied to here:
\\server\Profiles\<computer name>\Local Settings\Application Data\DLSG
The default settings should be accepted except for:
+ UNCHECK use two-button interface
+ Decrease the timeout from 600 seconds to 30.
+ Change the IP address from its default 192.168.1.50
+ Disable sending statistics and e-mails to developers or admins.
+ Enable USB drives
– expand the list to include drives E-H
+ Enable Shared Folder
– point this directory to c:pfilesrw (this directory is shared to the Reference and Government Document public machines)
+ Disable printing
+ Enable e-mail
– Use default credentials
– Use the created account for the e-mail address
– Up the attachment limit to 20MB
– Change the default message to something like “Scanned images are attached. Please do not reply to this e-mail as it is an unmonitored account. Thank you.”
The other part of this process that needs improvement is the company’s support. Three out of three contacts with the company, I have talked with the same engineer (reachable at 561-886-2958). I don’t know what this says about the size and capacity of the company, but they seem to have difficulty supporting/taking into consideration anything besides their default configuration. I have found it best to just let them go about their business with as little interrupting as possible and then figure everything out again after they are done; the engineer has seemingly taken personal offense to even the mentioning that we prefer the non-two-button interface and find it more intuitive for the patrons. He has also made changes during upgrades without backups/documentations to restore the settings (such as even being able to reconnect to the scanner (non-default IP address), if it wasn’t for me being there) and our preferences be damned.
They use a remote controlling web-app in order to install these updates. They will have you go to:
and must provide you with the information for the session in order to establish the full connection. I am uncomfortable with this because historically, this has come with little warning and seemingly at their whim. You must logon as an administrator in order for them to uninstall the previous version and download/install the new version prior to connecting remotely. The new version is located on an FTP site, when they could just as easily provide us with the .msi or location to download from via e-mail and we could perform the upgrade at our convenience (who knows if a patron might be in the middle of scanning or IT WNS is free when they call and demand to upgrade).
Ultimately, besides having two mechanical errors with the scanner (one with the original and one with the loaner right before it was sent back), I would say that the software configuration and the company’s support are my only disappointments with the project as a whole.
How they could improve and satiate my complaints:
+Be willing to work with your clients and understand their setup instead of assuming your setup. Also understand that people might prefer a different interface and don’t take offense to their opinion as to which they prefer, maybe even take it as a suggestion.
+Send out an e-mail that you have released an update and include an URL where I can download it and install it at my convenience. If it’s a password protected page, fine, I’ll even accept that. This remote-controlling thing is a huge inconvenience and requires about twice as much time and work once you are off the phone to reconfigure everything.
+Change the KIC software configuration to something constant like C:\Program files\KIC\Config.xml or if you want it to be able to be different per user, C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\KIC\config.xml