Archive for September 2008


Barcode scanning for five-year-olds

September 22nd, 2008 — 2:30am

My kid’s taking it to the next level, as far as tracking his reading habits on GoodReads. All the typing of book titles was boring the young lad, though, and so we just dropped just under fifteen bucks on eBay, shipped, for one of them CueCat USB barcode scanners. You may remember that name attached to an intellectual property brou-ha-ha a couple years back, since the gadgets were part of some sort of scammy spyware company’s get-rich-quick-through-encrypted-barcode-scanning scheme that, astonishingly, didn’t pan out, round about the same time people realized you could trivially hack them to be more generally usable.

Anyhow, turns out there were a zillion of the gadgets made, and apparently after the company went under, you could buy a lot of 500,000 @ $0.30 or something. Some fine enterprising dude on eBay bought a batch, hacks them so they’re fully decrypted, and sells ’em steadily for under $10 plus shipping. Based on our experience so far, if you’re in the business of adding big piles of books to GoodReads or LibraryThing or what-have-you, or you have a five-year-old who is, you could do worse.

But so now my kid is constantly dragging stacks of books over to the computer, plugging in the scanner, and pulling in the ISBNs. I figure in another decade the kid will be so good at wanding barcodes that he’ll rise to the top of the retail job heap and be crowned King Of The Mall before he’s 17. I’ll be so proud, I might get a t-shirt made.

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