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Posted By: Khazzaq Waldganger Yet Another Equipment Database! - 31/10/06 12:08 PM
I am thinking of having a go at developing a web-based equipment management system with emphasis on medical equipment maintenance.

Having noticed a number of gurus giving good advice on this forum, I am wondering if anyone out there would be willing to collaborate on such a project. Personally, I am in favour of an open approach (ie, everyone’s contribution would be welcome, and the resulting software would be made freely available to anyone in need of it).

Trouble is that we would still need to eat, and pay the rent! So I guess what we’re talking about here is sponsorship. Ideas, any one?

If such a group could be patched together, perhaps we could bring in revenue by doing other software-related tasks within the biomed community. Just a thought.

Another database system? Yes, but using the latest technologies. Just one last time, as it were!

Kaz smile
Posted By: Ed SWM Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 04/11/06 12:26 PM
Hi Kaz,
Web based is a brilliant idea as we tried it with limited success several years ago. Latest technology is superb but if your computer cannot access the web due to lightening strike, your ISP broadband being down (as it regularly is), the server not playing or some other failure you are pretty much out of work. The other limitation, especially working in remote areas is actual maximum data speed. We found that even over a 56k dialup we had to keep the system pretty much free of "fancies" and keep the data to a bare minimum to make it really usable.
Will be glad to help and share the info we have with you either on the forum or via PM,
regards
Ed
Southwest Medical Ltd
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 04/11/06 12:31 PM
I'm interested, too. Can we not just use (ie, pay for) a host server, and then let someone else worry about the things you mention, Ed?

Come on, Huw. You must be able to give us a bit of guidance on this, surely? smile
Posted By: Ed SWM Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 04/11/06 12:38 PM
Hi geoff, the problem is accessing the host which I assume is where or your vital data will be kept, as if it's down or you connection to the web is interrupted you have no local data availabe to work from (unles you synchronise the database at the start of every login......this may take a while)
Regards
Ed
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 04/11/06 12:57 PM
Sounds like we’re looking at our own server, then, Ed. There goes Kaz’s “for free” idea, then. Customers would have to subscribe to cover the costs of maintaining the server. Am I on the right track here, I wonder? Fancy having a go, Ed? Let’s thresh it out, guys. Kaz? smile
Thanks for your inputs, Mr. Ed, Mr. Geoff. I’m sure there are plenty more experts who regularly look in on this forum, and I’m hoping for more feedback and advice before proceeding with this one.

As I said before, everyone’s contribution would be welcome.

Hoping to hear from possible sponsors, too!

Kaz smile
Posted By: Ed SWM Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 04/11/06 10:40 PM
I may be wrong but I think Kaz was thinking of something web based that is accessible from users "remotely"?
Like I said this is OK and of course we would need to host it but I am thinking that the problem with that is not the server but accessing it across the interweb thingy! i.e if you cannot access the internet you cannot access your data! Then comes Data protection etc.......
Ed
Posted By: Gee Bee Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 05/11/06 12:51 PM
Client-Server architecture utilising a web browser is the way to go.

One solution would/could be to use MySQL and PHP/Perl or Java to connect and act as the interface.

Quick, simple and cheap to construct.
Thanks for that good information, Gee Bee. Interesting.

Yes Ed, I had in my mind that a user would log on to the website, enter his (her) password, then enter or select the data-set (job-site, hospital etc.) to which access is entitled.

The database engine (programs) would be common, as would as much of the data as possible (eg, addresses database, generic equipment data, PM procedures etc.). These common databases would be open for everyone to update, edit (or muck-up frown ).

But I would like to see links to standard databases wherever good ones already exist (eg, ECRI, ebme etc.).

User’s specific data (equipment list, user departments, customer database, parts stock etc.) would obviously be securely linked to them only.

OK guys, when do we start coding?

Kaz smile
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 07/11/06 1:11 PM
Soon, Kaz, soon. But can I suggest that we link our new system into this thread ? smile
Posted By: Desert Coder Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 13/11/06 11:10 AM
Hey Hannis, I was mightily heartened (surprised, even?) to note 42 downloads of your old clunker “TaskMaster”. I wonder if any of those people actually use it, ha, ha! If so, how much bugs have they found, ha, ha! Very kind that you give away the source code. Just wonder how many Blazers we could have bought if you had charged 100 dollars for each!

Did you ever get a Windows version out from the door (and did you get any farther with the Clipper version)? Things are much the same here, but your presence is still felt!

Ciao, Mo.
Posted By: Tony Dowman Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 13/11/06 11:50 AM
Too many aitches Mo, he used to be referred to as " ey annis " laugh laugh laugh
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 13/11/06 11:54 AM
Hello Mo. It’s about time you stopped lurking and actually made a post. But don’t you remember I emailed you a Windows distro? Perhaps all that sid has addled your tiny brain, Mate. Anyway, I’ve just sent another for you to roundly condemn. And how many would pay US$ 100? Not many I should imagine (and, anyway, in the UK NHS computer systems have to cost £ thousands just to convince people that they’re any good)!

Haven’t done much of interest these last couple of years. My unsettled “lifestyle” is not conducive to coding, unfortunately. As always, there’s no sign of any patronage. If truth be told, biomed is not really where it’s at, is it? I mean, I don’t see the “next great app” being an equipment maintenance system somehow, do you? But, yes, I would be willing to have a go if someone was willing to pay. And the web-based idea must be the way to go now, surely?

Yes, Mate, FoxPro, dBASE and Clipper were all great (still are, in my opinion). But it’s a bit like comparing a GameBoy with a PSP, is it not? The world has moved on. Still playing with your GameBoy? Haven’t you heard – the Nintendo Wii is going to be the “must have” this Christmas (oh, sorry Mo, I meant Holiday Season). smile
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 28/12/06 12:34 PM
It's gratifying to note there have been 46 downloads from this site of TaskMaster, the venerable DOS-based clunker. Twelve years old, and still going strong!

I hope that some of the downloads have been put to good use. I should add that I've yet to receive any user feedback, whether good, bad or indifferent!

Sad Chap that I am proud to be, the Christmas break has given me a chance to catch up with some maintenance coding, and I shall be happy to email-attach the latest distro to anyone who's interested.

I note (to my dismay, and despite my best efforts) that the TaskMaster DOS distro does not run readily under Win XP (ie, under the resident "DOS-box", what Win XP calls cmd). This is in contrast to Win 98 SE and Win 2000 wherein the DOS-box can be set up to run this "legacy program" OK. All part of Microsoft's efforts to kill off DOS programs, I wonder? After all, with 1 Gig of RAM to play with, I should be able to run hundreds of virtual DOS machines, surely? I am on the look-out, then, for a decent third-party DOS emulator to use instead of the miserable effort that comes with XP.

As I’ve mentioned before, not everyone in the world has access to (or needs) the latest technology. I recently bought a pile of old (> 10 years) Toshiba laptops off eBay, and find that the DOS version of TaskMaster works very well on these (low-spec, well-built) machines. Ready to do useful work, and very clear in monochrome too!

Meanwhile, the Windows version of TaskMaster works just fine, and I plan to offer this one, too, as "freeware" as a gesture of goodwill to all, at the end of Eid, inshallah. Then I hope to make a start on the next project!

Anybody fancy having a go can get in touch by Personal Message, email or whatever. Cheers.

And lastly, the good news for DOS-lovers is that DOS Navigator is now available as “freeware”. Check-out the RIT Labs site . Enjoy! smile
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 30/12/06 11:53 AM
Everything’s cool now with running DOS TaskMaster on Win XP. I’ve made the simple change needed. In fact, as I had hoped, I can now run as many DOS incarnations as I need on a single machine, limited only by the amount of RAM available. So, I take it all back, perhaps it is progress after all. smile
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 13/02/07 12:00 PM
It's gratifying to note there have been more than 60 downloads from this site of TaskMaster, the venerable DOS-based clunker. Twelve years old, and still going strong!

There has been a bit of work on this program over the winter months, so the download version is now out of date. There are also a few bugs in there (as always). I have agreed with Huw to submit the latest DOS version, plus a Windows version too. Trouble is that I don’t have a great deal of time to polish-up these distros at present, but still feel a bit guilty that people are downloading an earlier version.

So, if anyone wants to have a go with either version (DOS or Windows) as they currently stand, they could do worse than get in touch by private message or email. I would then be happy to email-attach the latest offering as a .zip file. Better yet, if anyone out there uses FoxPro, you can try the source code and have a go yourself! smile
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 10/04/07 3:40 PM
This year’s effort (7.04) is now available at the Downloads section. With over 70 down-loads of the previous version, somebody out there must be interested! Might as well have the latest version to play with, guys. smile
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 28/05/07 4:35 PM
I’m pleased to note that there have been more than 90 downloads from the Downloads | Miscellaneous section of this site of TaskMaster, the venerable DOS-based clunker. It’s yet another wet Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, and I now have the Windows version more of less ready to "ship". If anybody wants this, better get in touch via email or PM and I’ll email it to you on the condition that you try it and let me know how you got on. I should mention that I have yet to receive any feedback from the DOS version downloads, which is a pity. These programs look a bit dated now, but still continue to be useful (to me, at least). You can get an idea from this link. If anybody still uses FoxPro 2.6 for DOS or Visual FoxPro 6.0 (or higher), you can have my source code if you want to have a play yourself. Lastly, as I don't have a lot of time for coding these days, if anyone wants to buy all my code, and then develop it further - well, let's say that I'm open to offers! smile
Posted By: lonjon Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 29/05/07 6:43 PM
Please count me in aoisaac@gmail.com
Back to the original post on this thread … having survived the hard winter, and now chilling out a bit whilst enjoying the summer one flower at a time, I’m now brimming with new ideas (…perhaps it’s that stuff I like to smoke, or maybe just the Jack Daniel’s. Ha, ha). It’s also getting too hot for basketball, and I’m being laughed at on my skate-board these days (who says I’m too old? Define “too old”)!

Anyway, having failed to raise any interest in sponsorship, how about the idea that we develop the new system right here, in open forum, on this website? I propose that we thresh out an agreed specification for the New System, then code it ourselves, step by step, whilst welcoming contributions from the entire community along the way.

Personally, I prefer to code in FoxPro, but I know that others have favourites of their own. So wouldn’t it be fun to code to the same spec in any or all of the usual platforms? I envisage writing my own code in FoxPro, then sharing it via email attachments. Others could code, say, in Access and then share that. How does that sound?

Having binned my guitar, and broken my motor-cycle, personally I’m ready to rock!

Kaz smile
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 05/06/07 4:59 PM
Meanwhile, today it’s 100 TaskMaster downloads from the Downloads | Miscellaneous section of this site. Someone must still like the venerable DOS clunker (... the price is right, after all). And, oddly enough, I’ve done a bit of maintenance coding on it only this morning. It needs a total re-write, actually – does anyone have the time (it’s very therapeutic, you know)? smile
Posted By: Neoteny Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 19/06/07 8:06 AM
I am currently working on a database for an embe dept - coded to thier request.
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 19/06/07 5:36 PM
Nice work if you can get it, Mate. What are you coding in? smile
Posted By: Neoteny Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 20/06/07 8:43 AM
VB
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 28/06/07 5:41 AM
When I find myself in times of trouble,
K&R they come to me.
Speaking words of wisdom,
Code in C.

Code in C, Code in C.
Code in C, Code in C.
VB’s not the answer,
Code in C! smile
Posted By: Anonymous Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 28/06/07 10:41 AM
Is that "legacy" VB or VB.NET?
Posted By: Neoteny Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 05/07/07 1:45 PM
Legacy!
Posted By: Anonymous Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 05/07/07 2:11 PM
Luvurly! RE: Geoff's comments about "C" - isn't VB.NET the database programming language of choice nowadays? For new starters anyhow.
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 06/07/07 7:21 PM
Yes, you’re right Richard. Anyone starting out today could do worse than get stuck in to VB.NET. Especially if they’re also into adding to the obscene wealth of some of the world’s richest people.

Us old-timers tend to see things from a slightly different perspective, of course. There are plenty of excellent programming tools down-loadable for free off the internet. I would urge anyone genuinely interested to have a go in as many languages as possible (if they can find the time). Then you might be in with a chance of really understanding. If you think in terms of a better way, ultimately you will find it. Meanwhile, you can do anything in C (surely the purest of programming languages?), but for database work I still reckon that dBASE and its derivatives (FoxPro being the outstanding example) is the way! smile
Posted By: Anonymous Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 06/07/07 8:31 PM
The way I see it the database application, e.g. dBase, Foxpro, MS Access, whatever and/or the programming language are a means to an end. Relational databases are what it's all about now - small scale stuff for our needs I'd have thought.

The real art of developing a database, so I'm led to believe, is in determining the relationships between the data tables, i.e. metadata and functionality, queries, front-end applications, reports and working out systems of work, processes, etc.

The language or application shouldn't really be an issue but If a language includes really useful methods aimed towards database development then surely this is better than keep "reinventing the wheel". Perhaps UML is the key to design.

MS VB (.NET) Express Edition is totally free and probably gives anyone starting out more than enough to develop useful applications or databases. Downloads available from Microsoft FOC.
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 07/07/07 6:57 AM
Go for it, Richard! smile
Posted By: Anonymous Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 07/07/07 9:08 AM
I'm not really interested in databases - although they're an important "tool of the trade" that's used in maintenance. My C programming, MS ANSI C, Visual C, C++ and embedded C experience, is associated with cross-compilers for hardware applications. Never really been into dedicated RTOS programming but most RTOS "functionality" can be provided using C.

Like everybody else I've played with Visual Basic, Access and Excel to produce simple databases and applications quickly. I've not got the skill or inclination to develop a database or simple applications in C because the effort to learn the ins and outs of C is not worth it to me.

The language is a means to an end so I stick to what gives me the best return on the time and limited skill I have in programming "odds and ends" for Windows. I do tinker with VB.NET and I think it's probably more suited to databases but programming databases holds no real interest to me.

Saying that I reckon the real skill comes in specifying what data goes into the database and how it's used, i.e. database modelling and development. This is way more important than the language that's used for the application, I believe.
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 07/07/07 11:54 AM
Don’t sell yourself short, Richard. I’ve met many techs who don’t have a clue how to go about even simple coding. Myself, I love databases. Databases (and spreadsheets) are what computers are all about, in my opinion. Otherwise, PC’s are just fancy entertainment machines.

Remembering what Theodore Roosevelt said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are" (the biomed's mantra, surely), I find it satisfying to be able to have ago in any old language. Obviously some are more suitable than others, but where’s the fun in "point and click"?

I agree with you, Richard. For a decent result it is essential that the "data-set model" has been well thought out in the first place. That is, the organisational model, procedures etc. have to be not only grasped, but well-understood (this is why I'm always preaching that "home-grown" is best). Many (usually young, perhaps inexperienced) coders are eager to rush on and start coding ("fools rush in ... "), only to pay the price in endless re-work later on. Computers are a tool like all the other tools at our disposal. But as with tools, some people are more dexterous than others.

Each to their own, then. Or should that be "From each according to his ability: to each according to his work"? smile

Many fail to actually complete their project(s) also, it must be said. So, here’s a saying (attributed by Margaret Thatcher to her father), that's worth keeping at the back of your mind:-

"It's easy to be a starter,
But are you a sticker too?
It's easy enough to begin a job;
It's harder to see it through."
Posted By: Anonymous Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 07/07/07 12:38 PM
I think we need to banish the myth that VB.NET is a "point and click" language as per previous versions of "legacy" VB. I'm inclined to use VB.NET precisely because it appears to have made the break from just dragging controls onto forms and suchlike.

As far as I'm aware it uses the Common Language Runtime (CLR) environment of Windows that's also used by the other visual languages, e.g. Visual C. It's a fully Object Oriented Programming (OOP) language, i.e. it's able to meet the requirements for definition of OOP, it is able to create & use methods (in DLLs, etc) common to other languages that also use the CLR.

It is in its own right a very powerful programming language that may not have as much access to system resources at the lower levels, like C, but it's more than adequate for learning complex aspects of OOP. Certainly powerful enough to be dedicated to programming complicated database applications.

Since I'm not a programmer, i.e. I'm an interested amateur with some experience of programming (various languages) from school, college and university and as a hobby, I don't get involved in programming "projects" at work - I leave that to "experts". My job is to maintain equipment.
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 07/07/07 1:34 PM
OK, Richard, you’ve sold it. I’ll take a look at VB.NET when I get the time.

We may not be expert programmers, but from where such people stand, I dare say that we do appear as experts in the engineering support and maintenance of medical equipment. That’s why the solutions of us maintainers are superior!

Remember what we get from the "experts"? Centi-hours, weird data fields that the user is forced to use (or work around), and nonsense like that. No Mate, the enthusiastic amateur beats the so-called professional any day, in my book at least.

But, to avoid repeating myself yet again, I’ve said it all before at the Re: Philips Optim thread on 27-Jan-07. smile
Posted By: Anonymous Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 07/07/07 2:08 PM
Quote:
No Mate, the enthusiastic amateur beats the so-called professional any day, in my book at least.

I agree but programmers are a luxury in most departments and a waste of an engineer who could/should be maintaining equipment, perhaps. The amateurs win because the customer will get want they want/what's required rather than an off the shelf compromise that's not adequately supported and is being fobbed-off onto those that don't understand that a database is there to serve the organisation not the other way around.

Perhaps OPTIM is an example of a badly designed, poorly executed and supported commercial product that may not be suitable, or maybe too complex, for the tasks that we require.

The potential danger with amateurs who develop databases is that they leave, change job-roles away from what they were originally employed to do, e.g. repairs, and get bored with database maintenance once they've finished the interesting stuff. They can also put a department to "ransom" for uplift in pay or job role once they set up a system that no-one else is in a position to develop/maintain/support.
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 07/07/07 2:29 PM
... professionals have never been known to do anything like that, I suppose? wink
Posted By: Anonymous Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 07/07/07 2:50 PM
Good point - I've rarely heard of commercial organisations being "dragged over the coals" by NHS departments for poor support/shoddy products.
It's been a couple of months now since my last post, and perhaps people have been wondering where I've been. No? Well, never mind that. Let's just say that I haven't been able to get in the groove, for one reason or another. But here I am back again, with plugs in sockets, and ready to rock (almost)!

C, C++, C#, dBASE, Delphi, FoxPro, Java, Pearl, Visual Basic (sorry if I've missed out any of your favourites) - who cares? It's all code at the end of the day!

Yeah, K&R were true heroes, but so too were Wayne Ratcliff, Dave Fulton, Jeb Long and all the rest of the pioneers in the Coder's Hall of Fame.

Kaz smile
Posted By: Geoff Hannis Re: Yet Another Equipment Database! - 05/08/07 6:46 AM
I wonder what those genius guys are up to these days, Kaz? Resting on their laurels, or still cranking out the code?

Go for it, Mate. smile
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