POS – Reboot…

I purchased a book from Barnes and Noble today, I needed to wait in line before getting to the checkout because the point of sale device has stopped scanning credit cards - the guy behind the counter appologised to everyone and said that the point of sale device had “locked up” and “needed to be rebooted”

It comes to something when a) someone working at a store needs to reboot the POS, and b) understands what rebooting the POS means...

I didn't get round to asking who the manufacturer of the POS was, or what O/S it was running... perhpas I should have...

- Mike

Comments (13)

  1. Zk says:

    Just to share.. At a local grocery story, I was trying to pay with my ATM card, but the machine locked up and the sales clerk had to reboot it. (which btw, consisted of tapping the four corners of the touch display.. I’m not sure if the order was important)

  2. denny says:

    a lot of them are IBM hardware. and form what I can tell basicly the older ones are PS/2 with smaller printers …

    some fast food chains used to run with versions of UNIX.

    but I’m sure some of them are windows boxes, I saw a bar and grill one time that had a windows touch panel system.

  3. Mike says:

    Interesting! – I wonder how often this happens…

    Also, have you noticed that checkout workers totally rely on the POS terminals, a few years ago shop assistants without POS terminals would calculate the amount of change needed in their heads, now (or so it appears) I would be surprised if many shop assistants would be able to do the math to get the change right.

    Also, have you noticed how just about everywhere now takes credit/debit cards? – how often do you pay using cash? – I notice that there’s a Windows XP Embedded POS terminal that takes credit/debit cards, but can also have your payment details on file and use a fingerprint to validate you – http://www.paybytouch.com/using.html, once validated you’re done, no need to get your card out or even enter a PIN number.

    Things will get even better when RFID or similar technologies are widespread – when I go shopping at the local supermarket I load up the cart/trolley with shopping, take the shopping to the checkout, offload everything from the cart onto the checkout, once all the barcodes have been scanned I then need to re-load the cart… why??? – this seems like a total waste of time and effort.

    With RFID or similar technologies the cart could be scanned as I’m passing through the checkout, with a fingerprint payment option I would be out of the store in seconds, no need to load/unload the cart, and lines could be reduced through speedy checkout – how cool would that be ? – come on folks, let’s get this technology out there !!!

    – Mike

  4. Mike says:

    I was in Asia a few months back, on a tour, presenting at the Windows Embedded Essentials events – in a South Korean shopping center there were a bunch of internet phones (you could send e-mail and make phone calls) – one of the devices had GPF’d, it appeared to be running Windows 95, which was interesting, I couldn’t see any obvious way to reboot the device, perhaps I should have taken a photo…

    Actually, there’s an interesting idea… if any of you have photo’s of devices in a Blue screen or GPF state then send them to me, I will prop them up on my site and post a link…


    – Mike

  5. Stephen Veiss says:

    Fairly common occurance around here (UK). Last shop I worked at had POS terminals running under DOS, communicating via serial lines.

    Many ATMs over here run some variant of Windows, usually 95 or NT4. The older ones are mainly OS/2, I believe.

    I’ve seen 95 blue screens on things like airport and train departure boards, too.

  6. Steve says:

    Saw this once at a Sonics game:


    Glad I had my smartphone to snap a picture of all the monitors blue screening 😉

  7. Mike says:

    Nice ! – thanks for posting…

  8. Whilst not a POS system, I know that Strand Lighting’s theatrical lighting control desks run MS-DOS (6.22, I think…never checked)

  9. Mike says:

    We were showing a theater lighting panel running on Windows XP Embedded at Embedded Systems West this year – even though I work in the Embedded Devices Group I’m still surprised by some of the devices that are running our operating systems (the Bernina Sewing Machine being a good example).

    – Mike

  10. The Barnes & Noble systems are running a program called "Bookmaster" on IBM hardware (not too old, and good enough for POS. Average is P3 700, 64-128MB RAM). The OS is 98SE, and it has been locked down somewhat. It is actually one of the better lockdowns for retail I have seen, with most keyboard shortcuts being killed, and no "direct" access to anything but bookmaster.

    The system essentially uses a DOS shell to interface with the registers. There is a NT 4 box in the back room running data synchronization with the home office. Once in a while someone seems to Term Serv in and do things. There is also some IBM hardware in the back room, which is presumeably running the inventory database, and hosting the wireless connection program for the handheld scanners the employees use.

    The book lookup and inventory system is web-based, and is essentially a stripped out version of bn.com. It’s not too bad. IE is used, but has been admin-kitted, however, if you can click enough stuff quickly enough you can force an IE error that will let you get to an IE window that has an address bar. The corporate office is running Websense to block internet traffic aside from the manager’s computer.

    The reboot happens at the front (the "cashwrap") usually because the DOS program running the POS (and the timeclock) has some issues with hardware interface and de-links itself from the scanners, and sometimes the network. The program is not elegant, but it does fail pretty elegantly.

    The beauty of a down economy…I got the pleasure of being a bookseller for a few months. It wasn’t that bad. 50% discount in the cafe, 30% on books.

    Sorry for the long comment. Just thought I’d share.

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