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MIS Systems Thread, Registration using PDAs / swipe cards - recommendations? in Technical; We're looking at setting up electronic registration this year. The preferred methods are via pda (speed of booting) or swipe ...
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    Registration using PDAs / swipe cards - recommendations?

    We're looking at setting up electronic registration this year. The preferred methods are via pda (speed of booting) or swipe card (integration with other potential projects - cashless catering & door locks), but PDAs look a bit more foolproof to prevent pupils signing each other in. This has to work with SIMS .net.

    I've already rejected Bromcom, and am currently looking at PARS.net, an offering from Qinetiq, Easytrace, Nedap and Lesson Monitor.

    Questions:

    1) Does anyone have a PDA - based system that they're happy with from both an end-user (minus initial grumbles) and sysadmin perspective? Is it faster and easier than using paper registers?

    2) Does anyone have a system that will cache data for later synchronization if it can't find a wireless network? (or do they all do that?).

    3) Do they all play nicely with wpa2 / vpn? I'm assuming they should but...

    I saw Rics post about Nedap (which is why it's on my list).

    Cheers

    Pete

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    Re: Registration using PDAs / swipe cards - recommendations?

    I know you can use E-portal, a web based front end for CMIS, to perform a roll call instead of an OCR scanner, but we havent implemented it. Obviously if you dont use CMIS this is little use to you, also be aware e-portal isnt all that reliable. we used to use it for Parental Reports, we dont anymore

    Dan

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    Re: Registration using PDAs / swipe cards - recommendations?

    We use Bromcom but I see you have regected it. Personally I would move to a system based on IWB as soon enough every classrooms going to have one. And it saves having to support portable devices...

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    Re: Registration using PDAs / swipe cards - recommendations?

    I'm looking at letting the PE dept. use a wireless PDA with PARS .net. I've tested it a little and you can download the full days registars to the pda and re-sync later on to upload the data, I don't know what the admin staff think of this idea as they haven't been told about it, but it would mean that a member of PE staff could stay in our sports hall with a PDA fo the entire day and sync when they got back to the main building.

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    Re: Registration using PDAs / swipe cards - recommendations?

    pm apeo about Qinetiq - we have been using some PDAs since January - personally I'd like to see all staff with a PDA as it is a lot easier to use than having to log into a PC or laptop each time they need to take a register, especialy as we will be moving to full lesson monitor soon.

    As far as Qinetiq apeo is the man to talk to as he has been working closely with the developers too.

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    Re: Registration using PDAs / swipe cards - recommendations?

    I've heard on the grape-vine that our SMT are getting Bromcom in for a demo the week after next. I guess I'll be invited, otherwise I'll invite myself, as I'll be the one to implement anything that any sweet-talking salesman may persuade them to buy!

    What sort of questions should I be asking? We have a Novell Netware network and use RM Integris as our MIS software.

    I don't know if SMT have looked at any other options - I think it may be down to the fact that the new Deputy used Bromcom at his previous school.

    Any thoughts/advice gratefully received.

    RoyG

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    Re: Registration using PDAs / swipe cards - recommendations?

    @Face-Man
    Re Bromcom - I've heard more bad things about it than good, hence I'm not a fan. (IWB integration would be brilliant)

    @dezt
    What spec PDA? I talked to the PARS salesguy - who was refreshing honest, and pointed out the shortcomings they were aware of with using PDAs but the hardware recommendation was a bit vague. (He shouted across the office to a developer who shouted back "as fast as you can afford").

    @alan-d
    Yeah, we have a demo version of the Qinetiq stuff from last year (probably worth checking for a more up-to-date demo). It looks very good and has PalmOS and PocketPC support.

    @RoyG
    Questions I'm currently asking include....
    - "Can you guarantee $thing we're buying will work with $thing we have (or money back)"
    - How will it work with / impact the current MIS servers - increased load?
    - IIRC Bromcom use a separate server - who's responsible for patching / maintenance? (and what does it cost if they do it). If they maintain it, is it via remote access? What are the implications of that for your network?
    - SLA (ties in with above) - if Bromcom system goes titsup, how fast will it be fixed?
    - Ask for details of local schools using the system - Bromcom rep should be able to provide them. You could also ask the new deputy if he can arrange a visit to see the system at his old school (assuming he didn't leave under a cloud),
    - If you go to the demo schools ask the users what they think.
    - If there isn't a technical guy there, ask for contact details of a guy you can talk things through with.
    - Drag a couple of users along (SMT doesn't count) and see what they think.
    - Access to known issues knowledgebase or equivalent. The PARS guys were quite open about this.

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    Re: Registration using PDAs / swipe cards - recommendations?

    I've got an hp ipaq H5450, 400mhz intel processor. It runs fine on that, I just setup a wireless link between my laptop and ipaq and log in and download full days worth of reg's.

    I've not noticed any preformance issues.

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