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the kitchen computer [message #6902] Mon, 27 June 2011 01:43 Go to next message
BubbleEntity  is currently offline BubbleEntity
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Registered: August 2004
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Ok, here I go embarrassing myself, but the kitchen computer / recipe database / food stores inventory.

Surely someone has actually made this, and it is feasible... lets see

Barcode scanners at at least two locations ( the "deep" stores, and the service pantry, sensible usage would have the service pantry stocked from the deep stores)
The database engine, containing at least four tables ( recipes, stock levels/desired, "alt" text [there was mention of hyper-linking to substitution suggestions, and unit conversions], price paid )
The station guis ( Sarah seems non-technical, and indeed you would have to assume that at some point non-technical people are going to try and use this, it has to either work for them, or it breaks for everyone)
Monitor and touch screen ( easier to seal against the kitchen environment, and the touch screen would be helpful to the non-technical)
possibly a capacitative plate keypad, to make some data entry easier in the kitchen environment ...


Now I'm tempted to try and make this, only it'll be a while, as at the moment, I suck at coding
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6903] Mon, 27 June 2011 12:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Doragoon  is currently offline Doragoon
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My thoughts about computer controlled food inventory systems is that they would work if you lived in a humidor. Basically, that small variations of recipes and in the ingredients will cause large variations over time.

I'm a bit of a coffee snob. You figure out your favourite bean and roast and you set your grinder to the perfect shot. Then you come back later that same day, and the grind needs to be changed. You wake up the morning after a big thunderstorm, the grind needs to be changed. The AC has been on all night, the grind needs to be changed.

Small changes in humidity changes the beans in ways that need to be adjusted for with the grind. Also, as the beans age, the grind will have to be changed. This also effect how many grams of coffee you will use per shot.

You can, and people do measure the number of grams of coffee they use with every pull. And you know how much coffee you started with. It sounds simple to decide how many cups you can make before you need to get more coffee, but I'm always off by a couple cups. And not always in the same direction.

I've noticed the same kinds of variation in other goods, particularly the dried. Flour is a HUGE variable. That's why all bread recipes use really broad fudge factors.

Cooking may be a science, but we don't live in a laboratory.

But just a recipe system, all I need TXT files. I do keep my personal recipes on my computer, and do use a laptop while cooking. but that's not any different than using a laptop to display sheet music/lyrics while I'm playing music. And that's so common they have stands for Ipads to be used on stage, and keyboards have Ipad cradles.
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6904] Mon, 27 June 2011 17:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
JenC  is currently offline JenC
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Registered: March 2011
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Three things.

1) As Doragoon said doing stock control based on the "expected" usage given in recipes can be fairly inaccurate and nothing ruins a meal like finding out a key ingredient has run out unexpectedly after the shops have closed (or creates genius new meals, depending on how lucky you are - I successfully made chapatis from scratch once when I ran out of naan bread for a curry). But you could use the food usage based on recipes to keep a watch on the food stocks and ask you to check to see if particular ingredients are getting low. On the deep storage side the simplest solution is to divide the storage area by age of stock and just keep a track of when that division needs to be replaced, but that may not be geeky enough for the Tuckers.

2) Touchscreens in 1997 were pretty expensive, although not entirely out of the realm of possibilities. Another option is just cover a keyboard in clear plastic (Tuck uses food wrap on his laptop at least once) and probably the monitor too. I would also be concerned about food dust getting into any computer in a kitchen so I would either mount it so the computer was actually outside the kitchen or use a dumb terminal.

3) The Tuckers are a *NIX family so they might not be using a GUI. Tuck and his dad certainly seem to treat them with scorn. But its possible to teach anyone how to use any non-GUI system fairly quickly, GUI's were just intended to minimise the teaching required for large numbers of people.

I have to say I have been tempted to do a recipe database and cooking tracker but for a slightly different problem then tracking house food stocks. I've been trying to lose weight recently and thought it may be idea to make a simple database to check my calorie, protien, carb, etc intake against recommended levels to allow me to check I am reducing calories whilst still having a broadly balanced diet.

Jen
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6906] Mon, 27 June 2011 18:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee is currently online Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
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Look up "Largo Recipes" and Google for RecipeML


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6907] Mon, 27 June 2011 19:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BubbleEntity  is currently offline BubbleEntity
Messages: 28
Registered: August 2004
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Frankly, in my opinion using such a system to draw down your food storage to zero on any item is stupid.
I would frankly expect such a system to have two levels of watch, a "target level", which if a unit is stocked under it suggests looking for specials on said item, and a caution level, under which it suggests you acquire that item soon, even if at normal retail.

The Tuckers have a noted prepper mentality, which suggests that for them ( and indeed for me), such a system would have elements of food insurance value. That is should an event occur that would make it difficult or impossible to procure food from an outside vendor, they have a safety net in place until they can arrange for another means of food production, or the ability to buy in food is restored.

An example from my part of the world ( and based on recent events) could be, Imagine that there has been an earthquake in the past couple of days. All the shops are closed pending engineering clearance on their structural soundness.
Without such stores, and the means to manage them, you are out of luck, you are launched straight into a personal crisis, as food and water are basic necessities. There is much wailing and gnashing of ( proverbial ) teeth.
With such a system and stocking, no big deal, life is minimally disrupted.
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6909] Mon, 27 June 2011 20:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Much the way garages stock expendables. I used to be inventory clerk for a tractor dealership. Nuts, bolts and many fluids and connectors were stocked much as one would stock things like coffee, salt and flour for a kitchen. When they got below a certain amount, you reordered.
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6911] Mon, 27 June 2011 21:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BubbleEntity  is currently offline BubbleEntity
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Erin, it's good to hear that there are still some places that practice proper inventory management. Here garages go "We'll order the part for you and give you a call when it's ready to bring your car in", then proceed to charge a horrible mark-up for the phone call that would have been unnecessary if their parts people weren't incompetent.
but yes, same idea, and the "we're not quite fully stocked on this" level lets you shop around and get a whole pile when they are nice and cheap. After all, who would rather pay $2.60 for a can of beans normal retail, if they know they can get them for 72 cents on special every few weeks

Shopping on a "I need this *now* but I can't find it" basis is disastrous. Shopping on a "I need this *now*" basis is expensive. Shopping on a "I'll get this if the price is good enough" basis is much nicer.
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6913] Tue, 28 June 2011 03:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
JenC  is currently offline JenC
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Part of my degree looked at stock control algorithms and picking the level of stock to reorder stuff and how much to reorder to ensure you don't run out is non-trivial, its not too hard once you understand your demand profile, but that is the tricky bit due to its random nature. The Tucker household should be an easy enough problem.
Also, once you get a few years worth of demand profile you can start doing some sophisticated stock policies like working out that in summer you stock and buy less root veg and stock and buy more salad stuff instead or work out that Thanksgiving is coming and order in everything typically needed for that. The supermarkets have got this stuff down pat, right down to how much shelf space to use and where in store to maximise sales value overall.

Anyway on the kitchen computer I should have waited one more chapter. 142 explicitly states its a Macintosh which has been sealed and filtered, so it could have a fancy GUI.

Jen
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6914] Tue, 28 June 2011 19:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BubbleEntity  is currently offline BubbleEntity
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My understanding is that there is a world of difference between a near JIT profile, and a demand profile that does not presume that you are burning through your order within n days. ( I have no idea what the proper name for such a stocking schema would be)

To my mind, part of the point is to create a reserve of essentials, and to facilitate the maintenance and rotation of this reserve.

It is far easier to manage this if A, you know what you are actually consuming, and b, you have a log of what the stock levels are like for each product.

the latter concern is easy enough when you are living on your own, but the moment another person becomes involved, you need to be able to track more than just your own usage. ( although tracking *who* is eating what is far more and advanced setup, and unnecessary for most)
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6915] Wed, 29 June 2011 03:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
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Location: Portland, OR
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BubbleEntity wrote on Mon, 27 June 2011 18:49

Erin, it's good to hear that there are still some places that practice proper inventory management. Here garages go "We'll order the part for you and give you a call when it's ready to bring your car in", then proceed to charge a horrible mark-up for the phone call that would have been unnecessary if their parts people weren't incompetent.


alas, it's not incompetence. It's that stocking stuff costs money. Not only do you need storage space, but ever since the same tax court decision that led to publishers not having more copies printed than they expect to sell *quickly* nobody maintains any more stocks of parts than they *have* to.

Y'see that decision said you had to pay inventory taxes (and other taxes) on such things. Not just when you bought or made things but every tax period until they sold.
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6916] Wed, 29 June 2011 03:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
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JenC wrote on Tue, 28 June 2011 00:10

Anyway on the kitchen computer I should have waited one more chapter. 142 explicitly states its a Macintosh which has been sealed and filtered, so it could have a fancy GUI.


a PC jr might have been a good choice as the wireless keyboards for them were designed to be run thru a dishwasher to clean them (Really!)

On the other hand "keyboard condoms" for the older Macs were quite common.
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6917] Wed, 29 June 2011 22:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee is currently online Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
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Brooke wrote on Wed, 29 June 2011 04:43

a PC jr might have been a good choice as the wireless keyboards for them were designed to be run thru a dishwasher to clean them (Really!)


...except that even in 1984 (that is, thirteen years Before Tuck) the PCjr was already a bad choice for... pretty much anything.


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6938] Tue, 19 July 2011 13:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
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Yup. And that's the decision that killed small bookstores and Mom and Pop operations all across America. It favors big stores, especially warehouse type stores, that can afford to order in lots of current stock but usually don't have much in the way of back stock because if it hasn't sold it gets remaindered or salvaged to avoid paying continuing inventory taxes.

It was a very bad decision for non-corporate business in America.

[Updated on: Tue, 19 July 2011 13:59]

Re: the kitchen computer [message #6945] Tue, 26 July 2011 07:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
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Erin Halfelven wrote on Tue, 19 July 2011 10:57

Yup. And that's the decision that killed small bookstores and Mom and Pop operations all across America. It favors big stores, especially warehouse type stores, that can afford to order in lots of current stock but usually don't have much in the way of back stock because if it hasn't sold it gets remaindered or salvaged to avoid paying continuing inventory taxes.

It was a very bad decision for non-corporate business in America.


Recently, when looking for copies of a book someone had finally managed to track down the author and title of from my description, I ran into yet another of the companies on Amazon that list old books at hundreds of dollars.

The scheme, as I understand it is that their servers check a bunch of other outfits, and if they see the title being searched for, they'll list it at a *huge* markup. Figuring that they can buy it with priority shipping, and still send it to anybody foolish enough to order from them and *still* make a profit.

Since they *claim* to have the book in stock, I'm hoping someone will get an IRS auditor interested. The listings generated could be used as evidence they have all these multi-hundred dollar books in stock, and thus need to pay inventory taxes.
Re: the kitchen computer [message #6946] Fri, 29 July 2011 16:03 Go to previous message
Erin Halfelven  is currently offline Erin Halfelven
Messages: 712
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They mostly avoid that with a note that the book "usually ships in 6 to 8 days" or some such.

I work at a bookstore once or twice a month, filling in, and they will order books for people for an add-on charge of just $1.50. So people don't have to risk their credit cards with some of these fly-by-late-afternoon outfits.

The IRS is unlikely to bother with something involving low numbers of books, and the internet insulates such people from action by their own state's Attorney General. It might be difficult to prove constructive fraud (that's a legal term meaning actions that are not fraudulent in themselves but have the same effect as fraud) but again, likely no one is going to bother.

It's just one of life's little scams that one has to be aware of.
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