My Substitute Reality -You're just jealous cause the little voices only talk to me-

Monday March 19, 2012


Filed under: Work — don @ 7:28 pm

About a year ago my co-workers were talking about getting some software to handle our inventory and maybe help with our manufacturing. Since they knew I’m fairly knowledgeable about computers they asked me to help find the best system for our needs.

We looked at a few different products and most of them would have done most of what we wanted but they were all $5,000 or above. A few of them were closer to $20,000.

I told the guys that I could code up what they needed using Visual Basic. After we went back and forth they decided I should probably go ahead and give it a shot.

We bought a couple of scanner guns which are actually portable computers and I went to work learning how to program them. Once I figured that out I started on the VB software.

What we decided on was a system that would have a VB program running on the same server that served the scanners. To save the data I went with a MySQL database which I had some experience with from some PHP and Python programs I had written a few years ago. We could have gone with Microsoft Access too but I felt more comfortable with MySQL.

I would also create a VB program that would allow a user to modify the data and look at things like WIP (Work In Process) and Inventory.

It took a few months but by May or so of last year we had a working system. It was actually more complete than we had originally planned. It was actually a fairly complete MRP (Manufacturing and Resource Planning) system.

The other main architect and I presented it at a Friday luncheon and everyone was fairly impressed.

A few months later our procurement guys asked if we could add some purchasing information. They had been keeping all this information on Excel spreadsheets stored all over our file server. If you really knew what you were looking for you might have been able to find it but Excel is not the place to keep large amounts of data. You should keep large amounts of data in a database.

We also use QuickBooks to do our Purchase Orders and Invoices. What we really wanted was some way to access both the information in the Excel spreadsheets and the information in the QuickBooks database. I did some searching and found a piece of software that would copy the QB data to a MySQL database and allow you to update it from the MySQL database. We purchased that I figured out how to used it.

Since then I’ve been adding features and capabilities and we are ready to present it again. In fact we are going to do some training and roll it out to the whole company.

Now it has the original features plus it allows Manufacturing Engineers to see assembly information about parts and shortages. In fact it does a ton on that front.

It also has all the procurement features they asked for plus many they didn’t.

I also threw in some reports for Program Managers to help them understand how their programs are doing.

And now, about the name. As you can see on the pictures I’ve included the Icon is a piggy bank. I don’t know why I picked that but my cohort Jeff stated calling it Piggy right after I first came out with it and it stuck. Even though very few people at work have actually used it they all know what Piggy is. And after this Friday they will all know what it can do.

Here’s a few pictures of the program.

Most of the upper tabs have one or two rows of tabs underneath just like the Procurment/PM tab does.

At our last Friday lunch our CFO Stuart was telling the folks about the demo that Jeff and I had given him. He said he was very impressed. He also said our financial guy thought we could sell it if we wanted to since he had never seen anything that well integrated with QuickBooks. I don’t think we’re ready to stop selling antennas and sell Piggies but it was a nice thing to hear when you’ve invested a lot of time in something.

I forgot to mention that because I love to write programs I did much of it at home on weekends. It was quite usual for me to get up at 7am on Saturday and work till 8 or 9 that evening and then do it again on Sunday. Of course that was donated time as we don’t get any overtime as a salaried employee.

But I would do it all again.


  1. Well, this was a bit techie for me, but I’m impressed nevertheless. Good job!

    Comment by Donna — Monday March 19, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

  2. Thanks for posting. Even though I haven’t the vaguest idea of what you are talking about, I’m glad that you are keeping your mind sharp.

    Comment by Mom — Tuesday March 20, 2012 @ 8:09 am

  3. Sounds like you’ve been busy and having fun.

    Comment by Richard — Tuesday March 20, 2012 @ 9:21 am

  4. This sounds really cool. I’ve “donated” programming projects like this to Intel in the past too, and I know it’s a cool feeling to see people using your creation. This looks more complex than the ones I did there, though.

    Are you ready to go to Version 1 instead of 0.2.x.x?

    Comment by Daryl — Tuesday March 20, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  5. Hey Daryl, that reminded me of FonFind! I haven’t thought of that little app you wrote at Intel for years. My boss, Frank Giordano sure loved it.

    Comment by Donna — Tuesday March 20, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

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