back to article Very little helps: Tesco flashes ancient Windows desktop on Scan-As-You-Shop device

We interrupt the McDonald's-based borkage to bring you news of a Windows desktop spotted in an unlikely place – the handheld device used by shoppers to scan their purchases at the Tesco store in Carlisle, UK. Register reader Andy snapped the scanner in January as it flashed its undercrackers at passing customers. "I managed to …

  1. JDX Gold badge


    That Remote Desktop shortcut is looking very tempting to me...

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: RDP

      "Unlock cradle" looks more tempting to me

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love these handsets.

    You can ditch those awful uncomfortable baskets that knacker your hands and just hang your bag for life off your elbow and pretend your a lady with a handbag. Great fun

    1. msage

      I do this too, I love the way people look at you as if you're nicking everything!

      1. theblackhand

        Does it count as "nicking everything" if you were just following a Antony Worrall Thompson recipe?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I honestly cannot conceive of the mindset that would traipse around a shop for an hour, load everything onto a conveyor belt, wait for some mouth-breather to scan it through and fondle all your shopping before you have to lug it into the bags....

          This system works, and well, regardless of the underlying software, it's a solid solution..

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            It takes you an hour to go round the shops? Do you not have any idea of what you're buying before you walk in?

            1. hmv

              It only takes me an hour because they insist on shuffling all the shelves the moment I leave the shop.

              1. Chronos

                Not to mention the impromptu meetings various people seem to have right in front of the milk/butter/eggs section which are so important you must wait for the one item you really need until all angles of Doris' latest foray into extra-marital sensuality have been examined in minuscule detail or that one kid who absolutely must have a Kinder Surprise (the surprise is how they manage to sell half an ounce of chocolate and some plastic tot for that price) or it'll scream until it goes blue and every other rational human being within range becomes permanently murderously intolerant or anything under 5 years of age.

                Seriously, people, there are more appropriate places. Anywhere else, in fact.

                Those scanners are a blessing: They mean you can skip the queue and the aforementioned murderous intolerance of someone else's crotch goblin having a eppie and be out of that hellhole much faster.

                1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                  those scanners are a good idea but...

                  Y'all know they they'll bring stuff to your house , saving you the bother of travelling to , and entering said HellHole in the first place right?

                  1. Chronos

                    Re: those scanners are a good idea but...

                    I somehow missed the in-your-face flashing banner on every single supermarket web site for the last ten years. Incredible, I know...

                  2. schplazingo

                    Re: those scanners are a good idea but...

                    True but then after they've delivered it you then have to go to the shops anyway to find sensible alternatives for the things they didn't have.

                    Plus quite often the range of stuff available online is less than what's available in-store. Try getting anything from the Sainsburys fresh meat, fish or deli counters via their online store for instance.

              2. Robert Helpmann??
                Paris Hilton

                ... they insist on shuffling all the shelves...

                Why not order online for delivery or curbside pickup? Because they labor under the idea that making you traipse through the store will wear you down to the point where you will purchase things you never intended?

                1. WallMeerkat

                  I tried that online ordering / pickup from their car park lego garage

                  It's great if you want your bread, meat, yoghurt etc to go out of date tomorrow.

                  (Some delivery drivers are really good though and they'll identify these and "offer" to refuse/refund them while disposing of them in your house)

                  The joy of being tall with gangly arms while shopping at a supermarket is that you can reach into the box behind the front box on the shelf to get something with a better date (and yes I'm a stock rotation nightmare, I did once work retail)

          2. Wellyboot Silver badge

            >>>wait for some mouth-breather to scan it through and fondle all your shopping<<<

            Would you prefer these 'mouth-breathers' only earn their living away from your delicate gaze, perhaps picking, packing or transporting the very produce you're there to purchase.

          3. MJI Silver badge

            We chat to the checkout operators.

            Be nice to them, they are people too.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I discovered today the checkout operator was Estonian, so I had the opportunity to tell an immigrant that most of us are in reality not Brexiters and welcome people who want to come and work (and study) here.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Funny you say that, the Polish and Lithuanians I work with all voted out of the EU.

                1. zappahey

                  "Funny you say that, the Polish and Lithuanians I work with all voted out of the EU."

                  Funny you say that, as EU citizens were not given the vote in the referendum.

                  In which case they must have been naturalised citizens and thus British, or you're running your own special line of what, in the current parlance, is known as fake news.

                  1. phuzz Silver badge

                    "EU citizens were not given the vote in the referendum"

                    Putting on my pedantic hat for a moment:

                    Irish citizens living in the UK did get to vote in the Brexit referendum, (but that was because of the Good Friday Agreement, not a specifically EU related reason.) Also, up until the other day, all UK citizens were also EU citizens and we all got to vote.

                    1. Snorlax

                      @phuzz:"Putting on my pedantic hat for a moment:

                      Irish citizens living in the UK did get to vote in the Brexit referendum, (but that was because of the Good Friday Agreement, not a specifically EU related reason.) Also, up until the other day, all UK citizens were also EU citizens and we all got to vote."

                      Sorry Mr. Pedantic, you're dead wrong. You might not be aware that Ireland and the UK have an, um, shared history which predates the GFA by a few years

                      Section 2 (1) of the Ireland Act 1949:

                      It is hereby declared that, notwithstanding that the Republic of Ireland is not part of His Majesty’s dominions, the Republic of Ireland is not a foreign country for the purposes of any law in force in any part of the United Kingdom or in any colony, protectorate or United Kingdom trust territory, whether by virtue of a rule of law or of an Act of Parliament or any other enactment or instrument whatsoever, whether passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, and references in any Act of Parliament, other enactment or instrument whatsoever, whether passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, to foreigners, aliens, foreign countries, and foreign or foreign-built ships or aircraft shall be construed accordingly.

          4. Snorlax


            ” ...wait for some mouth-breather to scan it through and fondle all your shopping...”

            You sound charming.

            Have a downvote, you obnoxious tw*t.

            1. JDX Gold badge

              Re: Mouth-Breather?

              You sound worse.

              1. Snorlax

                Re: Mouth-Breather?


          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You should try mouth-breathing before posting - at least some oxygen might get to your brain.

          6. Chris G Silver badge

            Jeremy! Is that you?

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

              Used the Safeway in Bridport in the 90's that was trailing this scan as you shop, thought it was brilliant, got "audited" once & I think we missed one item insofar that there was a ghost purchase that we had put back on the shelf, but not from the virtual cart.

              That said, the still not quite ex Mrs Oncoming Storm, would still take 90 minutes to do a big shop after she finished her late night shift at Sainsburys, coming home at around 2.30am. In later years my poor father did his weekly shop with her (Well rather him than me) taking 2 hours & upward at peak times. Mainly due to her habit of seeing what was on the shopping list & following it literally

              When she was incapacitated due to surgery, I managed to get in & out of Tesco in about 55 mins on a busy wet Saturday afternoon which I took as a badge of honor, not that she was impressed as a few items were missed (Nothing vital & easily obtained from the aforementioned nearer Sainsburys in off peak).

              Icon - Looking for the shopping list in me coat, ahhh well just work without it then.

              1. Muscleguy

                I remember

                When we lived in London a supermarket shop might take that long. Here in Dundee not even leading up to Xmas or Hogmanay or Burns Night does it get that bad. Being able to pop quickly to the shops is one way that living up here is SOOO much more relaxing than London or another such large conurbation.

          7. JDX Gold badge

            Seems a harsh reaction to the AC. I am all for anything that keeps me in the shop less time. Queuing at a till (whether self-serve or the human kind) is a drudge and the rigmarole of putting shopping in your trolley, only to then unpack and repack it all...

            They've had these scanners in the UK since the 90s - Safeway used to have them - and it seems amazing they have only recently become mainstream. An actual improvement to the shopping experience.

            That said I generally find the checkout operators pretty friendly, especially those who are older and working a few hours to supplement their income/retirement.

            1. Snorlax


              ”Seems a harsh reaction to the AC...”

              I could be wrong here, but I think that the 38 (and counting) downvotes probably have more to do with AC’s condescending description of shop staff as “mouth-breathers” than his/her opinion of the technology in use?

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge

              I am all for anything that keeps me in the shop less time. Queuing at a till (whether self-serve or the human kind) is a drudge and the rigmarole of putting shopping in your trolley, only to then unpack and repack it all...

              The larger supermarket chains over here have these scanners, which you can grab after presenting your loyalty card (which can be anonymous, in so far as they actually are). Their larger stores also have self-scan checkout tills where you can put your basket down, run each item past a built-in scanner, and put them in your duffel/backpack/bike pannier/cardboard box, containers that you may prefer for transport home but which aren't that well-suited to actual shopping.

          8. Bibbit


            “Mouth-breather”? Your profiling of people doing low-paid but nonetheless perfectly acceptable jobs disturbs me. Perhaps you think self-scanning makes you an aristocrat?

            Despite your anonymity I’m going for Baron Von Twat?

            1. Chronos

              Re: Pardon?

              I find the staff in most retail outlets perfectly pleasant despite the crap they have to put up with. It's some of the customers who need a damned good, erm, education.

          9. hplasm

            I honestly cannot conceive of the mindset...

            I can't believe you don't have an underpaid lackey to do your shopping for you.

            Oh the shame!

          10. jeffdyer

            "mouth-breather". Nice.

          11. Aussie Doc Bronze badge


            Clearly, you're doing it wrong. Or holding it wrong.

            Just put it in my pocket - quickly.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        I do this too, I love the way people look at you as if you're nicking everything!

        It works best if you use the phone app and not the hand scanner.

    2. WallMeerkat

      Yep and then you get to the tills and the "random" security check means they demand you scan everything in again!

      (Or is it just me? I did complain to Tesco who suggested it was totally "random")

      1. Kiwi

        Yep and then you get to the tills and the "random" security check means they demand you scan everything in again!

        They've learned to avoid me...

        Check the local laws. Generally unless they're police they have no powers of arrest, and if they touch you or try to detain you they are committing a crime.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    I would have dropped it

    it burns, it burns, my precious

  4. Oh Homer

    Handheld shopping...

    Or what I like to call a "smartphone".

    Has the added benefit that I don't actually need to be anywhere near the shop at the time, or even out of bed.

    May I be the first to welcome Tesco to the 21st century ... once they actually get here.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Handheld shopping...

      The problem with that approach is that your order is filled by a minimum-wage employee at the supermarket, who doesn't exactly have the incentive to pick the freshest produce, or the items with the longest shelf-life, so it's a bit of a lottery as to what you actually get delivered.

      1. Craig 2

        Re: Handheld shopping...

        Said employee is probably instructed to do the exact opposite ie. Pick oldest stuff first to help with stock rotation.

        If I remember rightly one supermarket even made an advertising point of saying "we will always pick the freshest" for online orders because of the public's worry about this very issue.

        1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

          Re: Handheld shopping...

          It's swings and roundabouts. If you give the customer the older, nearly out of date stock, you run the risk of them finding it and complaining, which will generate more work for the company for no profit, or a lost customer. Now, your average shelf picker is probably on minimum wage, and cares about nothing (work wise at least) part from meeting his or her quota. The Store management might care about lost custom, and having to do work for no profit though..

          On the other hand, they might complain anyway, even with the freshest stock.

          1. Antonius_Prime

            "On the other hand, they might complain anyway, even with the freshest stock."

            To paraphrase the yanks a little:

            "If you open, they will whinge..."

            I was once, for my sins, one of those minumum wage wonks. Way back in the late 90's early 00's, for the chain wot is the subject of the article.

            The tills at the time were DOS 6.22 based and the DB machine in the backroom that communicated with head office for prices & promos & barcodes ran Win3.11. Siemens PC's. Decent spec for the day, if I recall.

            This was sometime circa 99/2000, so not the immense risk it would be today.

            The fun story I have of that time was around the turn of the milleniumiumium... Literally!

            New Years Eve 1999. I was working the checkout in the Off Licence with 2 others. We had queues just for the off licence stretching the ENTIRE length of the store - and back. This was in Ireland, so the Off Licence area had to be semi segregated from normal shopping, due to laws. This was also a branch in an affluent part of the town, so not your normal regulars...

            From the technical side of things, the Powers tHat Be had decided to segregate the portions of the DB that dealt with alchohol from those that dealt with normal groceries.

            So someone couldn't pay for wine & beer at normal checkouts and groceries at the licensed ones. Remember this, it'll be important in a bit...

            Back to yon story!

            New Years 1999! Queues out the wazoo!

            I'm on the middle till, the busiest of the 3 tills there. Out of nowhere, in the face of very impatient people queuing to pay for social lubrication, this lovely* lady storms up with a basket of all groceries, no alcohol.

            Said lady slams basket of goodies down in front of 18-ish year old me and began a tirade of abuse directed at me, the directors of the company and anyone around that it was **unacceptable** that she have to wait in line at the tills and ... blah blah blah, imprecations, blah, threats, blah, implications about my parentage, etc.

            Out of the corner of my eye, I see our designated assistant manager attempt to become smaller and smaller behind me whiloe attempting to stack shelves quietly.

            Attempting to humour said harpy; I attempted to explain that the store was quite busy, apologies, it was New Year's Eve and a new millenium would be starting soon, unless all the computers fscked up, but the particular computer in front of me simply couldn't take her goods, it wasn't "programmed**" to...

            Which started another round of abuse. Again, displaying the traits that many now know and fear as "positive reinforcement" (If you're negative to me, I'll be positive to you. or your right nipple, if the jumper lead will reach...) I swung the screen around, scanned every item in her basket which flashed up big red "ITEM NOT FOUND" along with a klaxxon like sound from the buzzer. (Perhaps that's the evolutionary precursor to 'UNKNOWN ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA'?)

            Not satisfied, The Greatest Customer In The World, started another round of painting the air blue.

            I now recognise this moment as a step on my path to BOfH-hood, as with manager attempting to become a chameleon and look like a bottle of Huzzar, I sweetly turned to her, after interruping and said:

            "I'm sorry; I'm not paid to take your abuse. There's a manager there [points back with thumb] if you'd like to complain."

            She grabbed her basket and turned away. I don't recall what she muttered, but I do recall I probably rubbed salt, vinegar, lemon and chilli into the wound by shouting "Next!!" as she turned.

            I have it on reliable evidence that that anecdote had made it into a "What not to do in these situations" for a few years.

            I'm quite proud of that...

            *she wasn't in the slightest...

            **"programmed to do it" was a great term, even back then, to explain stuff to non-users...

            Icon because of her reaction...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "what not to do"

              IMO you have to be plain "not able to do that" to those types of customers. I'll never be "rude", but to polite customers I am polite and helpful. Those who shout, I'm "new here, sorry don't know, you could look for yourself... on your way out", etc.

              1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

                Re: "what not to do"

                "Computer says NOoooo..."

              2. Muscleguy

                Re: "what not to do"

                I volunteer in a charity shop on occasion and there are some who will try and haggle with you. Pretty well everything in there is a bargain, even the new stuff we flog.

                I use the ‘I’m sorry, I’m not authorised to alter prices’ wheeze. I do quite often mark stuff down but only when instructed to do so on the range and using the criteria (usually date put on sale) specified.

                Also i am allowed to determine the prices of some things and the range of things is being increased all the time. But don’t tell the customers that or they will all be at me.

            2. heyrick Silver badge

              Re: "On the other hand, they might complain anyway, even with the freshest stock."

              "What not to do in these situations"

              Why? You explained that it wouldn't work, you demonstrated that it wouldn't work, and you referred her to a manager; all the while with her being less than polite.

              What exactly do they think you were supposed to have done? Walk over and unplug one of the tills that would work just to placate some dozy bint that didn't fancy queueing like the rest of us?

              1. Antonius_Prime

                Re: "On the other hand, they might complain anyway, even with the freshest stock."

                More of a "try not to incite a violent mob at work".

                As I said, it was probably one of the steps to BOfH-hood... :D

                (Steps on a non-greased, well lit stairwell, with plenty of CCTV that IT can't access. Learn your lessons well, to enable you to get away with it easier...)

                1. werdsmith Silver badge

                  Re: "On the other hand, they might complain anyway, even with the freshest stock."

                  I was in Waitrose in Harpenden queuing for checkout and all the tills went down. After about 10 minutes, the customers were getting a bit lively, the manager got news it might be a long outage.

                  He put a tensor rail ribbon behind the queue and told us all to bag our shopping and leave. No charge.

                  I was pissed off because I only had a meal deal.

                  1. defiler

                    Re: "On the other hand, they might complain anyway, even with the freshest stock."

                    A friend of mine was in a Safeway which has since become a Waitrose, and the power went out for a few seconds. All the tills had to reboot, and they were also advised it'd take a while. Since it was about closing time, they stopped anyone coming in and dealt with everyone in the shop when they got to the tills.

                    The average price of an item in the shop was something like 82p, so they multiplied that by the number of items. If you wanted to accept that, great. If not, you could leave it. Bottle of wine for 82p? Great! Packet of Tictacs for 82p? No thanks.

                    But nobody knew this until they reached the till, so they weren't able to grift the situation.

          2. Michele.x

            Re: Handheld shopping...

            It depends of the supermarket. I remember a small supermarket where the delivered were made in the 80s with a battered Renault 4 van by the son of the owner by phone.

            Now they use instead of the phone a web app, they still accept order by phone, and use now a slight less battered Berlingo, that is driven by the nephew. Service is good never had a problem.

            On the other hand another store has a a new web app but they are using Glovo riders to make the deliveries. Never used the app to order at home.

        2. tarka

          Re: Handheld shopping...

          Worked for the orange mob for a year at the end of uni, at our place it was the opposite, you had to pick the best/longest as all the old dears checked everything and wouldn't hesitate to complain. You ended up on the naughty list very quickly as any item that gets a complaint is logged against the driver and picker.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Handheld shopping...

            I quit having shopping delivered because I would not have picked the fruit and veg they delivered, I received stupid short shelf life and ridiculous substitutions even though I ticked the no substitutions box.

            Always ended up out for top ups of fresh stuff anyway, so no point.

      2. BugabooSue

        Re: Handheld shopping...

        They are ‘supposed’ to pick shopping in a condition/with dates that you would pick yourself.

        I was on the original trial as a Picker & Packer at the Basildon1 store (almost 20 years ago now!).

        Back then they used a system they called “WIBI”. It meant “Would I Buy It?” If you wouldn’t, then don’t put it in the trolley. They would rather us substitute something better/similar than send the customer a bad pick.

        Don’t know if they still do WIBI today.

        On a separate note, my husband found out by randomly tapping various areas of the computer screen (on the trolleys), that you could bring up the Desktop and stop the timer that was tracking your pick. Security by obscurity - it was a multiple tap in one of the corners that revealed the Desktop. :)

        In any case, if you don’t like the dates or condition of anything, just hand it back to the driver for a refund. Or phone up later to do the same.

        Not defending Tesco Home Shopping (other HS services are available), I just don’t want to see the insides of a supermarket ever again!! :D

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Handheld shopping...

          "They are ‘supposed’ to pick shopping in a condition/with dates that you would pick yourself."

          I once got told off for taking "one from the back". The fact that it is refrigerated goods and a shelf life nearly two weeks later didn't seem to enter into the discussion.

          Jobsworth told me put it back and take one from the front, and since I'm nice, I did so.

          But since I also have a long childhood history of being an obnoxious brat, I waited a few minutes until he'd gone, went back, replaced the thing, switched all of the product around, and then duly took one from the front.

          I wonder how long it took before a shelf stocker noticed?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Handheld shopping...

            "Jobsworth told me put it back and take one from the front"

            The correct answer to this is to simply point out that the item you wished to purchase was, in fact, on the shelf and offered for sale. If said jobsworth escalates, ask to speak to his/her manager. That'll usually put an end to it. It's not your job to help maintain the freshness of their inventory.

            1. jeffdyer

              Re: Handheld shopping...

              I assumed this story MUST have been from an online picker, not a normal shopper?

              1. WallMeerkat

                Re: Handheld shopping...

                Indeed as much as I respect retail staff (been there!) if I, as a shopper, get told off for choosing an item off a shelf, the glowing supermarket logo colour wouldn't be the only thing turning the air blue.

        2. WallMeerkat

          Re: Handheld shopping...

          "In any case, if you don’t like the dates or condition of anything, just hand it back to the driver for a refund. Or phone up later to do the same."

          We had a couple of good drivers who "suggested" that short date items be refunded, and "disposed of" to our fridge.

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Handheld shopping...

        Or the other side of that, being able to pick stuff near their sell-by date and marked down because of that, where you're going to eat that the same day anyway. Cheese and yoghurt, for instance, tend to sneer at their best-by dates. Or products that are going to be taken off he shelves, the last items usually being moved to a bargains corner.

        1. Muscleguy

          Re: Handheld shopping...

          LIVE yogurt can sneer at a use by date, the Pasteurised stuff not so much. An active culture acts to repeal microbiological interlopers. I make my own yogurt and rely on the fact. I make a litre at a time so it lasts a while since there’s just me.

          I make my own hummus as well and the fridge life of that is also longer than the 3days the supermarkets say. Though i put it in screw top yogurt lunchable pots which are airtight rather than the flimsy plastic tubs which are not once you remove the plastic strip.

          I’ve done bacterial cultures in the lab as well as doing tissue culture where you have to take strong measures to avoid infection of your cell cultures. For eg you have to watch your pipette tip (big long 50ml and bigger ones) if it touches ANYTHiNG other than the inside of your media bottle you have to bin it. If you realise after you have stuck it in your media bottle you have to chuck the bottle away. Which why you usually decant only as much as you need then screw the lid back on the bottle.

      4. Oh Homer

        Re: pick the freshest produce

        I used to be the sort of person who reached all the way to the back of the shelf, to get the newest items with the longest sell-by/use-by dates. Until I realised what a selfish bastard I was, and the fact that my selfishness was actually contributing to global waste.

        So now, as a matter of principle, I always choose the oldest produce, provided it's still in date (which it must be by law anyway). And frankly I'd even buy the "out-of-date" stuff if I could, because those sell-by dates are set extremely conservatively, and the fact is that most of it is still perfectly safe and palatable even after that date.

        I rarely notice much difference, and I highly doubt that anyone else would either, if they're being honest. There have been a couple of exceptions, such as chicken that turned out to be rather smelly once I opened it up, but the shop replaced it without argument, so no loss there.

        So frankly I would much rather that the pickers were fulfilling my online orders with the older (but still in date) stock, as anything else is socially irresponsible.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Handheld shopping...

      I presume you do need to be somewhere near the point of delivery at the appointed time and able to batch up your order to make the delivery economic. I would hate to be that organised. Mind you, I wouldn't be sharing my shopping habits with Tesco either - if would be depressing to get a bunch of discount vouchers for meals for one...

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "May I be the first to welcome Tesco to the 21st century"

      It worked that way too in the XIX and at least half of the XX as well, even without a smartphone, and in the centuries before as well. My grandmother didn't go to shops - shops delivered goods at home using underpaid delivery boys. Especially when home electric refrigerators didn't exist (and ice ones weren't as efficient) and you wanted fresh products everyday, maybe just-in-time to cook them.

      Buildings had separate stairs and doors (usually in the kitchen) so delivery boys could deliver without mixing with the "gentlemen and gentlewomen".

      Exploiting low-wages people is not a new thing at all - using some kind of electronic device doesn't make it "futuristic". The day they use anti-gravity robots, maybe.

      Anyway, getting out of bed and having a walk may have health benefits too....

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "May I be the first to welcome Tesco to the 21st century"

        "Especially when home electric refrigerators didn't exist (and ice ones weren't as efficient) and you wanted fresh products everyday, maybe just-in-time to cook them."

        Back then, most folks grew their own. Why people don't maintain a kitchen garden anymore is beyond me ... it's amazing how much food you can grow in a 2x4 meter bit of ground, and two chickens will give you a dozen eggs per week in very little space with almost no work.

        My kitchen garden's just outside the tradesman's entrance ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "May I be the first to welcome Tesco to the 21st century"

          > Why people don't maintain a kitchen garden anymore is beyond me

          Because I have no garden and my window box is just about big enough to grow the cress for a single egg and cress sandwich?

          1. Kiwi

            Re: "May I be the first to welcome Tesco to the 21st century"

            Because I have no garden and my window box is just about big enough to grow the cress for a single egg and cress sandwich?

            *IF*1 you have space available, and a landlord who allows you to, then as Jake says there's lots you can do with small space.

            I have bugger-all here, a very narrow strip the width of the yard where I can grow. But I built up the soil and grow a fair bit there. I do have the resources of a friend's back yard I've set some stuff up plus I sneak a bit of space in the oldies home I help maintain (largely voluntary). People I know have abundant fruit trees and swap among each other, and I've encouraged them to allow me to start planting more so they now have a neighbourhood orchard/"food forest" under way. Do you have space for a fruit tree or two?

            A mate in a block has a 1mx3m balcony where he grows tomato and a few other small things in buckets/large pots. Even gets potatoes growing there.

            One of the oldies had a spare growing light set up in the junk room in her flat, growing a small amount of stuff there. You can grow enough in a plant pot to be worth it, and still give you some fresh food.

            You can use old pallets to make garden boxes as well. Look for ones with untreated or safe-treated timber (once you've looked up the markings you'll know), break them down with an axe/sledge hammer, pull and straighten the nails, re-assemble the bits into the form you want. Takes an hour, you get fresh air and exercise, you get to be creative, you get to recycle stuff, and you get to make yourself a box you can grow your own food in. *IF*1 you have the space.

            1 I realise for many that's a very big "if". But still, see above, be creative.

        2. hplasm

          Re: "May I be the first to welcome Tesco to the 21st century"

          "My kitchen garden's just outside the tradesman's entrance ..."

          Makes for easy fertilizer delivery...

        3. LDS Silver badge

          "Back then, most folks grew their own."

          Only those not living in cities, or living at their outskirts where you could have a patch of land, and were willingly to grow something.

          People living in cities couldn't grow their own, and relied on fresh food coming from the country each and every day - Sundays included (a European-centric view, but that's the one I know). The richer ones had them delivered at their houses directly, or had butlers and maid going to buy them - the others had to go to the markets.

          But even when my grandparents moved out the city during WWII, they still had food delivered at home - about until the late 1960s, when boys had to attend school longer, raising wages made them less cheap to exploit, refrigerators allowed to store food better and for longer times, and a lot of food started to be pre-packaged - and food conservation techniques improved.

          It looks the new availability of cheap digital-serfs is trying to bring us back one hundred year, if not more.

        4. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: 2 chickens...

          Or 2 ducks. We found them less destructive than chickens. Plenty of eggs from them all year round (bit of a surprise, expected them to stop in winter but they are warm and well fed) and they keep the bugs and slugs down.

    4. Mooseman Silver badge

      Re: Handheld shopping...

      "May I be the first to welcome Tesco to the 21st century ... once they actually get here."

      They're usually pretty prompt with our shopping. What you get is a bit of a lottery though - "we're out of bread so we substituted this packet of cereal". The poor delivery driver gets the funny looks from Mrs M while the packing crew back at the Tesco cave sit sniggering into their drinks.

  5. Noonoot

    Who is their CTO?

    It beggars belief.

    Whoever is in charge of their infrastructure seriously needs to attend a refresher's course or similar of what NOT to do.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Who is their CTO?

      Why? They use the same setup in a local supermarket (in France) for the barcode scanner price check gizmo. There are no obvious ports other than a connected network port, and so long as the thing is intranet only with no sort of external access, where's the problem?

      You know, I still have an Econet network in my room. It sends the passwords in the clear. Oh the horror. But since it's pretty much one Beeb connected to another, it's about as secure as a network can be without having physical access.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Who is their CTO?

        I have a recall of a hypermarket in Nantes (France) late 80's. having manned registers (& unmanned ones were closed) & one big line to which you were directed to the next one as it became available.

        It was very fast & efficient.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: Who is their CTO?

          Single queue, multiple servers.

          Longer wait times, but maximizes utilization of processors, and the line moves faster.

      2. lpcollier

        Re: Who is their CTO?

        "I still have an Econet network in my room. It sends the passwords in the clear." - that fact nearly got me expelled from school back in the day.

  6. Lee D

    Looks like one of these:

    Looks like people have been playing with them for years (this mentions 2009):

    Looks like we still haven't learned that obsolete general purpose operating systems "just running" an app you want them to, incidentally to all the other background stuff that's left on there, is going to be the way that cyber-apocalypse will compromise us. Not advanced hacking and breaking encryption, but finding Wordpad running on a scanner connected to a corporate network improperly.

  7. TeeCee Gold badge

    Colour me unsurprised, that's a Symbol device and they've been building on Win CE since forever. Before anyone says anything, in that pic their software has died to reveal CE still running underneath. Again unsurprising, as recent versions of CE are bulletproof while third party software generally isn't.

    The Sainsburys' ones are the same.

    1. Chris 125

      Sainsbury's ones are Android, because they too often have one or two on the wall of scanners showing what's running behind the scenes. However in their case there's not a great deal to see, just (from memory) some sort of network reset app and a shortcut to relaunch the SmartShop app. Certainly nothing as potential-laden as a remote desktop....

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        You're correct. While the Sainsburys ones are physically identical they're Zebra badged and android based.

        Like I said though, that's just the Win CE desktop and if that remote desktop app does more than just ask to be setup when invoked, I'd be astonished (i.e. it's installed by default, but that's it). About as much risk as you walking into the store with the MS remote desktop app installed on your phone.

    2. Evil Scot

      Ahh, Sainsbury,

      The handset is 4G, EE in a store where EE reception is shoddy. And the card swipe is discriminatory against southpaws.

      There is an app for that though.

      No Icon at card swipe station.

      1. Chris 125

        You mean your own handset? Sainsburys can't help that :D

        The Symbol scanners are WiFi on a dedicated network. Sainsburys & Argos use O2 for all their store communications including the public WiFi, and the scanner network

    3. davemcwish

      Re: How long...

      For the nerds, my local one is running Symbol MC18 02.57.07 on Windows CE 07.00.2848. Another was showing WordPad Meeting Template and a third revealed it's IP and MAC addresses.

    4. jake Silver badge

      "recent versions of CE are"

      Last time I checked, the most recent version of WinCE[0] was 2013.

      [0] Poorly thought-out name, or truth in advertising? You decide.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. kurkosdr

    I never understood why a purpose-built device like a Symbol scanner has to crash to desktop when the app crashes... If you want to use a general-purpose OS, at least do it properly.

    1. sal II

      The more interesting question is who the hell still writes applications for Windows CE, for a handled device nonetheless.

      Well Symbol I guess.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Well actually it was Motorola before Symbol, now Zebra!

        And look at how cute those handhelds are, do they still work after being run over by a Forklift, then a Lorry (MC9090's we had here often would work fine until I yelled at someone for using a handheld that could scan round corners and not reporting it, as the repair service offered was brilliant for even the bronze service contracts)?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The more interesting question is who the hell still writes applications for Windows CE, for a handled device nonetheless."

        It's amazing how often it's still used in Warehouse management, again, because the devices are fairly robust, and the OS never tends to be the problem when these things fall over. I support one of these apps, and 95% of the problems are app-related, 5% hardware fail, and pretty no OS problems.

        They haven't worked out what we're doing when it goes EOL. I suspect cry.

        Anonymous to spare the blushes of our developers/my job.

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Low Expectations

          My God folks. Have we become so used to crummy software that we actually expect the stuff to fail? I recall about thirty years ago when we came across an old PC that had been pushed back in the corner of a lab. No keyboard or monitor, but it seemed to be running. So we borrowed a monitor and keyboard. Turns out the thing had apparently been used for monitoring some device or other and apparently hadn't been turned off when the monitoring was complete. Based on file dates, it's log files had run out of disk space years before, and it had nothing to monitor. But it was still gamely trying to record its results every few seconds. The OS? MSDOS-5. Why do we expect more "modern" products to perform worse?

          1. jeffdyer

            Re: Low Expectations

            "eventual June 1991 release of MS-DOS 5.0"

            About thirty years ago was 1990, pre MS-DOS 5.0, so was this machine a time traveller, which had been running for years in the past?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I also support some legacy rugged CE kit - very little support needed as they mainly just chug along quite happily

      3. tcmonkey

        These are still common because of the very low barrier to entry in terms of developer training. Can you write a .NET forms app for desktop Windows? Then chances are you'll be able to hit the ground running when writing stuff for CE, as it's very similar. You can also reuse a large amount of your existing code, for the same reason. For a good while it also had the best debugging experience one could find on a mobile platform, positively humiliating iOS and Android toolchains.

        This is of course less of an advantage now, but 10 years ago when writing mobile apps was still a big deal it was a killer feature, especially in the world of enterprise development.

  10. Robert Sneddon

    Other uses

    Hand-held ticket scanners used at sports grounds where I do part-time work run Windows CE. I'm occasionally called on to restart the ticketing app if someone pushes the wrong buttons and breaks it. It helps that I've got a couple of PDAs (Fujitsu LOOX, HP iPaq) that run Win CE so I'm vaguely familiar with the Vulcan nerve pinches required to do stuff on them.

    1. ta6rma

      Re: Other uses

      A couple of years ago we had a client who wanted a low-cost barcode scanning system for registering event delegates, we went with Chainway handheld scanners running WinCE and built a basic scanning app for their needs. Worked pretty well and the devices seemed robust enough

  11. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    If Datawedge is the program these scanners are running, as Lee D says above, then the desktop shortcut suggests that it's a demo version. Naughty!

    It's also interesting that the scanner thinks the time is 4:15 AM.

    1. Simon Harris

      I've occasionally shopped in my local Tesco at that time in the morning, but then my local is a 24 hour petrol station Tesco.

    2. tcmonkey

      The datawedge demo is just an example program showing how to interact with the barcode scanner hardware, it's not the main application.

  12. Snorlax


    ""Scan as you shop" is exclusive to Tesco Clubcard holders who...can presumably be trusted to wield the Windows-based handhelds rather than hand their baskets to a checkout clerk..."

    Any time I've used one of these things I've been pulled aside for a "random" spot-check, which involves a member of staff scanning practically everything through the till again...

    I guess I just look guilty or something :-)

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Trust?

      Every so often at my local [Swiss] Coop you get asked to present a few items by one of the checkout assistants; the only problem is that one of them gets flustered and seems to press every random button on the screen which resets meaning you have scan the lot again...

  13. SVV

    Windows Embedded Compact 7, which featured Silverlight and Internet Explorer (replete with Flash)

    Hilarious what they came to consider to be "compact" and minimal at Microsoft when it came to small devices. Surprised it didn't require a 500GB hard drive. This was the fundamental flaw with the "Windows on everything" vision : massive enforced bloat that was unnecessary.

    1. tcmonkey

      Re: Windows Embedded Compact 7, which featured Silverlight and Internet Explorer...

      You can get a WEC7 image into only a few megabytes without too much trouble. Please do not conflate CE with NT based systems, as they're not the same.

      If the integrator chose to leave a whole load of stuff behind on the image these are running, that's their own fault.

  14. Milton

    The many failure modes of Tesco

    "Scan as you shop" is exclusive to Tesco Clubcard holders who, because they have allowed the retail giant to slurp their shopping habits, can presumably be trusted to wield the Windows-based handhelds rather than hand their baskets to a checkout clerk or endure the snort-inducing "unexpected item in the bagging area" from the self-service machines.

    You have a choice.

    1. "Traditional" checkout: which closes just as you approach it and queues are getting longer at the few remaining open ones, but, no matter: they're manned, or womanned, by people who'd much sooner have a nice leisurely chat with the previous customer until the exact moment you open your carrier bags, when they start hurling bottles, bouncing tender produce and sliding fragile goods at you in a frenzied avalanche. Time wasted: 10 mins. Avg Staff Reqd: 1.2

    2. Auto Checkout: of which about 60% are actually working, with a queue longer than anywhere else (except #3), always surrounded by a horde of staff tasked to help with the litany of exotic failure modes known only to automated checkout systems and whose main actual activities comprise either chatting amongst themselves or verifying that (a) I'm old enough to buy alcohol, or (b) my purchase of a child's rounders bat has no terroristic motivation. Time wasted: 10 mins. Avg Staff Reqd: 1.4

    3. Scan As You Shop: truly monumental queues, staff thronging in an advertisement for How Not To Be Productive And Efficient By Getting In Absolutely Everyone's Way Including Your Own, for a system driven by an algorithm which says "This person has never failed a bag audit, so pester them today, again, by diligently and very slowly counting the number of garlic bulbs" and by some miracle managing to require more time and effort than option #1. Time wasted: 10 mins. Avg Staff Reqd: 2.3.

    (To all of these must be added, on a one-visit-in-five basis the extra calendar time need for an item lacking the correct bar code or other feature, allowing a generous five minutes for anyone to even deign to come along to fix the problem and then another 10 minutes for that worthy to get hopelessly lost in their own store.)

    Of course, there's option 4, for delivery of the wrong items, slightly damaged or lacking freshness or both, if not substituted, but really—who'd buy Tesco's overpriced "fresh" produce without being able to inspect it first?

    If we didn't happen to live within a 10-min walk of an Extra store, we would never go near Tesco. But I work from home and benefit from a daily stroll ... (That said, Sainsburys, by determined effort, is managing to overtake in the race to the bottom: what the hell has happened to them?!)

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: The many failure modes of Tesco

      re: what the hell has happened to [Sainsburys]

      I blame their takeover of Argos and their insistence on devoting a sizeable section of their larger stores to the aforementioned laminated dream shatterer.

    2. Graham 32

      Re: The many failure modes of Tesco

      And the Auto Checkout* in the larger stores is designed so I have put my basket and packed shopping at a height somewhere around my kneecaps. Forcing the back-ache inducing repetition of bend down, pick item, straighten up, beep, bend down, pack, straighten up. In the smaller stores the shelf height is much higher so I doubt it's a design for those in wheelchairs. I'm not freakishly tall either.

      The very best self service is in some Waitrose stores where it's just a bench in front of the machine and... no weight measurement, no "unexpected item". It's so fast to use. But at their prices I don't make it a regular experience.

      * is "Auto Checkout" an industry name? I've always known it as Self Service. Although I can't think of ever having seen it on a sign - could well be there but I blank it out.

  15. Simon Harris

    Pocket Browser...

    in the bottom left corner.

    Does that automatically browse your pockets for items that have 'accidentally' bypassed the scanner?

    Mine's the one with the 'I don't know how those got there, honest, guv' items in the pocket. ---------------->

  16. Mr Flibble



    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Checkout…

      North American naming convention, worry not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Checkout…

        I believe it dates from when jobs in shops required literacy, and most people in the US were illiterate. So store clerks were from the same naming convention as other clerical workers.

        Mark Twain (Sam Clemens) remarks somewhere that the US education system did not focus enough on basic literacy and numeracy for everybody, but that the Indian system was even worse - trying to teach British history, about a country they had never seen and never would see, to people who had difficulty writing a coherent sentence in English.

  17. simpfeld

    ATM Software

    I saw an interview with an ATM software vendor that said the best thing to use is Windows. I think they said, what else would you use. I thought ANYTHING just ANYTHING else. Ease of use (esp programming ease) doesn't seem the primary design goal on an ATM.

    Some ATM vendor I saw was now using Android as a light weight UI OS with the smarts on a back end system.

    Waitrose seems to use Android on it's self scanners from the look of the UI.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work at Tesco...

    To my knowledge, all Tesco tills run on Windows XP, including Self Service and SAYS tills, and as an ex SAYS worker myself I can tell you when the SAYS scanners reboot or fail in use they flash up with that screen haha, the hand held scanners on tills are also made by Motorola! I'm fairly impressed that the tills still run pretty well since they're running on such outdated software but asides from some latency they're fairly hardy.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some people on here complaining about queueing. Are they the daft people that decide to do shopping on a Saturday afternoon? We usually shop at 9 in the evening, rarely a queue

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In Ballmer's defence...

    The original iPhone was a joke.

    Flagship WinMo devices had GPS, HSPA (over 3G data rates), a proper web browser, video calling, music and video, video-out, FM radio, a full Bluetooth stack, years of Apps (including things like Youtube), GPU accelerated graphics... and the amazing high tech that is copy/paste.

    iPhone had sod all. They were pushing 'it plays music' as a revolutionary feature. From a technological point of view it was a joke. From a marketing point of view it was a goddamn masterpiece.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In Ballmer's defence...

      Microsoft, in fact, did not know what they had and did not know how to capitalise on it. But the biggest problem was the resistive screen. The Palm Tungstens also were beautiful pieces of hardware but let down by those screens.

  21. defiler

    Last Windows CE device I used...

    Sega Dreamcast at the weekend. Played Ferrari F355 against a mate.

    See? It wasn't all humdrum!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022