Sunday, July 2, 2017

Box office, get thee a Chromebook

Recently I was helping out a local theater with their box office setup, adding a magnetic stripe reader for credit card processing to their Audience1st setup.

Even though these devices are designed to emulate USB keyboards (which should “just work”), as soon as I plugged in the device, Windows became mightily confused. After a series of dialog boxes where I persuaded Windows there was no need to search the known universe for a specialized device driver, it seemed to work fine.

But when we rebooted the machine, it hung and wouldn’t boot properly. Now we’re in for a who-knows-how-long-or-what-will-happen “Windows repair,” even though all we did was plug in a standard device that had worked fine on other (mostly non-Windows) machines it had been used with. As usual, with Windows “plug and play” becomes “plug and pray.”

If I were outfitting this box office from scratch, there’d be no need for these headaches. Most box office and front-of-house software, including Audience1st, is now 100% Web-based. So here’s my shopping list for (prices as of July 2017):

So for under $125—even less, if you can repurpose a keyboard/mouse/monitor from a previous setup—you can be free of Windows hassles at the box office forever. No malware or viruses to worry about, no backing up of your customer data (it’s all in the cloud anyway), and if you need to print receipts at the box office, the latest Chrome OS prints natively to most Wifi-enabled printers, and Google Cloud Print handles most of the rest.

So there we are. If you’ll excuse me I’m heading over to Amazon to outfit this theater and suggest they donate their Windows laptop to a theater where the box office has ample time to deal with Windows’ temperamental and completely unnecessary vagaries.

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