6 Replies Latest reply on Mar 12, 2015 8:33 AM by Steven English

    Pharos Signup - Can the logic used to allocate next available computer be configured?

    Ipswich Library Newbie

      Hi,

       

      It appears that the allocation of computers through Signup is contiguous.  For example, at one library branch we have 18 internet computers, which are numbered in a way that computers 1-5 are in one row, 2-10 are in the next row and so on over 4 rows.  During quiet times (when all or most computers are available) it appears that the computers are allocated contiguously so that the patrons are all close together on one row instead of spread out over the 4 rows.  It would be handy if at quiet times we could spread the patrons out to make it more comfortable.  Is there a way that this can be configured (e.g. increment the allocation by a larger step where possible)?

        • Re: Pharos Signup - Can the logic used to allocate next available computer be configured?
          Steven English Guide

          Good Morning,

           

          I had the same question asked of me for years, and since it is not a feature that is built-in I resorted to trying to figure out a way to change the assignment behavior via the database.  Since I was unsure of exactly what I was looking for I got Pharos involved, and after Greg Dicheck's persistence and (insert any number of other complimentary adjectives here) on my behalf, there is now a way to randomize the assignments between SignUp Service restarts (modified stored procedure in SQL).

           

          Unfortunately, the solution will not affect the quiet times exclusively as it is an on or off solution that changes how SignUp selects which computer should be assigned next.  That being said, if it the ability to have it alternate on a pre-determined schedule is desirable, and if you feel sufficiently savvy with SQL and are not using automatic extensions on sessions, I could script a way to accomplish what you are after (via SQL query set up to run in a Windows scheduled task).  This obviously would not be an officially supported feature, but at times like these we are forced to improvise in order to provide the service and features that are requested of us, are we not?  Please let me know if you are interested.

           

          Also of note... At the risk of overlooking the obvious, should I presume that immediate reservations (walk-up and sit down) are out of the question?  Or is this geared towards scheduled reservations?

           

          Regards,

          Steven

            • Re: Pharos Signup - Can the logic used to allocate next available computer be configured?
              Richard Post Guide

              What about numbering the computers so that they are positioned differently

               

              1  3  5  7  9

              2  4  6  8  10

               

              instead of

               

              1  2  3  4  5

              6  7  8  9  10

               

              It is a human solution instead of a software solution and it is not as elegant, but it would solve the problem, even though it irks my strong aesthetic and symmetric preference.

              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Pharos Signup - Can the logic used to allocate next available computer be configured?
                  Steven English Guide

                  By default SignUp orders the list of computers available for reservations by their network name (hostname).  Since Pharos allows the hostname and display name to be different, the host names could be modified without the patrons ever knowing as you could still retain the display name so that they are in the appropriate visual order.  If one goes to the trouble of renaming them, I would suggest simply adding a letter after the descriptive part of the name and before the numeric portion (see below for example).  As stated before, the display name can stay the same so that no change is visible to the patrons.

                   

                  Old Network Name / HostnameNew Network Name / HostnameOrder of Assignment After Rename
                  Internet-01Internet-A01First
                  Internet-02Internet-D02Fourth
                  Internet-03Internet-B03Second
                  Internet-04Internet-E04Fifth
                  Internet-05Internet-C05Third

                   

                  If renaming the computers is a daunting task technically, the machines can always be rearranged physically and then the display names updated in order to appear ordinal.  Of course, neither of these suggestions helps with the potentially key phrase, "When things are quiet..."  For that, I believe my original suggestion would be the only way to change things on-demand or at scheduled intervals. Still, immediate reservations may render the entire topic moot.

                   

                  Regards,

                  Steven

                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Pharos Signup - Can the logic used to allocate next available computer be configured?
                      Steven English Guide

                      Ipswich Library, do you have any questions regarding the options proposed above?

                       

                      Regards,

                      Steven

                        • Re: Pharos Signup - Can the logic used to allocate next available computer be configured?
                          Scott Rath Wayfarer

                          Hi Steven, I am "Ipswich Library".  Sorry for my silence since raising the topic, however being new to the "Pharos Community" I have had log in issues (i.e. I don't know how I l managed to log in before but now I am using my own account!).  I very much appreciate the suggestions you and Richard Post have made.  Thanks for confirming "how Pharos thinks" in this regard - I will discuss these ideas with my team.

                           

                          I think the hostname renaming (across the rows instead of along the rows) would be enough for our purpose, although I know this would affect the utilisation reports etc. in Pharos Reports where the reports are by hostname.

                           

                          In regards to the modified stored procedure, I wouldn't want anyone working on anything on our behalf unless it is covered by our support.  I would be interested in knowing more about it though - I am quite familiar with SQL, although the experience varies depending on which "flavour" (I am much more familiar with Oracle SQL and Sybase than MSSQL, however I can "google" my way around!).  Again, any changes would need review, testing, discussion with colleagues/management etc.!

                           

                          No, we don't do immediate reservations here, and I think a decision would have been made against this to avoid disputes etc.  My reference to "when things are quiet" was just in regards to spreading the patrons out when there are plenty of machines available.  When the computers are all taken or mostly taken, well, what you get is what you get - if you want a computer you'll just have to sit next to someone!  in this case I think the hostname renaming would work fine.

                           

                          Again, thank you both for your advice.  It is very much appreciated.

                           

                          Regards,

                           

                          Scott.

                            • Re: Pharos Signup - Can the logic used to allocate next available computer be configured?
                              Steven English Guide

                              Scott Rath,

                               

                              No worries!  I tagged you (Ipswitch) because I wasn't sure if you had seen the updates.  You are correct that the reports are run off of the PC hostname/network name rather than the display name, so if there is a choice to mix or match hostname and display name, some "decoding" might have to be done to see which physical machine is actually being used most. 

                               

                              One thing to consider with the SQL query is that it will distribute users in a random pattern with regard to wear and tear on your machines and chairs, rather than continuing to assign users to the same machines in the same pattern day after day (even if going across rows instead of down rows as that simply spreads the machines/people apart physically).  Of course, if your machines stay mostly full all day long, rotating usage is probably of little concern.  That said, if you are not concerned about toggling the randomization off and on on a daily basis/schedule, a single SQL query eliminates the need to touch any of the client machines, there should not be any support issues (if you run into any problems, changing back to the default selection method is as easy as another query), and you bypass the "not officially supported" toggling system/mechanism.

                               

                              Regards,

                              Steven