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HP 100LX as Shopping Assistant

HP 100LX as Shopping Assistant

SHASS can be a simple shopping assistant or a powerful inventory management system.

By Jeffrey Zorn

I never expected grocery shopping to be fun. But a new shareware program from Ramsheen Research has made it much more enjoyable for me.

SHASS (Shopping Assistant) has not only sped up the shopping process for me, it has enabled me to more accurately monitor the foods I purchase and stay within my budget.

The version of SHASS available for the HP 100LX can also be run on your desktop DOS machine. The .EXE file, once dieted, occupies less than 50K on your RAM disk. The data file (SHOPLIST.SHA) grows as you add items to your shopping list. The sample .SHA file that comes with the program occupies 9.4K. You'll probably average around 25K.

SHASS Inventory Screen

SHASS has two main screen functions: Inventory and Shopping. The INVENTORY screen lists items you commonly buy and tells you whether you have any "in stock."

SHASS Inventory Screen: Graphic

 The INVENTORY screen shows the item, Unit of measure (normally, lb, pkg., can, jar, oz, etc.), if you have any presently In Stock and how many you wish To Buy.

To select an item use (<UpArrow>) or (<DownArrow>) to highlight the item and press (<Spacebar>). A box will pop up asking you "Quantity to buy:." Key in the quantity and press (ENTER). You can also highlight an item and press (<RightArrow>) or (<LeftArrow>) to increase or decrease the quantity you want to buy.

Continue throughout your list as above until you've selected the items you want to buy. You can add an item to the INVENTORY by pressing (F2) (Add) and keying in the name of the item and other information about it, including number presently in stock, average unit price, whether the product is taxable or not, rate of consumption, and type of unit.

One of SHASS's most useful features (available in the registered version only) is its coupon entry system. No more fumbling through a wad of coupons to see if you've got the right one. When you first get a coupon, press (F4) to enter the coupon and associate it with the appropriate item. The total coupon amount will show at the top of the screen, letting you see how much you'll save by using your coupons. The item with a coupon is flagged, indicating that there is a coupon to use when you are shopping. This feature also supports multiple coupons. I deal with "double coupons" by doubling the amount of the coupon when I enter it. I treat "buy one get one free" offers as coupon as well.

Another useful feature in the inventory screen is the recommend selection. SHASS tracks your rate of consumption and in-stock inventory to maintain a recommended shopping list based on your families buying habits. All you need to do is press (MENU) Recommend at the INVENTORY screen and SHASS will calculate your needs and fill in the To Buy column. Bingo. You're ready to shop!

SHASS Shopping Screen

Press (F9) and you are presented with the SHOPPING screen. (The screen below is based on the sample shopping list that comes with SHASS.):

SHASS Shopping Screen: Graphic

 The SHOPPING screen shows the Aisle the item is found in, the Item, Unit, Quantity you need, and Price. The first time you shop it will take a little longer because you will need to enter the aisle numbers for each item. However, once entered, the SHOPPING list sorts the items by aisle number. Items without aisle numbers appear first on the list, then aisle 1, 2, 3, ... A, B, Z, etc. You'll get all aisle 1 items the first time through, and will avoid having to double back to pick up missed items.

SHASS's Options screen (press (MENU) Options) lets you set up shopping lists for up to five different stores. Once set up, you can toggle between stores in the SHOPPING list by pressing (F7). The title at the top of the screen will change, for example, from "SHOPPING AT Acme" to "SHOPPING AT Foodtown."

The SHOPPING screen lets you input either a unit price (F5) or total price (F6) for each item on the list, and then computes the total cost of all the items you wish to purchase. At the top left of the screen you'll see the amount Remaining, the total cost of the items not yet purchased.

As you take an item off the shelf and place it in your shopping cart, highlight it and press (<Spacebar>). This untags the item indicating that you've got it. At the top right you'll see Tax and Total. These track the amount you've actually spent shopping (less any coupons used). When you put an item in your cart and untag it, the cost of the item is added to Total and any tax associated with it is added to Tax. Tax and Total keep a running tally of how much you've spent so far. At the end, you can check over your list for any tag marks, to see if you've forgotten any items. Should you want to add or modify an item just press (F9) to switch back to INVENTORY.

Shopping now takes me about one hour. Normally I spend about $100 a week, and SHASS normally is within about $1.00 of my anticipated total after checkout. When I'm finished shopping, I press (F8) (Done) to clear the screen and store the shopping trip. Press (MENU) Quit and save the changes you've made to your INVENTORY and SHOPPING lists

SHASS can also be used for other non-shopping, inventory-related tasks as well. Use it to track office supplies, hardware, restaurants or just about any other small business related inventory chore. You can use some of SHASS's data fields for other information. Aisle numbers can indicate locations in bins or on shelves. The Unit field can be used to store a product number or vendor information. The program's really quite powerful and flexible.

SHASS is shareware and is available on the Palmtop Paper ON DISK, CompuServe, and America On Line.

iPhone Life magazine

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