I had run into the opportunity to work on generating a report from the Phoenix SQL Lite software today. I must say that if the price point is acceptable that it is best to go with the full version Phoenix SQL Full. It will still need it’s own VM but is designed to point to a traditional SQL server and gives the additional usage of multiple simultaneous users over a browser session.

If you’re like me and budget constrained the next best option would be Phoenix SQL Lite from OPW.

Not too long ago an upgrade was made from a PetroVend K800 controller to an FSC3000. This required an upgrade of the card in the pole where the trucks refuel.

The upgrade process to utilize the built-in conversion tool simply didn’t work at all. Luckily, the skill people over at OPW were able to assist and correct any issues that the utility was having. To date I’m not aware of the export/import feature working out of the box. Please bear that in mind if you plan on upgrading your fuel island controller and fuel software.

Once everything was up and running it worked absolutely wonderful. We were able to generate the reports that accounting needed. We were also able to add and remove drivers and trucks.

The challenge then came in when I had discovered that the old software P4W.exe better known as Phoenix for Windows went from relic to requirement.

Previously the P4W program had communicated with a local controller via a physical cable. This was fine. Where the issue arose was that there had been a USB Fax/Modem unbeknownst to myself why would have one connected at all in 2019. Step 1 unplug it and see what stops working. No reports of any issues…FOR A YEAR! Well, the need for this to work is 1 every quarter as of just last quarter. Prior to that despite having been tracking fuel by tractor it wasn’t a legal requirement for at least 5 years. However, those laws can fluctuate and well now we’re on a fluctuation cycle where it is now required to collect that information again and now caught unprepared.

The P4W application launched a built-in custom software that essentially is hyperterminal such that it can perform dialing over a modem. Once the K800 picks up on the other end there is a direct dial-up connection to the controller that would be established. At that point standard serial communication would occur over the line with your appropriate baud and parity settings. If you’ve never set this up before just check out PuTTy serial connections on google.

I needed to test the connectivity of this call so I had got to work. I installed a USB Fax/Modem (56kbps (FAST! Seriously that was as good as dial-up gets before DSL is thrown into mix). I checked my device manager and from the tabs in the properties of the connected modem I could see which COM port that the computer had assigned to that USB port for that device.

Since I didn’t have the application available to test I needed to use something that utilized the modem. What in the heck uses this tech in 2020? Well Faxes do. They absolutely need the PSTN (public switched telephone network) to function. Essentially, we have traditional phone lines (sort of) and faxes need a land line. It was a match made in heaven.

However, I didn’t have an analog wall jack in my office to test. We have a proprietary VOIP Avaya system from ages past with a mixture of it’s old line cards with its newere line cards by age in order of oldest first (AT&T, Lucent, Avaya). I have a gripe about that system is that it uses the 802.3af standard for PoE power but has a proprietary negotiation protocol that occurs first to determine how much power should be delivered to the device. Completely, ridiculous. 802.3af will just respond with what is needed. For reasons like this I’m anti-Avaya but it’s what I’m stuck with and I may as well make the best of it.

In the interest of just making it work I used the Avaya 18D phone connected Partner Messaging Version 7.0 system. This model and many compatible with it have an auxiliary port labeled AUX for analog phones (the kind you get at walmart for home consumer use). This AUX port was the perfect candidate for the RJ11 telephone cable to connect the modem to the phone line. This way the modem simply uses my phone to perform the outcalling.

I usually send faxes from a machine that has been configured or a fax service but in this case I needed to test the connection directly from a PC to test the modem. Luckily, even in Windows 10 you still have “Windows Fax and Scan” which allows you to send faxes right from your computer with a built-in utility instead of having to install a bunch of printer bloatware or even from having to buy a multi-functional printer that includes a fax function.

Setting it up is as simple as following the prompts in the wizard. Then sending the fax is as simple as sending an email. The test was successful.

The next step was to get a copy of the old P4W application to communicate with the K800 controller. Well, I found it on a PC! However, the installer I had not been able to find. So knowing that applications are typically not portable on windows and without the installation files getting the software on another host would prove difficult. I had learned about a fantastic and free application to do this. It didn’t work for my purposes but I imagine I will be using it a lot more in the near future called cloneapp.

Download – CloneApp

You basically “back up” your apps in this application. Then copy the entire contents of the portable installation over the host you want to move it to and then run the “restore” function. Oh, and it’s free. It had listed every program with the exception of the one that I wanted to copy over. Shucks. At least I got a cool new app to use out of the learning process.

Now I just have to install the USB 56kb/s Fax/Modem on the PC that I had found the installation on. However, seeing as I don’t have the original installation media still need a way of being able to port the application to other systems.

To be continued…

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