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Catastrophe Central, Discuss, Share, Learn

My old DOS estimating system's scope sheets
Last Post 09/19/2009 1:02 AM by rickhans. 11 Replies.
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Jgoodman
Member
Member
Posts:35


--
02/17/2009 4:49 PM

    In May of 1988, I got my first job out of Virginia Tech writing accounting software for a very small software company in Virginia Beach, VA.  The company wrote custom software for several industries, including job cost accounting for the construction industry.  One of the clients for the accounting software was a fire restoration contractor.  The restoration contractor had hired a couple of programmers to write him an estimating system.  They proved not up to the task, so my boss at the accounting software company and the restoration contractor formed a company to write estimating systems for the insurance claims industry.  Since I was the hard working programmer I was given four percent ownership.

     

    Enter fast forward mode:

    Accounting software boss doesn’t pull weight - Ex-boss bought out by other partners - stock given to hardworking programmer – an investor is found – scanned estimating program is developed – sales not too good – start adjusting claims during Andrew – programmer becomes storm adjuster - software company morphs to adjusting company – storm adjuster become adjusting company manager – programmer/claims adjuster/claims manager leaves adjusting company concentrates on computer services– adjusting company dies – 4 in ’04 – start doing local claims, in addition to computer services – economic troubles of ’08 – loss of large programming job, closing all claims.

    Exit fast forward mode

     

    So I am cleaning my office since I have lots of time on my hands and stumble across several pads of the scope sheets for my old DOS estimating system.  We spent years developing these sheets so that a complete take off could be done in the field, and then either scanned on an optical mark reader (like the SAT test), or handed to a data entry clerk for entering into the computer.  The repair cost database was thousands of items with tens of thousands of prices.  The price of a double sided scanner was around $6,000.00, so the entry costs were formidable, so we only sold about ten scanners.  But that was the fastest estimating system I have ever seen, it could produce a twenty page estimate in less than three minutes.  There was editing to be done, but with practice it could be minimized.

     

    We had the scan sheets printed three times at a minimum order of 10,000 per sheet.  The first printing there were 6 sheets per room and two sheets for the exterior, one for roofs and one for exterior items.  Eventually it was reduced to the one gatefold sheet (four sides) of the interior scan sheets that are posted here.  There was a gatefold scan sheet for roof and exteriors as well, but I do not seem to have a copy of that one.

     

    The manual sheets were meant to guide a user through the questions that the estimating system asked as the estimate was compiled.  Data input training was minimal.  Both the interior and exterior sheets are posted here.

     

    All the sheets are very tightly integrated into the repair cost database.  That is lying around here somewhere as well. 

     

    Thousands of man hours of development, testing, pricing and marketing were put into these sheets.  I thought at least I should post them so folks could look at them.

     
    Here is the link
     
     
    Thanks
     
    Jeff Goodman
     
     
     
    katadj
    Founding Member
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:256


    --
    02/17/2009 11:32 PM
    I remember using the software years ago, way before windows was available, and also a demo on the scan sheets, and saw them run an estimate of about 12 pages in less them one minute.

    To bad such an "ahead of it's time" product could not be, All real adjusters loved DOS, even the 5.8 x mate.

    Jeff , your data base alone is larger than the combined ones of every other one i have ever seen that includes ALL of the Big Guys.

    Would you consider a % based update and sell me one?
     
    "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new... Albert Einstein"
    BobH
    Posts:752


    --
    02/18/2009 11:07 AM
    Posted By R .D. Hood on 17 Feb 2009 11:32 PM 
    All real adjusters loved DOS, even the 5.8 x mate. 
     
    That was the most stable, awesome estimating program. I used it in the early to mid-90's before Xactimate went to Windows based software.  It was bullet-proof, and actually fairly simple.

    Bob Harvey
    ALANJ
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:142


    --
    02/23/2009 1:58 PM
    DOS rules!!! Those were the good old days. I could really crank out some really cool estimates using the old stuff. We need to revolt against this mouse clicking windows driven software. Wait, we already tried that. So much for the good ole days.
    okclarryd
    Posts:954


    --
    02/23/2009 6:39 PM
    These ARE the good ol' days!!
    Larry D Hardin
    Medulus
    Moderator
    Posts:785


    --
    02/24/2009 10:26 AM
    Do I detect a note of optimism, Larry?
    Steve Ebner CPCU AIC AMIM

    "With great power comes great responsibility." (Stanley Martin Lieber, Amazing Fantasy # 15 August 1962)
    okclarryd
    Posts:954


    --
    02/24/2009 8:03 PM
    I'm always optimistic.

    But, then,.........what do I know?
    Larry D Hardin
    johnpostava
    SIMSOL.com
    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member
    Posts:140


    --
    02/27/2009 9:44 AM
    DOS systems were much more "bulletproof" than Windows-based apps.  This is primarly due to the lack of a strong foundation for Windows-based operating systems.  I remember an adjuster from VA wrote a scanning estimating program in the early 90's and had some success with it.  In the end he went back to cat adjusting and did pretty well. 
     
    Most of us older adjusters (45-plus) liked the keyboard user interface of the DOS programs.  At Simsol we still have about 100 users still on DOS.  We don't support it but it does not break.  These users have a hard time finding printers and computers to run the program.
     
    The younger generation was raised on Windows and doesn't see any problems switching between keyboard and mouse.  They don't know any other way.  They also like the tablet and pen interface for mobile adjusting.  We have a full version of our system for tablets and a scoping tools for PDA's and certain types of phones.  It seems the younger and more computer savvy the adjuster, the more they are gravitating to the newer technologies.
     
    In my home I just "upgraded" all my TV's from cable to Direct TV.  We lost picture during the first rainstorm and missed half a sporting event.  I'm going back to cable ASAP - sometimes the newest technology is not always the best.
    Medulus
    Moderator
    Posts:785


    --
    02/27/2009 11:03 AM
    John,

    Picture this. It's winter in Scranton. There is a six inch layer of ice laying on everything under two feet of snow. The satellite dish goes out. So I call customer service. Someone with an Indian accent is on the other end of the phone. She asks me if it is raining. I tell her "no". She asks me if there is snow on the roof. I tell her "yes". She then tells me that the satellite dish has to be swept off to restore reception. I tell her "But, there's snow on the roof. The roof is two stories and steep." She says, "You are going to have to go out on the roof and sweep off the dish." I tell her, "No, I certainly do not have to do that." I ask her if she is familiar with snow and how life threatening what she is suggesting would be. She doesn't respond directly. She simply tells me again that I have to go up on the roof and sweep off the dish. I hang up.

    I found a window I could reach out with a broom and barely reach the dish to get some of the snow off it.

    My advise -- go back to cable as soon as possible.
    Steve Ebner CPCU AIC AMIM

    "With great power comes great responsibility." (Stanley Martin Lieber, Amazing Fantasy # 15 August 1962)
    Jgoodman
    Member
    Member
    Posts:35


    --
    02/27/2009 12:40 PM
    From a programming standpoint, DOS was easier to develop in. With Windows there are several presentation layers to make things look pretty, so to get work done programming wise takes so much more overhead. And once you got it working, DOS never screwed it up. Windows crashes all the time underneath the applications that my clients use.

    I do not think DOS would have fared very well once we got to the Internet browser stage of computer use. That is all very graphics intensive and DOS was not very graphic friendly.

    I am that person from VA that wrote the scanned estimating system, although I did not start adjusting until 93, my partner in the company started at Hugo. I still have an executable version of the DOS estimating system that runs fine under XP, but I have not been able to find DOS compatible printers for a while, so there would be no printing of the estimates. There is a link to the scan sheets for that system in the original post. To this day, the only pen-based estimating system I have ever run was Simsol's pen estimating system at a technology expo for American Bankers Insurance group in early 1992. It is seventeen years later and still the handheld computer in the field method still has not become the standard.

    Some folks are still using software from the nineties. I handled a flood claim recently and the adjuster that handled the previous claim still used that very same DOS estimating system I wrote back in the early nineties. I was with the software company when he got that estimating system in 1996, and evidently he was still using in April of 2008 when he handled that flood claim. Still had the 19___ blank for the year on the Proof, even though we are now in the 2000's. Evidently, all adjusters do not stick to the cutting edge of technology.

    In a lot of ways the estimating programs that are in use today are not much different from the DOS systems of the early nineties with a pretty graphical interface stuck on them. The internet and the file upload/download/assignment/file submission methods have changed greatly, but the way the storm adjuster uses the estimating software has not. I am of the opinion that an adjuster probably got more estimating done in the DOS days before he had to look at pretty pictures of the wall to get some drywall in the estimate. Programmers could have kept the systems working with all the same keystrokes, but programmers love to use the new programming toys and tools and often are not too concerned with the end user running the program. Hence the "point and click" interface has replaced the keyboard entry for almost all apps.

    I am as guilty as most programmer's I guess, all the self-written apps I use to run my businesses use the "point and click" interface. I put in keyboard shortcuts when I can, but I often do not. I click most of my estimates into existence, nary a keyboard shortcut do I use. But most of my custom software clients love the keyboard shortcuts I put into their software, although some insist on using that mouse. The younger the user, the more reluctant to use the keyboard.

    When we first bought our duplex, we had to move my mother-in-law in on the other side. She has been a DirectTV customer for years, mainly so she can watch her Steelers games. She spent three Sundays that first year on our side watching the local football broadcasts because here satellite was out, but our cable was not. I still would consider it, just for the SundayTicket package (all the NFL games), which you cannot get on cable.

    It will be interesting to see where things go both in the adjusting software and digital TV worlds.

    Jeff Goodman
    www.goodmanadjusting.com
    www.jeffthecomputerguyva.com
    Ray Hall
    Posts:2443


    --
    02/28/2009 10:10 AM
    I purchased IMANET in 1989 from one of the owners for $350.00. He was also a dtorm sopervisor for Pilot on a big flood in Houston. That was the end of my 35 page hand extimates with adding machine tape. I closed a ton of claims in Hugo and used the program until 1994 when I* purchased the Fos DEDS that Pilot used.

    My losses are not run of the mine and I need a wrd processor/organizer more than a data base and I use PowerClaim on a monthly lease when I need it.
    rickhans
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:111


    --
    09/19/2009 1:02 AM

    I just stumbled across this thread and had to respond.  I used EZ-Bid, Dos version, until the 4 in 2004 when I learned that  Sid had  released the Windows version so I upgraded.  With Windows, there were a lot more features than could be done in Dos and it was definitely faster.

    I have also been developing Dos based software since PC's came out in the early 80's and developed a POS system for Whataburger franchise stores. I am still supporting 2 stores running Dos as some other POS developers also do.  Dos is bulletproof and much easier to program with, especially when doing real time data collection of a lan.  There are newer versions of Dos still being produced and sold by one or two indpendent software companies that support USB and other features of the latest processors.  There are also add-on drivers to implement usb printers for the old Microsoft Dos.

    As to printers, Dos compatible dot matrix printers are still being manufactured and sold with the parallel interface. You have to search to find the distibutors sometimes, but there is one in Dallas where I have always been able to pickup a printer for my clients.  They are used extensively in auto parts and hardware stores, and virtually any store that needs continuous form feed.  It is difficult, however, to find an ink jet printer that will work with Dos. I still have 2 or 3 older HP IJP's that work with Dos.  Also, receipt printers are still made with the centronics interface as well as a serial interface.

     

     

     

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