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The Ultimate Adjuster Scoping Computer...
Last Post 07/27/2008 12:33 PM by BobH. 16 Replies.
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johnpostava
SIMSOL.com
Veteran Member
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Posts:140


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07/24/2008 11:20 AM
    BobH
    Posts:752


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    07/24/2008 1:05 PM

    That would be great for someone who does a lot of exterior (hail) type claims.
    Personally the small screen and keyboard would be a deal breaker for me.

    I have a super heavy-duty tripod that I adapted a small piece of plywood to bolt onto the top. I can adjust the height for comfortable typing. The legs fold, doesn't take much room in my van. I don't bring it in if the house is furnished, only 1 or 2 rooms damaged, has a kitchen counter that isn't covered with soot.

    If the house has a lot of damage and I am going room-to-room then I bring in my tripod. I also have a 3' stepladder that "works" for this but the keyboard height is off a bit. I strap the laptop to the stand using the same Velcro strip that came with my floor mounted laptop stand in my van (the big screen is great for Delorme GPS, and easy to enter data with full keyboard).

    Tom could do that with his 17" screen notebook. I am using an older 2005 model, Dell 600m. I buy extra's on Ebay for about $250 and have 3 of the same model. I buy extra hard drives, "clone" the drive once a week + daily backups to external USB drive that gets put into use as the main drive the following week.

    Anyway, I take one of those laptops to the site and just do the estimate (or at least enter the room dimensions) as they are being measured. That system has worked well for me doing Flood, and daily claims. If I was only doing roofing and wanted to drag something up the ladder with me... I suppose the little all-weather computer would be nice. Personally I would just do the diagram and measurements on paper, and enter the info when I got down to solid ground.

    I have never used a "tablet" type computer - but kind of don't feel the need for one.  When I take measurements, I am going to set down whatever I am holding in my hand, including my clipboard (thank you CustomToolBelt.com).   So I would need a place to set the tablet PC down anyway.

    I remember working Katrina flood claims in Slidell and didn't have my tripod with me, and was at a house that had been gutted to the studs.  There was absolutely no place to set down the State Farm issued laptop.  One of the workers had left a 3' step ladder, and that model was just the right height for typing.  I carried it room-to-room and it confirmed for me personally that this was my style.  But others may have their own preference.

    Bob Harvey
    cowboy26995
    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member
    Posts:154


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    07/24/2008 2:59 PM
    At $2750.00 a unit you wanna hope a four foot drop isn't going to do it any harm. With bifocals the screen at 5.6 inches is a bit small. This old guy is gonna stick with that nice big 17" screen.
    Marc Dubois
    Executive General Adjuster
    M.G.D. Claim Services Inc.
    "Your Commercial Claims Solution"
    rbryanhines
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:119


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    07/24/2008 7:25 PM
    Bob
    When you scope does everything go straight into the computer? No scope notes. I'm not saying thats a bad thing just wondering.
    BobH
    Posts:752


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    07/24/2008 7:47 PM

    I am back doing daily claims, and if I am not late on appointments I prefer to enter most of the repair items right into my laptop. For most of the obvious repair steps there is nothing to write on paper, but I may do that depending on the room and what happened to it. There is another thread where David brought up a good point on always doing a cabinet diagram - and on Pg 4 we talked about that. I agree with him and always do a "paper" scope note for uppers and lowers even if I note them to scale as "reference areas" in Xm8.

    I really try hard to get all the rooms dimensioned in my laptop - even if I don't have time to enter all the repair steps. I find that it takes me twice as long to suffer with Xm8 sketch if I do it off-site based on my handwritten diagram and dimensions.

    If I enter the room dimensons to the computer on-site, I still often still do a quick diagram and jot down dimensions on my way to punching it into the computer.  But I don't write the "R&R Base" "3 sheeets drywall" "Pnt Walls".  Because I am standing there looking at it and entering those items on the laptop on-site.

    Some carriers do not care about customer satisfaction and take forever to pay claims. My role model is the local staff adjusters in my area that settle the claim on site (table-top adjusting) and write the check then and there. You have to have the estimate completed to do that. I don't have authority to write checks at this time, but try to get my field work done as though I did.

    Bob Harvey
    BobH
    Posts:752


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    07/24/2008 8:57 PM
    I have a super heavy-duty tripod that I adapted a small piece of plywood to bolt onto the top.

    Laptop Stand

    This tripod came from an old telescope, and has unusually broad footprint and is very sturdy.
    I use a velcro strap to make sure the computer doesn't get knocked off.

    Close up, strap computer to stand

    I have been using this arrangement for about 5 years, gone through several laptops but the stand hasn't changed.

    I don't bring this out until I am finished looking around with the Insured, taken all the photos I think I need, clarified the Origin of Loss (if needed) and if it's a water loss I will have figured out if it is still wet and use a moisture meter to see if water is trapped under cabinets or flooring, etc.  When the focus shifts to measuring the damaged areas and doing the estimate, that's when I go to the van and grab the laptop that was being used as GPS, dump some gear out of my tool belt, and bring this in (with Disto, tape measure, etc.)

    Bob Harvey
    Gale Hawkins
    PowerClaim.com
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:386


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    07/24/2008 11:07 PM

    Bob that is a nice work stand. I agree with you on the small format computer has yet to catch on for adjusters over the years. For those over 35 years old screen size and keyboard/input device size does make a huge different. Like Simsol and Xactimate we have demo on the pen/tablet computers for years but when the push comes adjusters always seem to fall back on that which they find functional. As web based solutions continue to gain in function and connectivity improves the hardware may become smaller.

    If as Ray Hall, Dave Hood and others predict the adjuster tech becomes the eyes and hears in the field the web based solutions (especially for daily claims) may gain more attention. After all the younger generation that will be handling claims soon will have had years of experience working off of a 2" screen and being connected 24/7 unlike those of us 45-75 years old today.

    BobH
    Posts:752


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    07/25/2008 12:08 AM
    For those over 35 years old screen size and keyboard/input device size does make a huge different.

    Yep.  Here's my desk, you can't see my external keyboard under the desk, but it just plugs into the laptop's USB + full size mouse.

    Any laptop will run an external monitor simultaneously with the existing display - so you have 2 monitors running at once. Just drag the windows across to the other monitor.  Click on that link if you want to try it, there is a simple setting to tell the laptop to send the display signal to only the external monior, or only the laptop display (default) or both, as you see here.

    External monitor

    I got the 22" Acer at the left for $189 and it's one of the best things I ever did. I can do an estimate on the big screen, and still see Email the moment it arrives on the right.  Or review loss photos.

    Here's my 3 Dells, all are 15" screen and because they are the same model, you can clone hard drives and just plug the drive into the econo $250 Ebay used laptop and it boots without complaining of a different motherboard or video card, etc. The spare hard drives are about $80 & USB cables on the right $19 at Tiger Direct.

    Bob Harvey
    Tom Toll
    Moderator & Life Member
    Posts:1865


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    07/25/2008 11:17 PM

    Very nice set up Bob.

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
    okclarryd
    Posts:954


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    07/26/2008 8:44 AM
    Nice to meet another "Techno-crat"
    Larry D Hardin
    sbeau4014
    Founding Member
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:427


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    07/26/2008 5:04 PM
    Bob,
    Nice set up and one of your puters looks just like a Dell 8600 that I have. Where I am working it is office work and I have 2 19" monitors side by side and it is great working with a set up like that as you can have two programs/systems running all the time and not having to go back and forth so much. I have a minimum of 5 programs going at all times and with two of them up at any given moment it is really nice. Haven't tried it at home yet, but after seeing your set up I will once I get back into working out of the motorhoime. I have a external monitor the size of yours, but right now only use it and the lapper in a port replicator closed up. Now having worked with a set up like yours I'd recommend it to any adjuster out there that has the room on the desk to do it. i have my laptop in the port replicator, so when I leave with it I hit a button and everything is automatically disconnected. When I place it back into the replicator, I automatically have the following items instantly hooked up, and it only takes about 3 seconds to disconnect and reconnect it:
    22' external monitor
    external wireless full size mouse and keyboard
    external dvd player/burner
    external cd player/burner
    two external 250 GB hard drives, one set up to automatically back-up what ever I program it to backup
    one external 40 gb hard drive that has nothing but about 1000 cd's burned to it
    one external 3.5 floppy drive
    USB hook up for my digital voice recorder devise to auto download from
    USB hookup to auto download photos direct from digital work camera
    USB hookup to auto download from my digital movie camera that records either stills on card or movies on internal hard drive
    USB hookup to my photo printer
    USB hookup to my HP laser jet printer/scanner/copier
    Excellent speakers and sub woofer hooked up (see note about my OCD on the CD's above)
    headphones with microphone hooked up for my dictation program
    one external USB open next to my chair to plug in a portable hard drive stick
    I still have one open USB after all of that to plug in a different scanner or another printer if needed (have a dot matrix that I used to use doing Allstate checks and fee bills) There is also Another parallel port a printer can be plugged in and one that you can plug in a phone modum and a networking plug. The port replicator came with a built in thing where any size photo card can be plugged in direct to download photos.
    It is a great set up, but next month there will probably be something I see that I like better and it will go on my wish list. My wife thinks I have a fetish with wires!!!
    It also is great for someone like me that travels from site to site by RV as I don't need to do a thing to it to travel, and it is all set up and ready when we arrive. We can also use it while traveling to the storm as we can run the generator while going down the road and whoever isn't driving can do file downloads, set up, contacts, etc.
    Tim_Johnson
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:242


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    07/26/2008 5:17 PM
    Steve,

    Is the port replicator you speak of the same as a USB hub with 5 or 6 ports?
    Tim Johnson
    BobH
    Posts:752


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    07/26/2008 5:37 PM

    Steve may have more to say - but let me point out that under the photo of my 22" monitor you can see a USB hub with 7 ports.  External keyboard and mouse could plug into that - but my laptop has 2 USB's so they go on the other USB port on a little 4-way connector.

    I plug keyboards into a different USB channel because just one old USB device will slow down everything connected to the USB hub so that it won't transfer at the much faster USB 2.0 speeds.  I save the high-speed USB channel for flash-drives, external hard drive, cameras, etc.

    Typically a port replicator is more like a "docking station" explained here, but there are some alternatives.  I understand the term to mean that the video to external monitor is also part of the connection so you don't have to undo so many connections when you run off with the laptop.  for me - it isn't that big of a deal to yank the video cable and a couple USB's since the printers etc. now run on USB it makes all of this more simple.  My DSL router is also a wireless transmitter, so the laptop gets that without plugging anything in.  And I rarely remove the connections, I just "clone" the hard drive and pop it into one of my spare laptops of the same model with a weekly update. I have 2 spares ready to hit the road for an inspection.

    Posted By Steve Beaumont 
    ...I have a external monitor the size of yours, but right now only use it and the lapper in a port replicator closed up.

    I have to admit that when I ditched the "tower" and went to only using a laptop for my office & roadwork, I did the same thing and just used the laptop to power a big external monitor.

    The "function" key on the laptop allows you to toggle back and forth between using the Laptop display, or external monitor. It wasn't until fairly recently that I realized you can have both displays running, and how easy it is to do that (this article tells you how).

    I am very spoiled now, and have just a slice of my Email window visible on the small laptop display (so I can see if anything "new" landed in the InBox) while most of that display shows my calendar and tasks for the day, drop-dead targets.

    The big monitor on the left is free for getting real work done, and these wide-screens pretty much allow for 2 windows open. Ctrl-Click 2 things in your task bar -> tile vertically and it uses the real estate nicely.

    Bob Harvey
    BobH
    Posts:752


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    07/26/2008 8:02 PM

    Here's the other incarnation of the "Scoping Computer" 
    Laptop in Van

    I got the first one new in 2005 when it was discounted before being discontinued.  Then the cheap extras of the same model from Ebay I don't mind subjecting to vibrations of the road.  There is a lot of peace of mind having spare parts, and knowing you can swap a hard drive without issues of not recognizing the PCI bus or chipset

    Bob Harvey
    sbeau4014
    Founding Member
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:427


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    07/27/2008 10:43 AM
    Bob is correct about the port replicator being basically the same as a docking station. I've had 2 "docking stations" and 2 port replicators since I 1st started dealing with laptops, and the 1st was a true docking station that the computer slid into a slot and connected by the back. The other 3 have been the kind you set the computer onto some guiding pegs and push down and they connect by the ports in the bottom of the laptop. One cas called a docking station, others port replicator, but were basically identical.
    My port replicator has one of the 250 GB spare hard drives built into it (I had to actually put it in, but came with the capibility), 5 USB ports, plus all of the other connectors you have on the back of your computer. Also it has that set up for the memory cards as mentioned. When the computer is in the port replicator, there are 2 USB ports on the laptop that are accessible, but I don't use those. One other thing that I use is a data card from AT&T for my internet access, and it stays in the computer whether in the replicator or not.
    I also have a 8 port USB hub that has its own power source that is plugged into one of the replicator USB ports which expands the capability considerably. I literally just push the release button to disconnect the computer from everything.
    They make smaller port replicators that your computer doesn't lock into but are attached by a USB cable. These are generic ones vs made by computer manufacturers and can be found at most best buys, circuit city stores or Fryes. I have one for the car and at one time I had it hooked up to 2 printers (one for regular printing and a dot matrix for check printing), an external mouse and keyboard (I hate the laptop ones) and a GPS antenna It stayed in the car with those items hooked up to it and all the items were plugged into my inverter. When I took the computer to the car all I had to do is plug in one USB and the power cord and I was good to go. All the power cords were plugged into one surge protecting power strip with an on/off switch so when I left the vehicle for the end of the day I just hit the switch and everything powered down.
    Tom Toll
    Moderator & Life Member
    Posts:1865


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    07/27/2008 12:14 PM

    Bob, you need to vacuum your carpet. LOL. Thats a nice set up. I have an old PC sitting on the doghouse of our Hemi with an 8" monitor affixed to the dash. I hated drilling holes in the dash for the mount, but it just stays there, so what the heck. I have a radio shack inverter, 400 watts and it powers the pc and several other items. We run the Delorme and Integraclaim on the PC. Nice set up, I think. Later I am going to get a 10" monitor to see things better.

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
    BobH
    Posts:752


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    07/27/2008 12:33 PM
    Posted By Tom Toll 
    ...Bob, you need to vacuum your carpet. LOL.

    Shoulda seen it before I cleared the "debris" for the photo shoot...

    Posted By Tom Toll 
    ...with an 8" monitor affixed to the dash. ...I think. Later I am going to get a 10" monitor to see things better.

    The 15" display on my econo-laptop is adjusted to just below the line of sight out the window, and is really easy to see. I am also running Delorme.

    With a motor home - doghouse you may have fewer options on where to position a computer with it's own screen rather than sending the signal to an external screen. At first I was bummed with blocked access to the radio and AC, now I just push the screen down a bit and push it back up.  You can see the lock at the side of the laptop, and if I get out of the van for more than a couple minutes I toss a sheet of newspaper on the closed laptop and you really couldn't tell what was under it.

    Bob Harvey
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