The CueCat is a free barcode scanner given away by RadioShack and It connects to your system using what is known as a keyboard wedge - it plugs into your keyboard port, and your keyboard plugs into it.

You easily use it to catalog your books, CDs, etc.

Under Linux, you need to compile and run read_cuecat. Be very careful to only scan a barcode when you are running the program, and never scan under X. Bad things can happen!

Under Windows, do not install the supplied drivers. If you already have, uninstall them, or turn them off using the icon in your toolbar. Then, fire up notepad, scan your codes into there, and run that file through either (Perl version) or (Python version). These programs will produce a lot of extraneous info. You merely want the decoded barcode number.

The output of read_cuecat (at least in this modified version), can be piped directly into the book-cataloging scripts written by zarf. Alternativly, for CD's, videos, or other merchandise, you can write your own script to look up the barcodes on the Net.

Since the decoding takes a few seconds, you may often accidentally scan a code twice. I recommend running the output of read_cuecat through uniq, like this:
read_cuecat | uniq > scanfile