Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Crypto Currencies, what's n(e)xt?

Quote from the movie How to Train Your Dragon: "Out with the old and in with the new"

After the success of Bitcoin during the last four years, especially during 2013 a lot of alternative crypto coin, or altcoins have been introduced. Most of these coins have a system that gradually generates new currency during it's lifetime. A process that can cause inflation during this generation phase. For the most common currencies this generation protocol is build upon a proof of work principle. This means that a lot of computing power is needed to generate a new block, and if in the system the amount of computing power increases, the difficulty is raised to keep an predetermined block update rate.
A couple of months ago when the Bitcoin crossed the $1000 value, a mined block could generate a value of $50.000. This generation of money out of thin air seems to good to be true, and when something seems to good to be true is usually is. The cost of estimated power consumption of the worldwide computer network calculating these new Bitcoin blocks was valued higher then $50.000.
NxtCoin Wallet QR Code
This waist of energy does not fit the 'green' concept. So based on a different principle called proof of stake the latest Crypto currency created is the NXT Coin.

Proof of stake has a nice short description on Wikipedia, that is better served with a link then a quote.

In this system the Computers connected to this currency network do not have to compete to find the next valid block, so the total global computing power doesn't have to run full speed. This limits the energy required to keep the network up and running.

So what can be improved for NXT coin?
Currently the source code is not open source, this requires a high level of trust in the developers.
With all coins of this system already in circulation, generated at start-up this raises the question who had these early coins? And the proof of stake looks at the number and age of the coins to grant an online NXT-wallet owner to generate a new block and claim the transaction fees.
The most filled and oldest wallets-owners will profit the most of this proof of stake principle.
It is still a system with an increasing block-chain, that will grow in size over time, in my opinion not suited for mobile phones.
I do think that the proof of stake is a better system with regards to energy consumption and yes, for this currency I also have generated my own wallet..... just in case....

Monday, December 30, 2013

QR Code Trailers.

Quote from the movie A Beautiful Mind: "But on the night, here you are, making a Hollywood movie..."

There are just a few movie poster, or other movie related promotional material that hold QR Codes.
The Iron Man II movie poster contained a QR Code in the Uni-Beam of the Iron Man suit.
This QR Code was linked to a online promotion.
I haven't found a Iron Man III movie poster containing a QR Code, it seems that the usage of QR Codes in relation with movies is not consistent.
Captain America The Winter Soldier QR Code

In my opinion each modern movie poster should contain a QR Code linking to the trailer. QR Codes target the mobile phone users, and most modern mobile phone have no problem running these trailers.

With just a bit of enhancement effort the QR Code can be graphically linked to the movie.

Here is my Captain America The Winter Soldier QR Code. Maybe Marvel Studio's is interested :-)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mining for gold.

Quote from the movie Rat Race: "It was the second largest gold rush in American history."

The 19th of December there was a column making a reference that Bitcoin was following a classic bubble progression. I also like the reference to a 'gold rush' behavior.
A reference to gold rushes in Wikipedia states:
"Gold rushes were typically marked by a general buoyant feeling of a "free for all" in income mobility, in which any single individual might become abundantly wealthy almost instantly."

golden bitcoin wallet id qr codeThis leads to the question who actually made money during those gold rushes. Sure there were lucky individuals who actually struck a lot of gold, but a job with less risk and more income certainty is to be a supplier for the gold-diggers. The stores that sold the pickaxe's, shovels, food and other necessities for the miners probably made the most profit.
The same can be said for the crypto coin mining. Since everybody can do actual mining, the free for all and instant wealth is very appealing. In order to do some serious crypto coin mining, you require a lot of calculating power, and currently the most mining power can be made when using the AMD Raedon graphical card as the heart of your mining rig.
I would not be surprised if AMD would report a better year than expected, solely due to the increased demand of their graphical adapters for (Scrypt based) mining rigs. Maybe the safest way to also make money on the bitcoin hype is to buy AMD shares :-).
litecoin customized qr code wallet
Reality and history will probably tell that the biggest profits have been made by the early adopters, and the market already has been taken over by bigger players.
Being a supplier for the Crypto Coin market is still interesting, that's why I'm selling these Customized QR Code Wallets.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pagerank Update.

Quote from the movie Double Jeopardy: "Here's your Christmas present..."
Winter QR Code

In order to check the effectiveness of you QR Codes as part of a marketing campaign the usage of the code must be measured.

This same check also applies to websites in general. The most common way to measure the quality of a website is  the Google Page-rank.

There are several SEO (search engine optimizing) techniques to create a higher pagerank score. But in order to be sure Google actually needs to update the pagerank.

Rudolf QR CodeThe update rate used to be about 4 times a year, but in 2013 the first pagerank update was in February. From about May a second update was expected, but it was postponed.

Up to a week ago it was expected that a second pagerank update would not happen in 2013 anymore, until suddenly an update was rolled-out on the 6th of December.

With my QR Code website going from PR1 to PR3 and my blog from unrated to PR1, I cannot complain with the results from this update.
I consider this new rating as an early Christmas present.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Electronic wallet, the QR Code, part IV.

Quote from the movie Kill Bill: Vol. 2: "Daddy, I told Tommy that you were in Perth mining for silver.."

In my last post about crypto-currencies I mentioned mining. In order to experience the mining process I actually started mining for LiteCoin myself. Well not completely by myself, I joined a mining pool.
LiteCoin Mining QR Code
The process of mining crypto-currencies in a nutshell:

Each transaction made with the digital money needs to be done with a money transfer order. A multiple of these money transfers are being calculated into a block. Mining is the calculation process to determine the validity of this calculation. Since multiple calculations can be valid, a procedure will select a new block based on a difficulty level. For a candidate block, also known as a share, the difficulty level needs to exceed the global set difficulty level of the currency.
When the new block is accepted the finder of this block is rewarded with new coins.
The global difficulty level is the controlling mechanism to prevent too many blocks to be generated. Most of the crypto-currencies have a predetermined and preferred update rate to control the amount of coins that are generated. The height of the rewarded number coins for the finder is also controlled, and will decrease to 0 in a fixed rate, making mining at the introduction of a new currency interesting, that is if this new currency will become an accepted currency in the future. When in the future new blocks are no longer reward with new coins, fee's on transactions will have to keep the currency alive.

The reason I selected to work in a pool is a higher chance on being rewarded. Finding the share with a high enough difficulty level can more or less be compared with a lottery. The calculation speed of the currency itself is defined in GH/s. Where each Hash is the calculation that could be the new block.
For LiteCoin (considered to be the number two to Bitcoin, and still mine-able by 'individuals') the global Hash-rate is about 42 GH/s.
This total number 42 * 1000 * 1000 * 1000, can be considered the number of lottery tickets to win the reward of finding one block. In my trial, using CPU based mining, I got to about 10000 H/s. Giving me 10000 lottery tickets for this draw. The chance I have the 'winning ticket' is about 0.000023%.
By joining a mining pool, in my case the LiteCoin pool of mining4all.eu, this way I increase my chances, but I have to share the winnings. A bigger pool size equals more calculating power, the higher the chance on finding a block.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Electronic wallet, the QR Code, part III.

Quote from the movie Heat: "There´s a flip side to that coin."

In my last blog entry I mentioned BitCoin as a new future currency. A crypto-currency and e-wallet for all kinds of international payments.

In order to check if BitCoin would be a workable for myself and my business, I did some investigation.

BitCoin itself is a encryption based currency, newly made transactions need to be encrypted, and will generate a new encryption block. The computing power required to make this new encryption block can theoretically be made by any individual with a computer connected to the internet.

The maker of this new block is 'rewarded' with a certain amount of BitCoin, a process called mining. This reward will be decimated over time until a maximum amount of BitCoin has been generated. With the current computer power already solving and creating these new blocks, trying to 'mine' BitCoin by yourself is not worth while. Shared computer power, by adding you computing power towards a calculation pool would be your next best choice.

In this setup there are also a couple of drawbacks that would make is less suitable to integrate it into a global mobile payment system. In order to make your own self sustained wallet, the blockchain, i.e. the generated blocks from the start of BitCoin itself need to be imported into you wallet.
This synchronization is currently running for 2 day's straight on a not too young computer system. Besides downloading the existing blocks with a large accumulated size >10Gb, it also seems to perform a lot of calculations in order to synchronize. A process that I would not really want to perform on a mobile phone.
The second big drawback is the time to have a payments confirmed. The transaction as mentioned need to be part of a new generated block. Blocks are generated with an average of 10 minutes interval, so it could take up-to 10 minutes before your payment is confirmed. Not a time I would like to wait.

I've checked for BitCoin Apps availability for iPhone and Android, there are some Apps that will show the current conversion rate, check progress of a mining pool, etc, but these is no real e-wallet app in existence, probably due too issues as mentioned above.

I would suspect that any kind of future e-currency just has to be able to run on a mobile phone, with transactions to be performed instantly and still have the same kind of basic features as Bitcoin offers; like the security, and the self-governing principle.

There are some web-based services that offer a e-wallet, with some effort the access to the wallet might be made with an App, this option just gives me the idea I'm dealing with a bank again.

There are some alternatives to BitCoin. But a quick observation doesn't show a preferred crypto based currency that can made in a real mobile e-wallet app.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Electronic wallet, the QR Code, part II.

Quote from the movie Jerry Maguire: "Show me the money."

In one of my last blogs entries I reported about PayPal unveiling a new payment system, where they are planning to extend the service to be available in real live as well as an internet payment system.
In the article I was rooting for a e-wallet type of service to make payments between individuals also a possible service. As an alternative for PayPal as e-wallet, a choice can also be made for BitCoin; there service is purely based on a e-wallet structure.

There are some specifics with relation to BitCoin. The most remarkable feature of BitCoin is that the currency is not backed by any bank or country. This raises the question if this currency is now more or less secure that actual money.

The actual value of the BitCoin is linked to supply and demand. BitCoin exist as long as it is used and popular. Would another online system be launched, with benefits that would make it more popular than BitCoin, there is a risk that this currency would be rendered worthless.

On the other side;  there is no bank, with a urge to make a profit to pay bonuses to employees, taking risks with your money, or going bankrupt. And the fees taken from transactions is very small compared to the currently established online and offline banks. Where the fee is used to maintain the online system operational.

The actual BitCoin as well as the transactions are based on encryption, making counterfeit money next to impossible. Just be sure you remember the password of your e-wallet. A once forgotten password equals to losing you wallet.

So how does it work? Well quite simple actually. You just open an online e-wallet. This e-wallet get's an ID for example: "15cfk6irBhySNGYKFDd5y47kgMS9Jjpmva". If I want to receive a payment, I just give you my e-wallet id, and you can make a transaction to this wallet. In order to make a payment I would need your e-wallet ID, and an App to where I can specify the amount and a password to initiate the payment.

More information on BitCoin can be found on their website: http://bitcoin.org

Using a QR Code to identify your e-wallet ID is easier than remembering a sequence of 35 characters.
And yes, the displayed QR code does represent my e-wallet :-)
Would you like your own Custom QR Code for your BitCoin e-wallet just go to my custom QR Code relink tool, and login with bcoin/bcoin as credentials. Just enter your 35 character e-wallet ID, and your own BitCoin Custom QR Code is generated.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Call to QR Code action.

Quote from the movie Garfield: "Maybe I'll get a CAT scan."

Cat custom qr code
Advertisement is process that holds a multitude of purposes. The obvious one is to promote or create awareness for a product or a service.
The advertisement must create enough awareness for a possible client to start a process that would result in a purchase.

So what would be some basic ingredients for an advertisement?

Appeal, radio, TV and printed commercials need to have enough appeal to capture and hold the interest. Only when the targeted audience is 'listening' a message can be relayed. Depending on your product and marketing approach the content can be informative, funny, surprising, etc.

Recognition: The message have an unique factor that will linked it to back to you. In a campaign with multiple commercials a linking factor could be the phrase, actor(s), an image, etc.

Call to action: When your target audience views an commercial advertisement the sale of the product is not magically made. If it is a product that is easily obtainable, for instance in a supermarket, just creating awareness might be enough. Usually you will need to provide means for the customer to obtain your product or service. Advertisements years ago had a cut-out section that was a order form, or a means to get more information. Nowadays with the internet, this section has been replaced with a link to a website, email address, etc.

Technologies like QR Codes, AR and NFC can be used to have an easier access to you 'call to action', and provide a means to keep track of your advertisements success.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Electronic wallet, the QR Code!

Quote from the movie Broken Arrow: "So that's what this is all about? The money?"
Paypal custom QR Code

According to an article in the wall street journal PayPal unveils a new in-store payment.

This new system will be using of QR Codes in combination with a mobile App to utilize mobile payment.

Do we need another extra system for payment? I always thought cash is king. I guess PayPal itself want's it. Making transactions is what is making money for PayPal. If they can also operate in brick and mortar stores, that would increase their number of transactions.

But is there a benefit for the customers? With the current technologies like NFC being part of the mobile phone, the next step is a phone that holds two smart chips-cards. One for your phone number and provider information. The other is basically the same chip that is currently part of your bankcard or credit-card.

One option that I really like to see in a e-wallet, is that these new payment systems can also be used for fast and easy transfer money between two individuals. Paying a private person with a credit card is not always possible. With a e-wallet App on both phones, transactions between tow individuals would be the feature that would compel me to use this technology.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Multiple use of QR Codes

Quote from the movie Cocktail: "Uh, multiple. - Multiple?"
Christmas QR Code

When making a customized QR Code, the content of the code is an item that needs some thought.
In general it is a good idea to make use of a link forwarding service for the content of the code. This way the success of the code itself can be measured, various statistical information like location, operating system, mobile type, etc can be easily be obtained. On the other hand, a link that also shows your company's name in a URL looks better, but it will require the gathering of the statistical information to be done by your own website.

A benefit of a link forwarding system is that the code can be rerouted to different content. In this way the QR Code itself can be reused in more that one marketing campaign.
The drawback of reusing the same code for multiple campaigns is that the statistical data obtained after the re-link is a combination of the old campaign and the new campaign.

In order to measure the success of each of the campaigns, each campaigns statistical data needs to be unique. The drawback of this is that the number of QR Code required is equal to the number of campaigns. When a customized QR Code was initially used, each of the uniquely made codes should have the same graphical appeal.

As an alternative to the dynamic re-linking QR Codes, a service offered by various companies, an easy Custom QR Code re-link service has been made.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wrapping up Custom QR Codes.

Quote from the movie Live and Let Die: "Do you think you could gift wrap it for me, please?"

Christmas QR Code

When enhancing QR Codes it seems every day is Christmas. The gift it the content in the QR Code and the enhancement is the wrapping. When selecting your Christmas gift, the nicest wrapped gift gets selected first.

With this philosophy in mind the better looking QR Codes will probably be scanned more often than the standard QR Codes.

Just like with Christmas gift, the important part will be the gift itself. If the gift is disappointing it doesn't matter how nice the gift is wrapped. At the end the gift is remembered, not the wrapping.

And with too much enhancement of the QR Code the readability of the code can become compromised, you'll end up with a nicely wrapped empty box.

If you require your own graphically enhanced QR Code, where the enhancement does not compromise the codes readability, please contact me or visit my site to check your possibilities with custom qr codes.Or just scan the nicely wrapped QR Code.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Love QR Codes

Quote from the movie The Devil's Advocate: "What about love?"

Cupid QR Code

Whats not to love about QR Codes?

Combined with printed materials they are the substitute for hyperlinks in an online article.

When QR Codes are combined with printed material make sure the codes themselves are making use of a tracking and tracing system, this freely available information can be used to measure the popularity and effectiveness of your printed media.

QR Codes can be resized.

Make the QR Code the right size for your needs. A QR Code for magazines requires other dimensions than a QR Code on a bill-boards.

QR Codes can be colored

Using colors in your QR Code can help to integrate the code image with your company colors. while selecting opposite colors can make the qr code stand out and might increase the number of scans.

QR Codes can be branded with images.

When making use of an image integration technique, transparency, image overlay or other techniques, QR Codes can be branded with images; for instance a company logo. And even with these enhancements the code itself will still able to read out by a QR Code reader.

Still not convinced? Scan the attached QR Code, maybe cupid will help a hand, or an arrow.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Themed QR Codes

Quote from the movie Daredevil: "Yeah, but, then again, so does a vigilante who thinks every day is Halloween."

Halloween qr code
Use QR Codes to promote your products or services

Holidays like Halloween, Christmas and Easter require special attention for the promotion. By graphically enhancing a QR Code this theme can be made part of the QR Code itself.

Integration of images in the QR Code itself enables the possibility to insert multiple images, while still maintaining the scan speed and readability.

Happy Halloween :-)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The eye of the QR Code.

Quote from the movie Minority Report: "Why didn't I know about this?"

Custom QR Code Eyes
As soon as more and more people start using QR Codes, technical terms are thrown out the window and replaced by more popular term.

I had a discussion the other day concerning graphical enhancement of the QR Code, were there was a constant reference to the 'eye' of the QR Code.

It took me a while to understand that the reference was to the locators. The three squire shaped objects in the corners of the QR Code.

With the popularity of QR Codes ever increasing, how long will it take before other technical terms regarding QR Codes will be replaced as well?

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Quote from the movie TRON: Legacy: "and most secure operating system is out there for free!"

ubuntu custom qr code

Ubuntu is the Linux alternative for your desktop OS. What else can be said about Ubuntu? It's still not the mainstream OS for desktop devices, but the internet backbone holds quite some Ubuntu operated servers.

And Ubuntu is going mobile!
This raises the question; do we really need another mobile OS?

Looking at the way Ubuntu proposes to implement their operating system to really integrate mobile/desktop/server could be worth while.

Modern smartphones pack a lot of calculating power. The power of these smartphone exceeds the desktops of a couple of years back. It is a nice thought of just docking the smartphone in a cradle that connects it to a monitor, keyboard and mouse; and voila there is your workstation.
No need to synchronize mail clients, schedules, contacts, since it is all in one device. Want to develop your Apps? The development environment is already on your system, no need to have a virtual environment for debugging. One of the currently existing apps is a QR Code Reader, I just hope the code attached to this article scans with an Ubuntu phone, feedback is appreciated!

One of the mayor pluses of Ubuntu is that mayor release updates don't always require more powerful hardware. If they can offer this feature with their mobile OS, they will have exceeded the Windows mobile OS in my opinion. Meanwhile I will hold on to my Windows Mobile 7 Nokia Lumia, you know the one that cannot run WM8, and keep an sharp eye out for the Ubuntu phone.

Did I mention that the OS itself is free?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Make a QR Code part of your team.

Quote from the movie Men in Black: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals."
Thinking of QR Codes

"There is no I in Team." It seem to be the magical words to get an individual back in line with the approved behavioral pattern of a group. But upon analyzing the word TEAM, I couldn't find any reference to a words like WE or US in the word TEAM.
So it seems that the intention of using the phrase "There is no I in Team" is to have an individual to mindlessly follow the rules as set by a group, transforming the individual in MEAT. 
In my opinion the word TEAM does hold the letters to form the true intentions of the word. TEAM should stand for Me At or Me@. Me@work, Me@sports,

If the goals of a team and my goals are the same; if the team wants me as member and just as important. if I want to be part of the TEAM, a team effort could be the right decision. If there is no common goal or interest, there is no team, just a group of individuals.

Why this introduction when this blog handles about QR Codes? It is the phrase common goal that is the key item in the story.

A QR Code by itself is not a magical instrument to enhance internet awareness for your product or campaign. A QR Code is most commonly used as a bridging tool between offline or printed material with online content. If the online content is just a mirror of the offline content, what is the reason someone should cross the bridge? Tracking and tracing the effectiveness of the QR Code supported campaign is a nice property of a QR Code, but it is not a common goal a business shares with the customer.

Think... Think about what your customer might want to see after scanning a QR Code, think about the device the customer is likely to use when scanning a code and going to online content. Think, don't just use a QR Code mindlessly, this will result in you blaming the QR Code itself when a campaign does not yield the wanted result. Think about how you make your customer part of your team. Think, that's why the i is printed as an exclamation mark

Thursday, September 5, 2013

QR Code(s), hot or not?

Quote from the movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "As the Improbability Drive reaches infinite improbability"

trending qr codeStatistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. Using tracking on QR Codes can give great insight of how, where, when and by whom the qr code was used. By analyzing this data trends can be observed. Acting on these trends is the way to fine-tune advertizement and marketing campaigns.

There is also a risk in this however.
Just as in real live, if you ask the wrong questions you will end up with the wrong answers. the same will happen if the right question is asked based on insufficient data.

At the start of august there was an article that showed the picture as displayed below. This graph is generated using Google trends in order to check is a certain key phrase is popular or not.
The phrase "QR Codes" showed a peak that could be interpreted as an increase in popularity.

But when analyzing the popularity of both the phrases "QR Codes" and "QR Code" a different picture was painted, as can be seen in the following graphic. Both key phrases are plotted using the same scale, comparing the phrases to each other as well.
The graphs don't show the same increase in popularity for both phrases; the more popular key phrase does not even show an increase, but a decrease in the popularity of the key phrase at the same time period.

In order to check if something is actually becomes more popular all relevant key phrases should show the same trend in each of the graphics. Looking at the trend of the combined key phrases it cannot be concluded that QR Codes are becoming more popular at the moment.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Beware of QR Codes.

Quote from the movie Shoot 'Em Up: "Guns don't kill people."

There was a new discussion on Linkedin concerning the dangers of QR Codes. One of the comments was related to this story that mentions a QR Code wiping an android phone.
Sure it's a scary notion that scanning a QR Code can wipe you phone, but is it a QR Code danger?
The bug itself is part of the android OS, the article is over a year old; updates have closed the gap.

QR Code danger In an operating system that is popular some people will always look if there are weak spots that can be exploited.

Windows as the most popular desktop OS is the main target for virus and mall ware. Just surfing on the internet can be enough to infect the system.

With Android being the most popular mobile OS  it should not be a surprise that any weak spots will be exploited.

The QR Code being the best know and most used 2D bar-code is therefore being misused by people who mean to do harm.

My opinion with regards to QR Code is that the benefits outweigh the dangers. The qr code scanner apps available are constantly updated giving you the content of the scanned code first; and give you the choice to act in stead of automatically open an link, dial a phone number, or send a text message.
The trend that the internet will be more and more used by smart phone with regards to desktop computer just cries out for a technology that can link the real world to the internet, preferably by using the mobile phone sensors.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Benefits of using bar-codes.

Quote from the movie Fallen: "Where is the fun in that?"

The first generation of linear bar-codes were a revolution in tagging products in supermarkets. Not only the checkout became easier, with the cashier computer recognizing the product and add this to the tally, the inventory of the shop could directly be updated and the complete checkout process was tasking significantly less time for the customers.
And  now with the introduction of the 2D bar-codes a lot more of information can be stored in the bar code.

Why are there so many stories that a QR Code powered campaign is not working?

At the release of linear bar-code there was a clear win-win situation for customers and companies, and yes at that time there was already a discussion going on concerning the graphical appeal of these code. The linear codes were and are a big succes.

One of the issue's that I see is the unlike with the linear bar-code, where customers do not need to actually scan the code itself, scanning the code by the customers is required in the case with the 2D Codes used for campaigns. This means that besides the effort needed to make a campaign both offline and offline, were both campaigns complement each other, the QR Code itself and the way to use it also has to be promoted.

Since more and more successful QR Code usage is reported these days I would suspect that in a couple of years time the QR Code promotion itself, including links of where to download readers will no longer be needed.

Monday, August 26, 2013

QR Code Hype?

Quote from the movie Contact: "Will history repeat itself?"

Second Life designer QR CodeSince 2D bar-codes like the QR Code have sometimes being looked at as a hype, I was looking for an internet hype to look for parallels. One of the best example I of a recent hype I could find is Second Life.
Second Life could be looked at as a social environment where your avatar could walk around. On the top of its popularity in 2007 everybody needed to be part of this social network. Companies and schools represented themselves in their own virtual offices.

My experience with Second Life is that controlling my avatar was difficult, and this world was too huge. I was just browsing, more or less afraid to miss the next best thing, but I had no idea where to go or what to do.

Participant of a hype will prolong its live longer then people who are just browsing. Businesses looking for new ways for marketing and sales need people who embrace the hype, not people standing at the sideline that are just looking what is going on.

There are some parallels with regards to 2D bar-codes. Businesses are (mis)using these codes just to have a feeling not to be left out of a potential new sales channel. Not all the time the implementation is fully thought trough; mobile unfriendly websites, links to sites that don't offer relevant information, etc, etc. And customers are looking at their QR Code, and don't see real difference to standard bar-code they can see on the products they seen in the supermarket. Who actually scans bar-codes in supermarkets? So why make the effort of scanning a QR Code?

Both companies and customers must see a benefit of 2D bar-code usage, like a more mobile and  interactive experience to respectively promote and sell; find more information and buy displayed products.
If this benefit is not found by both parties, QR Code might make the long list of hypes that had the potential but just didn't make it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The QR Code hassle.

Quote from the movie Point Break: "Think it through, man."

I came across a blog entry the other day that was claiming the QR Code being death. Again.....
Sure the QRCode will not live forever, but using the following reason got me thinking. Again...
Custom QR Code Angry Patrick

The stated main reason the QR Codes are dead and NFC is the future:

It is a too big of a hassle to take out your mobile phone, start an app, scan the code and wait for the browser to load a page.

How would you expect NFC to work? The steps include taking out the mobile phone, starting an app, holding the phone real close to the NFC tag, wait for a browser to load a page......

Don't these steps seem very familiar?

With or without QRCodes there seems to be a consensus that the internet will be used more and more using mobile devices or even newer technology like google glass. I don't own a google glass, but it looks like this technology is also trying to bridge the real world with the digital world. In order to create this augmented reality, real world items must be linked to online items. And since we cannot place click-able hyperlinks in the real world, technologies like QR Code and NFC can fill this gap.

The only reason QRCodes or NFC tags would fail in the future is not thinking the offered mobile experience through. Using these technologies is only a doorway to a (mobile) internet experience that should offer some kind of reward to the person scanning the QR Code or NFC tag.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Keep your eye on the QR Code.

Quote from the movie Forrest Gump: "Never, ever take your eye off the ball."

For each aspect defined in you marketing and advertizement campaign ask yourself the question: "how will this aspect help me to obtain my goal." It is a question I started to ask myself when I started with my QR Code business. Trying to find the answer is not simple, actually it raised more and more questions.

The first step is to actually define your goal.
It seems simple; business makes a product, product needs to be sold.
But is there a market for your product? and who is your client? It is wishful thinking that the whole world is your target, a smaller target audience is easier to identify and reach. Is anyone really waiting for this product, does it solve real problems? The original reason for you to generate the product, might not be the same as the key selling points.

Trying to answer these question might help to get a more clear definition of the goal itself. It helps defining your target clients. And by defining your clients; specific needs and interests of these clients can be addressed while promoting your product.

This step can help to avoid to do things for doing sake only, and avoid to add aspects that are distracting, since distraction will  move your clients away from the set goal.

The whole process is not static and needs to be measured, reviewed and adjusted constantly. But each time you feel
an adjustment needs to be made, remember to "Never, ever take your eye off the ball."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Solving Puzzles.

Quote from the movie Dead Poets Society: "As she pieced the puzzle together..."

In my simplistic view doing business is closely related to solving a big jigsaw puzzle.

Generate  the ideal balance!

The client want's the puzzle to be complete and show an specific predetermined image.

Marketeers are the fist to act, they have to be sure the same picture is set as goal, and all the jigsaw puzzle pieces are identified. Identification of these pieces is then communicated back to the sales and technical department to determine if these pieces can be made, and at what price.

Followed by continues good communication back and forward with the client and all departments should result in each piece to be specified and a project plan being made. From the plan a quote can be generated, one that a client could accept to raise an order.

When the balance is disturbed.

In real live sometimes steps are skipped; usually one of the skipped steps is linked to communication with the client, or between departments. The obvious result is that not all players have the same image as goal.

This results in puzzle pieces that are in no relation to the puzzle that a client want's to solve. Trying to bang puzzle pieces together that do not fit; or placed at a wrong location altogether. And the once 'solved' puzzle doesn't show a picture that is in line with the original image, or even looks like the adjusted image at the point where the order was raised. In the worst case it will all fall apart.

And here the relation to jigsaw puzzles comes back. Pieces only fit if when shapes are correct and the displayed image on these pieces align. The puzzle is only ready when all the pieces are place. And if you have a puzzle with one or more pieces missing it will usually be thrown away.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Death of the QR Code?

Quote from the movie RoboCop: "He signed release forms when he joined the force. He's legally dead."
superposition QR Code

Stories about current status of QR Codes seem to move towards superposition and quantum mechanics.

Nowadays there are just about equal amounts of claims that QR Codes are dead as there are claims that QR Codes are just starting to starting a (new) life.

I tried to capture both these claims in a QR Code with the story about Schrödinger's cat in mind.

In this story the actual state of the cat can only be determined when observed, but before observation the cat holds both states.

When used correctly the QR Code will not only show to be very much alive, it can also kick new live in marketing and advertizement campaigns. And by graphical enhancement of the code this effect can gain an extra boost.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Famous QR Codes.

Quote from the movie Young Guns II : "I'll make your famous!"

Being famous, or having a (bad or good) reputation that interest a lot of people can gain a lot of followers.
It it one of the goals with marking; building a brand name that is famous, remembered and link to your company and product.
A process clearly used in the advertizement world, where suddenly actors or other famous people promote a product, using the fame of the actor to generate awareness for a product.
It is a formula that has been used for years, so it must work.

So in order to make QR Codes more famous, I use the same concept in this blog post.

Do you recognize the famous people in these QR Codes? And yes the QR Codes themselves all work.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Inviting a QR Code.

Quote from the movie Four weddings and a funeral: "I think we both missed a great opportunity here."

I just read a couple of interesting QR Code applications that hit the news the last couple of day's.
One was of QR Codes being placed on tombstones and the other was using QR Codes in obituary's.
The fact that both are related to death is a coincidence. It just proves that the QR Code itself is very much alive and in these examples performing an invaluable addition.

In these examples the QR Code is used to generate a link to additional information. The location where the code is placed is limited in printing space. Where a whole  live story can be easily be hosted online using a qr code linking to this content.
Wedding custom qr code

The same setup can be used for all kinds of invitations. The room for text on an invitation is usually limited. The QR Code can be a link to an online page, that only invitees can access; maybe even add their own content.

An example that springs to mind is a wedding, were guest have access to a website providing information about bride, groom; and where guest can drop their own story and or photo's.

Using a Custom QR Code that is graphically in line with the invitation itself is an opportunity that should not be missed.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cutting edge technology: The Custom QR Code.

Quote from the movie Vertical Limit: "It was cutting-edge stuff back then."

The QR Code has been invented in 1994, and it was invented due to limitation in the standard bar-code that exist from the 1960 area. The QR Code has been reinvented to use in combination with smartphones by the time the phones themselves became smart enough to read the content. These day I read a lot of articles that already declare the QR Code dead and or obsolete.

Just as the QR Code has added functionality to the standard bar-code with regards to capacity and possibilities, all products in a supermarket are still holding the normal bar-code for identification.

For the purpose of adding a link to additional information to a printed media like a billboard, advertizement in a magazine, business card, shopping window flyer, etc. the QR Code doesn't run into limitations that call for a new technology.

The appearance of a QR Code might not be to everybody's liking, but the same could be said for the old bar-code, and that one is still around. And there are still a lot of companies, including my own that offer graphical enhancement to make a custom QR Code that is graphically more pleasing.

The Custom QR Code as a means to connect printed media to the internet is in my opinion still cutting edge technology.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Serving QR Codes.

Quote from the Movie The Game: "You ready to order sir -no I ' m still waiting"

One of the places where I'd like to see a QR Code used is in a restaurant.
Why a restaurant?  The most time in a restaurant you are waiting, it is probably the reason that the person serving you is called a waiter.

What do people do nowadays when they are waiting?

Correct, they play with their mobile phone.

The restaurant visitors should be engaged with the restaurant, and using QR Codes is a great way to point them to additional information on the internet.

A couple of idea's how a QR Code could be used in a restaurant are listed below, free wifi in the restaurant would be required!

A QR Code to check availability, and directly make a reservation.

Use QR Codes on the menu, for each dish a full scale picture could be placed on a webpage, including a list of ingredients, and allergy information, multiple languages could also be supported.

Use QRCodes to alert the restaurant hosts to indicate that you are ready to order, ready for a new drink, ready for the check, etc. Or even make it possible to order and pay via the internet.

Various landing-pages and various tables require multiple QR Codes, with the relink service of Kangaderoo a multitude of qr-codes can be generated while maintaining the same graphical look.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Next generation scanable codes

Quote from the movie TRON: Legacy: "After the Purge, I needed to reinvent myself."

Back to the drawing-board is what they must have thought at Ubleam. A french based company that clearly seen the benefits of smartening your marketing by use of 2D scan-able codes.
The first generation of scan-able codes had their focus on making a printable tag with the emphases on capacity. To secure readability of this high capacity error correction is needed, requiring even more capacity.

These highly compressed 2D codes are then becoming relative large, leaving limited room for graphical enhancement. And this graphical enhancement is key by the time the codes were discovered by marketeers.

The 2D code needed to be reinvented, with other targets in mind. Graphically more appealing by itself, keeping the most important visual location i.e. the center, free for graphical enhancement like customer specific branding.
Since today's smart-codes are mostly used online, some 'intelligence' that is placed in a standard QR Code can also be moved to the reader. By this action the capacity requirement could be heavily downsized. Ubleam codes are using only 80 data-point. This means that the content of a generic code is only a tag and some error correction. When the code is scanned this tag is then send to a central database, retrieving the actual link.

More or less the same action as using a URL shortener, where in this case the URL of the shortener is already fixed in the reader.

Ubleam codes, a new shining star?
On their website Ubleam states that their code is a 3D code. This had me wondering for a minute as well, printed on a flat surface we only see two dimentions; height and width. It is actually a reference to the technique needed to find and read the code. Bleam codes claim to have the best scan-ability compared to other 2D codes with regards to distance, scan angle and rotation of the camera in regards to the code. Since this aspect is clearly linked to the depth dimension the 3D claim can be considered valid. High scan-ability under various conditions, is a mayor plus when targeting a mobile audience.

You could call this code a 4D code, since they claim to be the fasted scanning code, and time being a dimension.

Customization of the complete code, thus including alignment and data-points, is also possible, just as with older generation 2D codes, resolution and contrast are key to keep the code functioning.

My conclusion:

Ubleam is right that the 2D-codes needed to be reinvented for optimal use in advertizement and marketing. Though I would have liked just a bit more capacity in the code, giving the possibility to put an actual (shortened) URL in the code. By using a tag with a central database the code is less open source, good for code security; the tag  being created in two places, in the code itself and in the database, bad for companies like mine that bend the specifications a bit to obtain maximum graphical enhancement.
The code itself is dynamic, at the database site a new URL can be linked to the tag, a plus for re-usability. Having their own reader that also supports QR Code, where there is all-ready a multitude of readers for other 2D codes is a hurdle they have to take. A plus is that the Ubleam reader does also support QR Code.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In QR Codes we trust... or not.

Quote from the movie Moulin Rouge : "Without trust, there is no love!"

I'm reading a lot of success and failure stories about QR Codes. It all seems to come down to trust and love, or the lack thereof. I can understand that if a tool is utilized and it doesn't bring the wanted result, there is disappointment.

There has to be trust and love for the QR Code with the marketeer that is making it part of its campaign. He/she has to know what the added value of this code can be to the campaign. And the task is to make the integration of the code graphically appealing to generate the correct 'call to action', and make it worth while for the targeted audience to scan the code. There has to be a reward for making the small effort to scan the code from the printed media.

If there is no reward, the effort of the user scanning the code will no longer seem small. I've seen remarks that describe scanning the code as a huge task. Most of these mentioned tasks involved picking up the phone, starting an app, etc. These are the task that every smart phone user is doing several times on a daily basis for each of its app. You never hear them complaining that it is hard to start-up angry birds!

By branding your QR Code, your code will stand out from the default QR Codes. And if you make good on your promises, using the same kind of branding on future campaign will already have the trust of your audience since the graphical appearance of the code is remembered and more importantly, linked to the good name of your company.

For the generation of these specialized and customized QR Codes where the same branding can be copied to a complete range of QR Codes, Kangaderoo is the solution for your QR Code needs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Balance and flexibilty.

Quote from the movie Constantine: "They call it the balance."
balance and flexibility qr code

Balance and flexibility are key aspects when trying to enhance a particular QR Code. Changes to the default graphical appearance could throw the complete code off balance, rendering it useless.

Flexibility with regards to the rules and boundaries that define a QR Code can change a one in a million QR Code into the one out of a million.

The balance and flexibility are also needed when running an advertizement or a marketing campaign.

Be flexible to make your product or brand appealing to the right audience, change and adapt when needed.
Create the right balance between changes and sticking to your product or service, if you change too much, you might end up raising the wrong expectations.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

QR Code inside-out

Quote from the movie Bruce Almighty: "Inside bad, outside good."

Tardis QR Code Enhancing the appearance of a QR Code is nice method to make the image more appealing, or more fitting with the article or advertizement it is accompanying.

This beauty is only on the outside however, it actually is the inside that really counts.

After a code is scanned, marketing wise you made a promise to the persons scanning the code, that the content of the code is actually relevant information, or linking him to relevant information, that can be viewed on the device he uses for scanning.

Since a QR Code can link to all kinds of information on the internet, it is clear that the inside is definitely much bigger than the outside.

If the inside, i.e. the content of the QR Code is bad; it is no longer relevant how good the outside or the codes appearance is.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What direction is your QR Code Heading?

Quote from the movie Full Metal Jacket: "I think we should change direction."

direction QR CodeI started my company when I found out I could do something with QR Codes that was not yet offered on the internet. Having a product that stands out in any way from similar products is not enough however to generate sales.
Most companies will tell you they sell wonderful products, but what are their clients buying?
    In the end they might buy your product, but basically they are looking for a solution.
And as a marketeer it is more important to know what issues your clients have in order to generate the correct solution, then it is to push your off the shelf products.

There is still some reluctance to use a QR Code in marketing campaigns. But why?? QR Codes should not be a hinder to your advertizing campaigns, they should solve problems. And for some problems they might be the ideal solution!

Problems like:
  • You want to offer specific product information. The link to this information is deeply nested on my website, no-one would type the long URL on a mobile device.
  • You want to track the effectiveness of one particular campaign that is printed in a magazine.
  • You want to measure if you target the correct audience, based on location, age, gender, etc.
The last years we can observe a shift in internet usage from desktop use to mobile use. A lot of internet based information related to your campaign effectiveness is freely available, it just needs to be harvested. And with the use of  QR Codes you can bridge printed material to (mobile) internet perfectly and at very low cost.

And with companies, like my own, that graphically enhance the appearance of the QR Code, this bridge can be seamlessly integrated and even enhance your advertizements.

Just as all the other marketing aspect that are in play when running a campaign, it does not happen overnight and will not run by itself. If your current campaign, either with or without QR Codes, is not generating the expected results, check if you are still heading in the right direction.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

QR Codes under a magnifying glass.

Quote from the movie Inspector Gadget: "Go, go, Gadget-- magnifying glass."

QR Code Magnified
Whats in a QR Code?

One of the biggest drawbacks of a QR Code is that the outside doesn't provide any information of the content.

What would compel anyone to pick up their mobile, start the favorite scanning application and read the code?

If using a QR Code in a campaign does not meet the expectations, is the answer in analyzing the code? Put it under a magnifying glass?

In order for a QR Code to "work" it needs to offer something that cannot be achieved easy without scanning the code.
    If you print your web URL on a car, and also have a QR Code printed on this car linking to the same URL the chances are that the added value of the QR Code is very limited.
A QR Code with the accompanying text, scan for ..... (more information, discount, free lunch, etc) that actually links to a mobile(!) webpage containing or enabling this offered service has a better chance to meet the expectations. Or enhance you QR Code so that this call for action is in the QR Code itself.

Keep in mind, the goal is not to have a lot of code scan's from just anyone, the goal is to have a lot of code scans from your targeted potential clients. A campaign optimized for a specific target group, should also contain a QR Code optimized in the same way.
Use the same kind of complexity and colors that are already used in you companies logo/campaign documents when graphically enhancing a QR Code.
A bright and colorful code where a company has a monochrome logo is not targeting the same audience.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th July celebration QR Code.

Quote from the movie Born on the Fourth of July: "Ain't he a 4th of July firecracker"

Happy fourth of July.

fourth of July QR Code

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Running a marketing campaign.

Quote from the movie Tin Cup: "No chance to hit it on the green."

Custom QR Code GolfGolf basic rules are easy; hit the ball, get it in the hole. But since there are only a few pro's and a lot of wannabees it might not be as simple as that. The basic rules for marketing and sales are just as simple; get your product to the clients. Again in real live this is not this simple.

There are a lot of aspect that influencing a marketing and sales campaign.
You have a good product, now how to get attention to this product, get this information to the right people, create awareness, etc.

The issue here is that all these aspects don't add up, they multiply. There were 1+1+0 is still 2, 1*1*0 always equals zero. i.e. If you have a good product, but cannot get this information to your potential clients, this will result in zero sales.

Using just a QR Code in these cases will not miraculously increase sales or even increase attention, the QR Code is just one aspect in the chain. For example, your QR Code contains a URL, but this site is not mobile friendly, the second aspect will still multiply your efforts in the QR Code with a value close to zero, rendering all the effort in the (Custom) QR Code a waist of time and money.

Get all the aspects that influence the success of your campaign up to speed, and your campaign might hit the green, or you might even get the hole in one.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

QR Code Readers

Quote from the movie The Green Lantern: "The Corp is only as strong as its weakest link"

Sexy QR Code
Enhancing a standard QR Code is weakening the readability. But the code itself is not the only link in the chain to keep a QR Code readable.

Using my method a code as displayed can be generated where the content of the QR Code can be made error free.

Using various readers like I-Nigma (WP7, iOS, Android), Qrafter (iOS), UpCode (WP7, Symbian) this QR Code's content is still readable.

The build in QR Code reader from the windows phone, integrated in the Bing Search App was unable to read this code.

To check if the same code containing content errors can also be read, an obvious deletion of part of the code was done.

I found it more than odd that suddenly the WP7 build in reader could actually read this code while it contained errors, while having trouble when the content was error free.

All the other readers used had no issue scanning this QR Code with error's.

When running a campaign with enhanced QR Code the readers that are used are not under your control.
Since the intention of a QR Code is to be scanned, it is just a question of how many potential clients will be unable to read a code that is enhanced with graphics and color due to the reader App that they have installed.

Stressing the readers even more a big chunk of the code was erased in the bottom right corner.

The I-Nigma and Qrafter reader had no problem correcting the missing content, the other readers mentioned could not cope with the code on my systems.

Since the amount of errors made by erasing this corner is well within the capability of the Reed Solomon correction engine, it is unfortunate that some readers refuse to decode the content.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

QR Code overlay vs integration.

Quote from the movie Face-Off:: "It's like looking in a mirror, only not."
Island QR Code
Two QR Codes to support my claim that integrating a picture in a QR code versus overlay can result in the placement of a bigger graphic.The graphic on the left is placed in a High Quality QR Code, while the picture on the right is integrated in a Medium Quality QR Code. Both codes hold the same URL as content.

For the integration a lower quality QR Code was selected to generate more room in the area that holds the padding, making room in the code to integrate the picture itself.

The overlayed image in the left picture is depleting the error correction ability of the Reed Solomon to the maximum. The integrated picture is highlighted more due to the bigger clearance between the picture and the QR Code elements. Claiming that the clearance is part of the integrated picture, in this case the picture in the right QR Code occupies a larger area compared to the one in the left QR Code.

The integration also supports automated relinking, a multitude of copies of this one code can be generated, while each individual copy made using the overlay technique has to be checked, and maybe adjusted.