Archive for Random

QR Codes

I saw Ray tweet today about a QR code and even though I’m no resident expert, I’ve dealt with them quite a bit lately in most of my print advertising and wanted to point out a few things.

What is a QR Code?
Simply, it’s a barcode (like barcodes on food at the grocery store or other stuff you buy) that YOU can customize. This code can then be scanned by smart phones and other devices to quickly translate that information without having to manually type it in.  It’s my understanding QR codes are already being used everywhere outside of the States and the U.S. has been slow to adopt the technology.  Regardless, QR codes have become quite popular over the past couple years and will continue to grow in use… if you aren’t seeing them everywhere now, you soon will.

*A more in depth definition from Wikipedia

What are QR Codes used for?
To put typical use into in perspective, I was at Taco Bell yesterday and there’s a poster on the wall with a QR code, which I scanned with my phone, that linked me directly to a survey on the restaurant on the web.  I took the survey while I was standing and waiting for my delicious (and now VERY overpriced) chicken and nacho cheese chalupa meal with a soft taco.

Pretty awesome!

Typically, you’ll see QR codes in print.  I’ve been using QR Codes extensively on brochures, business cards, ads in program books and so on.

And typically within a QR code is a URL or link to a website.  But a QR code is a multipurpose container that can hold a wealth of information including text, phone numbers and text messages (typically not a combination of information though).

So is a QR code practical on a website?
Well kinda… it all depends on what’s in the QR code.  Yes, the codes will easily scan onto a phone from the screen, so that’s not a problem.  But any sort of link inside the QR Code would probably be counter-productive.

Practical uses on a website might include contact information that can be easily stored in your phone so you don’t have to type it all in, although as a designer I would add the code to my website as a convenience to my users, not replace my contact information altogether.

How can I make my own QR code?
My favorite tool is here, although there are plenty others out there.

So how do I scan these codes?
Android has a free app in the market called QR Droid which I use frequently and it works great!  I don’t know what’s out there for the iPhone, Blackberry and Windows phone users, but I’m quite confident there are QR code apps available for those smartphones as well.

Now if only I could get my fortunes to be a QR code on my napkin so I didn’t have to actually open and break the fortune cookie to get it….

Trendecide’s Back!

So I made somewhat a half-assed attempt to reinvent myself for the past 5+ years on another domain that no one has any clue about.  To my own credit, I took a major shift in careers and wanted to sample some different avenues.  We’ll get to that some other time, but the fact remains this domain continues to receive more traffic than my other did to this day.

Ultimately I think it means my return to using the right tool for the right job instead of a dire loyalty to ColdFusion (I made a conscious decision to ONLY use ColdFusion for ALL my web development).  My PvPGN days are long behind me, although I still only play Blizzard games (mostly Warcraft).  But my web development days seem to continue as much as I try and leave them behind me, particularly Fireworks, ColdFusion, CSS and mySQL, but most recently PHP once again.

For those who don’t know I guess it would be appropriate to reintroduce myself and explain where I came from and a brief background.

I’m Rick Smith… the name of my rock band in high school was ‘Trendecide’ and hence the alias.  Don’t ask about the music because we were horrible, but it was a lot of fun and I’m glad I did it.

Although I had tinkered with our Commodore, I would say my interest in computers really started with doing free e-mail with Juno on our 286 and then getting hooked on AOL 1.0, which led me to help start up a couple of computer businesses in the late ’90s that both failed.  Despite the failure, I did manage to walk away with a tremendous amount of knowledge in hardware which I continue to use to this day.  I currently will only build my own desktops and servers.

In 2000 I began web consulting, which led to teaching myself Photoshop, a friend turned me to Macromedia Fireworks and Flash and then ultimately led me to begin coding Perl addons for Matt Mecham’s Ikonboard (2000 was a VERY busy year) and doing web development for the PvPGN project.  Not happy with Perl, I switched to programming classic ASP in 2001 and then followed Matt Mecham and began programming PHP addons for Invisionboard in 2002, most notable were my skins and msSQL contributions.

Although I mostly did design work, I pretty much programmed PHP exclusively when it came to code, but Macromedia stepped in and I began to see the power and ease of ColdFusion.

I began working for a St. Louis area e-commerce company in 2003 and pretty much abandoned everything else I was doing.  PvPGN and Ikonboard went out the door and despite the fact I was doing mostly design and programming in ASP, I began extensively using ColdFusion.  Invisionboard’s decision in 2004 to no longer be free was the nail in the coffin for me and I refused to contribute any longer and devoted 100% of my development to ColdFusion, even uninstalling PHP altogether from my servers (finally reinstalling it again this month).

I worked for myself again from 2004 to 2006 exclusively programming ColdFusion applications for clientele.

In 2006 I applied to work at the local fire department to shut a friend up.  Although I managed to get on the list, I threw it out not wanting or even expecting to be called (I was #25 on the list).  I accepted a job as a contractor with the US Air Force programming classic ASP applications into ColdFusion applications (the programs had to work with other apps programmed in just about every other language from ASP and .NET to Java and PHP… yeah CF can do that) and slowly became burned out until I was called by the fire department in 2008 (I did attend Adobe MAX in 2007).  With a great amount of skepticism by both myself and all those who knew me, I accepted the job with the idea I would actually have an opportunity to develop on my off days (our department works a 24 hour shift with 72 hours off).  As it turns out, I fell in love with the job at fire academy and immediately took a one year break from web development.  My Chief let out word about my past, which led me to be contracted by my city to develop their website.

So now in 2011, I’m a full-time firefighter and a part-time developer.  And rather than exclusively use ColdFusion, I’m more into getting the job done right with really whatever technology suits for the project.  My expertise lies in design, ColdFusion, PHP, CSS, XML, mySQL, msSQL, SEO and computer hardware.

Although I never really went away, I’m looking forward to being a part of the community once again.