Archive | February, 2012

Close but no Cigar? Let Me Answer That for You.

24 Feb

I see what search terms have led someone to my blog as well as what articles they have read. I am always wondering, “did they find what they needed?” I can tell from the search terms and the article that they may have got some information but that they probably needed something a little more specific or even something that is just a derivative of my example.

For example, a search term on “how to track quantities of an item with a QR Code” might lead someone to my article “Link a QR Code to a Database.”  The article explains using PHP _GET to query a database and that is all you need to know to accomplish your task, but did the reader have an AHA! moment and say to themselves “Ok, using _GET I will select the item from a database using its ID and retrieve the QUANTITY field and subtract 1, then update the value back to the database?

When I write these posts, I am being very general. There are so many use cases I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I hope that from each post, you are given enough information to apply the techniques to your problem.

I enjoying solving problems and posting tidbits on my blog. I want to help people and be able to see all the cool projects they are working on and what kinds of crazy ideas they have.

So, if you have a question that is somewhat relevant to one of my posts, ask me in the comments section. I will respond. Even if I do not know the answer, I will at least tell you as much, and hopefully at a minimum point you in the right direction.

I have stood on the shoulders of others. Everything I have learned started from reading something – be it the documentation of a program, or a blog, or a book. We share our knowledge and we all win.

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The History of Albuquerque in QR Codes

22 Feb

So I had an idea where I would place QR Codes around Downtown Albuquerque. When you scan the code, you would see a photograph from between 1890 -1927 of the site you are standing on. I even used the New Mexico Centennial logo with my codes. I created a map, using leaflet.js, of where the six codes would be place (2 were placed at 1st and Central). The map is mobile capable and is at http://abq.educationalfacilityplanning.com.The popups show you what photo you would see when you scan the code.

In Albuquerque we have a group called the Downtown Action Team. They clean the City every morning and I must say they do a good job. There is not a single piece of paper attached to any posts in this city. This should have been a clue that my project was doomed to fail. My QR Codes were gone within 2 days.

Well, it was a nice try and a cool project. Here is a sample of my QR Codes – I would like to replace the middle of the code with a Zia in the future.

Why Jon Barocas Doesn’t Understand QR Codes

17 Feb

Mashable ran a piece yesterday by Jon Barocas titled: Why QR Codes Won’t Last. I am not going to argue that QR Codes are going to last, but I will argue that Jon Barocas is blinded by his professions inability to be creative and do anything innovative. Marketers have abused QR Codes. They have turned a potentially useful tool in to nothing more than a URL to their lame website. They also misunderstand what we want from them and from QR Codes. Until marketers stop applying new technology in old ways, QR Codes in marketing is doomed for sure. But for the rest of us, they offer a an innovated way to share information.

Jon starts by saying only 5% of Americans have scanned a QR Code and that this is a problem. 5% is 14 million people. That’s a large number people. But for marketing, they need more scans.  He attributes the low number of people scanning QR Codes to the fact that people “are visual animals..” and that “…a more visual alternative to QR codes would not only be preferable to consumers, but would most likely stimulate more positive responses to their presence. ” A QR Code dropped in to an advertisement in a magazine does not tempt me to scan it. Jon is right about this. But what he is missing, is that when I am reading a magazine, your ad may grab my attention for two seconds, but I am not interested in your product at the moment. I will not put down my magazine and go to your website. I am enjoying my magazine, which your ads are interfering with. Let’s be honest, I am probably reading this magazine in my library – and by library I mean bathroom. I may not even be reading a print copy of your magazine. If I am reading it on my phone or iPad, what am I going to scan your code with?

QR Codes can do much more than take me to your website to buy stuff. Look at any of my past posts to see a QR code link to building models, real time maps, and databases. Do something interesting. I am walking around with a dual core processor and an internet connection in my pocket. If you can only send me to a website to buy cargo pants, you have lost me. You have bored me. You are applying a new technology to your old, tired, marketing methods.

Jon has a solution that will replace QR Codes – MVS (mobile visual search). Yay! I can scan a company logo and it will take me to their website to buy stuff. Because as a human of normal intelligence, I clearly don’t know that mcdonalds.com , walmart.com, dove.com will take me to their sites. URLs are so hard to figure out. Jon, I know how to get to your site. It is not why I would want to scan a QR Code. And I am not scanning your logo to take me there either.

Jon ends by telling you how QR Codes will infect your phone with a horrible virus or a trojan. MVS is much safer, because hackers and malware writers don’t write for MVS….Yet, Jon. Modifying your logo slightly may be all I need to make your MVS as dangerous as a QR Code. Jon is right. QR Codes can be a bit dangerous. Ever used a URL shortener? Bit.ly anyone? These shortened URLs can do exactly the same thing. Who knows where you are clicking. The internet is a dangerous place but I am not giving up on it.

I don’t know what the future of QR Codes will be. But I can tell you that marketers and social media consultants and new media guru seo optimizers and whatever these people decide to call themselves nowadays say, they are missing the boat. Stop forcing your old ways on new technology. Think of new ways to go with new technology. Do something creative. Wow me. But don’t say the sky is falling because nobody is scanning a QR Code to buy garbage from your online store.

UPDATE:

It has bothered me that I didn’t include the most obvious response to the dangers of scanning a QR Code. Depending on the application you use – I use RedLaser – it tells you where you are going and asks if you want to go!

Here is a QR Code to http://A-Virus-And-Trojan.com  <—not a real website.

 

When I scan this QR Code, my app tells me exactly where I am going.

And there you have it. A few simple lines of code that prompt the user to   accept the redirect. Security risk averted.

QR Code Logging

16 Feb

Today someone hit my blog while searching for a way to log QR Code scans. I am going to give a very short explanation on how to do this. This is the simplest way I can think of.

Go to bit.ly.

Get a free account.

Shorten the URL for the page you want the QR Code to link to.

It will be added to your list of URLs. Click “Info Page+”.

The QR Code for your site is in the upper right hand corner. Save image as…

From now on, you can log on to bit.ly and go to the Info Page+ to find out how many scans you have had. Or just type the shortened url with a + after it.

That’s really all there is to it. You know a better way, let me know.

Hacking the City with QR Codes

15 Feb

I got the idea to connect a QR Code to a camera. But I needed something interesting. How about when you scan the code you see a picture of yourself?

I found a live camera from the KOB TV channel in Albuquerque. I extracted the feed from their page and wrote my own website to display their feed.

I then connected the QR Code to my page. I printed the code and laminated it with tape. I went to the location that the camera watches and placed the code on a post.

When you scan the code, you are taken to a website showing you standing at the corner looking at the code! Here I am looking like a fool on my phone.

That is me standing on the corner. Here is the QR Code. It is much more fun if you are at the location.

NOTE: The camera moves during the day. The codes work until about 2:00.

SHoP Architects Knockoff: My App for Monitoring a Printer

6 Feb

I peeked in on a coworker looking at the website for SHoP Architects. He said had to research them for his Grad Arch Research Course. I told him I had something on them for him to look at and sent him a link to the Metropolis Magazine Article showing their iPhone App.

It got me thinking. I want to connect and monitor a printer from my iPhone. My app is nowhere near as cool as theirs. I haven’t seen theirs but just know it’s probably bad-assed. So here are 3 screenshots of my 5 minute app, then I will tell you how I did it.

 

 

 

 

 

All this app really does is link to the web interface for whichever printer you choose. Here is how to do it:

Download isite. This is a CSS library for your iphone webpage. Use Sencha or write your own if you want.

There is a sample webpage included. It is a series of <ul>. Each <ul> is a menu screen linking to the next. This ends with a final <div> which is where I put the control panel for the printer. I used an IFRAME. Look, let’s not get in to a discussion about IFRAMES. I don’t like them but it was a quick and dirty solution.

http://theIPaddressofyourprinter

To find the IP Address of your printer: Start –> Settings –> Printers and Faxes. Right click the printer, Properties, Ports, click Configure Port.

So here is my code. It is sloppy! I just made very quick modifications to the iSite file.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is it. Just a quick and dirty connect to my printer app. To make it useful, you would want to list all the printers and devices in your office. But hope you get an idea of the kind of things you can do from your phone.

Oh, see this code: <link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”http://myaddress/isite/favicon.ico&#8221; />
<link rel=”apple-touch-icon” href=”http://myaddress/isite/favicon.ico”/&gt;

This means when you save the webpage on your phones desktop, my face will be the icon!

Don’t Get BIMBoozled

6 Feb

I love BIM. I think it is a great process for the AEC industry. I also think that it has become a buzzword. Architecture firms are putting BIM in every piece of marketing material. They are telling their clients that they “use BIM” and how this makes them the right firm for the job. But it’s not just architects throwing BIM around. Owners are doing it too. RFPs are requesting firms with experience in BIM. Do these clients actually know what they are getting or why they need BIM? All I am asking is that if you are going to promote BIM or if you are going to request a firm to have BIM experience, at least know why you are doing this. I want to share a sample contract that pushed BIM. This contract is real. I stumbled upon it while searching the web. The names have been removed to protect the innocent, and the not-so-innocent.

Convert existing as-built construction documents of all facilities…into REVIT, an electronic building information management system…After the REVIT drawings have been generated, COMPANY will walk through each facility to verify the information. Inconsistencies …will be corrected on the REVIT drawings. The REVIT drawings will be for information only and should not be used for construction documents without verification of dimensions and room layouts. Electronic files of each facility will be provided to the District in both .pdf and REVIT format.

The first thing to notice about this contract is that it never mentions BIM, but rather is selling Revit drawings. It is clear from the second sentence that Revit is equated with BIM. However, the writer of the contract is not clear on what the acronym BIM actually stands for and states that Revit is a “building information management” system. Revit is not BIM. And BIM stands for Building Information Modeling.

Secondly, The company will verify the information in the Revit drawings. What information? This is the whole scope of work detailed in the contract. At no point is there any reference to what the I in BIM is to include. It appears, from the few sentences I have truncated, that the Revit drawings will be drawn to match the as built conditions. Having a floor plan that is accurate is not usually what the I in BIM stands for. Also, it is interesting that the drawings will be verified but should not be used by the client unless they are verified again. It’s almost as if the company is stating that they will not verify them very well. Lastly, on this point, the drawings are for “information only.” Again, the use of the word information, without any clarification as to what this means. If you are just giving me a floor plan, why do I need it in Revit? Can’t you do it in AutoCAD? Am I paying more for this because Revit is being sold as BIM?

My last criticism of this contract is that the deliverable is a “.pdf and Revit format.” I can guess what this means, but in contracts one should not have to infer what the deliverable is, it should be stated clearly – unless you like litigation. A “.pdf” is a specific file type. The contract makes no statement as to which program would be used to create it. A PDF of a 2D floor plan from Revit, however, removes any “information” that may have been included in the model. I cannot click a window and see the properties. The drawing is now no different than if it were done in CAD. The second deliverable is a drawing in the “Revit format.” A filetype was not stated, as was done in the first deliverable, but rather the software used to create it was. We can guess the filetype would be a .rvt. That’s great, but does the client have Revit? would a DWF and a copy of Design Review make more sense? They would then have access to the data in the model. How about an .ifc and a copy of FZKViewer? Let’s hope the client has Revit and can utilize this deliverable.

What is an .rvt? I know I can save as.. and pick .rvt, but what should that file look like when I open it? Should it be 3D? What level of detail is the model built to? Are the walls generic? This contract does not say. It is wide open to interpretation. This contract is an example of someone getting BIMboozled. It appears that neither the client, nor the company, knows what BIM is. What is being sold in this contract? What does the client think they are buying? I wish I knew.

Architects, if you are going to write your own contracts, please have a lawyer look them over.

Clients, if you are going to sign a contract, please know what you are getting and make it clear — in writing!

And finally, if you are going to promote or require BIM, know why you are doing so. Don’t just use buzzwords.