By Stanley A. Kober, KC2ZXB
Stanley A. Kober, KC2ZXB([email protected]), Historic Ho-Ho-Kus Researcher, A.L.I.C.E. Certified Trainer, Former Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus CERT Program Manager (T-T-T) , Former CERT/Bergen County R.A.C.E.S. Deputy Liaison Officer
Ho Ho Kus NJ, Every organization whether for profit or not for profit, professional, religious, veterans, law enforcement, historical, military, municipal, emergency
services, amateur radio operations, etc., should have the strategy to operate in the most efficient and effective means as possible. Actually, that applies to each
of us as individuals as well. Not only does it have the ability to save money (and possibly lives), it allows us to do more things in the same amount of time. After
all, time is fixed and no one can change that construct.
In order for us to accomplish an organizational or personal strategy we more likely than not use technology, but technology changes over time. The
Washington Post had an on-line article that presented those changes very well at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/entertainment/tech-generations/?utm_term=.58e805b0d158. Unless you are a Luddite, you use technology every day. [A Luddite as described in the www.UrbanDictionary.com is one “who fears technology (or new technology, as they seem pleased with how things currently are…why can’t everything just be the same?)”]
In this short article, I’m going to address just one aspect of that change which is becoming more and more evident to us on a daily basis through the use of our smartphones. That “new” technology is called “QR Codes” or “Quick Response Codes”. You know, you’ve seen that little square with all the funny black lines and boxes in advertising circulars, newspapers, etc., but don’t be fooled, these ARE NOT BARCODES. On the right is one of my own examples that I have created. If you have a smartphone, iPad, tablet, or similar device with a camera and the applicable software installed to read the code, you should be able to go to this fantastic FaceBook®page. Not all reading software is the same, so some features may not work in the software on your device that will work in other software. In other words, “Caveat Emptor”—”Buyer Beware”.
Allow me to put it in a nutshell why one should use a QR Code in their literature, signage, advertising materials, documents, procedures, manuals, etc.
Let’s take one example that was used earlier in this article—the Washington Post article on technology. In most, if not all paper printing by newspapers,
hyperlinks associated with what was displayed in print (on-line publications are different) are removed. NOTE: A “hyperlink” is the underlined portion of the
reference that allows you to click on it and bring up the article on the website.
Can you imagine how long it would take you to enter that WaPo reference into the address line of your device’s internet web browser and when you make one
wrong character you need to restart? I’m certain you wouldn’t waste your time February 07, 2018 Page 2 of 3 by entering all those characters. There we go again—that fixed construct called “time” rears its head.
In order to save “time”, because “time” is money, one can use a device that has a camera and the appropriate software to read the QR Code and go DIRECTLY to the associated reference, in this case the Washington Post article referenced earlier. Read the QR Code at the right with your smartphone and appropriate software. But, just a point of caution,
newspaper articles may not be in the same place for very long, so the link eventually might not work when going to
the original website of the media.
We know that technology is great and can do many things for us if we have the right tools with which to work. For example, QR Code generating software is all over the Internet and the software to read the codes that are
generated are abounding as well. However, when shopping for the ability to generate or read the QR code you need to have in mind what you really want to do with it—in other words, what is your goal. Remember I talked about “strategy” at the beginning of this article? Well, a “strategy” is the place where we want to be and the “goal” or “objective” is what we need to do to get there.
For example, one “strategy” might be that we want to operate in the most efficient and effective fashion as possible. One “goal” or “objective” to attain that “strategy” would be to utilize technology to the greatest extent as possible. Within “goals” or “objectives” are “tasks” that we do to meet a “goal” or “objective”. Using QR Codes is a “task” that we would use to meet our “goal” of using technology to attain our “strategy” to operate in the most efficient and effective fashion as possible. OK, enough of Management Theory, but I just wanted to put this capability in its proper perspective for
you. Now, let’s get back to QR Codes.
The first tool you need is a smartphone, iPad, tablet or similar device to be able to read the generated code. On that device you need a camera and the appropriate software to
read the code. An excellent listing of that software for many devices is found here at QR Phone Software (click on the link at the left or use your camera device to read the code at the right.)
Once you have the appropriate device and the optimal reading software, you need to have the proper software to create the QR Code that we want to use. Again, “Caveat Emptor”—”Buyer Beware”. There are many software packages on the market, but you need to test for the one you select to ensure that it operates the way YOU want it to do. For example, when I looked for my optimal reading software, one “free” package that I tested allowed me to get to the website that I wanted OK, but when I tried to download an Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format file (PDF), it would not allow me to do so. I deleted that installation immediately and moved on to others. So, in short, in selecting code generator software as well as reading software, compare the “free” packages, (called “free” even though they are coupled with advertising galore, so
they are really not “free” because it takes “time” to cancel them) and those that February 07, 2018 Page 3 of 3 might cost something for the generating software. The optimal one that I have found for my use is found at QR Code Generator. (click on the link at the left or use your device to read the code at the right.) It has many options, capabilities and truly free code generation even for testing. You might want to look at the informational videos and articles as well on that site while you’re there. By the way, if you still get ads in your reads, it’s not the QR Code generator that I am recommending here,
it’s your reading software.
Speaking of the code generator, one quick point I will add is that when you chose a QR Code type, you need to have the ability to select either a “static” OR “dynamic” code. Some software may allow only one, but you need to have both options for testing and live operations. Select “dynamic” even if you have other reasons, but especially if you have any intention of making changes to the code link (remember the news article referenced earlier that might have moved to another location?), even if you can’t think of something now, or you might want to do some analytics on the actions of the code (where did the access come
from; how many clicks were made on the code; etc.). In my opinion, there are very few activities which would require a “static” QR Code.
Before concluding, I’d like to give two examples of QR Codes in which one goes to an on-line website for a senior citizens organization and the other for use by emergency services personnel. The use of a QR Code for those in emergency services is at the right. For example, as a first responder you have a requirement to look at an instructional manual, procedure, or in this example, the latest Emergency Response Guide on line, but no one around you has a computer and you don’t have the time to search online for it on your device. In your preplanning for being an effective first responder, you have created a QR Code Card with your important links on it and you have it/them in your vehicle (POV and ERV), your pocket, your go bag, go kit, your trailer, wherever. Immediately, you can click on the QR Code like the one on the right and go directly to the guide on your device. By the way, you need to think about how you place the QR Codes on the card because if they are not sized and spaced properly you will get wrong launches and errors.
The last example for the Senior Citizens site is located at https://bcscccouncil.wordpress.com/ and the QR Code
for that site is at the right. It saves Seniors keystrokes!
So, in conclusion, if you want to get “ahead of the pack” and do things that will save you time and money, as well as give you broader access to your market or to materials that may be lifesaving, then use QR Codes in your technology goal for your organization. You will be amazed at what they can do for you.