Posts Tagged ‘free apps’

In playing around recently with new apps I stumbled across a barcode scanner that works pretty well in reading UPCcodes but also does QR codes.   If you are reading this and thinking “what the heck is a QR code?“, read on.
A QR code (Quick Response code) is a small black and white graphic that you may start seeing more often on websites, in documentation, and even product packaging.  They are pretty cool ways of getting info from one device onto another in a simple and concise way.  Having been in use in the automotive industry for many years for tracking parts etc, they are more recently being used as a neat and new way to let you see hidden information having been featured in movies, comic books, and promotional literature.   Google is all over this technology and it is included in their Android OS.  Other OSes have the ability to read them as well, with the installation of a barcode/QR reader app.

QR code from google earth website

The latest Google Earth for mobile devices Website (check it out here) has a QR code on it to let you grab the URL without any typing or email or sending of a file to your device.  All you need is a scanner that can read the code.  Your mobile device (camera equipped smartphone for instance) can read the QR code on the computer monitor and interpret that info giving you the URL in this case, or whatever info is embedded in the code.

The free scanner I use on my iPhone is Bakodo, works for iPods too apparently, although i’m assuming just the latest iPod touches with the camera since how else would you read the codes.  You will hear the all too familiar “beep” you get at the grocery store as your products are scanned, and then you will see the URL and be given the option to open it taking you directly to the website embedded in the QR code.

You can create your own codes using free online programs as well, just search for QR code generator. (this is a good one i found… http://www.qrstuff.com/)

This one for instance takes me to my favorite tech website. (I know, shameless plug)

Its hard to say QR codes are new tech, since they’ve been around since the mid 90’s – but it certainly is a new wave in its use and could be opening up new cool ways for advertisers and marketing people to get info to you via your smartphone.  Another reason for it to always be in your hand, or at least never more than arm’s length away.

tcg

Typically around this time we are busy with trying to find out what the latest and greatest tech toys are for the kids (and me for that matter – but really i’m just a big kid anyway) But there is a different vibe around the house this holiday season.

This year will be our first without a certain old jolly fellow visiting our house on Christmas Eve.

I have to say, its taken some of the fun out of the holiday, but we knew it was coming.   As much as i’d love to carry on with that wonderful belief, it just doesn’t work that way.  Eventually all kids stop believing in the magic of Christmas that comes from waiting for the fat man in the red suit to make his magical annual journey around the world delivering gifts to all the little girls and boys.

Some friends of ours don’t believe in perpetuating the “myth“, but I think they are robbing their kid of a big and important part of the fun and celebration and even the meaning of Christmas, and possibly by not going along with the masses, stopping other kids from having that joy too.   The argument that they don’t want to lie to their kids or that they don’t want their kid thanking “Someone Else” for amazing gifts just doesn’t wash with me.   For one, its a slippery slope.  If you don’t believe in one, doesn’t that also apply to all of the great childhood beliefs? (Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc)  For another, no one wants their kid to be the one on the playground devastating the believers as they discuss the oncoming holiday and all that they hope to get.  Besides, years from now, they are not going to be mad at you for letting them believe in something so magical, and they will remember fondly those memories, taking them along with them until they have kids of their own and building on all those little traditions you shared with them at Christmas time.

I know, I know, some of you are saying “what about the true meaning of Christmas?  The birth of Christ.”   To that I say there is room for both.  They are in no way mutually exclusive.  This is not a creationist vs evolutionist argument here, we can celebrate both without losing the meaning of either.

And what fun would all the celebrating be, without the build up to the big day?  Part of the excitement has always been the anticipation and wondering what you were going to get.  Writing your letter to Santa and hoping he gets it, and better yet getting a letter in return.  On that note, a big heartfelt thank you to all the Canada Post employees for all their help and giving of their free time over the years.

One of the cool techy things about this time of year is the letters from Santa that you can sign up for on behalf of your kids.  (admit it, you knew I had to throw in a tech connection somewhere)  Its fun and easy and I think it’ll bring a smile to any kid’s face when they get theirs, especially when it is customized just for them.  Check it out at http://magicsanta.ca/ This year it gets even better, there is an App in the iTunes store for it too (link here) all you need in your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad and a few minutes of your time and you can bring joy and wonderment to your child or anyone’s child you want to that you know the email address of.  Thanks Bell Canada/ Sympatico.  This is the kinda thing that probably makes that other old bearded man Alexander Graham Bell proud.

For us, it seems we will have to wait for grandkids now before we again get to truly experience the wonder of Christmas through a child’s eyes with regards to that jolly old elf and all the magic and joy that accompanies it.  The letter to Santa, the plate of cookies & glass of milk, with the little pile of carrots left next to them for the reindeer, the stockings hanging empty until Christmas eve only to be full on Christmas morn when the kids awake, these will be the things we’re going to miss the most.

We will still decorate the house and trim the trees and have a good family Christmas full of gifts and celebration, minus one big man in a red suit.  Until we meet again S.C. , take care of those reindeer and say thanks to Mrs C. and the elves for me.

tcg

Something that always concerned me about storing so much info on my smartphone and relying on it so heavily was what would happen if I lost it? Well, thanks to the latest update to the iPhone iOS (4.2.1 at time of writing) Apple has made it a little easier to find, remotely lock, or wipe the data from your iPhone if need be.

What used to be only available to mobile me subscribers is now open to anyone with an iPhone 4 (and possibly earlier versions although that is not supported by Apple) as well as iPads and the latest iPod Touch.  The app “Find my iPhone” is now free, and can be used with an unpaid account on Apple’s MobileMe.com.

All you need to do is install the app on your device,  follow the setup instructions (there’s a link on the app’s startup page for convenience), turn it on and you can then log onto any supported idevice that has the app installed and locate your iPhone by using your MobileMe account info.  Any idevice associated with your MobileMe account with show up on the map.

So what do you do if no other idevice is available?  Thats when you can log into Mobile Me (me.com will get you there easily in any web browser) on any computer (windows or mac) and be able to locate your iPhone, giving you the ability to send a message to your phone, lock it remotely or wipe all your data from it.  I haven’t tried the last one, but the other two work great.

If you accidentally lose it and want to let the person who finds it know you are looking for it and maybe give them a phone number to call so they can return it to you, the message may be the way to go.  A very cool thing about this is that you will get an email sent to your default email account associated with your Apple ID that shows you the message you sent and the time and date it was displayed on the phone.  Pretty sweet.

Locking it is another great option, and may in some instances be the first option you want to use to stop anyone from using your phone and running up your long distance bills for instance, or finishing that game of Angry Birds you’ve been struggling with for weeks.

And finally if all else fails, its always good to know that if you are really concerned with what may be confidential data stored on your idevice being seen or used by others, you can remote wipe it, basically setting it back to factory defaults which doesn’t get your precious idevice back, but at least it stops your personal info from being seen or used by others.

I hope I never need that last option.

tcg