Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Data Code Graphics: Generating, Reading, and Using

ant with qr code1-D bar codeComputer mavens have developed a host of coding techniques for conveying information to machines or code scanners.  For the longest time companies used 1-dimensional bar codes.  But in the late 1980s companies started developing 2-dimensional codes to cram more data into a small space.  I read a recent email that discussed these in some alarmist context (typical Patriot Myth nonsense), so I thought I'd share a little info about the codes.

First of all, notice the tiny QR code on the package in the ant's mandibles. 

To get a run-down on many of the coding systems, browse these pages:

    Next, consider the value to yourself if your cell phone could read some of those code arrays.  You could create your codes for your email address, web site, blog, and personal info, and post it on a web page or in an email, and people could scan it with their phones or with a computer application and convert it to text.  That would save you a lot of typing, especially important when using a klunky cell phone.

    A variety of companies make code reader applications for cell phones and computers.  Some also generate codes from text.  You download and install them, and your phone or your computer with web cam becomes a code reader. - for smart phones - access it from your mobile phone to download the microsoft tag reader - use your webcam as a qr code reader - use webcam to read qr code

    A number of companies also make code generator web sites and applications so you can key in an email address or web site URL, and it will make the code for you.  Then you save it to your computer as a graphic image file, and either display it in email or on web pages to make it easy for people with phone-based code readers to scan it in and convert it to text.

    On-line:, - once you get a Microsoft Live ID, you can generate tags

    Windows Application coder/decoder: (

    Note that the above generators create Data Matrix (1989) or QR (994) Codes.  BeeTagg also creates its own kind, into which you can embed your logo or photo, and provides a handy database for you to manage your codes easily on-line.  You can create codes for any kind of information, including a short email message.

    Check out these Data Matrix codes (high-density replacement for bar codes):

    my web site   my blog           Lawmen archives

    You can generate these in a variety of sizes.

    Japan code specialists developed QR code in 1994 because Data Matrix codes could not accommodate Kanji characters.

    Read the differences here ( between QR and Data Matrix.

    BeeTagg makes its own special codes.  See BeeTagg codes on left, QR codes on right

    My web site

    BeeTag           QR              BeeTag with Photo

    My blog

    BeeTagg         QR

    Lawmen archives :

    BeeTag           QR

    My email address bob at bobhurt dot com

    Data Matrix to e-mail Bob Hurt
    BeeTagg                                                        Data Matrix

    Click HERE (HTTP://R.BEETAGG.COM/?48F121) to invoke the above Data Matrix code and send me an email that says I Love You.  You DO love me, right?

    I consider the above web link a handy substitute for an email address on a web page which spammers would otherwise harvest.  BeeTagg saved the email address in its database, and that link references it.  Your browser or email client will launch the email client and start an email message to me when you click the link.

    Microsoft Live tag generated these color code symbols for my web site and vCard (name, address, etc).  Notice that they utilize cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, the four process colors that color dot matrix printers have, and they don't use a mix of those to make up a color.  If you see white triangles in the printed symbol, the printer has run out of one or more colors.   vCard for Bob Hurt Microsoft colortagBob Hurt vCard colortag

    The more security-conscious might not want to publicize email and vCard via these code symbols because spammers and identity thieves might use the decoder technology to discover the data contents.

    Summary and Conclusion

    Bottom line, these codes differ from old-timey bar codes only in two respects:

    • The 2-D format allows more data in a smaller space than bar codes did
    • People have begun to use them to convey personal information like phone numbers and email addresses.  I never heard of anybody doing that with bar codes.
    A cell phone user can capture an image of the code with the phone camera.  Some phones like Droids and other smart phone applications will immediately process the captured code image, and others might require installing and launching an application. 

    The cell phone, connected to a PC by wifi, USB, or Bluetooth can become an efficient code reader, as can a web cam.  And phone and PC software can generate the various codes for printing.

    I do not see the point in government trying somehow to monkey with these things to the disadvantage of the citizenry.  In fact, I see a great advantage to integrating the technology into cell phones and email messages for the purpose of saving time converting data to text which a person might otherwise have to enter by hand.

    And I see an advantage to printing code tags and affixing them to valuables you possess.  If your tagged possessions disappear because of theft, Police and pawn shops with code scanners can then find the rightful owner (you).  You ARE the rightful owner, right?

    This technology saves time, conveys data more accurately, and provides a measure of security.  However it also risks identity theft..  

    Bob Hurt        My Blog
    2460 Persian Drive #70
    Clearwater, FL 33763
    727 669 5511
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