Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wikipedia's QR Code Creation Service QRPedia

Yesterday Wikipedia introduced QRPedia, a QR code creation service. QRPedia can be viewed as a way to link real world objects to Wikipedia articles using a physical graphic on or near the real world object and a mobile device with a QR code scanner. It makes it possible for people to locate and display the Wikipedia entry for something without knowing what to search for and it allows people to find the article without knowing the local language.

So, what's a QR code ? A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of any kind of data. Here is an example QR code that is an encoding of my Wikipedia user page URL
The above QR code was generated using the QRPedia service introduced by Wikipedia. So, here's how the whole thing works:
  1. Somebody goes to and enters a Wikipedia URL which produces a QR code similar to the one above
  2. They print that QR code out and place it by or on an object, say a museum piece, that they want to link to the URL from step 1
  3. A visitor to the object takes out their smart phone or other mobile device which has a QR scanner app (I use an iPhone with the Scan app by QR Code City)
  4. They scan the QR code with their app and the mobile device is automatically directed to the corresponding Wikipedia article
To try this out, take out your smart phone and scan the above QR code. It should take you to my Wikipedia user page. Pretty neat!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Swami Satchidananda's Lesson For Me

In or around 1975 i was living outside Gainesville, Florida. I had been studying yoga out of the book "Integral Hatha Yoga" by Swami Satchidananda. He was the funny little Swami who appeared at Woodstock and his book was full of pretty good pictures of the poses. I just imitated the pictures. Well, one day i heard Swami Satchidananda was coming to speak in Orlando which is maybe 150 miles south of Gainesville.

I had hitched back and forth across North America several times and figured this little jaunt would be easy. So, i started out in the morning with my shoulder bag, oranges, bread and my flute. Satchidananda wasn't speaking until 8 that night so i was just planning on having a pleasant day hitching.

Along about mid-afternoon i realized i had travelled only 30 miles or so and i had been sitting in one spot for hours. I began to thumb in ernest. Cars were whizzing by me like i was invisible. Around 5 i started to panic. Around 6 i started yelling at passing motorists in anger. I just couldn't believe people could be so cruel as to cause me to miss my guru, my teacher.

I finally made it to the talk around 8 or 9. Exhausted and emotionally drained i attempted to slip quietly into the lecture room. Just as i entered the Swami looked up directly at me, smiled with those twinkling eyes of his and said

"Make no appointments and you'll have no disappointments"! 
I couldn't believe it. It seemed like the entire day had been one long arduous lesson which Satchidananda was able to sum up in 8 words. That lesson really stuck with me and i've pretty much lived my life by it. It's usually stated more along the lines of having no expectations but i like the Swami's rhyme better. Thanks, man.