The other weekend I took the family along to a fantastic event at Cheptstow Castle, “Fortress Wales“. It’s a re-enactment day but on a big scale, you can see knights in armour, American civil war soldiers and a full WW2 battle. There was a also superb archery display from a group who eschew modern archery practices in favour of more traditional traditional methods.
I’ve got a funny old relationship with QR codes, those lofi grids of squares we see on everything nowadays. They are pretty ugly things (certainly not as pretty as SnapTags) and they have got a bad reputation for being used in the wrong circumstances.
I mean WHY put them on your business card if it simply points to your domain name?
And, dear lord, why put them on your name badge? Are you really expecting people to walk about to you, scan it & visit your homepage? Nope. That’s cack. That’s using technology for technologies sake. We’ve already got a pretty good way of conveying website addresses to people; that’ll be domain names.
In this example the QR code links to the job application page but you’ve got to use your steady hand illustration skills to fill in the QR code to make it work.
Next up is something I think is really clever; logging in via a QR code. Watch this video:
Another great use was mentioned by Sophie Dennis (who is speaking at the Port80 web conference in Newport this May). In this example, the First Great Western train company had posters printed. On part of the post was a QR code, scan it to download the relevant timetable. I like that. It shows something which I think is key to good QR code usage; it’s context sensitive – i.e. not simply a link to your homepage.
An idea which popped into my head the other day was this: lottery tickets. Checking if I’ve won (which obviously I didn’t as otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog post) is grief. I’ve got to go to the website and because there are sooooo many lotteries and dates and results etc, it turns into a massive pain in the arse.
Why not make it easier?
Why not put a QR code on the ticket?
You scan the QR code and you get sent to the website which interprets it; the website knows the type of lottery, the date of entry, your numbers; it can then quickly & easily tell me that I haven’t won. Job done.
Yeah, I’m talking about THAT nuclear launch code at the bottom! I’d rather pay someone to type that in for me; I’m guaranteed to get it wrong.
If ONLY there was a clever way to encode that number into some sort of glyph which can be scanned by a smartphone and allow me to be taken to a URL where some clever personalisation can occur (e.g. it recognised the voucher code).
It’ll never happen I hear you cry!
p.s. please shout out if you have any more good/bad examples of QR code usage.
In this episode #3 of my business podcast I chat to Aimee Bateman about her career advice business and all the great stuff she is up to. We chat about careers, blogging, twitter, social media etiquette, a rant about LinkedIn, students/university, the Oi Conf & our cats (a bit).
If you’d like to throw your hat into the ring for an upcoming podcast then please shout out
Here are (hopefully) all of the links mentioned in the show:
- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crush-Time-Cash-Your-Passion/dp/0061914177 <– Gary’s book
- http://www.aat.org.uk/ <– Aimee does some stuff for these guys
- The Tao of Twitter (one of Mark Schaefer’s book)
- Jorgen Sundberg
- The Undercover Recruiter
- Link Humans
- Mari Smith
- Russell Britton
- Port80 Web Conference 2013
- Aimee on Twitter
- Aimee on Linkedin
For many years I’ve been happily using the hosting services of Memset (who are also a sponsor for this year’s Port80 web conference, bless!). In particular I’ve tended to use their virtual machines - I love the fact that the top line support at Memset are looking after the hardware and that you can scale them pretty easily.
However, in the last 12 months we’ve done a lot of WordPress installs. The WordPress CMS and the plugins are a good cook’s kitchen for many of the professional/services websites myself & the team generally work on.
Now WordPress has to be looked after. You have to get security updates on there sharpish or you’re asking for trouble. Fair enough.
The thing is, I’m trying to do less hands on stuff so that I can scale the business. This means I don’t want the hassle of keeping WordPress security patched. Sure I can pay someone to look after that aspect but many clients don’t pay much for hosting so additional costs can make that prohibitive.
This is why I am currently trailing WPEngine who aim to offer “hassle-free WordPress hosting“. They are like WordPress.com but they offer you tonnes more options. For starters you can intall your own themes/plugins etc; you can install from GIT and can have a stage environment. They offers snapshot backups and CDN. Best of all they look after the security patching of WordPress so I just don’t have to worry about that. Good.
Really enjoying them so far. Their support department is really clued up and it’s a nice feeling having that on your side. Be interesting to see how they react when we hit bigger problems than we have so far; I’m sure they can cope.
I told Memset about this service as I think it’s something they should offer; so far they’ve not listened to me though
p.p.s reading this post back it sounds like I’m getting paid by Memset/WPEngine! I’m not. These are genuine recommendations.
One of my oldest, dearest (& baldest) friends has recently joined twitter. He’s had an account for a while but (and this is not unusual) it’s taken a while for him to come around to the idea of Twitter. He’s asking lots of spot on questions & one which came up is something I’ve meant to blog on for a while.
Why the different types of retweet?
Recently I had one of my brain waves. It came when I was mulling the Port80 web conference which I run. Many of the people who’d want to come to Port80 are on Twitter, so it’s no surprise that Twitter is a focal point when it comes to promoting the event.
A big pull for conferences is obviously the speakers. And it’s no surprise that the speakers have their part to play in promoting the event. Some conferences even go so far as to writing that into the contract with speakers; that’s not Port80, but I’d be pretending if I said that I don’t need the pull of the speakers to retweet tweets from @port80events.
So, I got to thinking that we needed better tools for keeping on top of who is promoting you & helping manage the whole process; not just conferences obviously, the concept can apply to any campaign.
Yes can see (and tot up) retweets from the connect tab on Twitter web but that’s hardly methodical reporting. And that’s the gap which ProdSpur looks to exploit.
What does the app (currently) do?
The app is not yet available online but the core code is working locally and it’s
- Set up as a Twitter app
- Working with Twitter OAUTH authentication
- Automatically scanning for tweets which have been retweeted
- Making a note of who your retweeters are
- Displaying that key information on a dashboard
- (all stored in a database obviously)
..which perhaps doesn’t sound a lot but it’s already proving useful to me. This app is very much about scratching my own itch.
As I’m sure you can imagine, there are a zillion features which I could implement but I’m just going to play the game as it unfolds.
This is something I’m designing and coding myself. I spend so much time running web projects where it just doesn’t make sense for me to be involved at the grass roots that it’s nice to have something just for myself. I’m not pretending I’m the best designer/coder; I’m not, I’m pretty average on both but I’m happy with my lot.
I’m enjoying playing with this personal project and it’s forced writing my book onto the back burner for a short while but I’m really loving playing around with the Twitter API again – all that lovely data
A really basic beta version will be up in a few weeks but if you want to play with it early or have some comments, just let me know.