Random Information Generated By a QR Code


I attended another great Mashed Libraries event in Huddersfield on Friday. (I’ll write a proper blog post about it later). As part of the event we were asked to bring/create our own name badges. So I decided to create one around a QR code, as one of the themes of the day was QR codes. This is it…

My QR Code badge for the Mashed Libraries Huddersfield event.

QR codes are basically barcodes displayed in a 2D square and when scanned with a QR code reader (often a piece of software in a mobile phone) you are taken to a web page. They are normally used in the physical/real world to connect to information on a web page. ie You can put a QR code anywhere you like – on a desert island and as long as you had an internet connection it would link to a web page when scanned.

I wanted to do something a bit different with my QR code, rather than it just linking to a static web page. So, using Runbasic I created a very basic webpage that displayed random information/misinformation about me when the QR code on the badge is scanned. If you scan the QR code above a few times you’ll see that the information in the last line changes. If you don’t have a QR scanner type in http://ggtestspace.weebly.com/randomgaryfact.html a few times to see what happens. There’s about 5 different pieces of information.

It was a daft and simple idea (that was the intention), but I wonder if a serious idea could be built on this. For example, could you put a QR code near a subject area in a library, or an exhibit in a museum, or a historic landmark and every time someone scans that QR code it gives you different/random facts about the subject area/exhibit/landmark, as a taster, rather than bombarding you with lots of information? If you wanted to find out more information about that subject/exhibit/ landmark, you could then follow a link on the webpage to more information.

The great thing as well about my badge is that I won a prize for it (one of the top six), which I really didn’t expect. ūüôā This is it… A bottle of Blandford Fly beer – It’s one of my favourites!

Blandford Fly beer bottle

Tinkering in March 2010


I’m quite pleased with what I’ve achieved in March when it comes to tinkering outside of my day job. Most of the things are only small and uncomplicated, but¬†I’ve either learnt from what I’ve done (no matter how little use or interest to others it is) or I’ve achieved something practical.

(1) Set up an events RSS feed for the Library service Twitter account. We had a general Council events RSS feed, so I had a look at how it was structured and realised I could pull out the library events as a separate feed via Yahoo pipes.

(2) Put together a ‘We Love Public Libraries’ page. It was put together using a Flickr slideshow and Collecta Widget looking for mentions of the phrase. I’m going to expand it to include other relevant phrases too, as it’s not picking up as many positive vibes about public libraries as I’d like ūüėČ

(3) Using Run Basic I put together the basics of¬†“Where’s My Chuffin’ Train?”. Put in your train details and it gives you a few lame excuses as to why it’s late. I need to do it properly, and work on presentation, add signs/symbols. Pointless I know, but I can’t help it.

(4) Using RunBasic I put together a basic URL convertor to feed URLs of book searches from the Library catalogue to Owen Stephens’ “Read To Learn” project. “Read To Learn” suggests courses you might be interested in studying if you were¬†reading a particular non-fiction book/ or range of books. We were both interested to see if it could be of use from a public library point of view, along the lines of… public library users might be interested in studying if they could find courses that related to book they were interested in.¬†My bit of programming needs tidying up. It’s basically got the code there, converts the URL and passes it to “Read To Learn”, it just looks dull and I don’t present the returned courses properly.

(5) As part of the Celebrating Surrey event in June, the library team I’m in thought it would be good to do something to support it from a Web2.0 point of view. So we have started putting together a “Surrey Fiction Bookmap” using Google My Maps. It shows locations that are mentioned in works of fiction. It’s early days and we adding to it as we go along. It will probably also include locations associated with fiction authors too. Each of the books mentioned link back to our catalogue and have a bit of a snippet about the book in the popup.

(6) Working on term extractor using Run Basic.

I had a bit of a¬†frustrating time at the beginning of the month, not being able to decide what to do/ how to¬†focus on¬†things, but with a bit of advice from @chibbie and @ostephens I’ve learnt that it’s best to go for small goals and release things¬†into the wild even if they aren’t perfect.¬†Thanks for the advice.

Literary Twist Project and Run Basic


After tinkering with my Literary Twist Yahoo pipe (put in a book synopsis and it turns it into a synopsis for a horror novel) I’ve decided that it doesn’t work. Well, it sort of works when it finds any relevant words. The problem is, it relies on the common words appearing in the text fields that are entered into the synopsis text boxes and after testing it for a bit I’ve decided that this method isn’t good enough. Even though I methodically chose the words that would occur frequently enough, it seems that synopsis writers don’t like to write using common words ūüėČ

I’m going to try a different method now – Yes, I know that this project¬†has no practical use in the world, apart from¬†amusing myself, but¬†it’s a challenge to see if I can get it working in the way I wanted.


(c) Tomas Rotger (Flickr)

I’ve now worked out that what it needs to do is, basically¬†identify the most common words in any text that is entered into the text box (rather than common words in general) and twist or replace them in a way that makes sense, but also gives the horror aspect to the new words.

I realise I can’t do this with Yahoo pipes – it’s just too complicated to do it that way for my brain. I find Yahoo pipes is fine as long as I don’t make it really complicated and sometimes Yahoo pipes just stalls and sputters into lifelessness if I make anything too complicated.

So, I’m currently using Run Basic¬†to try and¬†achieve this. As the name suggests it’s a¬†language based around Basic – no sniggering! Basic is embedded in my brain and I will champion this favourite language of 80s school boys until you mock me so much that I curl up into a ball and cry. The good thing is that it’s server based, so you can¬†create dynamic web pages from it. I’ve used php¬†to create dynamic web pages in the past, but if I don’t use it for a while I forget the syntax/methods, etc.¬†Php¬†also tended to go wonky on me when I upgraded browsers as my programming was less than standard. Whereas, as I spent years programming in Basic, Run Basic was so easy to pick up. Run Basic also allows you to parse XML, manipulate files, and use HTTPGET, HTTPPUT functions, as well as other useful things.

So the first thing I’m doing on this new plan is to¬†put together a¬†term extractor and word count. It’s not quite there, but I’ve more confidence cracking it with Run Basic than anything else. I won’t let it beat me, no matter how useless the result is!