Monthly Archives: September 2010

QR Treasure Hunt

Yesterday, Learning Services launched their Code Breaker Challenge – aimed at getting new (and returning) students to find their way around the facilities and try out a bit of new technology along the way.

It makes use of QR Codes – 2D barcodes that can be scanned with a smartphone.  The payload of a QR code can be quite flexible – it can contain text, a web address, contact information or even send a text message.  In this case it launches a web page on the Learning Services blog – chosen because it’s already mobile friendly for a number of common devices.

There are four locations to scan – start in the entrance to the University Library.  Give it a go and you could win a £50 Argos voucher.

From my point of view this is a really interesting trial. Awareness of QR codes – while certainly not universal – is growing and as I’ve mentioned before on this blog we’re now in a position where significant numbers of students have modern phones with free or cheap data.  QR codes in themselves are not a solution to any particular problem we have but they have some interesting potential uses in connecting physical and virtual information.

Many companies are starting to use them on posters, cans of pop and all sorts of other places – the 2d code blog has some great examples of QR codes popping up in unusual places.

There are loads of QR code readers available for lots of different devices – i-nigma suggested on the LS blog is one of the better ones for iOS (sorry, I’ve only tried on iPhones!) but to find one for your phone type tigtags.com/getqr into your mobile’s browser to get suggestions.

Return to Argleton

A few months ago I got a very curious phone call from Lawrence Grizzel, a producer for Punt PI on Radio 4. He was interested in doing an episode of the Steve Punt show about Argleton, the town that doesn’t exist that’s been covered to death on this blog for nearly three years!

Steve Punt interviews Mister Roy for Punt PI

The two of them were to travel up from London the following Friday and wanted “Mister” Roy Bayfield and I to show them the way to Argleton. How could I refuse? I rejigged some plans and worked out I could just make it back from Liverpool to the Stanley Arms in time to meet them.

The interview went fine – we led the way down the road to the field labelled “Argleton”, discussed how it was found and a couple of hypotheses with the landowner and Steve Punt then headed back to the Stanley to consume a pint of the specially brewed Argleton Ale.

The beer tasted a little like it hadn’t been allowed to settle and I’ve not seen it since so maybe it didn’t really exist.

The episode finally aired last Saturday and although I’m currently on holiday in Crete, I managed to listen again to the show.

It’s the first time I’ve heard the show and was pretty impressed. The show told the full story of Argleton from visiting the location to following up leads at the British Library, with cartography experts and even managed to secure an interview with Google and TeleAtlas.

It’s worth listening in, if only to hear my 15 seconds of fame but there’s a couple of interesting points.  Firstly was the guy when asked “so computers can’t tell the difference between virtual and reality” responded “correct – do we?” and secondly the new information offered by Google and TeleAtlas.  Namely that they can’t track down how Argleton (or Mawdesky or the other errors in West Lancashire) were added.

The cynic in me might suspect that their data source was slightly dubious but I’ve no proof.

Anyway, back to my bottle of Mythos and the barbecue!