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Paperless

Using QR codes to go paperless

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#1 gtuckerkellogg

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 07:15 AM

I recently made a comment in a thread about putting user manuals into Evernote. The comment generated a lot of response, including a recommendation to start a new thread. This is it. I've quoted the original comment below.

I have one addition to that you might like if you have an iPad 2 or other tablet with a camera.

  • Create a Note Link to your note with the manual for your thermostat
  • Paste that Note Link into a QR code generator (like this one) and get a graphical QR code you can stick to your thermostat
  • When you need to change your thermostat battery, point your iPad at the sticker and RTFM (Read the Fine Manual).
Also works for warranties. :)


There are a bunch of ways to use QR codes to enable going paperless with Evernote. You need a device with a camera, a website to generate QR codes, and a printer. Ideally, a label printer, since you'll be sticking the codes on things.

QR codes are also useful for ordinary notes. You can even include the QR code to the note in the note itself. Why would you want to do this? Well, suppose you have something you want to stick on the fridge (I'm going to China tomorrow, and my itinerary is going up there). A QR code to the note itself means my itinerary is there, but if there are any updates (including those I make while I'm in China) the note will contain them, and my family can easily check just by pointing a phone at the note. This is very useful for anything volatile for which you still need a paper copy.

One reason I would really like "evernote://" style URLs to notebooks or searches is because I could think of a lot of things to do with them using QR codes.

#2 GrumpyMonkey

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 12:58 PM

I think this is VERY cool. But, for myself, I am a bit too lazy. I'm fine relying on searches. I will keep it in mind, though.

#3 gazumped

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 02:00 AM

You can do lots more with QR codes - like setting up wi-fi access; my local network settings are in a QR code so passing smartphone users can set up their temporary access without constantly bugging me for the password (and how did you spell that?). Or diary entries - get your next event in people's diaries by giving them a code to scan. I'm not so fussed about labels, except in situations where you wouldn't want a box to be labelled "Really Valuable Stuff Here".. I'm happy to have numbered boxes, and pics of the contents/ numbers so I can search "Lord of the Rings" and find which box I need to open.

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#4 Jamie Todd Rubin

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 01:55 PM

I gave this a try this morning and it worked beautifully. One tip I'd add:
  • Store the QR code image along with the note to which it associated. In my case, I just add some text below the PDF of the manual indicating, "QR code follows" and then paste in the image.
That way, if you need it again, you've got it as part of the note.

I also ran into the issue with the web vs. evernote:// link. It would be nice to have the ability to pull up evernote:// links, especially if you are using a mobile device with offline notebooks and have no Internet access. (As, say, when the power is out.)

#5 BurgersNFries

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 02:05 PM

I've thought of another use for QR codes. I have a few cookbooks that are difficult to find recipes from the index unless you remember the exact recipe name. IE, maybe you know you've used a zucchini muffin recipe from the "1001 Muffin Recipes" book. BUT...looking under Z for zucchini, you can't find the recipe b/c it's listed under B for "Banana Nut Zucchini muffins". :( So I'm thinking I could set up a QR code to stick on those problematic books that would include a link to a page on my personal website that would serve as a future reference for the recipes I've tried from that book. By making it link to a web page, the QR code would not need to be updated & reprinted, each time I want to add something. Instead, I'd just quickly update the web page.
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#6 BurgersNFries

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 02:15 PM

Next question about QR codes that you print out & stick on something...

Anyone have a snifty way to print them out without wasting paper/labels? I'm thinking of using Avery/Avery type mailing labels b/c I already have them & they are already sticky. I think I will do what Jamie posted - store the QR code in Evernote. Then I guess I'd just copy it & paste it into some app that would allow me to position it in the right spot on the label form. Normally, when printing Avery type labels, I use a very, very, very old version of The Print Shop. It's neat b/c it has it's own database (ok that's not so neat, but it's not that hard to keep it updated when I update my "source of all truths" contact list, either.) But the neat part is that I can select which labels I want to print & give it a starting point on the form. So it's very easy to print out a label for the Smiths, the Clarks & the Allens & print them on the three labels in the middle of the page. It's equally easy to print out a single label for the Fosters & have it print on the first label in the fifth row. (Hope that makes sense.) The downside is that TPS's database is text only.

I do have MS Publisher & Word, so I will check into what can be done using those apps.

However, I was just wondering if anyone had discovered a really neat way to quickly print out a few QR codes as you need them.
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#7 gazumped

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 01:09 AM

I was just wondering if anyone had discovered a really neat way to quickly print out a few QR codes as you need them.


Specialised label printers do exist that will spit out one label on demand, but that's an probably an expensive answer. I have used Word's label-printing options before - check the code number of the labels you're using, and you'll probably find Word has that as a template option. If not, it's easy to set up something similar in any word processor that supports tables. Choose row and column sizes that match your labels, and add extra rows and columns for gutters if you need 'em. Since you can print any one or combination of labels in the sheet depending on where you put the content, you can put the same sheet back in the printer until they're all used up. Still pretty clumsy though. Would be good to have a small , cheap (hand-held?) printer that could 'rubber stamp' a standard QR code onto suitable stickies...

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#8 BurgersNFries

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 10:13 PM

Would be good to have a small , cheap (hand-held?) printer that could 'rubber stamp' a standard QR code onto suitable stickies...


Yeah, I figure between Word & Publisher, I should be able to rig up something. The good news is I have a nearly full box of labels so I don't have to buy anything. But I was really hoping there was some small Dymo/Brother P-Touch type gadget that would do these easily. Probably not realistic, since it would need to have the QR code generator on board & the data entry of the info would be cumbersome.

I did see where Brother has a P-Touch editor app that will allow you to create labels on your computer & hook up one of their printers to your computer. But in that case, I may as well use what I already have.

Thanks!
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#9 BurgersNFries

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 02:06 AM

Ok...if you want to get very simple/efficient, get some NFC tags & the Trunk Conference winner, Touchanote!!! Check out this demo by the developer!!!

ACCCCCKKKK...Android only... :)
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#10 gazumped

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 02:36 AM

I can relate to Touchanote simplicity - get your phone near a tag, and up pops the note; no need even for searching. But. NFC phones? The UK has only just caught up to basic smartphones - there aren't that many NFC-capable handsets around yet, and many people who would use them for this like a shot (e.g. me..) are locked into a contract that won't end this year. Stickylabel tech looks like the only viable option for the time being.

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#11 gbarry

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 06:01 AM

I can relate to Touchanote simplicity - get your phone near a tag, and up pops the note; no need even for searching. But. NFC phones? The UK has only just caught up to basic smartphones - there aren't that many NFC-capable handsets around yet, and many people who would use them for this like a shot (e.g. me..) are locked into a contract that won't end this year. Stickylabel tech looks like the only viable option for the time being.


Yeah the Touchanote people admit to being pretty bleeding edge--NFC enabled phones just aren't that regular yet--but market share is growing (if someone bugs me I'll research beyond anecdotal evidence). Once retailers smell that magic sweet spot though...probably won't be able to escape em.

The QR codes make sense though as a near-term solution, and one that's a bit more scalable, depending on your volume. I can't imagine buying more than the $20/25 NFC tags, and if I went higher than 50 I'd probably go with QR codes till prices or tech came down.

I actually think QR codes have been woefully underutilized. They're fairly stylish, interesting ways of pointing to a certain website. But invariably, they're stuck next to the actual web address, and even more invariably, it's a parent web address. I always imagine them taking me somewhere more underground, and instead I get taken to IKEA.com or some corporation's home site.

Additionally, this was a subject made for wikipedia. Look at risks.

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#12 gazumped

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 12:54 PM

I actually think QR codes have been woefully underutilized.


I have seen QRs used on posters - so you can grab when/ where/ how much quickly, without fumbling for pens or forgetting the details later; on websites so you can grab addresses on a mobile from a monitor screen; on ATM receipts to jump to a charity page; and on cars/ vans (well, a couple) as part of the signwork so (presumably) you can snatch the contact info as they move past. I take your point about security though - a harmless square of dots is meaningless to everything except the phone reading it. You might never know what you just signed up for... Use public QR codes with caution, I agree!

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#13 Jamie Todd Rubin

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 01:26 PM

I have seen QRs used on posters ...


In my neighborhood, I've seen them on FOR SALE signs for houses that are on the market.

#14 BurgersNFries

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 01:33 PM

I've seen (and used!) them on some those coupons for local businesses that are bundled together in a fat envelope & mailed to you. The only one I've used was on a coupon for a Chinese restaurant. The QR code opened their menu. I thought that was pretty useful.
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#15 David Lozzi

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 07:32 PM

On my android, I have Barcode Scanner v3.6, which has a Send To option. From Evernote I can send a link to my post to the bar code and it generates a QR code automatically.

From here it gets a little tricky though. I can't print directly from my phone, and if I save the image it's just the QR code, no reference to what it goes to. If I save it back into EN, it includes the QR code and the destination link, and I can add a comment so I know what it is. From my desktop, take the QR codes and print them off! It's a little redundant (EN to QR to EN to PC to PRINT) but I think it's faster/easier than going to another website to create the QR codes.

#16 Lester Greenberg

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 03:56 PM

I love the ideas I am hearing. I have a Brother P-Touch printer but am wondering what size label to use based on the QR code and any text needed to go along with it, if any. Any ideas?

#17 trilbytvc

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 03:59 PM

This is a new concept for me, but I am anxious to try it, especially for those manuals. If I understand correctly, I can generate these codes for free using the link above? I have a new iphone 4 and ipad 2. I Iooked online to find a code reader app, but the reviews on the ones I found are less than stellar. Can anyone recommend one that works well?

Thanks!

#18 gtuckerkellogg

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 06:24 AM

I love the ideas I am hearing. I have a Brother P-Touch printer but am wondering what size label to use based on the QR code and any text needed to go along with it, if any. Any ideas?


So long as your phone camera can read the code, any moderate size label should be fine. Try out a few different sizes. Obviously, you may want *some* text with it, depending on how much you want to annotate the code for your use.

How do you like the P-touch label printer? Do you use a Mac, and if so how does the software work?

#19 gbarry

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 06:57 AM

This is a new concept for me, but I am anxious to try it, especially for those manuals. If I understand correctly, I can generate these codes for free using the link above? I have a new iphone 4 and ipad 2. I Iooked online to find a code reader app, but the reviews on the ones I found are less than stellar. Can anyone recommend one that works well?

Thanks!


I've used one called an I-Nigma reader for a few years, on iPhone. It does the job. They're pretty basic as far as apps go, so I wouldn't really worry about poor reviews. Don't shell out a ton of cash for one either, I'm sure you can get one for 1.99 or less. I-Nigma's free and it works. It occasionally crashes, but we're not trying to launch the space shuttle here.

I mentioned I don't see these codes very often, but I just helped run a major art auction with about 150 separate QR codes. People could walk up to a piece of art, scan a code in the corner and read about the artist, the work, etc. Less QR-related, but we also had giant screens that cycled to the correct art piece image (same one linked by QR) so you could survey the multiple auctions before diving into the crowd to bid.

Regarding I-Nigma again, as part of my pre-show prep I used it to re-verify all the QR codes for the 150 pieces. Well, 75 of them, I split with another guy who had some other reader. Took us about 30 minutes to review the catalog, and it only crashed once on me.

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#20 Michael Campbell

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 03:47 PM

On my android, I have Barcode Scanner v3.6, which has a Send To option. From Evernote I can send a link to my post to the bar code and it generates a QR code automatically.

From here it gets a little tricky though. I can't print directly from my phone,...


Have you tried Google cloud print?





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