QR Codes In Grammy Awards Broadcast Chicago Transit Ads

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, February 09, 2011 at 04:00 AM with 2 comments

On Sunday, February 13, 2011 the Grammy Awards will be held and broadcast on the CBS network in the US. To promote this, there are ads displayed on the “L” train platforms in Chicago, also known as the Chicago Transit Authority or CTA. Below is a photo of how 3 ad panels are displayed together.

photo of Grammy Awards transit ads in Chicago with QR codes

On each panel there is a QR code. When scanned, it goes to a Web site called MusicIsLifeIsMusic.com, specifically to a page for the artist appearing on the particular ad panel. Below is a detailed photo of a QR code for an ad for Katy Perry.

photo of Grammy Awards ad QR code for Katy Perry

Note I took the second photo before the first one – I first saw the ad panels which featured the second photo at a very narrow point on the platform and was only able to get the detail, where I was able to get a wider shot of 3 panels together, interestingly at the same station and in the 3 panel photo, there is not one of Katy Perry.

There’s a few unique aspects to these ads and how they use QR codes. As each panel has a different QR code, it can be determined which of the 3 was scanned. This can tell one of 2 things – either the person scanning has a preference to the particular artist, or they chose that QR code at random or because it was easier to scan. Also note the Grammy Award trophy in the QR code. As QR codes have built-in redundancy and can have degradation up to 30%, some part of the code can be replaced with another image. There is no magic to this – you have to make the change and test the heck out of it to make it effective.

These particular ads are positioned low to the ground. As a result, you need to bend down to scan, which may cause some not to do so, especially at the narrow part of the train platform where I was. Many times I see QR codes towards the bottom of an ad, which is unfortunate, as QR codes are not afraid of heights!

What do you think of this use of QR codes? Please share your thoughts in the comments of this post.

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Nokia E7 Design Video Sneak Peek

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, February 03, 2011 at 11:26 AM with 0 comments

Despite news and opinion out there regarding Nokia, one thing most everyone agrees with (realizing not everyone agrees with anything!) is that Nokia has some innovative designs for their mobile devices. This holds true for the Nokia E7, which I had the chance to get my hands on when I was in Berlin in November at Microsoft TechEd as a guest of Nokia.

Tomorrow, February 4, 2011 a new video is being released by Nokia on the design of the E7. However, I got a link to the video ahead of this release, and it is available for viewing now. You can view the embedded video below, or click this link to watch the Nokia E7 Design video on YouTube.

Thanks to the folks at WOMWorld/Nokia for sending me this sneak peek video link.

As to when the E7 will officially launch and be available in the US among other countries remains to be seen, unfortunately. Back in November, I was told it would be released “Christmastime” but shortly afterwards it was announced there were production delays. Once it is available, I hope to get my hands on an actual model and give it an actual run. In the meantime, this video will have to do.

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QR Codes In Action On The Hot Iron Every Week

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, February 02, 2011 at 04:00 AM with 0 comments

QR code links to QR Codes in Action at The Hot IronThere is no shortage of discussion on QR codes. Whether people are asking what the heck they are to weighing the merits of using them, QR codes are a phenomenon that is not going away any time soon. How far they go is very much part of the discussion.

QR codes tie the offline and online worlds with simplicity. By scanning them with your smartphone (or even Web cam) you will get information – from a URL to a full contact record to a short message. This is my definition, and there are many out there. But rather than focus on the ultimate definition for a QR code, I’d rather show how they are being used.

Starting today and every Wednesday I will show a QR code in action. Each post will feature a picture of a QR code I take over the course of my day. I will describe how it is being used, and of course provide any commentary as appropriate.

Watch for QR Codes in Action here at The Hot Iron as part of the regular RSS feed or by viewing just the QR Codes in Action posts. I welcome your comments and questions, and if you want to learn more how you can use QR codes for your business, please contact us at Dunkirk Systems, LLC.

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Initial Thoughts On The Nokia E7

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 10:29 AM with 0 comments

photo of Mike Maddaloni with the Nokia E7When I was preparing to attend the Microsoft TechEd Europe conference last week, I was hoping I would get my hands on the new, yet-to-be-released Nokia E7 smartphone. As TechEd is a business technology conference, and the E7 is being positioned as a business mobile device, I was pretty confident there would be an E7 or 2 available for me to try.

The good news is there was, however they were the personal devices of the Nokia staff who were there for the show and working at the booth. So where I was able to hold and try an E7, nobody handed me one and told me to walk around the exhibit floor and take it for a test drive. As a result, I had limited access, but enough to collect some initial thoughts and opinions which may be of value for others. I have also listed a number of things I would like to try out once the device is released. Interestingly, it was also the first time I had my hands on a Nokia N8, which came in handy for comparison of the 2 devices.

First, here’s my initial thoughts, and not necessarily in a priority order:

  • Good size – The E7 has a decent-sized screen. When the keyboard is “stored” under the device, it fits well in your hand and is not too bulky. After sliding the keyboard out, it is practical to type and use while holding in my hands as well as placing it on a flat surface. It is also a bit larger than the N8, as you can see from this angled yet side-by-side comparison photo I took.
    photo of Nokia N8 and E7
  • Solid – A hallmark of Nokias is they are solidly built, and the E7 continues this tradition. When I attempted to slide out the keyboard for the first time, I was cautious as I didn’t want to do it with too much force. But once I did it and a few more times, I got the hang of it. The keyboard can take a little pressure on the slide mechanism.
  • Decent keyboard – The keyboard is more like the N97 than the E75, which is a good thing. There are arrow keys rather than a joystick, which is preferred to me, especially on a touchscreen device. I say the keyboard is good, and to make it great would be to add an additional row of keys so I don’t have to press an “alt” key to type numbers. But it does have 4 rows of keys as compared to 3 on the N97.
  • Memory – The E7 has 16 GB of memory on-board. I asked how much available memory was free on the device when it is shipped, and I was told it was about 14 GB, as there are core files and some audio and images and video shipped on the device. There is no memory card slot, and some have had issue with this. Personally, Micro SD cards are too darn small for my big hands. The E7 has a Micro USB connector, and with an adapter cable you can connect a USB Flash drive. I saw a demo of this – when connected, you can browse the Flash drive just as if was an inserted memory card. You can also run files off the Flash drive, including video and presentations, which to me looked seamless.
  • Video – I saw 2 examples of this. First was a video file played off a Flash drive, and as I said above it looked fine. I also saw NHL Gamecenter, an app which shows clips of hockey games. I watched this both on the device as well as when it was connected to an HDTV using its HDMI out port. The video quality was very good on the E7 and good on the HDTV, though there was some pixilation. My assumption is this was due to the compression of the video itself as it is probably optimized to deliver over a mobile network. The photo below is of a game clip on an HDTV from the E7.
    photo of NHL Gamecenter on an HDTV from a Nokia E7
  • Camera - The camera on the E7 is 8 megapixels, as compared to a 12 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens on the N8. When I asked about this, I was told part of the decision-making was the price of the device, and part was that in order to have the Zeiss lens on the N8, it extends from the back of the device, which if done on the E7 it would not be able to lay flat on a surface. This makes sense as you won’t always be holding it when typing.

So what did I want to do that I did not have the opportunity to? Here’s a few things:

  • Take video and photos and look at them on my PC.
  • Try reading text outside in sunlight and in a dimly lit room, as well as see how much I can adjust the text size.
  • View PDF documents.
  • Write and edit a blog post.
  • Surfing the Web, including hitting various eCommerce Web sites.

In short, I would want to use it as I do my E72 device on a daily basis.

One last thought – orange would be my color of choice! It’s a unique color and the metallic color looks impressive, plus it will match my luggage.

I hope my initial thoughts are of some help. What are your thoughts on what you have seen and heard on the E7 so far?

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Back From TechEd Europe Conference With Nokia

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 12:08 PM with 2 comments

After a whirlwind trip to Berlin, Germany for the Microsoft TechEd Europe conference and the opportunity to meet and query members of Nokia’s enterprise mobile team among other Nokia staff, I am back in the Windy City with a head full of thoughts and ideas.

photo of Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

As I get settled back and unwind from this learning experience, I will be writing more detailed posts on what I took away from the people I met over the last few days. Look for more information on Nokia’s next flagship device, the E7, as well as information on how it works and where ti fits in with everything else Nokia is working on now.

E7 Coming Soon

One piece of information I will share now is the answer to the most asked question of me to relay to Nokia staff – when the E7 is coming out. Their answer is Christmastime. It will be a phased global launch over the next few month, with availability in some countries by the end of 2010 and the rest soon after in 2011. Nobody told me which countries would be when, but it was inferred markets such as China and India would be in the first phase, and there was no specific indication when it would be available in the US.

In the meantime, I will share this photo of an E7 hooked up to an HDTV – it has an HDMI out port and with a cable it can be hooked up to any HD device with HDMI input.

photo of Nokia E7 hooked up to an HDTV

Special thanks to Nokia and WOMWorld/Nokia for sponsoring all of my travel, accommodations, hospitality and admission to TechEd. Rhiannon from WOMWorld/Nokia was a gracious host and facilitator and did an excellent job ensuring all was coordinated, especially keeping us well fed. It was also great to again see Dennis Bournique from Wap Review and meeting Craig Richards from Geek Computers. Kudos to the Hotel Berlin, Berlin, an excellent hotel with great service.

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Off To Berlin For Microsoft TechEd Europe 2010 Conference

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, November 05, 2010 at 04:00 AM with 3 comments

Microsoft TechEd EuropeAs you read this I will be frantically packing my gear and even some clothes for the Microsoft TechEd Europe Conference in Berlin, Germany next week, from November 8-10. I have been invited to the conference by Nokia and the people at WOMWorld/Nokia.

For those not familiar with the conference, it is one of many such global events held my Microsoft every year. I attended a few back over a decade ago when I was working on the KWorld project at KPMG and Microsoft was a major partner with us. Sessions and speakers talk about the current state and future direction of technology and how Microsoft products fit into those directions. In short, it's a geefest! My connection through Nokia is around enterprise mobile technology, otherwise known as how businesses are using smartphones and other portable wireless devices.

Questions And More Questions

In addition to the speakers and breakout sessions I will be attending, I, along with Dennis of Wap Review, will have the opportunity to have face-to-face Q&A sessions with several Nokia executives who work with enterprise mobile. I am eager to hear what they have to say, and of course already have a list of questions in mind. If anyone reading this has any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments.

This should be an interesting conference, and a great learning experience. Nokia soon will be releasing its E7 device, the enterprise version of its recently launched N8 device. I am of course hoping to get my hands on an E7, as well as talk about it and the entire enterprise mobile arena, which is certainly a busy place.

An Amazing City

Of course I will be taking in some of Berlin. I visited the German capital several years ago, and had a great time. The mix of culture, history and modernism makes it a must-visit place. Not to mention some great chocolate!

Watch The Hot Iron and @thehotiron and #tee10 – the conference’s hashtag - on Twitter for updates on the event and any notes and news from the conference. I will write a recap when I get back. I should close with the fact that Nokia is sponsoring my trip, and here’s more information about my relationship with Nokia which is being stated specifically to keep the US Federal Trade Commission off my back!

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My Nokia E73 Mode Beach House Experience

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, October 01, 2010 at 10:44 AM with 7 comments

photo of Sunset Beach, CA at Nokia E73 Beach HouseWhat better way to truly learn a new mobile device than to use it in real time… with colleagues in a business setting… dressed in suits… on a beach? This was my experience a few weeks back, as I was a guest and participant in the Nokia E73 Mode Beach House on Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach, CA.

Believe it or not, it was as I said – a gathering of mobile technology aficionados, with bloggers, consultants and fans. Most were from southern California, where a few of us were invited from around the US and Canada. The reason for the event was to get hands-on with the Nokia E73 Mode, a close sibling of the Nokia E72 smartphone, which is offered exclusively by T-Mobile. The business setting scenario was for a video shoot on the beach with all of us as participants, complete with planned and unplanned events. The weekend was organized by the gracious and brilliant minds of WOMWorld/Nokia, who handle word-of-mouth marketing for Nokia.

The E73 Mode Beach House was a multi-level house right on Sunset Beach. Those us from out of town – myself, Glenn, Lenny (aka The Truth) and Dennis – along with the WOMWorld crew – Donna, Adam and James – stayed at the beach house for a couple of nights and the house and back deck were converted for the festivities on Saturday night for us and those from the LA area. Some of the people included Jen, Jeb, Al and Mike. It was a reunion of sorts for Jen, Donna, Glenn and I as we all met a couple of years back at Nokia OpenLab in Helsinki. Though time had passed, it didn’t seem like it as we all keep in touch through social media.

Our assignment for the weekend was to make a video of us using the E73 Mode. It offers different “modes” where you can have both a home and work screen, each configured for what you need for each. As the camera crew arrived and were setting up, we were ushered upstairs to get dressed. We were confused as we certainly weren’t walking around the beach house naked. Then we saw what we had to wear – suits, complete with shirts and ties. Then the story came to life – we were working on the beach, but also living, and trying out the E73 Mode as to how it would help us with both modes of our life. As I said it is the sibling of the E72, one which I already own, I was well aware how well this works.

As for the video – nothing was scripted. There was the “story” of us working on the beach, but much of it was improvised, including Glenn surfing in his suit and the volleyball game of the suits vs. the locals, where the mobile geeks won! The video is embedded below, or you can watch the Nokia E73 Mode Beach Party official video on YouTube.

You can also see my Nokia E73 Mode Beach Party photos on Flickr, and follow the hashtag of #e73mode for more.

I’ll write more on the E73 Mode later, reviewing its features, and comparing it to the E72 and other mobile devices. In the meantime, enjoy the video, and thanks to Nokia and WOMWorld/Nokia for a great weekend experience, not to mention building a great device.

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Off To The Nokia E73 Mode Beach Party

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 12:01 PM with 4 comments

Sunscreen – check. Sand shoes – check. Desire to check email while on the beach – check!

photo of Sunset Beach, Huntington Beach, CA

I’m off to southern California for the Nokia E73 Mode beach party to be held on Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach, CA. The folks from the word-of-mouth marketing team of Nokia, WOMWorld/Nokia, have invited me and others from around the country, as well as a number of folks from the LA area, to participate in this unique event, which you can read more about here.

photo of Nokia E73 ModeWhile we take advantage of the sun and beach, we’ll be trying out the new Nokia E73 Mode mobile device, which is available at T-Mobile in the US. It appears to me to be similar to my E72 device, and I will find out first-hand for sure this weekend.

If you’re so inclined, you can follow along on Twitter, and we’ll be will be using the hashtag #e73mode. I’ll also be checking out the camera and may do some video streaming, though my main focus will be on how the E73 can fit into my work life. Seriously!

Thanks again to the folks from WOMWorld/Nokia for inviting me out to this great event. And for the sake of full disclosure, or more like to keep the FTC from coming after me, you can read about my relationship with Nokia.

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What Is A Favicon And Why Does Your Web Site Need One

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, June 04, 2010 at 01:15 PM with 0 comments

As a Web site owner, today you must do everything you can to draw traffic to your Web site. There are the obvious methods of doing so – links to your Web site, search engine optimization (SEO) and search marketing. All of these are an ongoing process which of course will take time and money.

Many people forget something obvious – visually drawing traffic to your site. The most common way this plays out is when you are navigating bookmarks or manually typing a URL in your browser address bar and a list of previously-visited Web sites appears. Along with those addresses and Web site titles, there may also be an icon appearing. This is called a favicon, and your Web site should not be without one.

Favicon is a contraction of “favorites icon” and is yet another way for your Web site to stand out. It is technically an icon file on your Web server that is referenced in your Web pages and is displayed in the browser. Below is an example of favicons which appear both on the address bar and tabs of my Firefox browser.

screenshot of favicons

screenshot of bookmarks with faviconsIf you bookmark a Web page that has a favicon, it will also appear in your list of bookmarks, as shown in the accompanying screenshot. Favicons may also appear on mobile browsers as well. Note however favicons may not appear on older browser versions, as I have written before are still out there and in use. Most all current browsers will display them. As you can see, a favicon will help your Web page stand out among the others. It can also reinforce your branding beyond the Web page itself, helping lead people back to your Web site if they liked what they saw the first time.

screenshot of address bar with no faviconSo what happens if your Web site does not have a favicon? You will see a blank rectangle resembling a piece of paper or simply nothing where the favicon would be, as shown in the accompanying screenshot. As a result, the title of the particular Web page which was bookmarked will have to do all of the work to visually draw people. Again, how does the saying go, a picture is worth 1,000 words?

If your Web site does not have a favicon, contact your Web site designer or developer and ask for one. Of course if you are unsuccessful, you can always contact us at Dunkirk Systems, LLC and we would be more than glad to work with you to make it happen. A favicon is a literally small file that can have a large impact on your Web site.

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New And Old Retail Meet Via QR Codes

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 12:44 PM with 1 comments

Walking to the office today something caught my eye that I had to share, as pictured below.

photo of bus Stop ad in Spanish with QR code and Marshall Field’s, Chicago

Across from the former Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago on Washington Street is a bus stop. On that bus stop is an ad in Spanish for Google Android mobile phones. Prominent in the lower right corner of the ad is a QR code. What got my attention was the contrast of the old vs. new retail. The Field’s building, over a century old, with its iconic clock in comparison to the QR code on a non-English ad for a mobile device from a vendor barely over a decade old.

The real question is if these will continue to be 2 completely different retail concepts, or if they will come together as one?

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