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Another QR code trick

By
Home Inspector with Texas Inspected TREC # 20406

For the sake of full disclosure, I have been a little underwhelmed with the QR code mania going around.

Sure, it's neat to be able to scan a code and have it open a website on my phone, but there's a reason why I don't sit around surfing the Interwebs on my phone. Phone + website = yuck. If the page I'm opening hasn't been reformatted to be viewed on a tiny screen with a 728K connection, what's the point?

Well, I found the point (at least for me). One word: vCard.Scott's vCard

I was sitting around thinking: why can't I scan someones QR code and have it put their contact information into my phone. That would actually be useful.

The vCard format is basically an electronic business card file that integrates with most smart phone contact managers.

After a little google magic, I found a few cards that would encode vCard information into QR codes. Great, we are on our way!

So I made myself a QR code with my number, email and web info.

Now what?

I had a slightly regressive, Neanderthal moment where I was going to print it on a sticker and put the sticker on the back of my phone. Really? After all that techo-geekery I'm going to go low-tech? I don't think so.

I saved the QR code to an image file, and emailed the image file to myself. Then i opened the email on my phone, opened the image, saved it to my phone and created a shortcut to it. (Instructions below)

So next time I'm at a networking thing and someone asks for my info, I can say "Do you have a QR reader?" and with a quick tap of my shortcut, flash my QR code to be scanned.

Then I can hop into my flying car and zoom away, laughing.

Here are step-by-step instructions for what I did. This is for an Android phone, so other smart phone users will need to adjust accordingly.

1. Find a website that will encode vCard info into a QR code image. I used http://www.qrstuff.com/ and that's what I'll use for the rest of these instructions.

2. At QRStuff, under "Data Type" select "Contact Details (VCARD)". Then, under "Content", enter what you want to be in your contact info. At the bottom of that column, there is an option to "Link to VCF file" or "Embed VCARD data in QR code". I went with the Embed option.

VCF linkEdit: After input from Yolanda in the comments section, it might be better to use the link option instead of the embed option. It's not quite as elegant, but will ensure greater chances of succes across a wide range of QR readers and phones.

3. When you are done, there will be a preview of your QR code image on the right side of the page. Go ahead and scan it with your phone (you know you're dying to). It should pop up on your phone with the info you entered as well as an option to "Add Contact". So now we know it's working. This is what other people will see when they scan your QR code.

4. Beneath the preview image is an option to "Download this image". This will save the QR code image file as a PNG. Good enough for us.

5. Go to the place where the image was saved on your computer (probably your "Downloads" folder) and attach it in an email to yourself.

6. Open your email program in your phone and open the email. Click the option to save the image. This should tell you that it has been saved (ideally to your SD card) and then will open the image. Go ahead and close the image and the email program.

7. This part will be a little tricky since your phone and mine aren't the same phone. Hopefully my instructions will at least give you enough info to make this work for yourself. What I did was find a blank shortcut space on my phone's "Home page" and gave it a long push. This gave me a bunch of options to add stuff to the home screen, the first of which is "Shortcuts". Click that.

8. Then it wants to know what type of shortcut and I chose Astro (which is the Astro file manager, a free download if you don't already have it). Then the Astro interface comes up and I navigate to the SD card (/mnt/sdcard which should be the default location for Astro) and scroll down until I find the name of the image file that I saved from my email. Then I select the file and I'm prompted for a name for the shortcut. I went with vcard because I lack imagination.

9. Now I have a little icon on my home page that looks like my QR code, and when I click on it, it opens up the full image on my phone that can be scanned by someone else's phone and drop my contact info directly into their contacts.

If you have trouble with the shortcut part of the instructions (step 7 through 9), you can always save the image to your phone's gallery and pull it up the same way that you would show off pictures of your dog's grandkids.

Obviously you could also put this QR code on your business cards, yard signs or blogs.

I'm going to claim to be the first person to turn a QR vcard into a shortcut graphic on their phone to make it easier to share with others. If I'm wrong, please don't tell me. I had a rough day and I need a win.

I'm tired of typing, so this post is will now peter out. Feel free to let me know in the comments below if this worked for you, or if you think this is a solution looking for a problem, or of you are having trouble aligning your dilithium crystals.

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