What is that strange square?

QR-code link to www.thelickingnews.com

   You may have seen these on products in the store, posters advertising concerts and events, or in magazines and newspapers. They are called a Quick Response Code, or QR code, for short. It was designed in 1994 in Japan for use in the automotive industry. The QR code is an improvement upon the standard bar code, which is typically used for marking p

roducts with a unique identifier often used for pricing and inventory control. The standard bar code can store two sets of 6-digits and is limited to number based information. The QR code takes this a step further.

The internal structure of a version 7 QR code
showing the various functional elements.

     A QR code consists of black squares arranged in a square grid on a white background, which is readable by a camera, like the one in your cell phone, and processed using an error correcting computer algorithm to interpret the image. Data is stored both vertically and horizontally within the image and can be used to store any type of data, not just alphanumeric data like product names and expiration dates, but machine readable data like computer code, and in extreme cases entire documents.
     QR codes are beginning to become a standard in advertising because of the ease of sharing very large amounts of information in a very small space through the use of new smartphone technology. Typically, a smart phone is used as a QR code scanner with one of many QR code scanner applications to display the code and convert it to a human readable form, such as a website URL. The QR code makes it easier for print advertisers to connect with their customers because of the ease of use connecting print media to internet content. You will begin to see QR codes in The Licking News from time to time.
     A QR code can store up to 7,089 characters, which is larger than this article. Anyone can generate their own QR codes with free software available online as well as utilizing website-based QR-code generators. One of my favorites is https://www.qrcode-monkey.com which was used to generator the QR code that links to our website. You can overlay logos, adjust colors and customize the shape of the code as long as you keep the four corner blocks that store the information on how to decode the image, and the logo does not cover more than one fourth of the image.
    QR codes can be designed to send you to un-safe websites and install software on your device. You should never scan a QR code from an unknown source, just like you should never follow a link in an e-mail from a stranger. Risks include linking to dangerous web sites with browser exploits, enabling the microphone, camera, GPS, and then streaming those feeds to a remote server; analysis of sensitive data (passwords, files, contacts, transactions); and sending email/SMS/IM messages or DDOS packets as part of a botnet, corrupting privacy settings, stealing identity, and even containing malicious logic themselves such as JavaScript or a virus. These actions could occur in the background while the user is only seeing the reader open a seemingly harmless web page.
     You should also always use trusted QR code scanner software on your phone or tablet. A couple of options are the “QR Code Reader” by TWMobile for Android and “QR Code Reader and Scanner” by ShopSavy, Inc. for the iPhone. There are several out there to choose from, but be sure to read the reviews before installing one.

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