World Domination is a welcome diversion

Jul 30

I recently came across the game of Conquist on the iTunes store, and I must admit it brings to life the Risk board game by Parker Brothers.

The graphics have an edgy cold war feel, and the game play is easy with a world domination mode as well as a secret mission game.

The game allows for multiple robot or human players to play.

I’d highly recommend the game and I look forward to playing playing with my children head to head!

What are QR Codes and how can I use them?

Jul 28

If you have every seen a blocky looking graphic like this one:

CK QR Code

CK QR Code

You migh have wondered – what is that?
In this case, it takes you to a website that looks like this:
Calvin Klein

It is a QR code or a two dimensional bar code.  By the time you’ve finished writing this article, I hope to have persuaded you to use QR codes in your day to day work.

My prefered App for the iPhone for reading QR codes it  Optiscan –

So a QR code is a standard graphic format that transcends particular hardware, software or even analog vs. digital. You could put a QR code on your business card, your letter head, your advertisements, or your website, and it would be “recognized” by most “smart phones” or computers today and translated into a message, url, or contact info on that device.

It works something like this – you hold your phone’s camera up to the graphic like this:

QR Code sample

QR Code sample

and in seconds it turns into to a text file that you can add to your contacts like this:

Scanning and reading of QR codes is only 1/2 of the equation.  The other half is to generate and use your own QR codes.  Your QR code could be your complete contact information (like your business card), your website, a telephone number, or a “secret message”.

You can create your own QR Codes using these websites:
For urls:

A multifunction QR code creater: or



Are businesses really using this?

Yes – the featured QR Code aboce came from this Calvin Klein billboard –

or this company that specializes in heping companies get into the QR code age –

or this book that has QR codes as footnotes –

There truly are more examples of how these are being used than I could begin to list here.

So why do we need QR codes?  Anyone who has ever had to read their email address or url to a customer over the phone or in person will understand immediately that the QR code transcends any particular platform (as opposed to say, iPhones “Bump“)

And here is my complete contact information in QR Code format

Todds QR Code

Todds QR Code

And here is how it looks on my business card:


(I have print my business cards laminated)

Have you ever noticed the hidden arrow in the Fedex logo? (The FedEx wordmark is notable for containing a hidden right-pointing arrow in the negative space between the “E” and the “X”, which was achieved by designing a proprietary font, based on Univers and Futura, to emphasize the arrow shape). Last summer, my family started noticing the arrow and now we can’t help but say “I see the arrow” everytime we pass a Fedex Logo or truck, which seems to be a dozen times a day. QR codes are as ubiquitous and not that you know what they are, my guess is you will start to recognize them everywhere.

iPad update

Jul 24

In my last review of the iPad I covered how I was unable to use the iPad to replace a notebook, my book reader, to teach from, and many other tasks. After 30 days of trying to use the iPad in my daily life, my feeling was that eventually Apple would get the iPad Operating System to the point that it was an effective replacement for a notebook, but until then it was just an interesting device.

As I have continued using the iPad , I’ve had a change of heart and found three arenas that it truly excels in, including:

  • 1. family trips
    2. as a PDF device
    3. as a 2nd screen for my laptop using MaxiVista
  • For these three uses, the iPad has become an invaluable tool.
    1. Family Trips – our family took a whirlwind, 6,400 mile, 28 day vacation across the western United States hitting most of the National and State parks in 14 states. The iPads always on 3G, mapping and ability to extract information on the internet as well as WikiHood and Wikipanion made for an amazing tool to use on the road. The 10.5 hour battery life was ideal as we were often in the car driving anywhere from 2 to 8 hours a day. Being able to view our photos from that days outing was also very cool – particularly using the “places” feature.

    Our kids were also responsible for providing reports on the people, places, and events that we would see, and they used Keynote to make their presentations on (we also hooked the iPad up to the headrest monitors for presentations in our Toyota LandCruiser).

    2. Using the iPad as a PDF reader. Before I head out for a days meetings – I will load the iPad with PDF documents and files that I might need into the GoodReader App which allows me to pull up any document on short notice and then I can hand it to a client and walk them through it. Just in case I forgot to load a document, I’ve been using the PogpPlug and its related iPad/iPhone App to gain access to all of my date. I know good friends who use Dropboxes App the same way.

    3. One of my biggest frustrations on the road is the lack of a large monitor to manipulate all of my data (our office is entirely paperless). If I am out of town for more than a week, I often end up carrying a 21″ screen (stored in the original box with a handle on it), which also isn’t ideal is this era of only taking carry on bags.

    The iPad now has a $9.95 app called MaxiVista that allows me to use the iPad as a second screen for my Windows machine. Although the app requires an open Wi-Fi router (open in the ports it has open), I travel with one and thats not an issue. After you install the driver on the Windows machine and run the App on the iPad, viola! a second screen that looks like this:

    All in all, the iPad is moving up in its usefulness to our business and our family.

    As an additional note, I can’t be the only one feeling this way, as a revised estimate indicates that over 12 million iPads will be sold htis year.