The Studio of Eric Valosin

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Q Argh!

I feel the need to share a few very important links, lest you decide to mathematically torture yourself as I have for the past few days.

When you're working with new media it's inevitable that you'll eventually run into the brick wall of obsolescence. a bit to my horror, I recently discovered that one of the companies I used to create QR codes for some of my drawings was bought out and since dissolved. As a result, those codes' links are dead, even though the original destination link is intact. I tried contacting them to no avail, hoping there might be a way to recover the links.

So I decided to do a bit of sleuthing to see what about the QR code creation process might be the proprietary part that's causing the hangup since the acquisition. Maybe, just maybe, I can either figure out a way to manipulate the short links attached to each code, or to even create my own code generator that bypasses the need for reliance on companies that may or may not survive the next tech innovation. These codes are indeed on their last legs, but they have not yet been replaced by any better technology for an analogue interface with cyberspace.

So I looked up some tutorials and decided to create my own QR code from scratch, by hand. How hard could it be?

9 hours of head scratching later, I found myself learning binary code, alpha notation conversions, bitwise operators, polynomial long division, Galois Field Arithmetic, and a whole lot of algebra I hadn't thought about since high school (speaking of learning new things, did you know a binary series less than one Byte long is called a "Nybble?!" I don't know, to me its all a little hard to swyllow.)

If you have the masochistic urge to tackle this beast for yourself, I feel it's my duty to encourage you to use this SUPER comprehensive website I found: http://www.thonky.com/qr-code-tutorial/introduction/

And when you find yourself smashing your head against the desk during the 480th XOR bitwise computation that lands you only a third of the way done generating error correction binary codewords, use this online calculator instead: http://www.pclviewer.com/rs2/calculator.html
(all you need is the coefficients of the message polynomial and how many error correction codewords you desire, which certainly beats 5 crumpled pages of graph paper and 3 dead ballpoint pens. And once you get far enough in the tutorial that it matters, what I just said will make perfect sense!)

Here's hoping for some solutions soon, because I still have a bunch of projects in mind with QR codes. Not quite ready to put them to be just yet!

EDIT: The Solution!

Nearly 6 months after this debacle started, I found a solution that entailed building my own link shortener and random website generator! You can read about it here