Commando nerd patches for iPhone and Android scanning

Think of it as a TinyURL you can wear. Each two-by-four-inch, velcro-backed p8tch has a Mysterious Commando Design on the top, and a QRCode on the bottom:

AWESOME FLAME patch

The QRCode on the p8tch is a URL. If you scan the code with your iPhone, Mobile Safari will take you directly to that URL. If it’s a Google Maps link, your iPhone will take you directly to the map. If it’s a YouTube link, you’ll see the movie fullscreen. Cool, right?

WHERE DOES THE QRCODE GO?

AWESOME FLAME patch It goes anywhere you want! Here’s how it works:

  • Each p8tch has a unique QRCode on it that links to a URL on the Swiss domain "p8t.ch".
  • For instance, the p8tch pictured above encodes the URL
    http://p8t.ch/lahbg.
    (careful, there’s no telling where that URL redirects to right now.)
  • Each p8tch comes with a secret passkey that lets you set the redirect target of the URL as often as you like. So it really is like a TinyURL, except one that you can control.

SO WHAT IS THIS GOOD FOR?

Why, alpha-nerd bonding, of course! You sew the "loop" side of the velcro to your jacket, or to your backpack, or to your motorcycle tank bag, or glue it to your Pelican case. Then slap the p8tch on there and have any (or all!) of these interactions:

— LIKE THIS —

THEM: "Excuse me! Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter."
YOU: "Wonderful! Simply scan the p8tch on my shoulder."
THEM: [scans the p8tch: BEEP!] "Thank you, I have just subscribed to your RSS feed in Google Reader."

— OR —

THEM: "Hey, what happened to your leg?"
YOU: "Oh, I broke it in a highly harebrained, yet thoroughly entertaining way. Here, scan my p8tch and you can watch the YouTube video!"
THEM: [scans the p8tch: BEEP!] "OH DEAR GOD YOU IDIOT wow ha ha, let me buy you a beer."
YOU: [enjoys beer]

— OR FINALLY: —

THEM: "Y-e-e-ah, thanks for helping me punch down all 3,000 of those CAT6 cables over the weekend! Is there anything I can–"
YOU: "YES THERE IS you can buy me the top thing on my Amazon Wishlist RIGHT HERE AND NOW just scan my p8tch and complete the transaction while I am standing here between you and the door to the NOC."

See? Frankly, you can’t afford to be WITHOUT a QRCode Commando Nerd p8tch!

CAN I TRY IT RIGHT NOW?

Yes you can! A word of caution: I’m about to give out the passkey that goes with the sample p8tch, so there’s no telling if some joker has linked it to goatse. Proceed with careful eyeballs!

Try scanning a p8tch

First, you’ll need a QRcode reader. I recommend QuickMark (iTunes link), which is well worth the $1.99. You can see a comparison of iPhone QRCode-scanning applications, along with instructions and tips, over on the Scan page. Once you’ve chosen an app, install it, and you’ll be ready to go.

You can practice on the barcode below. Please let me know your experience!

If you have a latest-generation smartphone that’s not an iPhone, head over to Semapedia to grab a reader. The reader pre-installed on the Nokia N95 is particularly fast.

The image at left is the same QRcode that appears on the p8tch at the top of the page. Hold your scanner steady, and fill as much of the screen as possible. Snap the picture.

In a few seconds (iPhone), or a few moments (Nokia n95), the scanner will emit a "beep!" and show you the URL
"http://p8t.ch/lahbg". Most QRCode readers will then give you the option to visit that URL (or will take you there directly.) An iPhone will additionally pass off Google Maps, YouTube, and other special-purpose URLs to the appropriate application.

Try setting a p8tch

You can set the URL target that the p8tch redirects to like this:

  1. Visit p8t.ch/setup
  2. Enter the p8tch’s URL: lahbg, and the secret passkey: miguel89maryanna.
    Click "Set up this p8tch".
  3. Enter the URL you’d like the p8tch to redirect to. Some ideas:
  4. …and you’re done!

Scan the code again, and you’ll be taken to the new URL target.

WHAT DESIGNS ARE THERE?

I asked my friend, Danish designer Kenn Munk, to come up with some symbols that would be flexible, evocative of warning placards, and nerdy as hell. Here they are: (I’ve included three of each design so you can see that each p8tch’s QRcode is unique):

Designs by Kenn Munk

CAN I BUY ONE?

Yes you can! Each p8tch sells for $19.95. You can buy ‘em on the "buy" page.

Here’s what you get:

  • One 2"x4" polyester-twill p8tch with your unique QRcode on it. The design is permanently (waterproof-ly, washing-machine-proof-ly) bonded to the fabric using dye sublimation. Velcro "hook" side fabric is stitched to the back.
  • Two 2"x4"rectangles of Velcro "loop" fabric, one black and one white. You sew these on your jacket, your backpack, or your laptop sleeve.
  • The secret passphrase unique to your p8tch, allowing you to control where the QRcode goes. The control site is iPhone-friendly, so you can do your setup on the go.
  • Two .png files of your QRcode, one at 330px square, and one at 1650px square (links go to the images for the sample p8tch). You can make your own craft projects using those images and the magical p8tch redirect mojo.

Hey, doesn’t than mean I’m dependent on YOUR server?
Yes, it does. If the p8t.ch server is hacked, or if I get hit by a beer truck and stop paying the ISP bills, your p8tch’s redirect function will stop working. But I’m committed to keeping it up. For what it’s worth, I’ve been blogging since 2000, and I’m still here.

Isn’t twenty bucks a lot of money for this?
Compared to a generic Goth Kid Backpack Patch, absolutely it’s a lot of money. However, each patch is unique (I had a lot of patch manufacturers laugh at me.) Also, figure in the fine velcro backing, the careful data management, and the ongoing care and feeding of the server. I’ve also done QRcode projects in needlepoint, but that’s REALLY time-consuming! It’s possible these will be available at a different price point if demand goes up, but right now it’s a cottage-industry thing.

Can’t I make my own QRcodes, going wherever I want?
Yes, you sure can! Please do! QRCodes are a lot of fun. For linking real things to Wikipedia entries, you can’t beat the fine folks at semapedia. And for all other links, Kaywa provides a good generator. You can print out the code on vinyl stickers, or put it on flyers and go trolling for nerds, like I did! But if you want a cool, velcro-backed COMMANDO NERD PATCH that you can configure day by day as the mood strikes you, then look no further, friend, and click on one of the "buy now" buttons below! Thanks for coming and reading this far! If you have any questions, put ‘em here, and I’ll endeavor to answer them. Thanks very much!
John Young

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