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And Now, a Very Self-Referential QR Code

A QR code that will take people to Whatever

Google’s latest iteration of the Chrome browser now has a feature that creates QR codes for Web pages, so if for some reason it’s your idea of fun to navigate the Web via your phone camera, now you can do so. The above QR code will take you… here (or, more accurately, to the front page of Whatever). Is this useful? Meh, I guess maybe? Is it cool? Absolutely not, QR codes will never ever be cool, even if they, like this one, have a pixelated T-Rex in them. Is it vaguely neat in a deeply nerdy sort of way? Yeah, a little.

Also, now I feel obliged to post this one, perhaps as a warning against wanton QR code following.

— JS

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

24 replies on “And Now, a Very Self-Referential QR Code”

I do information security for a living, which means I’m terrible at parties and everyone leaves the room when certain topics come up.

But keep in mind a QR code is effectively browsing to a URL under someone else’s control, sight-unseen. Bad things can happen to your computer if you visit the wrong one.

At the very least, I recommend disabling Javascript in your browser if you’re going to visit a QR-code URL representation and you do not know the code was generated by someone you trust.

The cool part is when a bricks and mortar store, like your friendly neighbourhood book store, can’t open for business as usual, but can display the latest hot new books, and a large QR code in the window besides those books. The QR takes the window shopper straight to the e-store with the book right in the basket already.

Store front pickup follows minutes later.

Seen it in Toronto.

I use an app that shows me the URL behind the QR code, so that I can see where it will take me before I go there. When I saw the URL, I correctly guessed which singer I would soon be seeing.

This is rather timely for me – I spent yesterday printing out the QR codes for the organisation I work for, as we now have to have QR codes available for my state’s COVID contact tracking app just about everywhere. Which means I’m going to be finding out how the app handles things like being asked to scan QR codes without being connected to data services on my phone (I’m on prepaid mobile, my provider charges like a wounded bull for data, and I’m old enough that I tend to use my phone as a phone rather than as a mobile computing hub). I foresee a lot of writing down my contact details by hand.

QR codes give me the security heebee-jeebies. You don’t really know where the QR going to take you. The opportunities for malware are so vast. Makes me think of the Harry Potter dictum about not trusting anything whose brain you can’t see.

@Megpie71 — If it’s a TracFone (what I use), if you’re connected to a wifi network any web usage does not come out of your paid data.

I still don’t do a lot of browsing on my phone, because I’d rather not set myself up for an eyestrain headache, but it can be handy sometimes to pull up a walkthrough on my phone instead of closing out of the game I’m playing on the laptop, checking said walkthrough, then trying to remember all the steps as I log back into the game.

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