In just a few steps musicians can benefit from applying QR codes to tag their printed sheet music. The QR codes enrich the score they are studying by linking it to relevant online information, such as recorded performances and background information. A smartphone capable of scanning QR codes is essential in this method.
In my spare time I very much like to study playing the piano. I particularly get passionate about specific challenging pieces from composers such as Schubert, Grieg and Chopin. Although my old piano teachers probably wouldn’t have approved, I usually start by locating online recordings of these favorite compositions. That way I get a feel of what they ideally should or could sound like straight from the beginning.
I have found QR codes to be a powerful and versatile instrument [!] to facilitate the process of familiarizing oneself with a musical piece. To start with a spoiler and to pique your interest, here’s a picture of what a piano score might look like with a QR code attached to it:
In this post I’d like to present a simple outline of what steps to take and what preparations are required to get you started. As you can see from the screenshot, I picked the romantic song Butterfly from Edvard Grieg’s 10-volume Lyric Pieces.
At some point you’ll notice that I link my QR code samples to recordings on YouTube. Once you understand the process, you can easily substitute any other service of your liking.
If you feel inclined to do so, please feel free to scan the QR code on the right to get a feel for the possibilities. Otherwise, hang in for a quick three-step tutorial:
The Three-step Process
- Get familiar with a QR code generator. My personal favorite is the web service Delivr.com. Besides being slick, simple and straightforward, there’s no need to sign-up to get started. If you do sign up, you can explore their advanced features and build sophisticated, mobile-friendly landing pages. The Delivr bookmarklet— a convenient button on your browser toolbar— turns the process of creating a QR code into a swift and painless effort.
- Install a QR reader on your smartphone if you haven’t got one already. I’m quite pleased with QuickMark. QR readers for a couple of well known smartphone brands are listed here: http://www.techrefined.com/help/
- Experiment with creating, printing and scanning QR codes until you feel familiar with the process. I print my labels by opening the PNG version in a separate browser tab, and then tweak my printer settings and the page set-up until I get it right. Pretty much any regular printer will do. I use a Dymo LabelWriter to print my labels, as this allows me to print QR code labels one by one at size 25 mm x 25 mm – just right for sheet music. Some smartphone QR readers require a larger size, depending on their camera resolution.
Let’s assume that you’ve created a QR code using Delivr.com. Here’s what the Delivr QR preview-and-share interface looks like:
Apart from creating a bare-bones QR code, Delivr.com also allows you to create full-fledged mobile landing pages. You do need to create an account with the service to access additional features, such as descriptions, hyperlinks, a comments section and social-media sharing links. Here’s a screenshot of what the Grieg Butterfly landing page looks like after someone scans my Grieg Butterfly QR code. The blue parts are hyperlinks:
Pretty cool, don’t you think?
Several types of users might benefit from using QR codes:
- Music schools, music conservatories, teachers and their students
- Professional and amateur musicians, singers, directors, composers
- Sheet music publishers and distributors of digital sheet music can offer their client base additional info. QR code tracking can be of interest to them. A QR code can also be useful from a copyright point of view.
Besides linking to a YouTube video, you could also consider any of the following music-related target pages. Maybe the following list inspires you to find your own sources. Where possible, I’ve linked to web pages and services related to Grieg’s Butterfly piece. Note that many web services now offer mobile-friendly interfaces to their sites, for example Mobile YouTube and Mobile Wikipedia.
- Spotify playlists, YouTube playlists, GrooveShark (also offers playlists), Blip.fm, last.fm
- other video sites: Google Video, Vimeo. Try video search engine Blinx (offers search-specific RSS feeds)
- downloadable MP3 or midi files. MP3 search engine: Music-Boom
- PDFs: International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), PianoStreet
- composer, performer homepage (Einar Steen-Nøkleberg), Facebook, Twitter
- biographies, discography, lyrics, interviews, news, reviews, concert tour schedules
- CD editions (Amazon, CD Universe)
- interpretative monographs (On Stage with Grieg) for technical analyses of classical compositions
- sheet music source web page, Scribd, electronic download sites, commercial websites, SheetMusicDirect, MusicRoom, FreeHandMusic (uses the Solero Music Viewer), MusicNotes and other digital music score resellers
- Wikipedia articles about the piece or artist, TV documentaries, DVDs, movies
- discussion forums (PianoWorld.com, Pianostreet.com), Q&A (Quora, Yahoo etc)
- instructional blog posts (by piano teacher Shirley Kirsten – link updated July 11th 2011), podcasts like Piano Podcast by Mario Ajero
Further Reading about QR Code Technology
I have found these resources to be quite helpful and interesting:
- 2D-code – a multi-author blog with news, reviews, tutorials, tool comparisons and many other useful bits (RSS)
- Real-World Hyperlinks – an introductory article about QR codes by Adrian Roselli
- QR Code Demystified – a 6-part (!) discussion of anything a web developer would want to know about QR codes, by Jason Brown
- QRDressCode – very cool Scoop.it! curated by QRboy Laurent Sanchez from the refreshing French QR code blog QRDressCode (RSS) Even if you don’t speak French, the images are a treat to the eye.
I hope this explanation inspires you to experiment with QR codes. Maybe you’d rather use a different QR code generator, or a different QR code scanner on your phone—it doesn’t matter because the mechanism of linking a real-world object to the online world remains the same. Do feel free to contribute your ideas in the comments section.
Twitter FreshLinks Bookmarklet
FreshLinks is a simple browser bookmarklet I created that you can use to get a quick understanding if a Twitter user has recently been sharing any useful links.
To install, drag or save this link to your browser bookmarks toolbar: FreshLinks
A text button labeled ‘FreshLinks’ should appear on your bookmarks toolbar. Now, first open someone’s Twitter user page, mine for example: @CleverClogs. To filter my updates and display just links that I’m sharing, click on the FreshLinks bookmarklet button.
As a bonus, the script excludes retweets and won’t show updates fed into the Twitter stream through TwitterFeed.
I’m obviously curious for your constructive feedback, please tweet it to the attention of @CleverClogs.
Last modified July 18th, 2009, 4:22 PM GMT +2
In Meet Nick Halstead the Founder of Tweetmeme from July 14th, Loic Le Meur publishes a five-minute video interview with TweetMeme founder Nick Halstead. One particular fragment of the interview strikes me with disbelief. My post here explains why I am less than amused.
At just after 4 minutes, Loic asks Nick:
“Where did you get the idea, for the first time?”
“We, err, we just looked at Twitter, we, the, err , a year ago we actually had a first pass of the website, and we kind of let it languish, and then we saw how big Twitter was getting in January and we took all the technology from the bit built in the company for the year before, and we just took all that and rebuilt it, really, you know, really quickly. “
Now, in contrast to the video, look at this compilation of several tweets from the very early days of TweetMeme’s inception, starting January 5th, 2008:
Many people know that the original idea for TweetMeme came from me. Almost immediately after I hinted at the creation of a TweetMeme service in January 2008, Nick Halstead picked up the idea, and contacted me over Twitter DM. He was enthused and kindly asked my permission to go ahead with the idea. Nick would register the tweetmeme.com domain name and would also claim the @TweetMeme account on Twitter. That evening, we had an intense Skype call and several subsequent chats about the direction of TweetMeme. We also discussed my future remuneration once the service would gain funding, though at that time it didn’t seem likely at all that this type of service would become highly popular. Nick kept me posted continually during the first development phase.
The TweetMeme Launch blog post from Jan 28, 2008 is unambiguous:
“This project has only possible because of help from a number of very talented people. So let me first thank Marjolein Hoekstra who first twittered about the concept and since then has been a constant sounding board for the project.”
Nick is correct. On just about every new feature launched since the day that TweetMeme started, I posted several tweets in a row, contacted A-list bloggers to see if they were interested, and over-all made sure people knew something very powerful was being built on top of the Twitter API. I provided Nick with very detailed and constructive feedback on how to improve TweetMeme.
In March of this year I helped Nick get Alltop founder Guy Kawasaki’s attention so that he would incorporate the TweetMeme blog feed on his Alltop Twitter category page.
Last April, ReadWriteWeb published Tweetmeme Live: See What’s Big on Twitter Right Now after RWW editors noticed a tweet from me about the new TweetMeme Live feature. The original credit footnote to the story was this:
When Nick Halstead urged me to have that credit footnote changed, I obliged immediately because I was made to believe he was going to get into serious trouble with his investors if they’d find out I was involved and might stake an IP claim. I was totally wiped out for days.
Let me summarize how I look at the situation: Nick and his team have pulled off a remarkable job building TweetMeme into a very solid, thriving company and though for obvious reasons I don’t tweet about TweetMeme much anymore, I still value and respect their work highly. However, in the video interview with Loic it seems Nick is denying my original inspiration and subsequent involvement in the development of TweetMeme completely.
My goal with this post is two-fold: to set the record straight about my exact role in the product and also to encourage Nick Halstead to openly come to terms about this. I propose we settle adequately and appropriately and then move on—as decent professionals would. Appropriate actions would comprise of a proper credit statement on the TweetMeme About page describing my role, and adequate recognition of my initiating role in public company statements. If a check arrives in the mail, I’ll happily cash it.
Do you think I’m being unreasonable here?
“Agglom’s basic function is that you can publish your current browser session to the web, requiring little more than a single click…. The saved session then becomes available in three formats: as a web page that displays the links, as a URL slideshow, and as an RSS feed.”
Every couple of weeks I scan Mozilla’s Firefox Add-on site for new additions. I’m especially attracted to the ones that affect browser tab behavior. Last week, while I was actually looking for a Firefox 3.0 compatible alternative to SessionSaver, a little gem popped up that I hadn’t come across before: Agglomerator. Contrary to many browser add-ons that I only keep enabled on my system for a few hours, I’m finding Agglomerator and accompanying service Agglom.com promising enough to stay.
Agglom’s basic function is that you can publish your current browser session to the web, requiring little more than a single mouse click. Shared links can be multi-media or just plain web pages. I created a simple one from Chris Brogan’s personal-branding posts. An even richer example of what Agglom is capable of doing is this Agglom set I found, with videos, photos, links and other resources about Olympic ‘pool shark’ Michael Phelps.
If you’d like to experience hands-on what Agglom can do for you, just read this paragraph. Start by signing up for an account on the Agglom service. Then, install the Agglomerator add-on and restart your browser. Now a new, modest toolbar button becomes available, labeled “Share session”.
Next, make sure you have a bunch of tabs open that you’d like to save as an organized set. Press the Agglom button to save any or all of the tabs you currently have open, then label this custom tab set with a title of your choosing, assign tags as you see fit and lastly publish the set as a private or public list. The saved session then becomes available in three formats: as a web page that displays the links, as a URL slideshow, and as an RSS feed.
Besides the ease with which you can publish collections of URLs, I am particularly impressed with how slideshows are implemented in Agglom. Any set you create on Agglom automatically has a slideshow attached to it that uses the original URLs. At the moment Agglom slideshows are not progressing automatically. From what I understand the Agglom developer is planning to add this feature, depending on user feedback. Here’s what the Agglom slideshow interface looks like:
Agglom sessions can be easily changed: you can change the sort order of the links by drag and drop, you can add new links and remove old ones, change their title and URL and adjust the privacy settings.
Public Agglom session links can be accessed through their URL by anyone—no Agglom account is required. Agglom users can leave comments on the lists that you share and even submit suggestions for improvements to the owner of any list. Here’s what an Agglom page looks like in edit mode, in this case for an Agglom set I created from David Tebbutt’s series of posts on how to handle the press, Media Skills 101:
Agglom is the prodigy brainchild of 23-yr old Enrico Foschi, an Italian web developer living in Bray, a town close to Dublin, Ireland. Enrico launched the first version of Agglom just over a month ago and has improved the service at an amazing pace since then. Here’s a 3-minute video from Agglom’s early days, in which Enrico explains what the service does:
Today Enrico launched Agglom Beta 3.1 with the blog post Agglom.com adds URL slideshows, RSS and easy link suggestion.
Realizing Agglom was only launched fairly recently, I am already much impressed by its current feature set. In the past few days Agglom developer Enrico displayed a remarkable flexibility in not just listening to and rephrasing the suggestions I made, but even more so by implementing the majority of the improvement ideas we generated together. Yet, there are a few aspects of Agglom that deserve attention:
- Unclutter the web site. Agglom offers lots of functionality. New users might be overwhelmed by the many links, icons and other pieces of information.
- Leave out the advertisement for the Agglomerator add-on when a user has already got that add-on installed.
- Replace the current list of bookmarking service in the sidebar by one generic link to a service like ShareThis.
There are several ways you can integrate the superior Twitter search engine Summize into Firefox or Flock, turning your browser into a very efficient Twitter research tool. In this post I discuss these three:
- adding the Summize search plug-in
- creating a Summize quick search command
- using the SmartSearch add-on to perform in-context queries
Summize Search Plug-in
Add Summize to your Firefox search bar by clicking on the “Install Search Plugin” link on the Summize home page:
The search plugin is available for use immediately after installing. To enter a Summize query, put cursor focus on the search bar with your mouse or press the Ctrl-K keyboard shortcut. Then type your query as usual and press Enter.
Summize Quick Searches
Besides performing searches from the search bar, Firefox also offers the browser address bar to execute search commands. It comes in handy if for some reason you’d rather not change search engines from your search bar. The functionality to search from the browser address bar is generally called Quick Search. In our case you would type in something like “s Obama”, press Enter and then, because of a keyword shortcut command that points to Summize, a query is run automatically to find tweets about Obama. The Quick Search command you can create by following the step-by-step instructions is also useful for in-context searching, which I describe in the section Summize Smart Searches.
The Summize Quick Search command is universal and only needs to be created once. Luckily, Firefox makes this creation process a piece of cake: right-click with your mouse in the Summize search input box on any Summize web page and select “Add a Keyword for this Search…” from the context menu.
Now you may try your newly created Quick Search command by carrying out a query from the address bar: Type “s [keywords]” without the double quotes and press Enter.
Summize Smart Searches
With a few simple steps you can perform a Summize search for any word on any web page displayed in Firefox. The steps to create the Summize Quick Search command that I described in the previous section are required to make this Smart Searching functionality work. First, install the SmartSearch Firefox add-on.
Note that the default, version 3.10, is meant to be used with Firefox 3 beta. Users of older versions of Firefox should install version 3.7, which you can find here: SmartSearch add-on for Firefox 2.
Restart your browser.
Next, open the SmartSearch Settings dialog box and put a check mark in the option Show “Search Web for …” item
Next right-click or select any word(s) that you want to search for on Summize, and select Search for [keyword] on…“, then select @Summize. The following screenshot shows a fun recursive search right from my WordPress editor window, looking for tweets about Summize:
This nifty SmartSearch in-context search functionality works immediately by right-clicking individual words, without the need to select a word with your mouse first. Alternatively select multiple consecutive words, right-click on the selection, and follow the same steps.
My compliments to Ben Goodger and Chris Povlrk for providing the excellent SmartSearch add-on, and of course to the Summize folks (@abdur, @gregpass, @ericcj, @jayvirdy), who in my opinion really created even more than the Google of Twitter. Chapeau bas!
I believe my first post on this WordPress blog attracted more comments already than any of my posts on my previous blog hosted with TypePad. Rather unoriginal, the first post defaulted to the title “Hello World” and it sparked an avalanche of reactions from a handful of people around the globe. I knew they were sent by just a few people because their identical IP addresses were shown in the Comments section in the WordPress Admin panel. So apparently these people run a Google search for “Hello World” blog posts and then submit their compliments in bulk about the well chosen theme and topic of my blog. Sure, I’ll get Akismet in place.
Once I’ve figured out how to successfully import my old posts here, I’ll probably transfer them so that I can terminate my contract with TypePad. I have been wanting to get rid of TypePad for so long but would rather not lose my content. TypePad doesn’t just host CleverClogs, but also AWesome, my first attempts at blogging ever about ActiveWords. I also ran a bunch of other experiments. It will take me a while to get up to speed with WordPress.
The pieces on my previous blog were usually quite lengthy and required lots of research and preparation. Sometimes I’d work on a post for a whole day. I’d like to use this new blog to practice writing shorter articles, so that the barrier to actually start writing becomes less high.
So, please animal with me while I get to know this bear
As of today, users of the web-based instant messaging client Meebo can instantly open a live video conferencing session with each other, neatly integrated into the Meebo chat window.
From its launch in September 2005, Meebo has developed into a full-fledged multi-protocol chat client. In the very beginning it impressed heavy chat users a lot because of its Ajaxy look and feel and of course because it offered web-based access to the four leading IM networks from one interface. After that, the Meebo developers started their mission to adding numerous new features:
- Jabber support, allowing Gtalk users
- password encryption
- universal sign-on
- extensive localization
- public chat rooms
- iPhone app
- file transfer
- Firefox add-on
“Twype allows you to grab tweets from *any* Twitter account (there’s no
authentication) and lets you publish that stream as Skype mood
messages. Twype only works from Skype for Windows PCs.”
A new Skype add-on named Twype was just released by its developer Julian Bond. I’m very excited about it because it offers tremendous opportunities and because it fulfills a desire I’ve felt for years ever since I started using Skype. Let me explain what Twype does with a mix of screenshots and text:
“If you want to inform yourself of the basic principles of attention profiling or need to explain the concept to others then please read on. Feel free to add your clarifications, your
conclusions and your constructive criticism to this deliberately non-geek conversation.”
In recent months quite a few bloggers covered the growing adoption of APML, a proposed standard for attention profiling. Those about to give up reading here already, please don’t. I personally found most of these posts delving in rather deep. If you want to inform yourself of the basic principles of attention profiling or need to explain the concept to others then please read on. With today’s post I’d like to make an attempt at writing a layman’s article answering exactly these three questions:
- What is attention profiling and what are the benefits?
- What tools and services already support or endorse attention profiling?
- Where could you go next?
As usual, this post concludes with a news radar.
I encourage you to participate in this deliberately non-geek conversation about
attention profiling, either by posting a comment or by writing a blog
post of your own. Feel free to add your clarifications, your
conclusions and your concerns.
Ever since I started developing Grazr RSS applications, I’ve been wondering if it were possible to integrate other services intothe Grazr widget. Today I’m presenting you with my most advanced project to date: Podcasting Professionals. This news radar demonstrates that Grazr RSS applications can be enhanced with the functionality of other, quite useful services. For this particular Grazr I
picked ZapTXT, Particls and BlogRovR. In this post I’ll discuss the
value they each add to this particular news radar.
A full-page version of the Podcasting Professionals news radar is hosted on the PODHANDLE servers. To give you an idea here’s the reduced-size version: