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# Barcodes: The Number of the Beast

#### michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the 867-5309 dept.

287

writes "The concept of UPC barcodes on packages at the grocery store is a little pedestrian these days. Much creativity has gone into the use of barcodes for many more applications than originally conceived (don't worry -- no Cuecat diatribe here!). For example, Scott Blake uses barcodes to create large, mosaic works of art. Andy Deck has reinvented classic literature with Bardcode which will stream the entire works of Shakespeare to you as barcodes. If you do nothing else, check out Art Lebedev, a group of Russian artists that manipulates photos to reveal hidden bar codes (The nod to Abbey Road in New Beatles By Robert Dyomkin is especially appealing to an ex-scouser like me). "

Boomzilla continues: Barcodes were first developed in the railroad business to keep track of which cars went with which engine. The barcodes were imprinted on the side of the railway cars. The barcodes on each car could then be read together to compile information on that particular grouping; what station they came from, where they were headed, etc. thus automating the process of marshalling. When the business world realized how well this system worked, these railway barcodes evolved into the UPC system with which we are all familiar. To really be able to take in the wonder that are bar codes, check out the excellent FAQ created by Russ Adams and an article from the BBC.

Coming full circle, the clever folks at Bekonscot Model Railway in the UK have utilized barcodes at every turn of their expansive system. For example, an MP3 player is driven off barcodes attached to trains. The trains are announced before they arrive and when they are leaving, stating their destination, route and at what stations they will call.

Want a barcode of your name?

cancel ×

### No Comment Title Entered

#### Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

### YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Offtopic)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5837695)

Did you get the foistest of posts?

NO!
• You
• fail
• IT!!

### I==R0X0R! YUO == TEH FAIL! (-1, Offtopic)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5837800)

Firstus Postus, Beeeeeeooootchii!

Bow down and worship my tardy entry!

pleeeeease?!!!

### Re:UPC really universal (3, Interesting)

#### stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837886)

I can't all your questions but I can tell you unequivicolly that many UPCs in the U.S. are not unique. I worked for a while as a pricing analyst for Safeway food and drug. Dealing with duplicate UPCs was a problem.

As I understand it-- there is a newer standard with longer barcodes and europe has moved to it but the u.s. still uses the older UPCs.

### Re:UPC really universal (2, Interesting)

#### ManInBlac (40475) | more than 10 years ago | (#5838046)

European barcodes are indeed different from US ones. For example, US records will have a 12-digit UPC number, whereas European records will frequently have a a 13-digit EAN code. You can actually get several different length codes within both UPC (American) and EAN (European) systems. See e-centre [e-centre.org.uk] for more info on EAN codes. Of course, this does mean that only American products contain the number of the beast. Make of that what you will.

### TTP! (-1, Troll)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5837788)

twenty-third post

### Brothers Quay (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5837789)

Rehearsal for extinct anatomies is a short animated film by the Brothers Quay that uses barcodes for backgrounds and sets. And as usual for their work, it's bizarre and surreal.

### Mark of the Beast? (3, Funny)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5837867)

THE "MARK OF THE BEA$T" ALL Christians are PROHIBITED by Revelation 14:9-11 from cooperating with the "MARK-OF-THE-BEA$T" bar-code, OCR-number, and magnetic-strip scanning systems, (as found in local libraries, supermarkets, retail establishments, etc.), which also THREATEN to SUBVERT Individual Privacy and Freedom.

The scanners can serve THE SAME CRIMINAL PURPOSE as the TV cameras in the book "1984"!

The UPC bar-codes are probably the most blatant form of the "MARK OF THE BEA$T" so far, with the "NUMBER OF THE BEA$T", 666, ALREADY CODED INTO THEM. Each of the so-called "guard patterns", pairs of thin lines spaced close together at the beginning, middle, and end of each full-length UPC bar-code, is IDENTICAL to one of the two codes for a 6.

### Good ol' Art (1)

#### lebedev (620945) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837901)

Artemy Lebedev has almost the same name as me!

### RFID (4, Informative)

#### Ayanami Rei (621112) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837905)

Even cooler than barcodes is RFID. You don't even have to aim to get it to scan correctly. The only problem is the printers that you let you arbitrarily mark the tags are expensive; about $1000, whereas barcodes can be printed on anything with black ink. BUT!!... optical scanners are expenive ($250 and up). Yet you can get a RFID USB reader [hvwtech.com] for about $60. It comes with a few premade tags. You can buy pre-signed RFID tags for less than$1.00 each, and a sheet of them can usually be run through a printer; then you could have barcodes AND RFID.

We're considering using such a system to do inventory control. Fun!

### Re:RFID (2, Interesting)

#### 42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837935)

We're considering using such a system to do inventory control. Fun!
...until someone drives up with a jamming transmitter. Panic!

### CT drivers license (2, Interesting)

#### BigBir3d (454486) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837906)

My new CT driver's license has a bar code like stripe on the back instead of the sensitive magnetic one that other states use(d). Instead of solid vertical lines, the lines are broken into what looks like random segments. Reminds me of the "snow" on a TV with antenna that isn't working properly.

### Re:CT drivers license (2, Informative)

#### ocelotbob (173602) | more than 10 years ago | (#5838006)

Many "bar" codes are moving to that direction, as providing a second dimension allows users to encode much more information into a smaller area. The new strips are very widely used in the postal industry; UPS, et al can use them to make them more accurate, as they can insert redundant info into the code.

#### MrP- (45616) | more than 10 years ago | (#5838016)

We have those in RI now also.

I wonder if they contain your picture.. like if a cop wants to check if the ID is real, he can scan the barcode and compare the image on his scanner with the one (well 2 images) on the front.

### Obligatory crossover (2, Interesting)

#### 42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837913)

What about Star wars in ASCII [slashdot.org] in barcode [slashdot.org] ?

### Messing with their heads (2, Funny)

#### FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837917)

"If you do nothing else, check out Art Lebedev, a group of Russian artists that manipulates photos to reveal hidden bar codes."

If you do nothing else, be sure to raise the hair on the heads of these unsuspecting Russian artists as they see the traffic on their server spike beyond reason or expectation...
-------------

### The artsy stuff is ok .... (2, Interesting)

#### Compulawyer (318018) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837920)

but they seem to limit themselves to 1D barcodes. What about 2D codes like PDF417? 2D codes would seem to open up countless more possibilities for artistic use ....

And Now For Something Completely Different: The definitive book on barcoding is "The Bar Code Book" by Roger C. Palmer (4th ed., (c) 2001 Helmers Publ., Inc., ISBN 0-911261-13-3). How do I know so much about barcodes? Trust me - you don't want to know.

### Barcodes have an incompatibility problem... (4, Funny)

#### Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837929)

...with the recruitment policy of our local hardware superstore.

B&Q is a large DIY chain in the UK. They might be in the US, I don't know. They have a policy of only employing people over 95 years of age.

So you get to the checkout with your self install kitchen. A little old 97 year old lady has now got to try and :

a) locate the barcode on each item of your self-install kitchen, containing many items that are several orders of magnitude BIGGER THAN SHE IS.

b) having located the barcode, get her scanner to it.

### Barcode Hacking (4, Interesting)

#### stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837937)

O.k. - I never thought I'd find a forum where this story might even have the slightest relevance but here we are.

For a few years I worked for Safeway Food and Drug as a File Maintenance Clerk. I printed pricing labels and hung them on the shelves. I made price signs, applied the batches to change prices, etc.

Safeway has a system in place on the registers where certain activities require a manager with an override card. Checks of a certain amount, large voids, all kinds of stuff.

Since I worked on the computers all the time I was the one who changed the message on the bottom of receipt tapes- with the manager name- when we got a new manager. One day I'm moving around in the file that contained that information and I find all these long numbers in one location. They were all the managers override numbers.

Here's where the barcode part comes in. I wanted my own over ride card. I went into the software I used to print price labels and took a single record and changed the UPC of a product on the label to an override number. When I printed the label- the barcode in the corner for ordering now read the override number.

I cut the barcode part out, peeled the back and stuck it to a card I carried in my wallet. Now any time I needed an override I could just scan that card over the register scanner.

On a side note- I called company security and told them that all the manager codes were in plain text where anyone could see them in the machine. They told me it was o.k. because noone would ever look there. Kind of funny. It is probably still that way.

### OT: "Abbey Road" (2, Informative)

#### MeerCat (5914) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837938)

It is, of course, Abbey Road [abbeyroad.com] not Abby Road and they are alive and well and still playing games with the famous photo (and have a webcam [abbeyroad.com] pointed at the zebra crossing so you too can see loads of tourists getting nearly run over while trying to re-create that photo). Plenty of geek technology there too, for anyone who's into serious playing around with analog and digital sound recording and manipulation.

Disclaimer: I do have links with people there, and yes it is a nice place to hang out (it's still the best place to record the soundtrack for big movies such as Star Wars, LoTR, etc).

#### nilram (32622) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837945)

Let me guess. When decoded that barcode says "Paul is dead." are something similar. After all He IS barefoot in the picture. :)

### bizare != art (2, Insightful)

#### SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837960)

Andy Deck has reinvented classic literature with Bardcode which will stream the entire works of Shakespeare to you as barcodes.

You know, I'm completely fed up with shit getting dressed up as art. Paint thrown at a canvas- it's just paint, thrown at a canvas. A bathroom sink, dragged out of a dump, is just a effin' sink, dragged out of a dump. I've seen both gussied up as "art", and it's not- it's a no-good, washed out artist, who couldn't think up something creative, got desperate to put the meal on the table...so they went "random", and dressed it up as creative; someone was stupid enough to fall for it(or they're hero-worshipping), and everyone else outright pretends, or convinces themselves to see something in it, all because they don't want to feel stupid. Random is not creative. Random is not unique, in the sense of unique = valuable; it's just unique.

Streaming the entire works of Shakespear as barcodes is just streaming the text of a book as a barcode. It has no creativity; it adds nothing to the original work; it serves no purpose; it cannot be appreciated or celebrated, and there would be no difference between using Shakespear or the latest copy of TPenthouse, as far as any observer could tell.

### Applications? (0)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5837969)

"Much creativity has gone into the use of barcodes for many more applications than originally conceived"

That's all well and good, but these sound more like art than applications...

### Hmmm... barcoded Shakespeare... hmmmm... (1)

#### ProteusQ (665382) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837976)

This proves once again that there are too many people in this world with too much time on their hands.

(Sorry this post isn't longer, but I have to alphabetize my Harold Lloyd videos, hang a Finnish flag in my living room, and finish those bloody half-angle formulas before tomorrow.)

### But I thought (0, Offtopic)

#### RatBastard (949) | more than 10 years ago | (#5837983)

the nuber of The Beast was 555-1212!

### The stockcode of the beast (2, Funny)

#### ManoMarks (574691) | more than 10 years ago | (#5838013)

According to most slashdot posters: MSFT

### I want to smoke dope. (-1, Offtopic)

#### Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5838039)

Several large puffs from a bong.
Summer is coming, people. I for one am ready.

### It's clearly a slow news day (1)

#### Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 10 years ago | (#5838040)

Wow, the subject says it all. The submitter gets off on barcodes a little too much I think...

### What is this? (0, Offtopic)

#### CausticWindow (632215) | more than 10 years ago | (#5838045)

Memepool? [memepool.com]

### It's in the bones ... the bones never lie (2, Interesting)

#### adzoox (615327) | more than 10 years ago | (#5838047)

I wonder if the randomness of nature does have words to speak? Take this pic for example [artlebedev.com] from the article. I wonder if those patterns from the shade of tress on the snow if converted to barcodes would vaguely spell something out?

My title to the post makes me think of shamen. Shamen throw bones to tell fortunes and future events. In the Bible they cast urem and thumen to determine selection of elders and clerics. I wonder if either of those are TRUELY read like barcodes or whether Shamen and Biblical figures made things up to suit the task at hand or the situation.

I had turned my name into a barcode a long time ago after watching THX 1138. They all had barcodes on them that told their names. I have my barcode printed onto a laminated card in my wallet. If I can think of it, I scan it in different stores. If read by a Walmart Barcode scanner I am a bouncy ball from the toy department 99cents.

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