Doc: I received an email from a friend that says, “Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual logged maintenance complaints by QANTAS pilots and the corrective action recorded by mechanics. By the way, Qantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident so their maintenance program must be producing reliable vehicles.”
The note then has several pilots’ comments and the comments by the maintenance people with the action that was taken to correct the situation. It’s really funny. Are these comments typical in the airline industry? - Raymond
Raymond: I checked the Internet for the email item you are referring to and found several hundred mentions of it. For those who haven’t seen it, I selected one reference so you could read what Raymond is talking about. Just click here: Qantas Write-Ups.
As I looked at all the items found in a Google search, I became a bit skeptical. I found references to the email as far back as July 2002. That seemed a bit odd to me, so I wrote to Qantas Airlines and asked if the email was real or fabricated. This is what I received:
Dear Dr. Wimmer,
This is a fabricated e-mail. You may have also seen it circulating with other airlines names inserted.
There ya go Raymond…the comments are funny, but they aren’t real.
Doc: Thanks for answering my question about “Tips & Tricks” for Android phones. I plan to try what you suggested on my phone. I mentioned that if you answered that question, I would send another about QR codes. Here it is . . .
I have apps on my phone that allow me to scan and read barcodes and QR codes. I think the new QR codes are cool and I’m wondering why they aren’t used more often. For example, can QR codes be used on websites? Any other uses? Thanks in advance. - CK
CK: You’re welcome for the answer about Android phones. However, while your new question seems simple, you opened a “can of worms” because I’m going to have to address a few things before I get to your answer.
The commonly recognized barcode (optical image interpreted by some type of scanner and typically referred to as a UPC Code, or Universal Product Code), has been used for about 37 years, if the information on the Internet is true that the first use of a UPC was on a pack of a Wrigley Company chewing gum in June 1974. (That’s a very simplified discussion of barcodes. For a detailed history of barcode development, click here.)
However, regardless of the first date of use, UPC codes are now used virtually everywhere and most people understand that the codes represent a tracking or identification number of the item on which the code is placed. This universal understanding is not true for QR (Quick Response) Codes. From the information I found, my guess is that most people in the United States don’t know much, if anything, about QR Codes. Let’s take a look at why this is the case.
The QR code or 2-D Code (for two-dimensional) is a square matrix type code that was invented in 1994 by a Japanese company called DENSO Corp., a subsidy of Toyota, to track automotive parts. QR Codes are commonly used in Japan and in several European countries, but have not been widely used in the United States. But this will change in the next few years.
The reason why QR Codes haven’t been used much in the U.S. in the past several years is that people (consumers like you and me) haven’t had a way to scan the codes to interpret the information. This is changing rapidly because of the availability of free code-reading apps for cell phones, particularly smartphones. QR Code reading is becoming commonplace for people who have the ability to read the codes, and the number of people who will have the ability to scan the codes will increase dramatically over the next few years. When that happens, the predictions are (and I agree) that QR Codes will become a significant and widely-used communications vehicle.
If you don’t know much about QR Codes, you may want to read a few articles in this search. You’ll find everything you need to know about QR Codes and also that there are many websites where you can generate your own QR Codes.
If you don’t want to read several things in that search, at least read this article because it provides an excellent explanation of the layout of QR Codes.
OK, I assume that everyone reading this has read a few of the articles, or at least the last article I mentioned. You should now have a good understanding of QR Codes and I can skip ahead to some uses for the codes.
While there are thousands of uses for QR Codes, you asked specifically about using them on websites. I just did a quick search on the Internet and found a use on TimeandDate.com for an Android World Clock. If you’re reading this on a computer screen (as opposed to a cell phone) and have a phone that can scan QR Codes, scan the code to see what it says. I’m sure there are many uses of QR Codes on websites, but I’ll let you look for them.
Other uses? There are just too many uses for me to list and you probably already read about many of them in the articles in the search. But here are two things that I did with QR Codes to provide a few uses. Scan the codes if you have a phone that can do it.
Here is a QR Code that will take you to my personal website. I generated it on Kaywa.com, one of the best QR Code generators I have found.
Hint: QR Codes are usually generated as PNG files. If you generate a QR Code and it is a PNG file, don’t convert the file to a JPG because you may lose some information in the compression process. I learned this the hard way when one of the codes I generated produced errors when I scanned it. Aside: I mentioned this to one of my friends who is a District Attorney in a large Midwestern City. He said, in a tone suggesting that I should have already known this, that the legal system in his city will not accept photos, particularly fingerprint photos, that have been converted from a PNG or other file type to a JPG file. He said a study by computer peeps in his city showed that JPG conversions often produce errors and they are not allowed in courts in his city. Well, OK then.
After I produced the QR Code for my website, I thought I would produce one for my business card. I did that and printed out a few experimental cards and it worked great. My business card is a simple QR Code and people with phones that can scan it, simply scan it and save the information. Cool, but I did it just for the heck of it.
However, that gave me an idea of producing a business card QR Code stamp. I went to a local office supply store with a flash drive containing my business card QR Code and asked if they could produce a stamp.
“Oh no, we couldn’t do that because the information is too small. It won’t work.”
“Will you try? I’ll even pay you if the experiment doesn’t work.”
“We have never tried making a stamp like this and I don’t want you to waste your money.”
“That’s OK. I’m just curious to see if it will work.”
“Well, let me call the manager.”
The Manager arrived and the woman helping me explained the situation. He said, “Well, Linda is correct in saying that we have never tried making a QR Code stamp, but if you’re willing to pay for it regardless of whether it works or not, then we’ll try it for you.
Cool. Linda downloaded my PNG file and after about 20 minutes of editing it and fitting on the computer screen, she produced a rubber stamp with my business card QR Code. Guess what? It worked perfectly! The woman called the Manager over again and I showed him that it worked by scanning the image I printed on a piece of paper.
“Hey, that’s great. Linda, why don’t you make a sign that says we can now make QR Code stamps and contact Corporate to let them know that we have a new product.”
“Does that mean I can get my stamp free since you now have a new product to sell?”
“Uh, no. You agreed to pay for it regardless.”
“Thanks very much.”
My commission on this new product from the store? Zero. But I now have a business card stamp and have used many, many times, including stamping my wife’s forearm to see if my phone would read it from human skin. Guess what? It worked perfectly and it only took about two days for the bruise to disappear from my arm where my wife smacked me after I stamped her. (Hey, don’t all dermatologists need a QR Code stamp on their arm? I thought so, but she didn’t agree.)
Another example of QR Code use that you probably didn’t read in any of the articles is my Example 2. You may find this interesting, but I’m not sure.
Our granddaughter is 6 years old and she is already very well versed in the use of cell phones. She knows how to use iPhones and Android phones and has no problem sending texts and emails from just about any cell phone. That gave me an idea for a use for QR Codes.
Like most young kids at Christmas time (or other gift-receiving time) Taylor is always eager to open her presents. She is given a gift. Open. “Thank you.” Next gift. Open. “Thank you.” And so on. I thought I would add a little mystery to the whole process and made about 20 QR Codes that my wife and I taped to packages. Some of the codes said, “Taylor Wimmer” and other codes said, “Not Taylor Wimmer.” Her job was to scan the codes to see which packages belonged to her.
My youngest son, Jeremy (aka Buckwheat) took his phone and showed Taylor what to do.
“Take the phone and press the Scan icon and then scan the code. After you do that, you’ll have to read what the code says to know if the package belongs to you.” He showed her ONE TIME how to get to the scanner and how to scan the code.
“OK, I understand,” Taylor said and she proceeded to scan the packages. “This is for me.” “This one is not for me.” “This is for me.” And so on. She thought it was fun and it significantly slowed the package-opening process. She said she wants to do the scanning “thing” again next year.
Here is the code I made that says, “Taylor Wimmer” . . .
And here she is scanning a package . . .
End of examples.
Does that give you enough information to start? A few articles I read say, “QR Codes will take over the world.” That statement is probably a bit strong, but I do think the codes will become commonplace when more people can scan the codes and more companies figure out how to use them effectively.
One final thing . . .
While QR Codes offer the potential for a variety of useful and effective communications, there are, as you already know or can guess, several idiots producing malicious QR Codes that take people to X-rated websites or even install a virus, malware, or other nasty item on a person’s cell phone. Like most people, I don’t understand the thrill the idiots get from doing stupid stuff like this.
With that in mind, if you can scan QR Codes, use common sense and scan only codes from legitimate companies or from people you know. That’s not a guarantee that the code will be legitimate, but it should increase your odds of staying away from the nasty stuff. In addition, if you scan a QR Code and the information indicates that there might be a problem (e.g. taking you to a strange-sounding website), then don’t go to the website. Just hit the button on your phone to get out of the scan app.
For more information about malicious QR Codes and what you can do about them, click here.
Would you explain the difference between qualitative and quantitative research? Thanks. - Art in Louisiana
Art: Historically, most discussions of the two methods say that qualitative research uses small samples and the results cannot be generalized to the population from which the sample was selected; quantitative research has been defined as research using large samples where the results can be generalized to the population.
However, from my experience in research over the years, I have taken a new stand and changed the commonly accepted definitions of qualitative and quantitative. And I have noticed that most researchers accept these definitions. You can read more about this in Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 7th Edition…the textbook I wrote with Dr. Joe Dominick, Professor at the University of Georgia.
The more logical and relevant definitions of the two types of research are:
Qualitative research uses a flexible questioning approach. Although a basic set of questions is designed to start the project, the researcher can change questions or ask follow-up questions at any time.
Quantitative research uses a static or standardized set of questions. All respondents are asked the same questions. Although follow-up questions (and skips) can be designed into a questionnaire, they must be included in the questionnaire or measurement instrument before the research project begins.
These definitions say nothing about sample size because if a large enough sample is used in qualitative research, the results can be generalized to the population. The problem is that most qualitative research (focus groups are the best example) don’t include enough respondents.
In summary, the difference between the two approaches relates to the type of questioning used in the research: flexible or static. Assuming equal sample sizes in both methods, a researcher can generalize the results from either approach.
Doctor: How does the quarter hour game work in Arbitron, and what's the best way to rack up quarter hours on a clock? I was told by my PD to sweep 55-05, 10-20, 25-35 and 40-50, but he didn't explain WHY. - Anonymous
Anon: First, let’s see how Arbitron defines a quarter hour person or persons:
Average Quarter-Hour (AQH): The number of users tuning for at least five minutes in an average 15-minute period of time (quarter-hour) during the reported time period. Tuning events of less than five minutes are not counted.
Got it? To be counted as a “quarter hour,” a person must listen for at least 5 minutes during a given quarter hour. So…the hour is broken up into 4 quarters, and if you sweep (play music or have other non-commercial content) from one quarter hour to the next, you’ll get credit for two quarter hours. That’s the theory.
However, the theory relies on the assumption that radio listeners actually record their exact listening times, and quite frankly, this is a huge assumption. Diary keepers have enough trouble remembering the radio stations they listen to, and expecting them to record exact listening times doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. For example, let’s say that a diary keeper listens from 9:45 to 10:05. Do you think the listener will record that, or will he/she record 9:45-10:00? I don’t know and no one else does either.
Is there anything wrong with sweeping quarter hours? No, but don’t do it as a guarantee that you’ll get two quarter hours instead of only one. You may or you may not. Diary keepers don’t pay attention to time the same way radio programmers pay attention to time.
In today’s (April 14) news, there is a report that astronomers believe they have found (to date) the most distant object in the universe. The object is a quasar estimated to be 26 billion light-years away from earth. How far is that? - Vicki
Vicki: At light-year is about 5.8 trillion miles. That means this new quasar is about 153 sextillion miles away (5.8 trillion x 26 billion). That number looks like this: 153,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
Another way to look at it is this: If you left earth today at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), and the quasar just stayed where it is, it would take you 26 billion years to get there.
I’m just learning about designing questionnaires. Can you give me any hints about what you do when you design a questionnaire for a client? Thanks. - Cindy
Cindy: Completely answering your question would require at least a chapter in a book, but I’ll see what I can do. I’ll briefly explain the process I follow, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only approach. You may find another approach more successful.
The usual steps are as follows:
Collect as much information as possible from the client. What are the goals of the research? How will the client use the information? What type of sample does the client want to include in the research? I always ask clients to write down a "laundry list" of questions he/she would like to have answered and ask the person to put the questions in order of importance.
Study the list of items to see if the questions can be answered, if questions can be combined, and determine an approach (ratings scale, open-ended question, etc.) for each question.
Design the first draft that includes all of the items on the laundry list as well as questions I believe the client should ask (that relate to the goals of the research). In most cases, the questionnaire is too long (over 17 minutes). However, I review the questionnaire several times to determine if the questions are clear and unambiguous, presented in a logical order, and will produce information the client can use to help make decisions. I always read the questionnaire aloud because it’s easier to follow skip patterns and find errors. I also "flag" a question that looks like it is included just because "it would be interesting" and discuss it with the client. These questions are usually eliminated. (My rule to clients is: Don’t ask a question unless you plan to do something with the data.)
During the first draft phase, I sometimes call a colleague and say, "I’d like to read a question from a questionnaire. Please tell me if it is clear and if you can answer it."
Send the draft to the client and discuss every question. I make sure the screener questions are correct (the questions to determine who will be interviewed), and go over the purpose of each question to make sure that the correct information will be collected.
Conduct a pilot test with a few randomly selected respondents to make sure nothing was overlooked. We make think a question is clear, but the respondents may think otherwise.
Make final changes and go into the field.
Experience is the best teacher to learn questionnaire design. Over time, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work. However, the moment you think you understand everything about design, something pops up that you have never seen. Questionnaire design is a constant learning process. I have designed thousands of questionnaires in my career and learn something new in every one.
Take your time when you design a questionnaire. Don’t decide on Monday to get a study in the field on Tuesday. That usually won’t work unless the questionnaire includes only a few questions.
Questionnaire Design - Most Common Mistake
What is the most common mistake made by people who are just learning to write research questionnaires - Anonymous
Anon: Good question. My guess would be writing double-barreled questions—one that asks two or more questions at the same time. For example, how would a person answer this agree/disagree question? "The morning show team on Fox 93 is funny and entertaining." The team could be funny and entertaining, only funny, or only entertaining. If a person agrees to the question, what is he/she agreeing to?
The question should be split into two separate questions. Most people new to questionnaire design fail to see that they are asking double-barreled questions.
Questions about Anything and Everything
Doc: I recently saw the 2001 movie "Artificial Intelligence: AI" where a young boy can ask six questions to a machine called "Dr. Know." This gave me an idea for a paper I would like to write for one of my college classes, but I'll discuss 10 questions I would ask if I were given the same opportunity as the little boy. Any suggestions on how I should approach the questions? - JD
JD: I haven't seen the movie, but it's an interesting idea. I thought about this for a while and I think the best use of your 10 questions would be to ask multiple questions within one question. This approach would give you much more information than simply asking 10 questions. For example,
1. An alternative to asking something like, "How was President John Kennedy killed?" might be: In the history of humankind, in exact detail supported by any and all audio and visual documentation, explain the deaths of every social, political, or religious leader, regardless of their time in history, and regardless of their specific title such as president, king, ruler, Pope, or commander. (You would get information about how every leader died, not just Kennedy.)
2. An alternative to asking something like, "Is there life on other planets?" might be: With exact details of the beginning of our known universe and any other universe that may exist, explain in exact detail supported by any and all audio and visual documentation, which planets or other celestial objects other than the Earth now have, or have had at some time in the past, some form of life? (In addition to finding out if life exists elsewhere, you would also learn how our know universe, or any other universe, was created.)
3. An alternative to asking something like, "Is there a God?" might be: In exact detail supported by any and all audio and visual documentation, explain which of all the religions in the world are based on fact. (You would know everything about every religion that ever existed.)
4. An alternative to asking something like, "How were the pyramids built?" might be: In exact detail supported by any and all audio and visual documentation, explain how every man-made and non-man-made structure evolved or was constructed, regardless of whether the structure currently exists or existed as any point in time. (In addition to the pyramids, you would learn how everything evolved, such as the Grand Canyon, or was constructed by anyone or anything — everything.)
5. An alternative to asking something like, "How can cancer be cured?" might be: In exact detail supported by any and all audio and visual documentation, what procedures and/or medicines or medications are required to eliminate any and all types of human or non-human physical or psychological sickness, disease, malady, ailment, or disorder? (You would find out how to cure anything in humans as well as any other living organism.)
A few other things. First, I don't know if you want to, but you can use the five examples I wrote as long as your credit the source (me). Second, I'm sure you can expand all of the questions I wrote, so use your imagination. Third, good luck with your paper.
Questions - Miscellaneous
You know that part of job interviews, presentation, meetings when someone says, “Any Questions?” Usually no one has any. I have tons of questions, but never had the guts to ask them. I figured, “Hey, the Doc might have the answer.” So here ya go.
1. Goofy and Pluto are both dogs. Why does Goofy talk, live in his own house, wear clothes, and even have his own movies, when and Pluto can’t talk, lives in Mickey’s back yard, and is tied to a tree?
2. What is the matter with Tony Nelson and Darrin Stevens. C’mon they are both hooked up with hot chicks who can blink/nose twitch any thing they want and these geeks want them to act like regular mortals? I’d have them blink and twitch all day long. Darrin wants to stay in advertising? Could he even sell anything without the help of Samantha and the major wants to stay an astronaut? Could she just blink his but into space? I’m not even going to mention the fact they had the really hot alter egos with the black wigs. What makes it worse is the fact that it took Major Nelson 3 seasons to finally hook up with Genie. What’s the matter with him? If became a nag, you could just shove her butt back in the bottle.
3. Were Maryann and Ginger an item? Think about it. They lived together, never got with any of the guys (slim pickings, but you’ve been stuck on a desert island for 30 years, you figure eventually one of them would eventually score) and all those guys that accidentally wind up on the island (the surfer, the cosmonauts, etc.) would at least take the movie star with them (although I was partial to Maryann)?
4. If we drove a Chevy to the levy, would it even matter if the levy were dry?
5. Why didn’t George Bailey kick the crap out of Mr. Potter (and Uncle Billy, he deserved it too)?
6. Are Frank Boyle (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Where the Buffalo Roam,” “Young Frankenstein”) and Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons” starting to look alike?
7. Does Don Zimmer (Yankees bench Coach) and the unmasked Darth Vader look alike?
8. Should Pure Prairie League’s “Afternoon Delight” be used as a form corporal punishment?
There’s a few questions, hopefully you can help me out! - Anonymous
Anon: Remember the Styx song, Too Much Time on My Hands? OK. Never mind. Here are my answers...
Goofy has all that stuff because he is a pure bread. Pluto is not.
Have you ever heard women say something like, “There are no good men out there.”? Well, this “club” of “losers” was started by Tony Nelson, Darrin Stevens, and Major Nelson. The three were the archetypes (models) for this group of men and you should respect them for being morons.
Yes, Maryann and Ginger (from Gilligan’s Island) were an item. What you don’t know is that Ginger was a man.
It would matter if you’re thirsty. However, if you have a Chevy and drive to a levy that’s dry, then you either have nothing to do, or you like to hear engine tappet noises and live in an area that is affected by a drought.
George Bailey didn’t “kick the crap out of Mr. Potter” because he was a pacifist and against any form of violence. In addition, he had prosthetic arms.
No, they don’t look alike. Remember that cartoons are not real.
Don Zimmer and the unmasked Darth Vader look alike because they are the same person.
No, it’s best to use Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot.
Questions - Miscellaneous - Comment 1
I love the questions he/she asked. However, there are some errors. It was Peter Boyle who played Frank Barone, not Frank Boyle, and The Starland Vocal Band, not Pure Prairie League, sang “Afternoon Delight” (Pure Prairie League sang “Aimee”). Now continue with the questions.- Anonymous
Anon: Hey, thanks for the help with the answers. I was so concerned about getting the information correct about Gilligan’s Island that I forgot to check the information for the other questions.
Questions - Miscellaneous - Comment 2
Thanks for answering my previous questions (“A Few Questions”). Here are a few more:
1. How stoned were Sid and Marty Krofft when they came up with characters like “H R Puff N Stuff,” “Sigmund the Sea Monster,” and “The Bugaloos.”
2. If they are going to make a movie out of “Dukes of Hazzard,” why can’t they make one out of “The Land of the Lost,” or even better “Different Strokes” starring Snoop Dog as Arnold?
Thanks Doc. – Al
Al: You’re welcome for the answers.
Your current questions remind me of some of the questions my sons asked me when they were very small. They didn’t want to hear me say, “I don’t know,” so when they asked something akin to your questions, I would simply say, “Because spiders don’t have teeth.” And that’s the only way I can answer your questions.
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