In the same way that bar codes don’t have to be boring, quick response codes can also be creative. Thanks to a 30% tolerance in readability, you can have some real fun with clever designs. Besides looking good, this can also make them more successful.

“Designer QR codes are not only a way to make your 2D barcode stand out, but they also add a more human element to the otherwise cold and techie appearance,” says Patrick Donnelly, QR code designer and expert. “This could be the difference between someone scanning your code or not.”

Take a look through the image gallery for 15 brilliant designs created for a range of businesses from big names such as Disney, little names such as local restaurants and even conceptual ideas. Let us know in the comments if a clever design would make you more likely to scan a code.

1. Ayara Thai Cuisine

Designed by Paperlinks, a charming elephant drawing adds a dash of Asia to this LA restaurant’s QR code.

2. True Blood

HBO’s True Blood season 3 was the first TV series to get a designer QR code in an ad, thanks to a collaboration between Warbasse Design, .phd agency and SET Japan.

3. Magic Hat Brewing Company

This clever code from Patrick Donnelly is made up of bottle tops and links to the beer company’s mobile optimized Facebook page.

4. Help Japan Now

Chances are you’ve already seen SET’s “Help Japan” design. As well as extending the code to make an instantly recognizable red cross, the faux parts of the code contain related symbols for an arresting overall effect.

5. Louis Vuitton

Another SET creation, QR codes get playful with a dose of Takeshi Murakami-influenced design for Louis Vuitton’s mobile website


6. Corkbin

Cliffano Subagio spotted these awesome Disney codes in Japan where QR is a well established marketing tool.

8. Discover LA Tourism Bureau

This Paperlinks code is both cool and calm with made-you-look palm trees that add a special design touch.

9. Pac-Man

An experimental design from Patrick Donnelly, we love the witty, retro appeal.

10. Greenfield Lodge

The dots from Greenfield Lodge’s floral logo are replicated throughout the design to great effect.

11. M&Ms

Anther concept design from Patrick Donnelly, we like the idea of arranging real-life objects into a scannable code.

12. The Fillmore Silver Spring

Paperlinks added musical instruments into this concert venue’s design, a neat way to tease consumers into reading the code.

13. Burtonwood & Holmes

Artists Tom Burtonwood and Holly Holmes have fun by extruding the classic code design with a code-within-a-code concept.

14. The Wine Sisterhood

As well as integrating elements from the group’s logo, we like how Paperlinks made the design appear painted with wine.

15. TIME

Patrick Donnelly is such a QR code enthusiast, he spent months on Farmville “growing” a design!

More About: barcodes, design, gallery, List, Lists, MARKETING, QR Codes, trending

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Popular social Q&A app Formspring unveiled a brand new version of its site on Monday afternoon.

Calling the new site “one of the most significant design evolutions in Formspring’s history,” the company is introducing new features and enhanced UI and UX considerations along with the new coat of paint.

Formspring discusses the new design on its blog, highlighting some of the major new features and changes to the layout.

The biggest new feature is the addition of a persistent top navigation bar. As with last year’s redesign, the top navigation bar remains at the top of the page even when a user scrolls through multiple screens of recent responses. This makes navigating to other parts of the site easy.

The layout of the site has also expanded from 760 pixels to 960 pixels. This is a size that will work well on desktops and laptops, as well as tablets like the iPad. Again, like the redesign, the change in width will effect users who have created custom backgrounds.

What do you think of the new design? Let us know.

More About: formspring, web design

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It started with a tweet Saturday morning, sounding an alarm of a security breach in the popular microblogging platform Tumblr. “OMG… The Tumbeasts are spitting out passwords!,” it warned.

That tweet spread like wildfire, notifying the world of a coding error that opened a security hole with the potential of revealing users’ passwords, server IP addresses, API keys and personal information.

Fortunately, Tumblr reacted, fixing the problem and then issuing this official message about 5 to 6 hours after the flaw was discovered:

“A human error caused some sensitive server configuration information to be exposed this morning. Our technicians took immediate measures to protect from any issues that may come as a result.

We’re triple checking everything and bringing in outside auditors to confirm, but we have no reason to believe that anything was compromised. We’re certain that none of your personal information (passwords, etc.) was exposed, and your blog is backed up and safe as always. This was an embarrassing error, but something we were prepared for.

The fact that this occurred at all is still unacceptable, and we’ll be seriously evaluating and adjusting our processes to ensure an error like this can never happen again.

Please let us know if you have absolutely any questions.”

What caused the error? That’s still under intense discussion at The Hacker News and elsewhere in the hacker community, but many think the culprit was a errant piece of PHP code. Obviously, spelling counts.

Let us know in the comments if you think those who discovered the security flaw were more eager to broadcast its existence than notify the Tumbler coders who might have been in a position to quickly fix it.

More About: Breach, flaw, php, security, tumblr

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Nowadays, we are all content creators. Whether it’s work or a school project, the next blog post, or even that next tweet, we all suffer from writer’s block from time to time.

Traditional advice suggests taking a break from your monitor and getting some fresh air. That’s great old school advice, but it isn’t a useful suggestion for anyone tied to their computer. We’ve pulled together some top ideas, tools and services for beating writer’s block in an online environment, so you can break through that barrier without leaving your desk.

Have a read below for our quick tips to help you beat writer’s block online and let us know in the comments about any methods that have worked for you.

1. Get Inspired

Staring at your choice of word processing program is not likely to inspire you. If you can’t physically get outdoors, why not let the outdoors come to you. Take a virtual break — hop over to YouTube and refresh your brain with a seascape video, or stimulate your senses with the sounds of a forest.

Alternatively, music can help with creativity, but don’t just hit play on the usual suspects. Why not try some classical music that can lift your spirits without the distraction of lyrics. Or how about a foreign language radio station far removed from your usual choice of music to offer your brain some different input.

Images can also trigger a creative response. Flickr offers slideshow functionality — just tap in a keyword, hit the “slideshow” option on the top-right of the screen and let your mind wander as you view the images.

Finally, reading some classic literature is a great way to kick your brain into writing mode. You’ll find classics and more available to view for free at sites like Project Gutenberg and Google Books.

2. Improve Your Focus

If you are stuck in an office and can’t tailor your work environment to suit you, you can at least make on-screen changes to try and make you more productive and get rid of the many distractions of Web 2.0.

If you just need to sit down, get over the creative blockage and for goodness sake type, there is software available for both Mac and Windows users that can help. Writing is all about the text — you can worry about frills and formatting later on. Full-screen, no fuss text editors offer no distractions from other programs you may have open. There’s no on-screen clutter to hinder you and it can be a great way of forcing yourself to write.

Paid-for software WriteRoom is the seminal distraction-free writing tool for Mac users, while Windows users can try DarkRoom or WriteMonkey.

3. Use Language Tools

Sometimes writer’s block can strike when it comes to one line of text you can’t move past, or even just the one word you need to complete the perfect paragraph. There are online tools that can help. Rather than the obvious standard online dictionaries and thesauri, you may find alternatives can better help your creative process.

You can take advantage of a rhyming dictionary, an urban dictionary for slang and street speak, an online graphical dictionary or a visual thesaurus.

Lastly, a semantic dictionary might be the answer if you’re not even sure exactly what it is you’re looking for. Princeton University’s WordNet project groups words into sets of synonyms and then shows the semantic relations between those sets. It is arguably more intuitive than traditional methods, and might just be what you need to grab that bon mot out of the ether.

4. Develop Ideas

If idea generation is the problem, then going back over your old, similar work (especially the successful stuff) is a worthwhile exercise.

“Brainstorming” software can also help develop loose ideas into something concrete by giving structure to your thought process. As shown in the screengrab above, is a good example of such a tool done right — it is so simple to use you can concentrate on your ideas rather than how to use the software.

If you like the ability to draw freehand, as well as create flowcharts, then DabbleBoard might be the service for you. It also lets you upload images and documents and share your screen with others. is more suited to creative writers, offering a ton of tools for idea generation, including writing games like the “random line generator,” a text collage and a poem engine.

5. Get Social!

Two brains are better than one. And 10 are better than two. If you are really stuck then don’t be afraid to reach out to your social circle. Whether it’s fact or opinion-based help from Q&A services such as Quora or Aardvark or a quick bit of crowdsourcing on Twitter or Facebook Questions, your online buddies are there to help — just as you’d assist them in return.

If you’re lucky enough to have longer term collaborator(s), you can always employ some software to help the feedback process. Wridea is ideal for this use. You can note down, categorize and search your ideas on the web service and then share them with friends for feedback.

More Productivity Resources from Mashable:

18 Online Productivity Tools for Your Business
HOW TO: Choose a News Reader for Keeping Tabs on Your Industry
HOW TO: Use a Start Page to Stay Organized
HOW TO: Use Social Media to Connect with Other Entrepreneurs

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Pgiam

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