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Topic: Scanning book bar code in using iPhone

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Subject: Scanning book bar code in using iPhone
Date Posted: 9/23/2010 2:46 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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Maybe someone else will find this useful.... I shop a lot of FOL sales and thrift stores looking for WL books to post and use in swaps.  But it's a pain to enter the ISBN on in the PBS search, especially on the iPhone.  But I found today that the Red Laser app has a "custom search" feature where it will build your own custom app to read the bar code and search in whatever web search you want to use. I've set one up to work with PBS so I can scan the bar code and it searches PBS and takes you to the book detail page. So from there, I can see how many wishers, add to my RL or WL, see if it's already on my TBR...whatever.  I tried it with a small sample of three books and it took me about one third less time to use this than it did to enter them individually on the iPhone.  I can't wait to try it at the FOL this weekend!

Date Posted: 9/23/2010 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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What a great idea! 

Date Posted: 9/23/2010 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2,016
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Have fun!

However, I've noticed that some sales ban scanning devices.

Date Posted: 9/23/2010 2:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2008
Posts: 3,291
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Thanks Christa!  That would be a useful app to have.  I will need to look into it.

Date Posted: 9/23/2010 5:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,476
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I have this app on my Mac.  And I have found that I need to have pretty good light for it to scan.  It does not work for me in a dark office or dark bookstore.  Now, Apple may have improved the cameras since my machine.  But if you have problems, it may be the light levels.

 

Date Posted: 9/23/2010 5:37 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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Emily, thanks for the heads up.  I hadn't thought of that and it can get very shadowy in the little building where the FOL sale is.  I just lowered the shades and turned the lights off in my office and tried to read a bar code using my iPhone in the dimmest corner and it worked.  So hopefully it will work at the sale.  I've been just entering the ISBN's manually at the sale and the biggest problem is that the 3G coverage in the building is very weak, so it takes a while to load.

Date Posted: 9/23/2010 6:34 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,800
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I have the red laser app but it's never worked for me.  Just won't read the item I want read. 

How hard is it to set up for PBS?   HA  Nevermind - I'm just not techy enough to try.  Sounds good though.

Date Posted: 9/23/2010 9:11 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2006
Posts: 15,930
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Wow!  I have that app - now I'm going to have to play with it and get it to work.  What a great tip!

Date Posted: 9/23/2010 10:40 PM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2005
Posts: 3,352
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I downloaded the app for the Droid that was mentioned in the last newsletter.  Pretty awesome, just need to figure out how to turn off the loud "beep" when the barcode is scanned.

Date Posted: 9/23/2010 11:56 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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I went to check out what he had in the newsletter and since he asked to be notified if anyone else was making PBS apps, I sent him the instructions on how to do it using Red Laser.  Here's what I sent:

Go to the App Store and get the Red Laser app (it's free!)

On your iPhone, in Safari, go to your main account page. Enter an INVALID ISBN in the search bar.  A valid number will return the wrong link, so just make up a number so that you get the page that says "We were not able to locate any books...".  Copy the URL for that page from your address bar.

On your iPhone, in Safari, go to www.redlaser.com/apps and follow the instructions.  Paste the url that you copied from PBS into the space for URL.  In the space for param, enter the letter k. You can also enter a url for an optional Icon image if you want.

Click Build and Viola!  The app magically appears on your iPhone.

The only bad thing I've found so far is that once you scan one bar code, you have to exit the app and relaunch it to scan another one. It adds a few seconds in between and slows you down.  I've sent in feedback to the developers to see if there is a way to fix that.

Date Posted: 9/24/2010 4:08 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2008
Posts: 91
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Ooh, I wonder if there is something like this available for Blackberrys?

Date Posted: 9/24/2010 10:35 AM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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Just figured out you can do the same thing with PBS Mobile and it is faster since it is bringing in less information. If all you want to do is check to see if the books WL or not, do this:

Go to the App Store and get the Red Laser app (it's free!)

On your iPhone, in Safari, go to the PBS Mobile page. Set the drop down box to Wish List.  Enter a valid ISBN for a WL book in the search bar.  Copy the URL for that page from your address bar.

On your iPhone, in Safari, go to www.redlaser.com/apps and follow the instructions.  Paste the url that you copied from PBS into the space for URL.  In the space for param, enter the letter i. You can also enter a url for an optional Icon image if you want.

Click Build and Viola!  The app magically appears on your iPhone.

I checked 3 books in under a minute on 3G with this version.



Last Edited on: 9/24/10 10:36 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/24/2010 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2007
Posts: 2,542
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Thanks so much!!
Date Posted: 11/4/2010 9:09 PM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2010
Posts: 17
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I just published an app that will allow you to scan/post directly to your bookshelf.

http://www.mobilebookswap.com/

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mobile-book-swap/id399347764