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A square code which contains a link to this posting (via

I hereby state that from henceforth on, the new-fangled ideogram that is setting itself up to replace the traditional bar code shall be called a squarecode.

Spell it with a capital or not. Put a space in it or not. Square Code. SquareCode. square code. Just call it “square code”.

I guess saying ‘Squarecode’ might cause some to change the pronunciation to Squ-AR-Eck-ode, or who knows what as language evolves. Let’s start it off as the same pronunciation as the two words separately: Square, Code.

The Android app from BA uses a different style of squarecode, technically called an Aztek code. This is the only electronic boarding card accepted by British Airways.

Up to now, the thing has been known as a “2D barcode” or a a “QR code”. Well, people just won’t call it that even if that is what its inventors dubbed it. People see the squares in it, and the overall shape is square, so Square Code it is. Job done.

Credit for the term ‘square code’ is shared with the British Airways check-in clerk in Copenhagen for the BA0821 on Valentine’s night yesterday. I was returning home from a business trip to Aalborg. I had downloaded my boarding pass as an email which I pulled up on my Orange San Francisco phone. One chap at the desk scanned in the ‘noisy barcode‘* shown, but then his partner said that it wasn’t valid. He protested, saying that the system recognised it, even if it wasn’t printed on a piece of paper. She said that only that the ‘square code‘** on the phone is acceptable, meaning that only the BA app which shows the square code is legitimate for electronic (non-paper) boarding cards. She printed me a piece of paper with the ‘noisy barcode’ on it. He tore it before it printed. She tried again. Printer out of paper. She refilled it. It jammed. He unjammed it. She printed it again. Go figure.

My (printed) boarding card with a 'noisy barcode'

*I call it ‘noisy barcode’ but that isn’t a good common name for it. It starts with bars, ends with bars, but has bunches of broken lines between them. Maybe ‘sneeze bars‘ is more apt? Tip of the hat to commenter ‘bret treasure’ for pointing out that its technical name is PDF417, a kind of ‘stacked barcode’.

**The technical name for the squarecode used by the BA app is Aztek code.

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