This morning I am finding the miracles of technology not so miraculous - The RSS feed here is spitting out some kind of garbled nonsense and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get it fixed. I will press on and will get it fixed but just had to step away before I was moved to violence. My apologies to all, for my obvious lack of technical savvy.
Speaking of miracles of technology, I have finally been drug kicking and screaming into the world of modern communication via not only a smartphone but ~gasp~ a tablet! No, no pricey Ipad for me, I chose an Acer Iconia Android version. I do well with Android and I needed a tablet that would run flash, had a USB port for transferring photos from my camera etc. The Ipad just didn't have the features that I needed for my plan to be a better, more timely outdoor communicator - that's code for post photos and blogs from the road , public land picnic areas, duck blinds, bowfishing boats, trade shows and convenience store parking lots .
So I have these nifty gadgets - now what?
First things first, I started hunting for useful FREE outdoor apps - go ahead do a search; your jaw will drop and possibilities seem endless. However not every app is worth downloading or taking up space on your smartphone or tablet. Trust me, I think there's been at least 100 come and go from my "devices" . There are some great pay for apps out there for your time in the outdoors, and I will share those in a future post, but today it's just about free ones.
Here is list of the five I find most helpful and use on a nearly daily basis.
Google Sky Map
With Google Sky Map I am able to identify stars and planets by pointing my device towards
them in the night sky. Sky Map automatically adjusts to identify on the device's
screen the objects it is facing. z I can easily and happily zoom in and out, and switch various layers
such as constellations, planets, grids, and deep sky objects, on and off, choosing to
make these elements visible or not. Because I grew up in the pre digital age my mother taught me how to navigate by the night sky, I find this extremely useful for helping to orient myself during the dark wee hours of the morning , taking advantage of the ability to determine the locations of planets
and stars relative to my location. If I simply put the name of a planet or star in the search box, I am quickly directed by Google Sky Map towards the object. This is a big help when teaching youngsters about the constellations and where to find them. Just for fun I can
explore the cosmos manually and move through the sky by touching the screen instead of
having it adjust automatically.
US Army Survival Guide
Yep, the whole shebang, right there on my phone or tablet. Easy to read typeface, good black and white illustrations, and of course all of that good basic survival information and how to. How could any serious outdoor person not have this on their device. It is able be installed on a sd card(2.2+), is usable offline, and is based on the U.S. Army Survival Manual FM
3-05.70. Great to have on your e reader device as well!
Google My Tracks
So easy to use! Just step outside, wait for the
GPS satellite fix, then select "record track" from the straightforward and easy to use menu
system. From that point, My Tracks records your precise route using GPS,
including time, distance, and elevation data. Regardless of your activity; hiking, running, cycling, the data is logged. If you choose to use this as part of fitness program, you can note a workout type workout type when you save the log.
When done , simply stop recording, and it' easy to review your route map, elevation, profile, and stats. Switch between views just by tapping on-screen icons. You
may also upload your workout to Google Maps directly from the phone
with the press of one menu button - a great convenience compared to
upload routines that require a USB link to a personal computer and/or
The biggest plus for me - I can cover my communication, emergency, and
workout logging needs with one device, rather than two or three.
A very simple and unpretentious app for those of us who still like to rely on our basic compass skills. It is simply a compass and navigation app. The app displays a large easy to see and use directional compass, the app also shows the
current location using the GPS receiver. Works great for keeping your bearings while you meander around the forest and fields, and can be used to make notes
about specific points along the journey as well. The app also comes with a large variety of customization features (skins, location styles etc.) that you
can use to make this app truly your own.
While magnetic compasses are often
thrown off by non-polar magnetic fields, that problem has been addressed in this with the ability to use the true north option, adjusting
the noise compensation, or by adjusting the sensor rate. One last advantage - Compass has solved a good many arguments in the field when my companions were reluctant to trust my "internal compass" .
Time to Hunt and Time to Fish Lite Versions
Both offer a quick look at the overall forecast, have a nice graphic showing hourly predictions based on the solar lunar method of feeding and activity time. (I swear by doing things by the solar lunar tables, always seems to work out well for me) . The free, ad-supported versions show daily/hourly hunting forecast, sunrise/sunset & moon phase for any date. The sunrise and sunset times are great for keeping me out of trouble with legal shooting times as well. One note -
The free version has some limited functionality compared to the full
version. It does not have weather-based ratings, can not save locations,
and does not have monthly views.But for a quick check of the optimal times for wildlife and fish movement, activity, and feeding, as well as moon phase, sun and moon rise and set times, it can't be beat.
Soon as my cheapskate self adds a few of the paid apps, I'll share my favorites of those with you too!