Tech Talk: Your Digital Toolbox

May 2, 2012 01:47 PM
 

DinoGiacomazzi blue

Smart phone apps turn your phone into a flashlight, camera, calculator, bubble level, compass, protractor and ruler, among other tools.

With Dino Giacomazzi

Like a Boy Scout, a dairy farmer must always be prepared. Having access to the right tools at the right time is essential. That’s why in my right front pants pocket I carry a knife, a pair of needle-nose pliers, scissors, four screw-drivers, a saw and, most important, a bottle opener and corkscrew. Sounds like a lot of hardware to carry in your pants, but I am talking about my Leatherman multi-tool.
 
In my left pocket I carry a flashlight, a camera, a calculator, a bubble level, a compass, a protractor, a ruler and a whole list of other tools. Again, this sounds like a lot of stuff for one guy’s pocket, but these are digital versions of real-world tools. They really work, and they live in my smartphone.
 
The number of ways to use your smartphone as an analog for real-world tools are virtually unlimited. Here are a few examples.

Dairy Today red dot

  Bonus Content:

Links to apps

 

Tiny Flashlight + LED for Android

  
  
 
 

 
• Flashlight: A flashlight is a handy tool. Most phones have LED lights on them to use as a flash for the camera. My favorite Android app is Tiny Flashlight + LED. Not only does this app run your LED light but it also turns the screen into a strobe light, police siren and other fun effects.

• Camera:  Mobile phones have had cameras on them for a long time, but only recently do smartphones allow you to do very useful things with them. Recently I had to redo some plumbing on my calf milk pasteurizer. I took photos of the parts and the pasteurizer area with my phone. At the plumbing store, I showed the photos to the store owner on an iPad. Using an app called Skitch, we drew a new plumbing diagram right over the top of a photo. I took the parts home and referenced the diagram while putting it all together.
 
I also take photos of serial number plates on equipment, business cards, broken gates, cow numbers, parking spaces (so I remember where I left my truck) and a lot more. I keep track of all these photos with an app called Evernote, which I am going to profile next month.

• Ruler: I use the ruler app to measure pipe fittings, bolts and other pieces of hardware. Be careful not to scratch your screen!

• Calculator: I use RealCalc for my Android and Calc Pro HD for my iPad. I like these calculators because of their simple and powerful use of conversions.

• Bubble level: I use the bubble level on my phone to do things like level tillage implements and help my wife hang pictures on the wall. I recently leveled a pool table with an iPad.

• Protractor: Most protractor apps have the ability to overlay the protractor on your camera screen. Simply point your phone’s camera at an object like your silage pile or a roofline, and you can quickly determine its angle and slope.
 
These tools are part of my modern-day Swiss Army knife. See how many useful tools you can find in your device’s app store—you just may download enough to earn your AgNerd badge!

 

Back to news

Comments

 

Rate this News Article:

Spell Check

No comments have been posted to this News Article

Close