I am pretty much thrilled with my new find.

Woods-50pctThis past weekend, I tried out the Back Country Navigator app for my Droid X, on the Boy Scout Hike-o-Ree in Shenandoah National Park.  It is a great app to have for hiking without a cell phone signal. I downloaded the 15 day trial and the detailed topo maps of the area, and searched on the trailhead. Voila! Wonderful to have great, zoomable topo maps. I didn't try all its features but it was great to be able to see our hiking progress. It actually helped us correct for a missed turnoff.

My only problem was that I did not yet have a spare battery for my phone, and to conserve signal I put the phone into Airplane Mode.  For some reason, I could not get a location from the satellites. The Scouts of course did not want to take breaks, and I could not trek and fiddle with the phone, so I put the phone to sleep and only occasionally tried to figure out exactly where we were.  When I turned it back on, there was the GPS signal and our location. 

It was only after I returned that I discovered that this is a known bug -- Airplane Mode interferes with obtaining a location. This is apparently a hardware/firmware bug in Android phones.There is a fix -- GPS Airtime (beta) -- you can find it at:

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.crittermap.gps.gpsairtime

So, the next time out I will have a spare battery, have the Pro version of Back Country Navigator and the fix. And hopefully not get water in my boots on the stream crossings!

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My latest delightful app find is ES File Explorer.

ES File Explorer LogoThis app improves on the file explorer provided with the Droid by letting you browse or search for folders and files not just on the device itself, but also on the local network, via FTP, and on the Net. It even works as a Dropbox client. Wow. And it's simple to select multiple files, copy and paste, among all of these sources. It can browse or launch viewers of all sorts.

It's additional capabilities are pretty amazing. It can also unzip and zip files, manage apps, and more. I've not yet explored all it can do but what I've tried so far works very well.

This seems to be the best file explorer out there, and It's free, too!

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.estrongs.android.pop&hl=en

 

 

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Another app I love is Google Translate.  While I've used Google Translate from time to time on the web, it's even more useful on the phone since you probably already have it with you when you need it.

It's nicely integrated with speech and with texting. While it's not perfect, it's a great resource beyond pointing and gesturing. Just make sure it gets the speech to text right:  e.g., :"robotics trip" vs. "robotic strip". Common words and simple phrases come through OK if spoken carefully.

The selection of languages is also pretty amazing, and it works in both directions in a conversational mode. When I was at Goodwill South Florida, I showed them it could not only handle Spanish but also Hatian Creole.

So this is one more tool just to have for those times when you just can't find the word in Spanish or don't have a clue how to say it in Korean. And the price is right.

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After trying out a variety of tools, my finger seems to gravitate to HootSuite on my Droid. Its interface is just simple and clean. I can flip between my home feed, lists, etc., and easily use it to post, retweet, and so on. It works well as a web app on the desktop, too!

That said, I've not explored the Pro version or spent any money. For what I do, the free version seems to be sufficient.

 

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Prognosis App LogoSome may find this a bit strange, but I love Prognosis - Your Diagnosis, by Medical JoyWorks !  Although it is called "One of the five best apps for Doctors", it won the prize for the Best Health App at the World Summit Awards for Mobile Apps, 2012 and has millions of downloads.

I've been using it for at least a year, and amazingly find that I have not killed too many patients although I have absolutely no medial training.  The app presents you with a patient, allows you to examine the patient and select some tests, and then choose the appropriate treatments. After you discover how well you did, it provides a thorough differential diagnosis writeup that is very educational. I also enjoy reading the comments by other users of the app, mostly doctors or medical students, who may agree or differ with the treatments prescribed.

It's just a blast, to pick off a case or two while waiting for an appointment or before bed. Try it out!

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Text-by-VoiceNot too long ago, I got my eyes dilated for a glaucoma exam.

I tried to send a text by voice, but when I looked at the result, it was a string of gibberish. I thought that maybe my phone had messed up, and so I tried again. Again, there were no word breaks, and no words that I could distinguish at all.  That's when I realized that it was my eyes, dummy! My texts had been sent just fine. And when I got the reply, I COULD NOT READ IT! And my Droid would not speak the received text message, either!  I was reduced to using a phone call.

Now that works better when you can see to look up the numbers, since sometimes it just doesn't find the number you need... that's another story.

But I figured that there had to be a great app out there that would read your texts to you... and I found one.

Sonalight's Text by Voice will read your incoming messages out loud when they arrive. You can even set it to turn on when you put the phone in a car dock. Many times I've received a text while driving, and really wanted to know what it was, but could not take my eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. How nic Save e to be able to hear it!

Text by Voice has great promise, because it is completely hands-free, which is perfect if you're driving and want to tell someone you will be late or where you are, without touching the phone. Or when your eyes are just not working, since it will read your message to you before you send it, as well as read your incoming messages to you. I think I will like having it available!

(Note: you may need to search for Sonalight to be able to find the right app. There are others with similar names.  Here is the link.)

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