Friday, January 29, 2010

My Fav. iPhone apps

ere is a list of my favorite iphone apps with a short review:

Lambert- Stereonets on your iphone! Yes! And you can transfer it later to your computer! Yes! You heard me !!! I was so happy when I first found this application I cannot tell you how loud I screamed out in joy. I wanted to go out and make a stereoplot right away, but instead I just replotted an old one I had done by hand- works great and I LOVE this app! Sometimes taking tracing paper and a stiff piece of cardboard out to the field is just too cumbersome! Now, I would not use anything but my Brunton Pocket Transit to take measurements, so I personally wouldn't use this to gather data  but for impromptu plotting this is great! It doesn't currently allow you to manually input your own data via the app- but you can download the data you took with iphone and replace it with the data you retrieved via your Brunton once its on your PC. This somewhat defeats the purpose of the app, and I am hoping a future update allows for manual input. I don't think battery life would be an issue either. While some people find it difficult to use the iphone touchpad to type, I am a beast at typing on it, so for me personally, this is a great tool. I have also found my iphone to be very sturdy. I've dropped it quite a few times- the only time I cracked anything was the inner screen when I reached for the phone off the dock it was on in the car (for music) too fast to take a picture of an outcrop we were passing. (oops). But in the rain, a plastic baggie works fine over it and it still works-has for me anyways. 2.99 for the app and well worth it!

MotionX GPS/Motion GPS Sport- this app series is great for creating logs of your tracks. I used it (MotionX GPS) when I was on field trips to log the different stops. You can take pictures at each waypoint (que outcrops) which then translated to easy field reports when all was said and done. Only drawback is that it can be a drain on your iphone if you are not careful. I don't recommend listening to the ipod while using the app- and put it on energy saver yadda yadda.. The newest update integrated the ipod into the app so you can access your music with ease. A compliment to this app is MotionX-GPS SPORT on facebook where you can store your tracks to share with friends and family, keep a detailed log of hikes, runs, bike rides, and just overall track your progress. You can read more about it here.

This next app is a great one for geotagging your images, without the drain on your iphone battery. It is like looking at the world through a brunton/altimeter. Pretty cool! There are many times I have been up on a point and not known my elevation, so it would be nice to know where I was in order to pinpoint it on a map. Even if it were to end up few feet off, just having the general location is a bonus compared to nothing at all. In reading the reviews via the app store, quite a few people are finding it surprisingly accurate. Per the app developer:
Theodolite lets you take camera images directly from the app, with 2X and 4X digital zoom options. You can choose to stamp geographical data directly on the saved image for later reference. View your current position on the built in map view, with standard, satellite, and hybrid modes. On an iPhone 3GS, bearing is updated live on the map with both fixed view and world rotation.
Theodolite 1.1 includes a new A-B Calculator with options to compute height of landmarks, triangulate position, compute distance/heading between points, measure relative angles between observations, and show points on the map. The calculator includes an option to copy results to the clipboard. Theodolite will save observation data for point A if the app is quit before recording data for point B, which is great for long distance measurements. See the Doc/Help/FAQ section for more info on the A-B Calculator.
 As with most of us who want to know exactly where that picture was taken, geotagging is a huge deal. I think this app is the answer to anyone who readily uses their iphone to take images. I for one, don't generally carry a camera because it is just an added piece of equipment that I don't want to deal with. But I almost always have my iphone- and for taking generic outcrop images it is perfect. In fact, the image of the large rock outcrop used on this blog was taken with an iphone while driving/moving to our current destination. I didn't come to a stop either- just had Mandy take pictures as I saw outcrops I liked along our trip. None of which were geotagged, but I can guess from a lot of the rock-types where we were at the time. Not optimal, but... Now, had I had this app, it would have been perfect! I could have sectioned off our trip via file folders and then if I wanted any printed out for a scrapbook (that I always mean to get to but never do) one day I'd have the date and geo info along with it.

Geocaching- I use this app to see if there are any caches nearby and to locate them. While not as good as a GPS, it works very well and gets me to the spot I need. Once I find the cache I can then log that I have found it, take any pictures and upload if required, and move on to the next cache. It's also nice when I am stuck and can't find a cache to see other pictures people have posted to make sure I am in the right spot. Husband is better at spotting things in flora than I am, so I need this little nudge of help. (I know it is cheating but don't tell him.. shhhh...:) Even with the help of images he still generally finds caches hidden in plants over me. I just don't have an eye for things in plants- too used to looking at rocks. (They are prettier anyways).

GeologyTX, GeologyCA, GeologyWa/OR, etc..- this is a fantastic app series! It is comprised of a geologic map of the state (ea. state has separate app) and gives you the rock type of your area with age and description of said rock type. I really love the aspect that you can narrow down areas via the distance tool. I'm anxious to give this one a test run in the field. Not necessarily for just geologists. Families with kids could use this as a fantastic teaching aid, esp. when you relocate a lot. It would be a good way to find rock samples with those boys (or girls-as even Mandy loves getting in the mud from time to time to my amazement) who enjoy rocks.

Gems and Minerals- I really like this app because you can add your own samples into the database. How awesome is that? woot woot! Seriously though, for .99 cents you can't beat that!

Rock and Gems- This app was just released Jan 19th and I found it the other day so I haven't gone through it fully, but it has quality images of specimen samples. I'll add more info later when I have time to sit and play with it a bit. . Only 99 cents so worth the pictures. Pretty rocks are always nice to look at when bored at the doctors office.

Terraphone- I kinda like this app, although it was a bit pricy for an app at 12.99. The rating on it is only 3 stars, but when reading the reviews it is because a lot of the users didn't understand the advanced terminology utilized in the app. Personally I would not have paid 12.99 for an app that did not use the correct terminology, so to me that's a good thing.However after using the app it really isn't overly technical at all. Took me a second to notice the bulls-eye in the opening screen, and you have to move that over to your blue pushpin (on map) if you want to know about your current area- or you can move bulls-eye over another area you desire information on. There are images to rock samples, however there are very limited "map it" options if you want to find a particular outcrop to see examples for yourself. In the end, 12.99 was highly overpriced for this app (IMO). While there were 13 images for aragonite samples in my local area- again if I were to want to see an outcrop or get a small sample, there is no information as to where it would occur. There are a lot of other apps that offer more extensive information at a better price. I think a fair price for this app would be at the most 5.99.

Rocks- This is a cute little app that would be great for someone taking a beginning geology class, or just an enthusiast. A bit rudimentary for those at the advanced levels of geology, but still fun to look through. It sections rocks off into Ig., Met., and Sed.; then breaks each sections down into types of rocks under those categories with descriptions and a sample image. There is a quiz at the end.

Rockhound- Here is a another app that is an asset for anyone wanting to grab some rock samples! You can add sites you have found rx at yourself and submit them to the site to be added to future updates, so this app has the potential to get better as time goes by. I like that you can add pictures/notes yourself to assist in returning to previously visited sites. If you are anything like me, you are all over the place when you are out on a day of rock-finding, so it's a bonus to be able to add notes to recall where you've been and where you found what. It also has a database of rocks, and what tools may be needed to extract the specimens. Another thing I like about the app is that it describes the sites in detail to where if it isn't suitable for younger kids you know not to bring them. I normally do not bring little guy on my first runs when going out on a search, unless I know for sure that it is a safe spot. Even though he is old enough to listen to me and not run off like a toddler, he still lacks judgment as any young child would, and so I only bring him to well known (to me) spots that aren't heavily trafficked or near any roadways. A lot of outcrops I go to are along highways, and I would never bring any child to such a spot. I've seen others do this, and I think it is highly irresponsible. If you are out rockhounding with young children think twice about where you go. It's too easy to get absorbed into what you are doing and not pay attention to what the little ones do- I know personally I am completely like a bug caught in the glare of a light when rocks are concerned, and would easily get too distracted to see what little guy was up to. So just be safe. :)

Earth Science by ExamBusters- This app has questions regarding the topic of earth science, and is formatted to work like flash cards. Kinda fun and while some of the questions are lower level (i.e. How many neutrons in an isotope of hydrogen-1?; State the basic formula to calculate density; what are the mineral sources of bricks; List three basic characteristics of granite; List two basic characteristics of pegmatite; Describe paleomagnetism of basalts..etc etc) It's a fun app that I like to use when ever we have time to kill waiting somewhere (doc office, restaurants etc) to quiz my teens since they should know most of this stuff.

QuakeWatch- gives you the latest news on earthquakes around the world, with links to USGS for detailed information and maps.

Tasa Geology- Kinda neat for the kids to learn about plate tectonics. Hard to believe that in the 1960's this was a huge debate. (Not too long ago when you think about it.) Only drawback is they do not display the movement of the plates as postulated by scientists throughout the time periods. It would have been nice to see that perhaps added in the future update.

Units- gives conversions for an array of things -area, speed, pressure, currency..

Math tasks- coordinate geometry.-Could have used this when digging that trench in Jordan for sure! Not that I can't do geometry by hand, but when it is 120 degree F, your brain just isn't working at full capacity.

ichemistry- has a nice periodic table and balances equations. Also has a mass calculator (reactants/products). This is an okay app, but a bit limited.

ChemiCal- this will calculate stock dilutions and also has a nice periodic table. Also calculates molarity/mass/vol etc. The formula mass calculator section is pretty nice. Another nice aspect of this app is the detailed listing of general information. It offers atomic number, avg. mass, monoisotopic mass, electron config, electrons per shell. Physical properties are also listed : crystal structure, density, melting points. Common isotopes & ionization energies etc. One of the better chemistry apps out there IMO.

The Converter- This is a monster. Does everything from gas consumption/capacity & volume/ mass & weight/currency/clothing (tells you conversion sizes in US, UK, Aus, Eur, Jap, Belgium Spain and France to name a few!)/kitchen (dash, UK teaspoon vs. US -really nice)/angles/ etc etc. This is a great app for those going overseas, or who do any type of conversions.

AppBox Pro- while some of the apps I have are repeated in this handy app of many, this is still a good app to have. Gives batterlife/clinometer/currency/date calc/loan calc/icalendar/sale price/tip calc/units/translator/ruler/price grab/holidays/flashlight/days until/ google books/collapse.. all in ONE app. So for those who like things simple, this is an all in one combo.

MetPetDB- Shows you rock samples of whatever area you may be exploring. This is a new download for me, so haven't used it in the field, but the premise is awesome!

I have a ton more apps, but this will do for now. I'll add to this as I find time. Hope it helps you fellow iphone app lovers out there! ;0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Big Bang Theory

Wow, I do need a friend- I am blogging twice in one day. But I feel uncontrollably compelled to share my most favorite shopping destination. I love love love that store- if it were one I visited in person I would spend all day in that store. Last night I was watching my favorite show (The Big Bang Theory) and Leonard was wearing my favorite shirt! The ferrous wheel! Gawd I love that shirt. I found it at and couldn't be without it. It's a shirt with Fe+2 written on it in the form of a circle emulating a "ferrous wheel". You know, Ferris wheel? Eh.. husband didn't get it either. Now if you are a geo person reading this you will probably have already opened up in another browsing window right now to order yourself one of those cool shirts! yeah baby! ha ha. I'll have to take a picture of myself in it some day.

Thinking about adding tutorials

I am new to this blogging thing, as I have pretty much been balls to the walls for the past 4 years trying to graduate from each school I have attended. This time, when the "big school" rejected my application because of the missing spanish 2 class it forced me to step back a bit. I'm always taking the max amount of credits to do whatever I can trying to graduate, esp. after I finished my core Geology curriculum. However my last school then wanted me to repeat 50% of said coursework, and that made it impossible to finish/graduate before we moved again. We were supposed to be there for a few years, but as usual the Army changed their mind and were only there 11 mos. Not that I am complaining- none of us liked our last duty station and couldn't leave fast enough.

As I was getting to, the past year was a bit cathartic to me. I repeated two geology courses- one of which I was going to repeat anyways due to the aspect it was Structural Geology and I took it my first semester when I should not have. I discovered at Geology Field Camp that it would be in my best interest to repeat Structural Geology- I ended up with a B+ but could have had an A if I had some of the skills needed but was missing. I won't bash the old school, but lets just say not all courses are equal in quality. So I took Structures for a second time with a professor that was just fantastic, but brutal. I always find I learn the most from those types. The exams were 6 hours long- lab incl. Talk about killer. But wow did I learn from this man- he really was a fantastic teacher, and the students at that school had/have no clue what a gem they have by learning from such a person. They were too interested in complaining. Or cheating. I won't go into that either, but lets suffice it to say that if that had happened in Texas that group would have been booted from the school. The majority of which were grad students. I suppose nothing was done because it would have put a dent in the department- but they had to have known (other than the fact that I told him when I learned the students found a link to test answer keys hidden on the prof.'s website and brought it to his attention.) Being as the class was graded on a curve I was not very happy. However, when grades are abnormally high all of a sudden, well, I think he knew. The same group apparently did the same thing in an optical class and that Prof. (also another gem) flat out said that test scores were abnormally high compared to other years...although I think that went over their heads. I wasn't present for the latter part so cannot really (or should not) comment.

Anyhow, I could care less if someone cheats as long as it isn't a curve-based graded course. The reality of cheating is that they not only sacrificed their integrity, but in such a small field, paths tend to cross. If I ever come across one of them, or a study of theirs, I wouldn't hesitate to mention what I think about their integrity. I think that is one of the reasons why I loved the school in texas so much- the reiterated numerous times that your reputation is gained/lost at field camp, and those you are working with now will be those you work with later. Not to say cheating didn't occur- I heard once of an incident where an old test was shared, but once that was discovered it went to the department (the situation) for review. The entire class was emailed by a highly peeved lab TA in regards to that, and it was made quite clear that academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. But wow have I traveled off topic.

Back to where I was going with this post... I have been forced to slow down per se, and after I finished the Spanish (I still apparently need Span 3 but I'm choosing to forget about that right now) at a CC on post, I decided to take my math as well. I have horrible math anxiety. Horrible. I can learn calculus formulas, or basic trig from geology professors because they will put it in a way that is applicable and not abstract. I even took GeoStatistics which was extremely calculus heavy, but again, taught by a geology professor. (I was proud getting a B in that class, as it was a graduate course but they let some undergrads in by permission- loved that prof. too. He was in Kansas.) Therefore I put off the math until the very end of my academic career and truth be told, that, and not being able to grab a chem class again, has been the main reason why I haven't been able to finish up my degree. I might have been able to get a waiver at my last school after I found a geo. prof to listen to my story and take on my cause, but I was missing one math needed, and the chem. If not for that, he told me, he could have tried to champion my cause with the department. I hadn't asked it of him, so I was surprised by that. Therefore, this time I am making that a priority. I was in a chem class when I first got here, but the course was 8 weeks long and even though I had an A, and despite the prof trying to talk me out of it, I dropped because I could not keep up with the coursework. I could have finished with an acceptable grade, but I need to know (KNOW) my chem. I plan one day to take geochem, and I don't want to worry about not having a good foundation in the fundamentals. I was taking span and math at the same time and it was too much.

Now I am just taking one course at a time (because they are so accelerated- believe me, 8 weeks goes by fast) and have only math. I will continue on until I complete all math needed through grad school. Calc 3.

So.... this is the first time in 4 years that I have NOT had a geology class. Wow. I am not a happy camper. I love taking geology courses. I taught Gen. Geology lab at the last school I was at, and that was really a lot of fun. Mainly because I had my own little captive audience to talk about rocks to- talk about my dream! I think I rubbed off on them though, because by the time the course was done they seemed to like it too. I would never want to teach as a career though- oy! The excuses those students would give for not being there for exams, the cell phones, the .. well, rudeness. One guy answered his cell while in class, and I guess the group had the impression I was a very soft spoken sweet individual- but when you mess up my train of thought by being rude I turn into demon mommy (you know that voice you make when your kids push you too far and you just lose it?). I didn't even turn around from what I was writing on the board and yelled out to tell the [caller] that we [the class] all said hello and wanted to know how they were doing. I guess breaking from my general soft spoken self to demon mommy freaked out the class because I turned around to see everyone looking at me slack jawed. I in turn smiled sweetly at them all. Ha ha.. gosh that makes me laugh to myself remembering the looks on their faces.

Yikes I think my ADHD is in rare form today because I am a bit all over the place here, but no one is currently around to read this but me so I don't really care. By the time they are, I probably can say I still don't care. I'm like this in person too- its like carrying on a conversation with 3 when you talk with me. Too many thoughts, not enough time to blog about them separately else I'd edit, paste, and organize.

But this brings me back to my point about this blog. What is it anyways? I never started one before because I am not narcissistic enough to think anyone would care to read my thoughts. But then, I also don't like to do anything unless it has a purpose. Previously, I was always in a Geology department and hence, had Geology friends (in person) wherever we moved. Now I am finding myself at a bit of a loss. I am not in a geo. department. All the friends I have are now available only through phone or online. I recently had an old friend (my best friend) from HS which has kept up with me all these years email me and my response to her was a very lengthy email. She teased me about it and I was a bit embarrassed. We talk, but our chat is more of past stuff and nothing Geology ect- so .. I was surprised I even had that much to say that didn't pertain to rocks. Then I realized I was starved for conversation. Husband is at work all day, I go to classes at night, so we were passing in the night a bit. This was when I started seeing a purpose to a blog. It's not narcissism, it's an outlet. Of thoughts. I have thoughts- tons of thoughts. Maybe if I get them out I won't overwhelm those who I do have contact with again such as my previously mentioned friend.

But I also need more than that- I need a geology outlet. Not having any Geo classes or contact is rough, and I hadn't anticipated that when I chose to postpone going to the "big school" after I finished the class they were asking of me. So I am thinking about making some tutorials on different geology-related topics. Things I need to brush up on myself, but that may also be of use to anyone who stumbles across this page. Not sure if that will really happen, since I don't advertise this page and don't plan on it.. it's more for me. But if it has something someone can use and they find it, well that would be great. My first project will probably be cross sections or maybe a review on using the Brunton. If I had thought of this sooner I would have done it over my break- but my first day of class is tonight, so not sure when I will get around to it. That's the plan though. The Geocashing may have to be put on the back burner for a bit, but then there are always the small jaunts I could make. Who knows. With classes starting though, I may have to blog from my iphone while on the move. I suppose I should look into how to do that.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Brunton - to change or not to change

I was cleaning out my backpack to get ready for the next term Monday and found my Brunton Geo Pocket Transit. Well, "found" is not an accurate term- I usually always keep it in my pack, but of late I only have math courses so I really should just put it away. However upon seeing it again I remembered I had thought about changing it over to azimuth since it is currently in quadrants. At field camp that really hindered me because the database we were using needed azimuth numbers and it's a pain converting-easy, but a pain. In addition, converting the numbers means messing with the data more than needed and hence an added chance for errors.

I bought my Brunton in my first semester as a geology student. My advisor was teaching the course, and there were barely enough students to keep the class open. At the time I was naieve so when she suggested I take it, I told her I needed to drop chemistry if I were to take her course (Structural Geology) due to time confliction. She looked at me as if to say "So what's the problem?". Well, the "problem", in retrospect, was the aspect that I was just starting out in geology and my first semester consisted of Mineralogy, Structural Geology, General Geology, GIS, and something else I cannot recall at the moment. GIS was the only class I breezed through because I used to design websites so working with graphics and layers was second hand. But Mineralogy and Structural Geology were a real challenge, esp. without having had a math class in ages. Back to my point, the Structures prof. told the class that if we were going to be geologists, we should seriously consider buying our own Brunton. At that university it was pretty much instilled in you to have your own gear. None of the other universities I have been to stress that, and people seem surprised I do have my own gear- then try to borrow it. I have had bad experiences with that, so now get kinda witchy and say no, but that's a whole other topic.

When I went online to buy my brunton, I was at a loss as to what to buy. My tendency in this situation is to just buy the best and then not be left wanting later. So I bought the Geo Pocket Transit. I had no clue what type to buy, but at the time quadrant seemed the way to go, so I went that route. Now I regret it. Others seem to like quads, but really azimuth is so much easier/quicker/cleaner to document.

This leaves me to my point, in a round about way. I need to pull out the old box and look at how to go about sending it to the company for changing it over to azimuth. Sorry for droning on; I have a tendancy to digress in my writings as I recall certain aspects and inject them into my story, so forgive me if you get a bit lost in reading any of this drivel. I've kinda hidden this little blog because I write like I think- and with ADHD I am just a bit all over the place. I can edit it all down, and sometimes I do.. but maybe a blog is supposed to be an insight into someone's thoughts. If so, well welcome to my world. A bit like a tornado, a bit disjointed, but it's impossible to portray what I am thinking in text, really. I generally have two lines of thought going on at the same time, so in order to not forget one or the other, I interject the two. It's a real pain in the butt sometimes because my brain just works faster than I can express in words or text. So in the end, I just come off like an idiot. Oh, and then interject IH into the mix.. ugh. I'm a mess! ha ha. Especially when the pressure is up. It still is pretty high today- but I feel a bit better right now because while I was looking for my cell this morning I bent to look under the couch and some of the excess spinal fluid drained out my nose. Gross, but that's my life. I'll pontificate on the latter in a separate post for those who want to read about it.