Sunday, September 23, 2012

Smart Phones and Operator Error

While my life gets in the way of blogging, I have to say that my smart phone is often what keeps me on track and helps me get done what needs to be done.

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to get a smart phone. My phone contract was up and though I had liked the slide out keyboard for texting, I wasn't sure about the touch screen. My husband has a blackberry and has used it for years to get his email on his phone. Since I've been spending a lot of time working on genealogy research around the state,  I figured it would allow me to not be out of touch all day while I was working at libraries and clerk's offices.  I got a Motorola Droid 2 Global with a slide out keyboard, and after more than a year of discovering all the amazing things that it can do, I can't imagine life without it.

For genealogical research, there are primarily three functions that I use every day, and a bunch of those "apps" that make research a whole lot easier. Beyond the standard talking and testing that I do with my family, my phone allows me to leave a bunch of stuff at home. First, I love having email come to my phone. Not having to break out my laptop to check email is quite a treat, particularly in places without wi-fi. Next, the camera on the phone has replaced the digital camera that I used to lug on every research trip. And lastly, the navigator/GPS feature which gives turn by turn directions to obscure locations that I would have previously needed to print out google maps beforehand, or wrestled with our Magellan GPS. That means two devices that I no longer have to carry with me on my travels, and worry about if they are charged or have extra batteries.

And that doesn't even touch the various apps that can allow you to access trees on your phone, update your research logs and access books, the web and files all in a handy little palm sized device. The other fabulous thing my phone can do is be a mobile wifi hot spot so if I'm working in places without wifi, like most town clerk's offices, I can still access the internet with my computer.

It was definitely worth overcoming my technophobia to upgrade to the smart phone, and now I'm working on convincing my husband to give up his blackberry and wake up to the world of touch screens and android apps! Best device EVER for a genealogist on the road, and next time, I'll talk about some of my favorite apps!

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