Friday, August 23, 2013

semi-anniversary? bi-anniversary? THIRSTY re: SMARTPHONE APPS

Today, it has been exactly six months.  Or at least that's what ordinary people say.  Frod, on the other hand, would say that the earth has flown to the other side of the sun--perhaps only approximately halfway through it's flight around the sun.  He will, no doubt, feel compelled to explain it in more precise terms.  We hope he will.  He will pull out his different kinds of calendars and give a history of the classification of time and forces and whatnot.  He might even command one of his French doppelgängers at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures to file a report....

And for the linguists and grammarians and lexicographers and composition proffies, this is not the anniversary of the thirsty re: smartphone apps...  because an anniversary is exactly one year.  Not 362 days.  Not 6 months.  Not this.  Not that.  Not whatever.  (or, as the flakes say, "whatevs")

And for the rest of us who are gulping bourbon alone in our locked offices on nearly-empty campuses on this Friday afternoon, this is the fucking 6-month anniversary!

So it's time, again, for the THIRSTY.  All four of us can answer.  None of this unsolicited stuff.  This is fucking solicited

Q. What's the app that's making your proffie life tolerable?

A. ______________________________________
         [Be honest, dammit.]


  1. CalcMadeEasy is an honest-to-goodness scientific calculator, with all the functions I like.

    Lose It Lost a bunch of weight last year.

    King Of Dragon Pass for when you just want to raid neighboring clans and take all their cows.

  2. What's an app? Which of the buttons on my flip phone do I press to access one?

    1. Who, other than students with giant student loan checks mailed to them, can afford a fancy app phone?

    2. I'm with you, CC. Just bought my first "smartphone" and promptly gave it to my partner, who can actually use it. She says I should bring it to work, so the students will think I'm hip. I dunno...I have yet to send my first text ever, the tiny keys strain my eyes.

    3. You can buy a used 4th generation iPod Touch on eBay for $100 and use just about any of these apps on it. Almost entirely free after that initial payment. Use the wifi free on your campus. Recharge on campus and use the school's electricity for free. Download free apps. It doesn't have to put you in the poorhouse. And if you're already in the poorhouse, it might get you out.

    4. Actually, I think there's a way to get my Palm TX (which has wireless capability) to run the Android platform for even less than that. But I haven't bothered. To be honest, I do plan to get a smartphone sometime soon (among other things, I have nieces and nephews who apparently communicate almost exclusively by text), but I'm feeling a bit ludditish right now because there was an activity during our beginning-of-the-year workshop that involved texting (though we were allowed to talk to each other instead, so the old fogies and the very poor -- not mutually exclusive categories -- had a discussion. Also, this was the exercise that we were required to do during lunch so that the department could pay for lunch, and which nobody, including the people who created it, takes very seriously. We actually have reasonable people running our beginning-of-year activities, thank goodness).

    5. I actually have an iPod, but I can't afford the dataplan for an actual phone... Not sure how that will get me out of the poorhouse, but none of the apps I use make much difference to my work life. Do they entertain me, sure, but improve my work? Not so much.

    6. It wasn't exactly six months, anyway.
      So... meh.

  3. Waitaminute. Our advice is being solicited directly???

  4. Bubba, I think the bourbon is getting the better of you. Earth never goes through the Sun, you know. That's just a rather contrived physics problem for first-year undergrads.

    Here are some useful apps:

    - Star Walk is planetarium software that makes an iPhone5 work like a Celestron Sky Scout. In other words, point the phone at the sky, and it shows a star map of what you're pointing at. You can move around the sky by moving the phone, and get close-ups and descriptions of objects of interest. Yes, it is very cool.

    - Moon Atlas shows phasing, rising and setting, and has a good map of the Moon, handy when I have a class at the telescope.

    - JupiterMoons and SaturnMoons are apps from Sky & Telescope that are also handy when I have students at the telescope.

    - MeteorGuide was a big help during the recent fine show by the Perseids.

    - Solar Monitor helps me keep up with flares and the solar wind.

    - Compass and iHandy Level help me set up telescope mounts. This is especially important when solar observing, since you can't line up a solar telescope on Polaris because you can't see it in the daytime.

    - Blue Car uses the phone's GPS to find my car in the huge parking lot at the end of a long day.

    I got 10^6 of 'em.

    I also use the iPhone itself as an example of technology, by holding it up in my general-ed science class, to make several points throughout the term, one of which is that abandoning or banning technology won't work because no one wants to give up their cell phones, so we therefore need to learn to live with technology and manage it thoughtfully. My students get it, even if not a one of them can program worth a fig.

    1. I love Star Walk! So cool to just point it at the sky and have it tell me what things are, including the satellites (I have it on my iPad).

  5. I push some of the number buttons and pretty soon I can talk to somebody. I think that's useful and heck, pretty neat too.