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Technology In The Field And On The Road

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If you are patient, Amazon has from 12,000 to 20,000 mAh portable power banks on sale for a similar price or less than the above price. I paid $12 for my 12k mAh and $15 for my 20 mAh. Amazon prices often fluctuate.

I have a smart phone and while many places i can easily pick up a GPS signal. There are areas where I just cannot get a GPS signal. For example on a recent trip to the Outer Banks i just couldn't get my GPS to work on long stretches of that island. I own an LG G4, not a cheap phone. My car GPS works like a charm, fast, and accurate in areas my phone's GPS doesn't.

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Man, I'm so glad to find this post! I will try some of the apps here. I was going to give Google Earth a shot. I haven't explored all the options, but I think it lets you save off locations with comments and photos. As others have mentioned, it probably won't work out of range of cell towers.

Another thing I do is document my finds with photos of the find and the site location. I enabled the option to save GPS coordinates in the photo's metadata. That's a big help when surveying a large area.

Here's a wide Google Maps shot of a site I'm studying. This image, of course, is from satellite data. You can also do a ground level view, but it's generated from the satellite data and looks pretty crappy. You can also configure the app to give you true elevation from GPS data.


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If you don't want to mess with using a full database program for organizing your fossil collection, you can use file naming and just allow the operating system to sort things out for you. What I do is make a site name, and then an arbitrary number for the specimen from that site. So Caspersen Beach in Florida is "CB", and a shell might be number 43, and I make a file named "CB043.txt". Then you put all your notes in that file. Then you shoot the pictures and name them "CB043_1.jpg", "CB43_2.jpg", and so on. Then, when you open the folder, all the photo thumbnails are presented of that site, and they are organized so that the text file is next to the photos. It is a very cheezy and low maintenance way to create order. Here's another BIG reason I do that... ten or twenty years from now you are likely to find that your favorite database is obsolete and no longer supported, and now you have to figure out how to extract that data into your new trap (I mean database). Using the method I mention does not have any obsolescence designed into it. The only down side is that you don't have advanced search and sort abilities like you would with a full blown database. You can use GREP and other command line utilities, though, to parse through files.

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Here's an example of the folder for "CB", documenting the fossils I found in a shell dump there. I got a bit fancy with this one, and used hand written HTML files instead of text files, but it's the same concept. The lead file is "CB.HTML", and that is a site descriptor file. The reason to use arbitrary specimen designation numbers is so that you can "shoot first, and answer questions later". You first photo your specimens, and don't need to rely on what they are to get them into the computer. If your file naming system is based on what the specimen is, it will have no name for a long time, and possibly change names later, so just use arbitrary numbers. You can cruise your fossil collection by looking at the thumbnail views. Then in the next image I'm showing what happens when you click on one of the HTML files that describe the fossil. The HTML pulls in the associated image and then gives all the info about it. I hand write my pages to avoid software dependency on a HTML editor. They get picky and suffer from obsolescence like database programs. Hand written HTML is readable, as opposed to some HTML editor/generators that produce a ream of unreadable trash. But you can use just text files for your s if you don't want to use HTML. I suggest not using .doc files or other formatted file types, because they also suffer from technological obsolescence. Just use plain text. It will never go obsolete.



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For a little while, I’ve been using these apps all free on iOS:



This is good for geologic maps and satellite imaging. It also keeps track of your photos and locations in the cloud if you add them. It lists what formations are nearby and distances to them. 

Cons: requires network to save pictures and locations


Flyover Country8328604A-54AA-4733-B2B9-D09818BFC98B.thumb.png.5505a03b5ffa96c168e40527481de4fd.png


This app is good for offline maps. It can download geologic maps, known fossil localities, sedment core locations, associate Wikipedia articles, etc. You can choose between satellite, street, and terrain maps and toggle geologic maps on and off.

Cons: a work in progress with occasional bugs as with most apps but being constantly updated and fixed.


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This app saves any pdf you open in it. I’ve flipped between articles and maps without any hiccups dealing with a GPS and physical papers. 

Cons: No drawing capability as a standard pen and paper has.


Stereonet Mobile23E910B8-348A-4B79-8BD1-75936170B8B4.thumb.png.f133bc29adc6fbcc57457936ae623f55.png


Great for marking locations as GPS coordinates are displayed on homescreen. The GPS functions even when you don’t have network. You can makes notes and add locations without worrying about having interent access. It will also share data with StraboSpot, the next app on this list.

Cons: doesn’t save pictures, steep learning curve as it’s focus is structural geology.




This app also saves offline maps but maps can be uploaded off the internet rather than the proprietary maps Rockd and Flyover Country utilize so if the current map you have isn’t up to par you can download another. Very detail oriented and customizable. It’ll spit out any kind of data you want and is compatible with several other apps and computer applications. 

Cons: steep learning curve but when utilized correctly, it can give publishable data.




Ever been out hunting and just couldn’t quite remember if the Silurian is before the Devonian or the other way around? Geotimescale2 has you covered! It also includes which forms of life were dominant when. With a very small size, it can fit in even the smallest places on your phone memory. 

Cons: nothing really

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