Your digital tool box

Like a boy scout, a dairy farmer must always be prepared, and having access to the right tools at the right time is essential. That’s why in my right front pants pocket I carry a knife, a pair of needle nose pliers, scissors, four screwdrivers, a saw, and most importantly a bottle opener and cork screw. Sounds like a lot of hardware to carry in your pants but in reality I am talking about my Leatherman multi-tool.

In my left pocket I carry a flashlight, camera, calculator, bubble level, compass, protractor, ruler, and a whole list of other tools. Again, this sounds like a lot of stuff for one guy’s pocket, but these are digital versions of real world tools. They really work and they live in the smart phone.

There are virtually unlimited ways to use your smart phone as an analog for real world tools. Here are a few examples.
Flashlight – A flashlight is a very handy tool. Most phones have LED lights on them to use as a flash for the camera. My favorite Android app is Tiny Flashlight + LED. Not only does this app run your LED light but it also turns the screen into a strobe light, police siren, and other fun effects.

    Camera – Mobile phones have had cameras on them for a long time, but only recently do smart phones allow you to do very useful things with them. Recently I had to redo some plumbing on my calf milk pasteurizer. I took pictures of the parts and the pasteurizer area with my phone. At the plumbing store I showed the pictures to the storeowner on the iPad. Using an app called Skitch, we drew a new plumbing diagram right over the top of the photo. I took the parts home and referenced the diagram while putting it all together. I also take pictures of serial number plates on equipment, business cards, broken gates, cow numbers, parking spaces (so I remember when I left my truck), and a lot more. I keep track of all these photos with an app called Evernote, which I am going to profile next month.

    Calculator – I use Real Calc for Android and Calc Pro HD for iPad. I like these calculators because of their simple and powerful use of conversions.

    Bubble Level – I use the bubble level on my phone to do things like level tillage implements, help my wife hang pictures on the wall, and I recently leveled a pool table with an iPad.

    Protractor – Most apps have the ability to overlay the protractor on your camera screen. Simply point your phone’s camera at an object like your silage pile or a roofline, and you can quickly determine its angle and slope.

These tools are part of my modern day Swiss Army Knife. See how many useful tools you can find in your device’s app store and you just may download enough to earn your AgNerd badge!

Extra Content:
Use the Ruler app to measure pipefittings, bolts, and other pieces of hardware. Be careful not to scratch your screen
Many of the tools mentioned above can be found in one handy app for android called Smart Tools

The Leatherman tool I carry
Tiny Flashlight + LED for Android
Real Calc for Android
Calc Pro HD for iPad
Smart Tools for Android

Title: Your digital tool box
Author: Dino Giacomazzi
Publication: Dairy Today
Publication Date: May 2012

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