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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Smart Phones for Survival

Original Article

I have written in the past about the usefulness of smartphones, but have never really taken the time to write anything comprehensive about the subject. Recently, Kelly H. posted a good article at Survivalblog about this concept. Here is an excerpt from the article, listing some useful smartphone apps for the survivor:

The “All-in-One’s”
An Application I draw on time and time again is called “U.S. Army Survival Guide” and it is exactly what it sounds like. This App contains the entire Army survival guide. It includes illustrations and diagrams and is broken up into 23 chapters including a full glossary and appendix. It offers basic to mid-level survival tips, ranging from Shelter construction and trapping, to starting a fire and how to stay hidden. It’s always better to know this information off-hand but as a reference, this is the app you want.
Another infinite possibility app is “Google Books”. This allows you to purchase and store an e-book on almost any subject you can think off. A quick search for survival books netted me hundreds of results. What this offers is the ability to download almost any book that you might already own and to draw on it when needed, or even just to learn more techniques when the time comes. Lugging around half a dozen books can be taxing on both space and energy, especially if survival requires being mobile. Beyond survival purposes this is a great way to keep your mind off any situation you might be in.  E-Books are a great way to utilize multiple SD Cards. With the almost infinite library of information at your fingertips, you can store thousands of books and guides.
An e-book might be too much information to quickly draw upon. For this reason I also use an app called “WikiPock” that can download specific Wikipedia entries that can be viewed at a later time. You can be as specific or generic with this information as you want to be. I have several entries ranging from hot wiring a vehicle to greenhouse gardening. As phone storage improves I wouldn’t be surprised if you could soon download the entire English language Wikipedia to your phone. An uncompressed ‘wiki dump’ is about 27 gigs - compressed comes in at about 6 gigs.
Navigation
There are about a dozen or so free and proven off-line map applications. What this offers is the ability to store and view maps from anywhere in the world without data coverage. The basic principal is that with a little common knowledge of navigation you can find your way. I use an app called “MapDroyd”. I was able to download a vector map of the entire United States at any detail – there are maps for almost any country. A physical map is still going to be your most efficient way to find where you are. But, with these Apps you aren’t limited by size and scope.
Keep in mind this isn’t a topography map. There is an app called “BackCountry Navigator” for topography but costs about $10. Also, without GPS or cell-tower connection you won’t be able to automatically pinpoint your location – this is why basic navigating skills are just as important.
Some offline maps offer tools such as address searching or point A to point B directions. Feel free to experiment with different apps to find the right fit.
First-Aid
Like the other apps, this area of survival has a lot of options to choose from. The Army Survival Guide App also has an entire section devoted to first aid and medicinal plants. For my purposes I use an app called “iTriage”. It has a number of tools to choose from, but is most effectively used as a way to diagnose symptoms. A good guide or reference book is still your best bet for getting detailed information and instructions – both of which can be found with Google Books.
Tools & Miscellaneous
KnotsGuide  - A knot tying reference App with color photos, step-by-step instructions, and recommended usage for each knot. Can’t live without this.
ElectroDroid – Especially useful for TEOTWAWKI scenarios, this App is a great way to learn how electricity and circuitry works, and how to get it working.
Scanner Radio – This App requires a data connection, but allows you to listen to the dispatch radio of almost any city in the country. Get direct information before hearing about it on the news.
Flashlight – By no means a replacement for a sturdy flashlight, but this App is a good backup or tent light. It utilizes the ‘camera flash’ led on most phones when taking pictures.
Google Translate – Need to speak to someone in a different language, or read the warning label on a foreign-made package? This app allows you to type or speak almost any language and translates it to text or speech, especially useful if traveling.
Camera or Video – Your phone’s basic camera or video function is incredibly versatile. It is a way to remember where you started a trail, or to reference a certain plant or building. The ability to keep photographic record is invaluable.
Games – Surviving is not just about keeping your wits, it’s also about maintaining your spirits and fighting boredom. Games are an easy way to take a break from the situation you might be in. It’s not going to get you out of it physically, but mentally it might make a difference.

There is more to the article than just this app list, so be sure to read it in its entirety.