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    Re: Hand bearing compass as iPhone app?
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2012 Mar 6, 21:57 -0800
    As a new iPhone user, my opinion is that it does surprisingly many things fairly well.  Not superbly, but fairly well.   It's got not only a built-in GPS but also a compass and an inclinometer.   I can pull up Google Maps and literally tell whether I'm at the front or the rear of my house.  The camera is far from being as good as my Canon DSLR, but it's part of something (my cell phone) that I have with me all the time.  Okay, all cell phones seem to have cameras these days, but this one is above average.   And there's weird things -- when the camera senses it needs flash, it turns on a fairly bright LED.  But you can get a free app called "flashlight" that does exactly that -- turns the light on so you can use it as a flashlight.  I downloaded it because my daughter (an iPhone user for the past two years) mentioned using it; I've been surprised at the number of times I've used it.   Again, not a great flashlight, but it's on my belt all the time.

    My iPhone will make a good backup to the GPS on my boat.   Well, except for the fact that, as far as I can tell, it only displays in degrees, minutes, and seconds; you can't force the GPS to display in degrees, minutes, and decimal minutes, a display far more convenient to navigators.   I just downloaded an app called DragQueen anchor alarm.  Just like the anchor alarm on a "real" GPS unit, it will tell when you when you get more than a preset distance away from where you set the alarm.   Supposedly there's even an app that can store and read all of the freely downloadable NOAA electronic charts (raster format, not the international vector format)  (but, perhaps as a tribute to the iPhone's limits, the app gets poor reviews).    And I've got a tidal app that has every tidal station in the US -- automatically adjusts primary tidal station data by the offsets for your local station.  More convenient than grabbing a tidal book and looking up primary station data and the secondary station offsets.    Oh, and you can set one of the time zones it displays as UTC.  Right now it's tracking London time, but I presume there will be an hour's difference when the UK goes on Summer Time.    But, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, there is no way as far as I can ascertain to set the clock to display seconds.   So UTC is neat, but useless for celestial since there's no seconds display.

    On the down side, the whole setup reminds me of Windows 3 from the early 1990s.   The user interface is not as consistent as it is today with Windows 7.   Most frustratingly, there's no notion of "help" for either the iPhone or most apps.  The iPhone's "help" (which I've downloaded) belabors the obvious and omits the fine grain (like if the GPS app can be set to read dd-mm.mmm instead of dd-mm-ss or whether the clock can be made to display seconds).

    My wife wanted a brand new iPhone 4s, so her son bought her one as a Christmas present (but we just got around to actually getting the phones a few weeks ago).   My cell provider not only offered us a family plan (shared minutes) but also offered me a free iPhone 4 (not 4s).   For free I took it.   Would I pay $500 or $600 for an iPhone?  I'm not sure.  But for free, I'm very, very happy to have the phone and creep into the 21st century.


    From: Alan S <alan202---.net>
    To: NavList@fer3.com
    Sent: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 4:44 PM
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Hand bearing compass as iPhone app?

    Mr. Bailey:
    Very interesting.
    Your description of this particular IPhone "ap" almost tempts me to acquire one. As of now, I don't even have a "dumb" cell phone.
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