Archive for Mobile

Two Day Natural Family Planning App

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Contraception continues to be controversial politically it seems, judging from recent news. However, there are quieter revolutions in reproductive health occurring somewhat surprisingly in the field of natural family planning. The Georgetown University Institute for Reproductive Health recently announced the availability of a free app for the Two Day Method of natural family planning, which focuses on raising women’s awareness of their cervical secretions surrounding their most fertile periods. This simple, inexpensive method of family planning does not involve contraceptives except for the possible use of condoms during fertile days. It can be used by women with varying cycle lengths. It is not necessary for a woman to be able to distinguish between types and consistency of secretions, only to be alert to their existence during her cycle. (The instructions do provide information about those types of secretions that indicate infection, however.)

When used correctly the Two Day Method is 96% effective, with typical use it is around 86% effective. That means that no more than 5-14 per 100 women using this method will get pregnant if avoiding pregnancy is the goal. (It can also be used by couples hoping to conceive a child.) Although there are some obvious benefits to the Two Day Method, including its ease of use and the ability to avoid hormonal contraceptives or other types of contraception, there are some disadvantages as well. First, the woman has to remember to check her secretions regularly. She must also have a partner willing to abstain from sex during her fertile days or use condoms. The method by itself provides no protection against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.

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The new 2Day Method app is available for free download to iPhones at the App Store. The results of the clinical trial on the method at Georgetown University were first published in Fertility and Sterility in 20004.

I love my iPad Mini

I’ll admit it.  When Apple first announced the iPad mini, I was skeptical. Why would anyone want one, since the iPhone and iPad did everything so well and the iPhone is so portable?  Then I learned the mini fits in a doctor’s white coat pocket. And that the new mini has (almost) all the features of the iPad Air. So when offered the opportunity to upgrade from my iPad 2, I chose the new Mini with Retina Display and I could not be happier with it.

The size feels exactly right.

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To learn specifics about the features of the new mini, start withone of these comprehensive reviews from my favorite sites:

Why I like the iPad mini

  • It is small enough to carry in a large pocket or small purse, but has the functions I need to work productively as well as the apps for personal use that I also have on my phone
  • I have a case with keyboard for when needed for writing and email
  • Webpages open in the full site view, not the mobile view, so there is a full range of options for using them

The LHL Website in Both Views

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Working with PDFS

Most people in academia need their tablet to work well with PDF files so they can easily find, read, annotate and store papers.  The smaller size works very well for these tasks in part because of the sharpness of the retinal display. The tablet fits easily in my hand for reading or sits upright in its case on a desk. If the PDF print is tiny, a pinch magnifies the screen.

  • From the LHL website, you can search in PubMed, CINAHL or Scopus to find articles. Many other UAB resources offer apps or mobile sites.
  • There are many apps that store and open PDFs.  I often use GoodReader because it has an excellent set of annotation tools.

Screenshot of an Annotated PDF on the Mini

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  • Most PDF apps allow you to upload the finished PDF to Dropbox, email it to yourself to save storage on your phone, or open it in another app, like Papers or EndNote.  I use the EndNote app ($) because it syncs with my other computers. A recent upgrade added a robust set of annotation tools to EndNote as well.

Screenshot of an EndNote Library

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Share your experience with using tablets for clinical care or research in the comments below.

Your very own food compass: Foodspotting

If you like to discover new restaurants or cuisine, or if you’re of the kind that routinely takes pictures of their food to show off on Facebook, you might be interested in Foodspotting.

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Foodspotting is a app that works with your location, so wherever you are in the world, you can see where and what people are eating.  This is my go-to app when I’m out of town.

Two testimonies:  A few weeks ago I attended the Medical Library Association conference in Chicago.  A friend and I wanted breakfast.  We were walking around for a bit when I decided to pull up my app.  We were able to scroll through dozens of plates posted by other foodspotters.  We picked what looked like a cute brunch place, clicked on the link for directions (which melds really nicely with the navigation on your phone) and walk right to it.  My friend said it the best oatmeal of her life–it did look really good, they bruleed the top!  And I had some really wonderful soft scrambled eggs topped with fried kale.

I also use the app when I’m in a very touristy location–like Gulf Shores, and Savannah, and New Orleans.  I’m not often dazzled by the pirate ships and neon…I want the small local places.  I was able to find a place in Pensacola called Fisherman’s Corner…it is literally under an overpass and hands down has the most unique shrimp and grits I’ve ever seen, and one of the best tasting.

If I had seen this tin can crab on Foodspotting, I probably would have skipped this place.

If I had seen this tin can crab on Foodspotting, I probably would have skipped this place.

In the background is the shrimp & grits--that's a ball of fried grits!

In the background is the shrimp & grits–that’s a ball of fried grits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pros: If you’re a fan of Yelp Reviews, they are featured with every foodspot.  Quick connection to maps and directions. Great when you’re already on the go.  I’ve never been disappointed with the restaurants I found with Foodspotting.  Less chance of being disappointed in your meal when you can rely on real people to do the research for you.

Cons: There are plenty of pictures of McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks.  And so you have to scroll through some unexciting, typical chain eateries.  There is a desktop version, but it doesn’t have as much to offer.

And on a related note: Birminghamians know that Birmingham is a foodie town.  From our well-renowned fixtures (Highlands, Botega, etc.) to the newly established food trucks (Shindigs, Melt, etc.) this town makes some really good food.  So show the world!  Take a picture of your food, be proud, and post it to Foodspotting!

& follow me JillD!

This pizza was divine!  Gulf Pizza, Algiers, NOLA

This pizza was divine! Gulf Pizza, Algiers, NOLA.

 

Hot Zone Apps

 

In 1995 The Hot Zone was published, providing its many readers with not only a hair-raising account of lethal virus outbreaks, but also a glimpse into the work of epidemic investigators in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health agencies around the world. This real-time investigative epidemiology is exciting, dangerous and vital in preventing mortality from deadly outbreaks such as Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fever. These workers are, in military parlance, the “front lines” of disease prevention.EIS1

Like any front lines, however, an unfolding outbreak investigation is a chaotic process, prone to confusion and information gaps.  A recent piece by Dr. Tom Friedan on FoxNews.com looked at the development of a mobile app for use by outbreak investigators which would provide real-time connection to a centralized databank of continually updated disease information even in low bandwidth areas. The developer is one of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) investigators, Illana Schafer. This new app is currently in use in disease outbreak investigations around the world and is part of a global investment in technology as key to the prevention of widespread plague.

In addition to this on-the-job technology for epidemiologists, the CDC is using technology to recruit and train new disease outbreak investigators – see their “Solve the Outbreak App,” which provides different scenarios to budding disease detectives to try to figure out the bug that’s causing the outbreak symptoms described. This app is freely available for download at http://www.cdc.gov/mobile/applications/sto/index.html. sto-disease-detective_200px

 

Wearable Tech

From Google Glass to a variety of wearable fitness trackers to smart watches to gesture rings, is resistance really futile? We can already control most of our lives with a smart phone and now it seems we’ll be able to do the same with a stylish wearable accessory. It is kind of ironic really. We buy an activity tracker to help be fit but then buy a gesture device, like the Nod Gesture Ring, that will let us control our TV, house lights, and environmental controls without moving from our seat on the couch.

According to Daniel Bulygin on trendblog.net, 82% of Americans that have wearable tech believe it has enhanced their lives. No doubt that technology has enhanced lives throughout history. The flushing toilet alone was certainly an improvement over the outhouse. But for the everyday person, how much of this really makes our lives better or easier? I’ve kinda decided that wearable tech is kinda like library instruction without a course assignment. It isn’t very useful until you actually need it for something.

For instance, a gesture ring could seriously improve the life of someone who is wheelchair bound. If someone is really motivated to get fit then a health tracker could make a real difference.

So what is the verdict on wearable tech? You tell me.

TransLoc

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Have you ridden the new Blazer Express?  UAB has really upped the game for campus transportation with new buses and routes.  The buses and shiny and new and beautifully branded for UAB but best thing about the new system in my opinion is the app they are using to communicate.  TransLoc is an app and website that many transportation systems use to track their routes and buses.  Once downloaded, in the app, you can choose to view stops or routes and get real time information on where your bus is and when you can expect it at your stop.

UAB map on the web

UAB map on the web

 

UAB map on my mobile

UAB map on my mobile

UAB routes on my mobile

UAB routes on my mobile

The system is free, easy to use and updates on the fly.  If you need to move around campus on a rainy cool morning like today, I recommend you use Blazer Express and TransLoc!

P.S.  I’ll talk about TransLoc Rider in an upcoming post.

 

3G Watchdog

watchdogMost people have no idea how much data they use monthly on their cellphone until they get a dreaded overage message. I’m still on the unlimited data plan with Verizon, but  soon it will be time to stop clinging to the past.  To help me with my transition, I’ve been using an app called 3g Watchdog.

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The app has helped me track how much data I’m actually using. You can set your quota limits and billing dates;  for example, set a limit of 2G per month starting on the 18th and you can get a notification when you are at 75% of the quota. You can view daily, weekly or monthly usage and see how much time you have left before your monthly plan resets.

The icon in your notification bar will advise you of your status from a glance by changing from green to yellow to red. It will also send you notifications when you are getting close to your limit and it can even be set to auto disable your mobile data to prevent overage. 3G Watchdog Pro gives you many advanced features like exporting a CSV file of your usage, viewing your usage by application or even restricting apps. I’ve found that the basic functions of the free version are enough to give me a good handle on what I’m using. This app is only available on Google Play but other similar applications Onavo Count and My Data Manager are available on Itunes.

OverDrive Media Console

Read and listen to eBooks & audiobooks from your library on the go or at home with OverDrive Media Console. The app is available for every major desktop and mobile platform, including Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Kindle, NOOK, Windows 8 PC and tablet, Blackberry and Windows Phone.

This is a great product that enables you to literally have a library at your fingertips.It’s a great product that works across multiple platforms. I of course am a Windows and Windows Phone 8 user and the app is free!
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Download eBooks and audiobooks from your library directly to your Windows Phone! OverDrive Media Console gives you on-the-go access to eBooks and audiobooks from your public, school, or college library. More than 18,000 libraries worldwide offer best-selling and classic titles via OverDrive, so use the ‘Get Books’ feature in the app to find a library near you.
Digital titles from your library are borrowed just like print material. Once you find your library using ‘Get Books,’ you can browse your library’s digital collection website in the app, check out a title with a valid library card, and download the title directly to your Windows Phone.

Once you open the app you can search for a library by name, city or zip code. tech

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After which you select your member library and browse their collection and check out theebook of your choice. The title automatically expires in the app at the end of the lending period, so there’s never a late fee. There’s even a handy countdown clock built into the app so you know how long you have to read or listen before the title expires.

Some of the neat features included but aren’t limited to:

Change font size, margin, contrast and more to suit your style
Bookmark your favorite passages for repeat reading and listening
The built-in dictionary makes word lookup a breeze
Let your friends know what you’re reading on Facebook.

All and all a pretty handy tool for those avid readers out there that want a convenient way to take their favorite readings wherever they go.

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So long Google Reader, I hardly knew you

I consider myself an average consumer of technology, so there are only a few moments in my life where I found myself truly wowed by the next new thing, moments when I realized that I was doing it all wrong, moments when technology answered questions that I didn’t even know I had.  One of the most significant moments was looking down at the Nokia flip-phone in my hand after seeing Apple’s 2007 pro-mo for the first generation iPhone.  And most recently, discovering FeedlyLogo

I had to use Google Reader for a class in 2010, and I just didn’t get it.  It felt like another email I had to check.  When the class ended, so did my patience with Google Reader.  But when, earlier this year, Google announced that they were quitting with Google Reader, I figured I ought to do something with the feeds that I already subscribed to, feeds that I wished I read more often.  My husband mentioned Feedly, and said that all I had to do was click a button and everything would move over, I thought it was worth a shot.browser

 

The verdict: Switching over could not have been easier! and I love Feedly!! It is the answer to everything I disliked about Googleexample article Reader.  I went from signing in to Google Reader every once in a while, to opening Feedly everyday. I never feel like I have to check Feedly; I feel like it’s always waiting for me.  It’s there at my convenience, right beside my Google search bar. There are no more files and folders! Anything I’m interested in is clearly and invitingly displayed, all I need to do is scroll/browse through, like a magazine.  I don’t have to stumble across new blogs and news feeds to find something new–I can search within Feedly and add & organize new feeds in a matter of nanoseconds.  In fact, when I made the switch over to Feedly, I added at least 10 new blogs within minutes of loading the app to my phone.  I love it when something works so well I don’t even have to think about it.

mobile appFeedly is really lovely in its design and function.  The ratio of images to text is just right.  It’s not busy, it’s not flashy, it’s just really clean and attractive.  Everything I want to read is in one place.  My news categories are organized in alphabetical order, so my cooking, writing, and window shopping blogs are side by side with my library, teaching, and healthcare-related blogs.  Every time I open the app, I feel like I’m discovering something serendipitously (even though I know that I’m not; after all, I’m the one responsible for the content).

My favorite way to spend my lunch break is browsing through my Feedly either on my desktop or my iPhone.  I love the yin-yang balance of seeing all my news feeds at once, yet in their respective categories.  I’ll read something fun about finding great fried chicken in New York City, the next section will feature a story about a bookless public library in Texas, and the next section will feature world news from my NPR feed.

Feedly just made Feedly Pro available.  It’s a $5.00 a month charge, andfeedly pro ad I’ll have to wait to see if I think it’s worth paying for.  It will come with a handy search feature, which free Feedly lacks.  Other features include one-click sync with Evernote and One-click Pocket, and premium customer support.  The fact that Feedly wants users to start paying for a better platform makes me wonder if ads are on the way…in that case, I probably would pay $5.00/month to keep my Feedly looking the way I want it to.

There’s plenty of debate in the Tech World about the “death of the RSS feedSome say that Google+ is Google’s answer to its own problem.  Others argue that Twitter was always the answer, with news in real time.  I can’t really provide insight to the on-going debate, all I know is that I find Feedly incredibly refreshing and I love that I have control over how I want to use it–something I feel is lacking in my social network life.  I’d rather keep my news stories separated from friend’s new haircut update.

Feedly works for me.  If you found something else to replace your Google Reader, we want to hear about it at Lister Hill.  Leave us a comment!!

 

Graphite Lite App.

A while back I wrote about picking up sketching again and now I am seldom without my sketchbook and pencil. I never really considered sketching electronically until I started watching tutorials by Sycra Yasin.

Yasin made such neat sketches and made sketching electronically look so easy I thought I’d give it a try.

After reading about the different apps in the App Store I settled on Graphite Lite because it looked to be the best for regular plain ole sketching. I didn’t want stamps, architecture tools, or paints. Graphite also had good reviews for their pencil and charcoal tools.

I downloaded the free version to check it out and liked it so much I went ahead and spent the 2.99 for the full version.

For tools you get charcoal and pencil as well as a regular hard pencil eraser and a kneaded eraser. This version also includes a blending tool.  For all of these tools you can set the color and size (width) of the mark and the pressure.

The app also includes undo, redo, and zoom — zoom is really handy for working on small areas like eyes.

What I really like though is you can import a photo and trace it. This is really useful for practicing hard shapes like puppy noses. You can also save your work and email it or share through social media channels.

The interface is really easy to use and help is conveniently provided in the area with the icons for the pencil, charcoal, etc. Actually drawing, however, took a little getting used to. I tried using my finger first and that didn’t work out very well. Then I tried a regular old free stylus that came in the mail. Both my finger and stylus were too wide to get the precision needed to use the pencil very well. Using the charcoal worked better. Overall, this is fun and easy to use app but if you are serious about doing drawing electronically you will want to invest in stylus designed for artist.

So how did I do? Below is a picture of my dog, Ellie, and a quick sketch I did of her. I was using the charcoal tool mostly.

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This won’t replace my paper and pencil though!