Have you ever seen an airplane flying overhead and wondered where it was headed?
Well, now you can point your smart phone camera at the plane and find out.
There's an app for that.
Apps, or application software, exist for thousands of uses on mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. That means greater opportunities for people to access content and opens up many more opportunities for those who create and disseminate information, such as journalists.
Josh Hatch, online content manager for the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit organization that uses the Internet to promote greater government openness, recently gave a presentation on how journalists can use smartphones in their jobs.
He was one of the featured speakers at a two-day NewsTrain workshop in Salt Lake City sponsored by the Associated Press Managing Editors Association. A number of Standard-Examiner reporters and editors attended the workshop.
Hatch, a big proponent of the iPhone, said the device has revolutionized the smartphone industry and created new and more efficient ways for journalists to do research, recording and publishing while on the go.
"Now you have an entire multimedia backpack kit in the palm of your hand," he said.
For instance, a reporter could take pictures of pages of text documents and, with an app, the text would be searchable. This would cut down on the numerous hours many reporters use to read over documents, looking for key pieces of information needed for the story they are working on.
It is like having a portable computer database at your disposal.
With another app, documents in a foreign language can be translated into English.
Of particular interest to me and Visuals Editor Robert Johnson was the use of the smartphone for streaming video.
With a few accessories -- like a tripod to keep the phone steady and a splitter cord that can be plugged into the headphones outlet that allows for a mic to be attached -- the smartphone becomes a portable studio.
The Standard-Examiner has done some streaming video using laptop cameras from a fixed location, such as the recent Fall Home & Garden Show. However, this requires a stable WiFi or high speed mobile signal for transmission.
With a smartphone, all we will need is a regular smartphone signal that we can then upload to our online site, www.standard.net. This will allow us to cover the breaking news where it happens, be it an impromptu news conference or a burning building.
A true hands-on experience.
HATS OFF: My week of humiliation is over.
During work hours I had to wear a University of Utah hat that can only be politely described as "metrosexual" because I lost a bet over last week's Utah-Arizona football game. The University of Arizona is my alma mater.
The wager was made with copy editor Matt Piper, a proud former Daily Utah Chronicle editor at the U of U. My daughter, a U of U student, also had bragging rights for the week. I don't believe she had anything to do with the headwear fashion selected for my penance, but it could have come straight from her closet.
Hey, I'm a good sport, but a precedent has been set. Turnabout is fair play -- the Utes play Arizona TWICE in basketball.
Andy Howell is executive editor. He can be reached at 801-625-4210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.