Pottering around looking for useful archaeology related sites I happened across a post from CoDA titled “Always Have a backup Plan” and it put the case so simply and effectively I wanted to share it.
Its stating the blindingly obvious, but phones and tablets break, get dropped in puddles, decide to stop working for no apparent reason. So while they’re very useful and generally reliable you still need a backup.
As Nikki from CoDA says (I summarise);
Keep lots of backups, keep them on different media and don;t keep them all in one place.
I’d add one further tip, which is to check from time to time that you can actually read your backups – you’d be amazed how often a crisis occurs and its only then that people discover the backup wasn’t working properly.
Archaeo-Pad will nag you make a backup, the default setting is every 2 days, if you want to live dangerously will take to the Preferences page where you can extend the interval.
I’d recommend leaving the setting alone and sending a backup to yourself by email at least once a day, just make it the last thing you do before cleaning off your trowel! And make a separate copy to the cloud or to a hard drive as well.
Archaeo-Pad is mainly aimed at recording data on site, but one of my Skelly-Pad contacts pointed out that it might also be a good tool to capture measurements from skeletons – particularly if you don’t want to do a complete skeleton inventory , which is what Skelly-Pad is aimed at.
After a bit of checking for the right measurements to collect I’ve put together a form to record the cranial measurements (that’s skull for nom-osteologists!) needed to do an ancestry assessment using the widely used CranID software created by Richard Wright.
I’ve also created a Forms Library to hold custom forms, so if you design a form you think other people might find useful and are willing to share just let me know and I’ll add it to the list.
Archaeo-Pad grew out of my experiences developing Skelly-Pad, an App for recording skeletons, which itself came about because I needed a subject for my final year dissertation for BSc in Archaeology at the University of Reading. Being an IT specialist by background I was convinced it would be possible to build digital tools that would genuinely help archaeologists, who, it has to be said, are not always hugely receptive to new technology!
Lots of people suggested that a simple ‘Cut and Fill’ recording App would be useful so that’s what started me off developing Archaeo-Pad. There’s really 4 key principles behind it;
- Archaeologists differ in their approach to recording, often for very good reasons, so the App needed to allow people to create their own forms
- It needed to add value over and above the standard Apps that already exists – so it concentrates on the archaeology features (like Level calculations) and I decided not to try and build a drawing App – there are plenty of those already
- Data should only have to be entered once. Paper forms often ask for the same data to be entered multiple times, so if things go wrong you can track down the right plan, section or whatever. Archaeo-Pad makes it easy to keep track of which context belongs to which plan, sample, level and so on
- A proper, functioning App needs to have backups, exports and print facilities – so Archaeo-Pad includes an annoying backup reminder and lets you export data in printable format (HTML) or to a CSV, so you can pass context lists or finds lists on for processing in the office.
I used the prototype myself on a dig last year, and came back with lots of improvements, but it worked very nicely as a personal ‘dig notebook’ and will work just as well to record a complete dig.
Next stop, linking Archaeo-Pad up with repositories such as iadb, ARK, Archie and Interris.
Feedback on Archaeo-Pad has been great, but as always there are things that are less obvious about how it works. So I’ve put together an FAQ page and some walkthroughs to show you how to use the more complicated facilities and how to create and edit your own form designs.
New Q&A will be added as the queries come in.
Not many people know that any Android App can also be published for use on Amazon Kindle Fire tablets without any modification. So happy to day that Archaeo-Pad is now on Amazon.
For an entry level, low cost tablet the Fire is pretty good – its a little slower than my iPad and Samsung tablets but the cheapest is £50 – so not a bad place to start and they’re also pretty robust.
The Android version had an annoying intermittent bug which meant that forms occasionally didn’t display properly. Following some useful clues from users I’ve tracked the issue down and fixed it. Latest version is now live on Google Play and Amazon.
Android version of Archaeo-Pad-Lite and Archaeo-Pad-Pro now available on Google Play store and Amazon App Store.
App has been tested on a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and Kindle Fire 7 using version 8.0.0 of Android (known as Oreo) – if you have any problems please let me know what device you’re using and what version of Android (see Settings on your phone/tablet to find out).