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January 14, 2013

Sitegeist: An App that Makes You Look Smart
Filed under: Phone Apps for Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

If you work on the front end of building projects, getting involved during the site selection stage, you need the Sitegeist phone app. It gives demographic info on people, housing, fun, weather and history.  Here’s a sample screen shot and more detailed screen info list below.

  1. People: median age, male/female age distribution, # of children under 5, household incomes and political contributions
  2. Housing: median home value, average rent, % of renters and how people commute
  3. Fun: nearby restaurants and movie theaters
  4. Weather: current weather and record highs and lows
  5. History: median age of homes and housing units built in last year

So add this little dynamo of an app to your phone. I am meeting a new potential customer today and plan to work this app into our conversation. Anything I can do to add value to my customer’s business adds value to me.

Thanks to Lex for shooting this app to me. Oh, did I mention it’s free? What’s not to like?


November 8, 2012

Siri vs Google Voice Search

You should probably be talking to your phone more. Get in the habit of using the voice search function on your phone to quickly get answers to anything you want to know. As you learn to Google questions, you realize the amazingly quick and accurate responses Google provides. By eliminating the need to type on your smart phone keyboard, the process has become so simple. Watch the video below for some inspiration.


If you use an Android phone, just go with the Google Voice search (the microphone icon). I recommend you make sure to put that microphone icon on your home screen, so you can easily perform voice searches.

If you have an iPhone, you have access to Siri. The video above compares Siri and Google Voice Search in a side x side comparison. Spoiler alert: Siri sucks. I’ve seen similar comparisons done on just the iPhone and Siri still performs badly. So I’d recommend iPhone users switch to Google Voice Search.

Get in the habit of searching the internet from your smart phone for everything from directions for which bus to take to sizing a steel beam. You’ll find that many phone apps become obsolete when you can take your question right to a full Google search of the internet. Use the power that’s available. You increase your value and have fun.


March 13, 2012

Helpful tools for your Android Smartphone
Filed under: Phone Apps for Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

Guest post by the ConstructionKnowledge monkey: Lex Pelger

There are many helpful tools for life and construction available to those who use Android smartphones (also known as the Enlightened). Here’s a short list of some of my favorites. If you have any of your own, I’d love to hear about them in the comments

A handy toolbox for anybody in the field. It can measure length, angle, distance, height. It can be a range finder, a stud finder and a decibel meter. It’s not a replacement for your tape measure but it’s helpful because the phone is always in your pocket for making quick and dirty measurements.

Tiny Flashlight
There’s lots of free flashlight apps but I found this one to be the simplest and easiest. I’m currently hitchhiking through Mexico and I can unequivocally say that the flashlight is the most helpful tool I keep in my pocket.

Internet for your laptop anywhere you go. This app is incredibly helpful. Just install the software on your laptop and you can plug in your phone to use it’s 3G connection. It’s not super fast but it’s good enough for sending emails and working in the field. Just make sure that you don’t go over your data limit. Those crooked mobile phone companies sock you for that. It’s usually just a couple of extra bucks for an unlimited data plan. Or you could use this 3G Watchdog Pro app to keep you from going over.

If you’re using DropBox to backup your important files (as everyone should be doing), the phone app allows you to look at those files. Quite helpful when you need to check an estimate number from the field or an item on the bullet list that you left at the office.

What are your most used apps? Care to share with others what works for you?


February 27, 2012

Construction Apps Continue to Surge
Filed under: Phone Apps for Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

As more smartphones, iPads and Android tablets show up on the construction site, more construction apps become available. On the jobsite, our projects change quickly and we communicate visually. That combination makes construction a great industry to capitalize on this new technology. Coupled with the fact that many contractors don’t type well, a touch screen with menus, instant size changing and drag and drop capability further ups the value.

Think about having all your current project drawings kept up-to-date on a file transfer protocal (FTP) site like It’s relatively easy to do, then your tablet computer can quickly pull up any drawing you need on the jobsite. Moving around the drawing and zooming in is easy. It’s not quite the same as paper drawings, but it’s more likely to be the current drawing instead of an older version.

Also, think about the calculations that you typically do on the jobsite, then see if you can find an app to easily automate them. If you can do that, you should be using a tablet computer on your jobsite.

The promise of a paperless office has been offered often but never realized. It’s still reasonably far away, but I think we can now see that the tablet computer will be the technology though which that promise eventually gets accomplished.

A big advantage of tablet computers has to do with the much lower costing software. For some reason, regular computer programs that cost $300 get released for the iPad and Android tablets for $10. I think the huge potential world market makes the pricing strategy different. Regardless, though, you should be thinking about jumping into this technology and learning how much your business (or your personal productivity) can be improved.

If you don’t have a smartphone, get one now. It’s the important first step. After you get accustomed to constant email access and certain helpful phone app programs, then consider a tablet.


December 12, 2011

Job Site Photos: How to Take the Important Ones and Find them When You Need Them

When a problem occurs on a construction project that can’t be resolved by those on the site, documentation becomes essential. If an off-site person must approve a change order or pay an insurance claim, that person will need to understand the reality on the job site (even though  that situation seems so very obvious to those currently on the site).  Photos and video help bridge that gap.

I’ve wanted to take more job site photos for years, but never seem to have my camera when I need it. The smart phone really helps resolve that problem. I’m taking more photos now, which can help me in many ways.

Of course, the photos don’t serve any purpose unless they can be found when needed. There are many ways to deal with photo storage, but I just save often by date. That way I have a decent idea of where to find a critical photo.

Knowing which photos may be important in the future, though, gets tricky. In the case of an obvious SNAFU, lots of photos and video should be shot and saved to a specially named file. For the typical photos, though, you probably won’t know what will be helpful to you until it is. Therefore, just get in the habit of taking lots of pictures.

As you snap away, there will be times you wish you could zoom in or get more detail for a closeup. These lens for smart phones seem worthwhile. I’m just purchasing them now, so I’ll let you know more when I test them.

The three small yet powerful lenses: the Fisheye, Telephoto, and Macro/Wide Angle Cell Phone Lenses are available as shown below.

Buy the Fisheye, Macro, Wide Angle and Telephoto Phone Lenses at the Photojojo Store!

Another option is the rubber band with an attached lens. If you’ve tried any of these, we’d all appreciate your comments.

Buy the Macro Cell Lens Band at the Photojojo Store!


September 30, 2011

Site Work Calculator App
Filed under: Phone Apps for Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

If you ever do any site work in the field (backfilling pipe trenches with stone, converting stone or bitum areas to weights to make a purchase, etc) you will love this new app we are developing. Designed by the sharpest site work guy I’ve ever met, the tasks include:

  1. Soils calculator
  2. Stone calculator
  3. Bituminous calculator
  4. Pipe trench stone calculator
  5. Concrete structure weight calculator
  6. Slope calculator
  7. Area and volume calculator

With lots of practical options included in each of the calculators, you will be able to solve some common, yet complex, field problems with this app.

We are trying to make this the only phone app a site work supervisor would need to use. Please leave me comments about any features you’d like to see or if the app looks valuable to you.


September 29, 2011

New Apps to Help Build Your Construction Business
Filed under: Phone Apps for Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

We’ve been working for months on the idea of helping small contractors become more profitable. We’re also interested in helping folks jump into new construction ventures. Lots of resources for big firms, but almost nothing for those of us who contemplate starting a new construction related firm.

So our first offerings will be some phone apps that help solve the problem of keeping score. We see success in the construction business as follows:

  1. Get Work
  2. Do Work
  3. Keep Score

The Construction Knowledge Database provides great resources for the Do Work aspect. Over time we’ll be adding more content for the Get Work part. But the new smart phone apps will focus on the Keep Score portion.

The Time Card app will allow anyone in the field to keep track of time and productivity on their smart phone. They can get daily feedback on how they are doing relative to the job estimate. Everyone does better when the goal becomes clear and measurable…and the tracking more accurate.

The Field Order app forces field personnel to get the scope of the requested extra work clear, and an authorizing signature, prior to proceeding. When facing potential change orders, the Prostitute’s Rule for Service Valuation must be understood…”The value of the service diminishes greatly after the service has been rendered.” Get it signed before you start the work!

These two apps will both email results in a format that can be easily read by office computers. So the data may be easily put into payroll and job costing programs.

We will finalize the design on the Time Card and the Field Order apps in the next few days. Please do me a favor and let me know if you have any interest in these apps? Or are there any features you’d like to see? Please leave me comments.


July 28, 2011

Electricians Get Some Help in their Pocket
Filed under: Phone Apps for Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

I’m always looking for new construction apps to add to our best of construction phone apps page. If you let us know about a favorite app or update a review of one on our list, we’ll send you one of our construction phone apps for free.

If you’re a developer, it’s in your best interest to let us know. Since we’re in the app development game ourselves, we know how hard it is to get the word out there.

For instance, we really appreciate hearing from guys like Sam Virgillo of Carry-On Software. He developed the app “Electrician’s Helper” for the iPhone and recently emailed to let us know he now has a version for Android as well. We’re proud to give the app the coveted (gee, we hope so!) Construction Knowledge Seal of Approval. The app helps solve problems encountered daily by electricians.

So keep letting us know about your favorite apps and keep coming back here for more at the intersection of construction and technology.

Guest post from the Boy – my son Lex who helps with the technical side of this websiteIf you need a website or help with Internet marketing, he knows what he’s doing and works for cheap (here’s his site with more info). He’s currently in Berlin trying his hand at freelance writing with an emphasis on free.


April 30, 2011

Reading the Fine Print, with Old Eyes and in Low Light
Filed under: Phone Apps for Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

Here’s another great use for a smart phone. When you have some small print to read, perhaps a serial number on the back side of a pump in a dark little room, use your smart phone camera zoom option. It works like a magnifying glass and the flash (or the flash light function) will let you see when you can’t.

On the other hand, if you are just getting old, like me, and your eyes no longer focus so well on the fine print, you can grab your smart phone when reading glasses aren’t handy. Reading menus in those dark romantic restaurants just got easier. Yet another reason to obtain and use a smart phone.

If that purchase isn’t yet in your budget (because cost is the only reason not to have one of these), you can try this Wallet Magnifier. It’s a pocket Frenel Lens and worth the space in your wallet. If only because you can start a fire with it in a survival situation.

Hat tip to Lex for finding this cool little useful tool. I’ll be adding one to my wallet. Here’s the link at Amazon. Since shipping costs are high, I bought the 10 pack for $8 total and will distribute to my buds.


March 17, 2011

Some Useful Tech Advice
Filed under: Phone Apps for Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

My son Lex wrote a helpful post listing two important ways to protect your tech data.

  1. Have all your important files backed up automatically to the cloud with minimal effort and low cost.
  2. Add a phone finder app to your smart phone that helps you foil thieves and your own stupidity.

You can get to the post either by following this link or clicking on the Phone Apps Blog icon at the top of the site. Lex lives in Belgium these days, but his writing hasn’t seemed to pick-up an accent yet.

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