Taking Soil Description Notes in the Field – Pencil/Paper vs. Cellphone vs. Custom App
Traditionally, geologists have used pencil and paper when logging soil descriptions in the field. For years, it’s been our goal to optimize this process. Originally, we released a “field” version of QuickLog that could be run on ruggedized computers such as the Trimble Yuma or Panasonic Toughbook. Although it is efficient to enter data directly using QuickLog in the field, most geologists feel that the high cost of ruggedized computers doesn’t justify the amount of time saved. Some of our clients tried non-ruggedized computers in the field, but those computers usually did not hold up well in the moist and muddy conditions.
Our new solution is to use GeoWriter to process field notes - here's how it works: use your cellphone to take a photo of your notes, click OCR scan to convert the handwritten notes into text, email the text to yourself, paste it into GeoWriter. GeoWriter imports it into QuickLog (or other borehole logging software) and translates any shorthand into full text descriptions with formatting. For example, you write:
S vc 10y4, ftm
SAND visually classified as (10 YR 4/4), fine to medium
because you have setup your own, custom dictionary of geologic words and phrases ahead of time:
S = SAND, vc = visually classified as, 10y4 = (10 YR 4/4), ftm = fine to medium
If you don't feel like OCR scanning your notes, you will still save time because later, you will re-type your shorthand notes, not full text. Then, GeoWriter will translate this shorthand text into full descriptions.
We also recommend typing notes directly into your cellphone - this is now much more feasible because you are typing shorthand, not full descriptions on a tiny cellphone keypad. Cellphones are OK to use in wet conditions - so, you don't need a ruggedized computer. This method is the fastest - use any text editor on your phone to take notes, email the notes to yourself, paste them into GeoWriter. GeoWriter does the rest - importing and translating to full text.
Whether you take notes via pencil/paper or cellphone, the process can be greatly sped up using GeoWriter.