Posts Tagged ‘iPad’


Near the end of this month’s Scenic District roundtable meeting I asked the Scouters if many of them had any of the digital copies of the old Boy Scout themed novels written in the early 1900′s. I had noticed that many of the Scouters owned smart phones and tablets and that they used these during meetings, so I thought it was a valid question. I do not think a hand went up in reply. That surprised me a little.

I have collected over 50 of these old books in the open source epub digital book format. They are novels featuring the adventures of Tom Slade, Roy Blakeley, and Pee Wee Harris. You may recognize those names from the Boy’s Life magazine cartoon pages. There are stories of the Banner Boy Scouts and the members of the Eagle Patrol. All of these old novels have fallen into the public domain. I think I have more eBooks than I do actual hardbound books in my collection.

I understand the epub eBook file works well with many current tablets, including the iPad, but does not work with the Amazon Kindle tablets. I guess Amazon would rather sell you a copy in their own format. However, I hear that there are free programs available to reformat epub files to something the Kindle can use. It is just an extra step needed to work on the Kindle.

I asked the Scouters if they would like a digital copy of these books. Most of them said yes. This morning I got busy and started burning cd’s of the 50 Scouting novels for the next roundtable. I will bring 12 cd’s to the meeting. It will be a nice bonus for some of the Scouters who take the time to come to the roundtable. If more than one Scouter from a troop attends I am sure they would be willing to share the cd of books.

How many of these digital novels do you own?

Last month I finally broke down and bought an iPad (the newest version). I have been having fun with it. It looks great and works well. I have to admit, playing Angry Birds on an iPad is a lot more fun then playing on an iPod Touch. I have downloaded dozens of books that are in the public domain, especially all the fictional novels I can find written about Boy Scouting during the early years of the movement. Most of the stories about Pee Wee Harris, Roy Blakely, and Tom Slade are waiting on my iPad’s hard drive waiting to be read.

I have also downloaded a couple of Scouting related apps.The first one was MyBadges, written by Kevin Butler. It is an app which quickly puts the requirements for Boy Scout ranks, merit badges, and other awards on the screen. I have used this app while sitting on a board of review and found it to be quite handy, although one Boy Scout may not agree with me since I found a current requirement that was not listed in his handbook which was about 5 years old. Kevin has been doing a pretty good job of keeping his app current with the latest BSA handbook.

Which brings me to a problem I found. I was going to download the Boy Scouts of America app of The Boy Scout Handbook. After all, I am still involved with Scouting and thought it should be on my new gizmo. I went to the App Store to download it and stopped dead in my tracks. I have not purchased it, and will not purchase it. Here are the reasons why…

First of all, The B.S.A. has not updated the Handbook App since November 7, 2009. Yes, you read that correctly. 2009! For an organization that wants its members and volunteers to stay up to date they have really dropped the ball here. Heck, they come out with a new printed handbook every year. Why should I pay $9.99 to download a handbook that does not even contain the latest requirements for ranks and training?

And the price of $9.99, which just happens to be the same price as a physical handbook, but yet does not let me (or a Boy Scout) write in it and keep track of things like we can in a real physical copy? I think the price should be a couple bucks cheaper but I think I understand the reasoning behind it. After all, I was going to buy it until I started looking closer at it.

Third, the app is only available as an iPhone App. Really? Come on B.S.A., get with the program. Over 50 million of these devices have been sold. I am sure I am not the only Boy Scout volunteer that owns an iPad. I had thought the B.SA. was trying to be more modern and catch up to current technology. It seems to me they have been dropping the ball in a major way with this app.

Fourth. And speaking of dropping the ball, have you read the reviews about the latest version of the e-hanbook? (Which, keep in mind, came out in 2009.) They are not glowing, I can tell you that. The main gripe seems to be that it is not much more then a pdf version of the handbook. Excuse me national office, but if I am going to pay for an ebook, I would like it to be an ebook with at least a fair amount of accessible features. The book should be interactive, like the B.SA. says a Scouting program should be for its boy members.

So, I will not be purchasing the B.SA.’s Boy Scout Handbook app. At least not yet. I would like to, but the national office needs to work on this program and at least update it, if nothing else. Or could it be that this app is not a big enough seller for the B.SA. to care about? That would be a shame.

I would be interested on hearing from you if you use the Boy Scout Handbook app. Do you think it is useful? What is your general impression of it. Write a comment and share your user experience with us.

It is a gadget I would like to get, but I do not have one yet. Even my mother would like to have one after playing with the one my sister-in-law owns. I am sure many of you would like one if you do not already own one. What am I talking about? The iPad, of course. It has been available for nearly a year. I decided to see if there were any apps available for it. There are several apps for the iPod Touch after all. (Yes, I realize that iPhone apps also work on the iPad, but I wanted to see apps specially made for the larger format.)

When I typed “Boy Scout” into the iTunes search box it came up with 21 apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone, but only seven for the iPad. There were only five iPhone apps for “Cub Scout”  and three for the iPad. Type “Scouting” into the search and you get apps for Boy Scouting and sports. When you narrow it down to just Boy Scout or Cub Scout apps we have ten for the iPhone and four for the iPad.

Two Cub Scout based iPad apps that caught my eye were “Pack Badges” ($3.99) and “Pinewood Derby” ($1.99). The Pack Badges app allows you to track advancement requirements for the Cub Scout awards and several special awards, and it allows you to track multiple Scouts. It has received a 4.5 star rating from its users. The Pinewood Derby game app allows you to build a Pinewood Derby car and then race it. There seems to be some problems with it though. Users only gave it a two star rating and complain about it crashing a lot.

Two Boy Scout related apps that caught my attention were “Camping Manual” ($2.99) and “Troop Badges” ($5.99). The Camping Manual app is exactly what it says. It is a manual with lots of all season camping tips. It has not yet been rated  enough by its users to earn an average. Troop Badges is similar to Pack Badges in that it allows you to track multiple Boy Scouts through their advancement progress. It has earned a four star rating.

I have not used any of these apps, yet. I would like to hear from those of you who have. Are they worth the money? Should I download them when I finally purchase an iPad? Do you have a favorite Scouting app that I have not listed? Has the BSA produced any iPad apps yet? Let me know.