We Got An App For That!

Columns From: Products Finishing, ,

Posted on: 7/1/2011

New PFonline.com smart phone app delivers

Disclaimer 1: The clock on my VCR at home blinks 12:00 constantly.
 
Disclaimer 2: Yes, I do still have a VCR.
 
But in the world of technology, I consider myself somewhere between an aficionado and darn near an expert, at least as much as I want to convince myself.
 
I have an iPhone, which I use constantly and for everything, from checking weather and news, to ordering movie tickets while sitting in the parking lot of the theater. As they say: There’s an app for that.
 
So when we here at Products Finishing started tinkering with the idea of maybe creating a smart phone app for our readers, I didn’t want it to be just a way to repackage our news on the finishing industry and let you read it on a smaller screen.
 
What I’ve come to learn about smart phones and those ubiquitous apps is that they can come in handy with nifty tools and features. Check that: They have to be handy, or why bother with them.
 
I began exploring ways that we could make the PF app more usable as a tool for the work people do on the shop floor, in the estimating office or even out on the road And so I did a truly novel thing which I don’t often do: I started asking people in the finishing business what they would like on the “finishing” app. I received no shortage of suggestions, from reference tools that would be great to have in your pocket rather than running back to the office, to simple conversion charts and tables that makes calculations simple.
 
COOL FEATURES
So if you go to PFonline.com and look for our App button, you’ll be able to download the smart phone app to your device (iPhone, Android or Windows) which has some pretty cool tools:
 
  • Glossary of finishing terms, for that day when you need to know what an “anolyte” is, or what it means to have a “thief” in your bath.
  • Atomic weight table, just like we had as sophomores in high school.
  • Temperature conversion tables so you’ll know that -19°C is also -2.2°F.
  • Conversion tables to translate things such as kilopascales to millibars, which of course everyone knows you simply multiply by 10.
  • Units of weights and measures to convert grains to scruples in case you are also a pharmacist in addition to being a custom coater.
  • Plating specifications in case you do not recall that AMS2485 is calling out a black oxide (jeez!).
  • Incompatible chemicals list to make sure you don’t mix chlorine dioxide with ammonia, methane, phosphine or hydrogen sulfide, lest you want to start remodeling very soon.
  • Acid base indicators for when you need info on alizarin yellow (10.0 – 12.0, 1 drop 0.1% aq. soln., yellow lilac), but who’s counting?
 
We’ll add more tables if you’ll let us know. The thing you’ll learn about apps is that they are their own living, breathing thing, capable of being changed and improved over time.
 
For those of you who do own an iPhone, we also added a special way to “Ask The PF Experts,” in case you have a question about plating, painting, powder coating, anodizing, cleaning, pollution or mechanical finishing (sorry, Android and Windows have not caught up just yet).
 
ASK THE EXPERTS
The PF app with the iPhone will allow you to text a question to our Experts right from the phone, and allow you to take a photo and send it along, too. So instead of writing 500 words on that blistering problem you’re having, snap a photo and text it off to our pros.
 
And yes, we have created special “zones” on the app. You can easily read the latest information on plating, painting, powder coating and the others, plus get info on new products just out on the market, as well as breaking news from the industry.
 
We think the PF app will give you some great use, and it’s free of charge. Let us know what other features you’d like, and we’ll see about adding them.
 
Now if I could only get an app to fix my VCR clock.
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