The new loft system is now in place with all Items, Containers and Positions recorded in the Grok Discover2 iphone app. Particular advantages of the app over the laptop-based database I used previously, are a) the ipad and iphone are much easier to carry around and use in the loft than the laptop; and b) the ability to take a photo with the iphone, have it seamlessly copied to the ipad, and then to be able to almost immediately pick it up from within the Grok app, made the task of inserting photos into the Grok database vastly easier than when I was using a windows-based database.
However, there were a few areas in which the app lacked functionality which the windows-based database had: a) today’s date can’t be auto-entered into the ‘Date this record created’ field that I had set up; b) the next available Serial No can’t be auto-entered; c) it is not possible to specify that a field should be populated with what was input for that field in the previous record (very useful for a field like ‘Date this record created’); d) the images that are input for each record can only be displayed, even on the ipad, at a maximum size of 3 x 3 cm – and these images, frustratingly, cannot be expanded using the standard ipad two finger screen expansion action (and users should note that photos need to be taken in the iphone ‘square’ mode otherwise the app will truncate the images); e) Only two fields are presented for each of the records selected in a search – annoying if you want to compare the values of another field across all the selected records; f) it is not possible to sort the records selected in a search.
Although these are shortcomings, I’m currently feeling they are a small price to pay for free, ready-built software which has been designed to work seamlessly with the RFID reader. Furthermore, the ability to share it via the Grok cloud, is another huge bonus. The ease with which this can be done was demonstrated last Sunday when I sat across the room from my son-in-law and suggested he search for Grok in the app store; and then, when he had it loaded it, I told him what the username and password were. He started exploring the app and soon found the items we are storing for him and our daughter. This was all accomplished without me moving from my seat or helping him in any other way.
No doubt, I’ll find out more about the utility of the Grok app over the coming months as we take items out of the loft and put new items in. However, the really interesting experience will be when I obtain the Grok reader and attach RFID tags to every item. Watch this space.