We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France


Understanding Battles: Can a tablet replace my books and maps?

As I prepared for my talk on the 36th Infantry Division at our Operation Dragoon seminar, I’ve had an opportunity to use my new tablet (a Motorola Xoom) to the utmost. It really is a “killer app” for a historian.

My friend, Eric Wittenberg, first wrote about his tentative use of his Nook early last year, then replaced it with an iPad in December. Despite being a software developer in my paid work, I was apprehensive. I love books and maps. The look and feel of each has always been special, and I felt no computer would be able replace them for me.

I tried Kindle, first as a PC app, then on my smartphone. Not the same as a ‘real’ book, but quick and easy. With a library of a few hundred books, I never ventured to read history via Kindle. I had too big of a physical book backlog to consider it.

Then, I needed more detail on the 36th in less than a week. So, I used Google books to buy “First to the Rhine”. I kept flipping pages to review maps, then realized that I could use Google maps on my tablet. Zoom, twist, slide zoom out, add the terrain overlay. I’m sold. I just hope I can figure out how to Bluetooth or connect to the projector with my tablet because it makes understanding the fight at Montelimar so much easier. Maybe this or maybe at the Colmar Pocket seminar in December. It is an amazing tool.

Update: I’ve got a 15-foot mini-HDMI to HDMI cable on order from Amazon so that I can hook to the projector we use at these conferences and to my TV at home for Netflix.

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3 Comments so far
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I really like your writing style, superb info , thanks for putting up : D.

Comment by Steven Olson

[…] the text. I sat and read a little — I’ve already established that I’m willing to read books on it with military history — and it’s very nice. When you get into books over a thousand pages, it’s so much […]

Pingback by Mastering #XPages: Buy the eBook | Lost in XPages, Soon to be Found

[…] As I’ve noted before, the greatest leap involved in having a book on a tablet is that you can just load Google maps or some other application and pull up the location being covered in the book. That is, if the book doesn’t have maps, you suddenly do. While you may not have a thematic map, with unit symbols and direction of movement drawn on it (“Through the Wheat” has some beautiful maps, by the way), you have two other abilities beyond just being able to get any map — zooming and terrain. Sometimes, it’s hard to place the action in relation to known landmarks or in context to the rest of the campaign. The zoom really allows you to do that. Looking at the terrain in Google Earth or even just contour lines and satellite imagery gives you a perspective far closer to actually walking the ground than anything else. […]

Pingback by Through the Wheat: The US Marines in WWI | We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in ... France




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