May local efforts inspire more

Let’s take back technological advances that have been sullied by tawdry tweets.

In between porn and revolution resides everything else out there in cyberland. It’s difficult to keep up — it’s not all angry kittens and cute birds, or whatever is popular this second. It’s fascinating to read

daily the ideas and applications people dream up. Reported recently, for example:

The new iPhone app Fromage lets you look up cheeses alphabetically, by region, by type of milk or by texture (blue, hard, soft) for each cheese, the Los Angeles Times reported. There are about 750 types, from 18 countries, with a photo, the region, and a suggested wine pairing.

Meanwhile, more and more doctors, especially cardiologists, are using their iPhones to make diagnoses or access patient information when called after hours. According to a Manhattan Research study, 75 percent of U.S. physicians own some form of Apple mobile device, McClatchy Newspapers reported.

Apple’s popularity, says the study, is driven by the increasing number of apps providing access to electronic medical records. But as of yet, there’s no fail-safe “privacy” app. (More than a third of the doctors surveyed listed concerns about privacy and security as their chief issue with using the applications.)

It’s science without pesky privacy issues when it comes to the free app called Leafsnap, which allows users to identify plants by simply photographing a leaf. The app searches a growing library of leaf images amassed by the Smithsonian Institution, the Associated Press reported. In seconds, it returns a likely species name, high-resolution photographs and information on the tree’s flowers, fruit, seeds and bark. Users share their findings with the app’s growing database.

Here in Snohomish County, the tourism bureau offers a smartphone app that allows people a self-guided tour of four sites: the Mountain Loop Highway, the cities of Snohomish and Granite Falls, and the Future of Flight and other aviation attractions. (Audio-only versions are also available.) What a great idea. A tour of the Centennial Trail is also in the works.

But the most inspiring melding of technology and subject award goes to Quil Ceda Elementary teacher David Cort and his 24 students who created the app “We Love Writing!” It includes original compositions by the fourth-graders. The app costs $4.99, with proceeds going to the school. Users can read the students’ stories in their own handwriting, or listen to students read their own stories. Very cool.

Highly recommended reading, biasedly based on titles alone: “The Yummy Applesauce” by Ivy Enberg, and “Soccer” with the subtitle, “Soccer is the best sport ever” by Mia Greenshields.

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