Many jobs involve observing and recording detailed data out in the field. A bridge inspector, for instance, may have to take some notes by hand, make a sketch, and snap a photo or two. Then, he's got to make sure he doesn't mix up those different bits of information with the similar ones he has recorded elsewhere.
PenStuff Inc. in Rochester, N.Y., has come up with software called GeoFirma, designed to help such people, including tax assessors, insurance adjustors, and mobile professionals. Running in a pen-based portable computer equipped with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software, GeoFirma can capture text, sketches, and photos taken with an electronic camera, and even satellite-positioning data, which is now available from tiny receivers that plug right into notebook computers. The $295 program makes sure the different types of data stay linked, and it provides searching facilities. A companion program, priced at $495, helps customers design forms to record and organize data for their specific applications, with no traditional programming required.