A Field Investigator cannot function without a computer. In the field a smart phone has become almost as indispensable. These devices are expensive enough by themselves but when you look at the prices of some of the programs or apps you need the cost can seem a little steep. Fortunately there is a lot of software out there that's highly useful and either free or dirt cheap that's available for any device.
No PC or Mac can be without a high functioning word processor. Ideally you need a complete office suite that also has a database, a spreadsheet, and a slideshow presentation program. The first choice for most people is Microsoft Office, but it's expensive. The alternative is Open Office by Apache. This is a full office suite with all of these features and all of the capabilities of the Microsoft suite. I've been doing all of my writing on Open Office Writer for years. My wife keeps track of our household budget on Calc, and if you have ever seen me give a presentation at a meeting I was using Open Office Impress for the slideshow. In addition there is Draw and Database. If there's something that Micro Office has that Open Office hasn't, I can't find it. This complete suite is free. Just go to the website and download it.
Open Office is an open source program. Before downloading it, you might want to thoroughly read the official web site to find the answers to any questions you might have.
In UFO investigation a planetarium program is essential. Your case might be solved if you can identify a satellite, planet or comet that was in that area of the sky when the sighting occurred. As an amateur astronomer I've had several such programs over the years to find and identify stars and galaxies, and the price of some of them set me back a bit. Stellarium however is free. This is a richly detailed night sky observers sky chart and catalog that can show you any astronomical event at any time in history. If you have a computer driven telescope it will aim it for you. It will identify any star. (You didn't think I memorized all those stars, did you?)
This program is so highly regarded that MUFON has a link to it on the main MUFON website. Like Open Office, it's entirely free. I can't say “free” enough here.
Stellarium is also available for Android and Apple smart phones. However for this there is a charge. It's under three bucks. Look for it on the Play Store or the App Store. The handheld version allows you to point your phone at the part of the sky where your object in question is and identify with its star chart all the stars, planets, and satellites in that spot. And you can take it with you. Not only is this program portable, it's on a device you're going to take with you anyway. You'll never forget it! This is a big download. Be sure there's room on your phone.
Another source of information on satellite activity is the venerable Heavens Above. This is a web page that offers information on the locations and times that most man-made orbiting objects can be seen. There is also a free app for Android but if you have Stellarium running you may feel that this one is redundant.
Google Earth is as useful on the ground as Stellarium is in the sky. It will allow you to aerially observe the terrain involved with your case, give you exact latitude and longitude of your sighting, required in a CMS report, and allow you to plot your cases on a map. A ground level view is now included. It allows you to spot structures and places of interest that might have a bearing on your case an determine their precise location. For example, I've had several cases in the Fountain Square area of Indianapolis. It's important to note in each case that the Indianapolis Downtown Heliport is only 1.06 miles NNW of this neighborhood. After a mile, most helicopters are just gaining altitude.
And if you want to check out Area 51 on Google Earth search for “Groom Lake.”
Google Earth is available free for PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and I-Phone.
Strictly for phones is a tool kit called Multi Measures. Every smart phone has an accelerometer, a GPS receiver, a magnetometer, a barometer, a thermometer, a pedometer, a gyroscope, a light sensor, a microphone, and a proximity sensor, Some high end phones have radiation detectors and heart rate monitors. Multi Measures doesn't access all of these devices, but it uses quite a few and translates the results into several useful tools. This free app includes a decibel meter, a magnetometer, a compass, a protractor, a ruler, a level (two kinds), a seismometer, a timer, a metronome, and a stopwatch. The magnetometer or teslameter can be useful on a site. UFO activity has often left magnetic disturbances behind. With this your phone can measure magnetic fields in Micro Teslas or Mili Gauss.
Another app, Metal Detector, is a dedicated Teslameter and measures only in micro Teslas.
Either of these apps is useful for the initial assessment of a scene. If unusual magnetic fields are detected, an actual magnetic field meter should be used to conduct a survey. Stuart has purchased two of these devises for use by Field Investigators. He has one and I have the other. Just let us know if you need one.
Periodic Droid is a detailed information source about the Periodic Table of the Elements. I would have given a tooth for this in school. Almost anything you need to know about any element is here.
UFO Tracker is similar to the map database at MUFON.com. It's free. It gives you fast information on the very latest reports. It's also huge. You have to have 8 gigabytes available on your phone just to install it.
The MUFON App is something I didn't find very useful. It is simply access to the MUFON web site. The problem is that it isn't phone friendly so its very hard to use. When this is fixed, it should be terrific.
Most phones come with a navigation app. Mine came with two. The one provided by my carrier had a subscription charge. Google Maps is just as good and, guess what, it's free! If you don't have it, it can be downloaded.
The last two things I recommend for smart phone use, if you don't have them already, is a good weather alert app and a virus protection app. Storm Shield is one of several good weather information and alert apps. Most TV stations offer a good free weather app that will give you a forecast and warn you of dangerous weather in your area wherever you travel to using your GPS. Protection for your phone from viruses is also important. Not that I'm paranoid or anything but there are bad guys out there. AVG is a quality antivirus app (It's good for computers too). The basic version is free. The Pro version is about $10 a year for Android. All of these are available free on the Play Store.
A good tool kit keeps you prepared for anything. But why buy what you need when you don't have to?