Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Prepping and computers

Aside from the current prepping activities, such as arguing about whether a Maxpedition Fatboy or a 5.11 Tactical PUSH makes a better Every Day Carry bag, or debating the relative merits of a CRKT as opposed to a S&W or United Cutlery "tactical pen" on Emergency-Preps or

Uncle posted a link to a fairly thorough discussion of the topic at MD Creekmore's Survivalist Blog.

Some commenters (at Uncles', not Creekmore's) were dubious as to the value of a computer in a SHTF situation. Others (including yours truly) pointed out that a computer, especially a long battery-life netbook, is an excellent way to store a huge reference library in a small space. Since you have a computer already--unless you're reading this at work or in a library--why not get it ready to take with you if TSHTF but it is not TEOTWAWKI?

It is quite possible, for example, that you will bug out (or be evacuated) and find yourself where there is some degree of connectivity, but a long queue for actual online time. If there's wifi, you're online. I saw little use for Facebook, until I was talking to folks who had family in the area of Missouri where the tornadoes tore through last year, and they all used Facebook to stay in touch. Being able to log on to the site and not have to wade through email is fairly convenient for that purpose, it seems. (If your family member has no blog, that is...)

I'm not really going to discuss any of the recommendations in the article, other than to observe that I like John Haller's suite of PortableApps on a USB stick. If you get a large enough USB drive, you can use someone else's computer and never have to use their software...  (I have a high-capacity "toughened" USB drive on the lanyard holding my Emergency Worker ID for amateur radio with the Portable Apps suite and a bunch of reference documents.  Encrypt it with a "strong" password, and add scans of vital documents.  Repeat as necessary for each member of the family.)

Uncle had a good point about a smart phone being able to replicate most of that usability in an even smaller footprint.  The key word there is "most."  Ditto for a tablet--there are things that even a netbook will do better than either of those.  I can sure type this faster on the ASUS keyboard than I could on either my Droid or my Vizio tablet.  And, while you can get alternative means to charge the phone, tablet, or ebook reader, the computer can also charge them, and, if you are connected to the mains, it can do so while you do other work.  (Or take a break.  Most Bug Out Bag packing lists include a deck of cards or a book for a reason.)

Admittedly, if The Event involves a large enough EMP or a CME and you don't have your electronic devices in Faraday Shields, may very well turn out to be little more than paperweights.  But a lot of our preps are based on "what-ifs", and a lot of those "ifs" are mutually exclusive; that doesn't stop us from making plans for each of them.


RandyGC said...

Since you mentioned amateur radio, there a LOT of HAM apps that would be useful in a SHTF situation. APRS and PSK-31 come instantly to mind.

Course then you also need to pack an interface (I like the SignaLink USB) and a radio (my IC-706 is already in the truck and ready to go. The one in the shack comes out easily and into a case I have setup for it)

dittybopper said...

You don't *NEED* an interface: At home I just put the computer speakers up to the radio mic, and the computer mic up to the radio speaker, and operate PSK/Olivia/JT65/Hellschreiber that way.

If local noise is an issue, you can use relatively simple to make cables to connect the radio to the computer, and let the soundcard do all the work.

Drang said...

DSTAR, DRATS, and other digital modes were why I got a netbook.

RandyGC said...

Dittybopper, RR, but since I already have a SignaLink USB...

Of course, given your handle, you probably also have another backup such as my straight key