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(Sun Sentinel)   Tech columnist urges his fellow Floridians to include smartphones running weather apps in their hurricane kits, since it's not like cellular networks or their connections to the Internet ever fail during hurricanes   (sun-sentinel.com) divider line 63
    More: Misc, tech, online, application software, mobile web, Weather Channel%, smartphones, storms  
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1127 clicks; posted to Main » on 25 Aug 2012 at 8:36 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-08-25 12:42:58 AM  
Less than home power and internet/phone connections, its my understanding a lot of cell/internet sites are like bunkers. When our power goes out i can look to see if its a known issue with an eta or report it to the energy company via their website from my smartphone.
 
2012-08-25 08:40:18 AM  
It's simply asking people to keep informed in as many ways as possible, cynicalmitter.
 
2012-08-25 08:41:02 AM  
It may very well fail... But it's remarkably useful before it does.

Ummm... Duuuhhh?
 
2012-08-25 08:41:45 AM  
It couldn't hurt/ SMS uses much less bandwidth than voice, and many cell towers are equipped with backup generators. I wouldn't count on it, but it could be useful. So could a shotgun....
 
2012-08-25 08:41:56 AM  
Back in 2004 when a hurricane knocked out my power for 5 days, I had uninterrupted internet service. I ran my TV and computer off my generator.
 
2012-08-25 08:42:02 AM  
And if the storm doesn't knock out the cell network, you're good to go, dumbassmitter.
 
2012-08-25 08:44:31 AM  
Katrina proved how valuable SMS can be during and after a storm. DUH.
 
2012-08-25 08:45:27 AM  
FLORIDA. the most BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY in the WORLD!!
 
2012-08-25 08:45:37 AM  

skwerl: Back in 2004 when a hurricane knocked out my power for 5 days, I had uninterrupted internet service. I ran my TV and computer off my generator.


I bet you connection was better than ever since no one else in your area had to compete with you for bandwith.
 
2012-08-25 08:46:56 AM  
In related news: Government urges people to take shelter in houses during hurricanes, since it's not like houses are ever destroyed when they hit.
 
2012-08-25 08:47:08 AM  
Get a dedicated solar cell phone charger for emergencies. There's also a red cross kit out there which is the swiss army knife of radios:

www.redcrossstore.org

35 bucks I reckon someone can find it cheaper at a local surplus store, as long as the owners are passionate instead of police knob gobblers (yeah, I'm looking at a certain surplus store here in town which gouges everyone, including military, but fellates cops with 'discounts').
 
2012-08-25 08:49:12 AM  

radiobiz: Katrina proved how valuable SMS can be during and after a storm. DUH.


And 9/11 before proved other things, about what happens when the towers are no longer working thus why its important to keep that up.
 
2012-08-25 08:50:07 AM  
With digital television, it's going to be real interesting when everyone tries to use that little handheld TV they bought on special a couple of years back. Best bet is a portable radio. And make sure it gets AM, because they tend to be the most resilient broadcasters during a storm, and AM stations can be operated with a longwire antenna if need be, unlike FM and TV. Of course anyone under thirty has no idea what a radio is.
 
2012-08-25 08:54:15 AM  
I was living in Hattiesburg, MS for Katrina. With Camp Shelby just to the south, we were the staging area for most of the gulf coast response. Even that far north (about an hour off the coast) and the large number of responders in the area, power was out for a couple of weeks, the water was out for about a week, there were no streetlights left in town, every other house had a line tree through it, billboards were down on roads, etc etc. The destruction was pretty impressive.

Through all that, my cellphone worked, both during the storm and after. It was the only reliable communication to the outside world.

So yeah, I can see this being a good thing.
 
2012-08-25 08:55:30 AM  
Of course, you probably also want an old fashioned regular radio as well, probably one with a weather band, shortwave receiver, and crankpowered. There are several models out there that have all of those features.

And, frankly, you want your cell phone to be on Verizon. If you don't have Verizon, you're probably SOL when the shiat hits, or shortly thereafter, because no one else has the backup power that they do. All of Verizon's towers have at least 6 hour backups, with a large quantity of them having 12 hour or longer backup ability, and the major network infrastructure towers have their own generators. However, in the case of major road blockages, those generators do need to be manually started (at least, as of 2005, when I was in the business), so if no one can get to the towers to start them, you're going to be running on their backup batteries.

None of the other networks (at least as of 2005) could even come close to comparing in the battery and generator fallbacks, and I seriously doubt that they've even given it any upgrades.

During the east coast power failure in 2003, my Verizon phone was still working 2 days in, everyone else's phones were completely dead within 4-6 hours at most.
 
2012-08-25 08:57:10 AM  
Perhaps submitter confused cell phone towers with Dish / DirecTV. Those go out in a mild windstorm. So you tried to fix it. But that just made it loose.
 
2012-08-25 08:58:30 AM  

ekdikeo4: Of course, you probably also want an old fashioned regular radio as well, probably one with a weather band, shortwave receiver, and crankpowered. There are several models out there that have all of those features.

And, frankly, you want your cell phone to be on Verizon. If you don't have Verizon, you're probably SOL when the shiat hits, or shortly thereafter, because no one else has the backup power that they do. All of Verizon's towers have at least 6 hour backups, with a large quantity of them having 12 hour or longer backup ability, and the major network infrastructure towers have their own generators. However, in the case of major road blockages, those generators do need to be manually started (at least, as of 2005, when I was in the business), so if no one can get to the towers to start them, you're going to be running on their backup batteries.

None of the other networks (at least as of 2005) could even come close to comparing in the battery and generator fallbacks, and I seriously doubt that they've even given it any upgrades.

During the east coast power failure in 2003, my Verizon phone was still working 2 days in, everyone else's phones were completely dead within 4-6 hours at most.


Verizon is the most expensive service out there, with the least amount of customer service. I'd use smoke signals before ever going back to that piece of shiat 'provider'.
 
2012-08-25 08:58:39 AM  

ekdikeo4: Of course, you probably also want an old fashioned regular radio as well, probably one with a weather band, shortwave receiver, and crankpowered. There are several models out there that have all of those features.

And, frankly, you want your cell phone to be on Verizon. If you don't have Verizon, you're probably SOL when the shiat hits, or shortly thereafter, because no one else has the backup power that they do. All of Verizon's towers have at least 6 hour backups, with a large quantity of them having 12 hour or longer backup ability, and the major network infrastructure towers have their own generators. However, in the case of major road blockages, those generators do need to be manually started (at least, as of 2005, when I was in the business), so if no one can get to the towers to start them, you're going to be running on their backup batteries.

None of the other networks (at least as of 2005) could even come close to comparing in the battery and generator fallbacks, and I seriously doubt that they've even given it any upgrades.

During the east coast power failure in 2003, my Verizon phone was still working 2 days in, everyone else's phones were completely dead within 4-6 hours at most.


Thank you Verizon employee. You're right, nobody ever upgrades networks in 7 years, VZB is totally the best network in all areas of the country bar none.
 
2012-08-25 08:59:22 AM  

markfara: In related news: Government urges people to take shelter in houses during hurricanes, since it's not like houses are ever destroyed when they hit.


Okaaay....
 
2012-08-25 09:00:06 AM  
Check out your state and local EAS plans. Note the primary Emergency Alert System stations. Get a good flashlight and batteries (I carry a Mini Maglite). Plan on the electrical mains failing. Have a 3 day supply along with a complete list of your medications in your prepacked luggage. Find out if you can take your pets with you. And have pens and paper with you.

The time to do these things is BEFORE an emergency. When the lights go out and everyone else is wondering what to do, you will be ready and able to evacuate and assist others.
 
2012-08-25 09:01:24 AM  
When we had a bunch of tornadoes here in North Texas earlier this year, my cell phone was virtully useless for about 4 hours. Even text messaging was sporatic. I can only imagine what a major event such a hurricane or earthquake would do to the local communications infrastructure It's probably a good idea to have an alternate means of communications handy that doesn't have major competition from the general public such as Amateur Radio, CB, FRS, GMRS or MURS . For short range (1 to 2 miles) communications, check out the old Motorola/Nextel models that have the Direct Talk feature such as the i355. It uses FHSS (Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum) and is reasonably secure using the privacy mode. They can be bought on ebay for about $20 to $30.
 
2012-08-25 09:03:59 AM  
Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't.
www.wirelessestimator.com
 
2012-08-25 09:07:14 AM  
The only thing I need to ride out a hurricane is a shotgun and three x jug of hooch. It really is just my tornado survival kit minus the drugs.
 
2012-08-25 09:07:51 AM  
This reminds me of hipster "survivalists" and "preppers" that download "How To Survive" stuff to their iPads. Sure, they might have a solar charger, but damn people, electronics probably won't work to well in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

IMHO, the best course of action for a hurricane is to get the fark out of its way.
 
2012-08-25 09:08:13 AM  
cdn.theatlantic.com

Satellite is the way to go baby.
 
2012-08-25 09:14:21 AM  
A lot of cell phone towers, particularly in areas prone to natural disasters, have battery backup systems and gas generators on site. The field techs spend their time driving from site to site keeping them all gassed up. If they have downtime, they're often back on-air well before municipal power.

Get a car charger for your phone so you have a means to power it back up and you're good.
 
2012-08-25 09:15:58 AM  

meat0918: This reminds me of hipster "survivalists" and "preppers" that download "How To Survive" stuff to their iPads. Sure, they might have a solar charger, but damn people, electronics probably won't work to well in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

IMHO, the best course of action for a hurricane is to get the fark out of its way.


You don't need a solar charger, just get a car charger. Presumably even if your own car isn't working, a neighbor or rescue worker will let you plug in long enough to charge up some small electronics.
 
2012-08-25 09:18:02 AM  
Yeah, totally agree with subby. This is dumb because they might fail.

Also:
1. Don't wear seatbelts because they might not work.
2. Don't study for your test, because it might not help.
3. Don't ask your boss for a raise because he might say no.
4. Don't ask that girl out because she might say no.
5. When you've punctured your femoral artery, don't apply compression in an attempt to stem the tide of blood gushing from your leg, because it might not help.

/nice greenlight dumbshiatmitter
 
2012-08-25 09:22:14 AM  

Kiwimann: meat0918: This reminds me of hipster "survivalists" and "preppers" that download "How To Survive" stuff to their iPads. Sure, they might have a solar charger, but damn people, electronics probably won't work to well in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

IMHO, the best course of action for a hurricane is to get the fark out of its way.

You don't need a solar charger, just get a car charger. Presumably even if your own car isn't working, a neighbor or rescue worker will let you plug in long enough to charge up some small electronics.


I was thinking along the lines of the "Book of Eli", which had one of the dumbest product placements I've ever seen. It's a post apocalyptic wasteland, but Denzel's iPod still works. What a piece of shiat movie that was (for other reasons as well).

That's almost as lame as the "I Robot" Converse product placement.
 
vpb [TotalFark]
2012-08-25 09:23:02 AM  
During the last hurricane I was in I lost my home phone but the cell phone worked.
 
2012-08-25 09:24:44 AM  

meat0918:
That's almost as lame as the "I Robot" Converse product placement.


That was the worst product placement I've ever seen in a movie. EVAR. Completely distracted the viewer from the movie (which wasn't even that great otherwise).
 
2012-08-25 09:25:10 AM  
if you're looking for housing. just call 911 and say you're NOT a danger to yourself

they'll send someone over and you get free housing + "food". for 72 hours minimum
 
2012-08-25 09:28:44 AM  
Why would you listen to a tech columnist. A lot of them are still running their dumb mouths about how we are in an IT boom.

Anybody that lived through the real IT boom of the late 1990s knows that you are totally delusional ( or desperate ) if you are trying to claim this farked up mess of an economy ( were in a depression according to the IMF ) has produced an IT boom.
 
2012-08-25 09:30:22 AM  
Make sure you know people that still have landlines
 
2012-08-25 09:37:33 AM  
1) Grill everything

2) Get drunk and pass out

3) Wait for the wind to wake you up

4) Check phone to see whether you should keep drinking or tie off.


i1234.photobucket.com
Gustav tie off and drink.
 
2012-08-25 09:45:41 AM  
If you have a portable public service receiver or shortwave receiver- look up the term "NIFOG 1.4" on the net. It is the "National Interoperability Field Operations Guide 1.4" produced by the government. Lists frequencies to be used by government entities to communicate with Fed, State and Local agencies.

Remember- if you are not authorized to transmit on a frequency- don't. Anything does not go during an emergency
 
2012-08-25 09:59:32 AM  
This morning NPR played a sample of Dade County, FL 911 calls during Hurricane Andrew.

"No ma'am, a policer officer cannot come and drive you home, right now."

/facepalm
 
2012-08-25 10:05:29 AM  
During one of the three 2004 hurricanes in Orlando, cable was out for a few weeks - but we had DirecTV, and only experienced a 20-minute heavy-storm outage just after the eye rolled over us (taking out our favorite restaurant but that's another crisis). Landline experienced a rare one-day outage, but in the meantime we had cell service. Misleading headline is misleading. I can't speak to subby's area, but many of the cell towers here are fortified with generators.
 
2012-08-25 10:08:13 AM  
A GPS unit would be an excellent high-tech companion to your smart phone with weather ap.

/I need a new word for technology idiots.
//Something similar to technocrat, but with a built-in marketing hipster derisiveness.
 
2012-08-25 10:10:28 AM  

ekdikeo4: Of course, you probably also want an old fashioned regular radio as well, probably one with a weather band, shortwave receiver, and crankpowered. There are several models out there that have all of those features.

And, frankly, you want your cell phone to be on Verizon. If you don't have Verizon, you're probably SOL when the shiat hits, or shortly thereafter, because no one else has the backup power that they do. All of Verizon's towers have at least 6 hour backups, with a large quantity of them having 12 hour or longer backup ability, and the major network infrastructure towers have their own generators. However, in the case of major road blockages, those generators do need to be manually started (at least, as of 2005, when I was in the business), so if no one can get to the towers to start them, you're going to be running on their backup batteries.

None of the other networks (at least as of 2005) could even come close to comparing in the battery and generator fallbacks, and I seriously doubt that they've even given it any upgrades.

During the east coast power failure in 2003, my Verizon phone was still working 2 days in, everyone else's phones were completely dead within 4-6 hours at most.


This really depends, Verizon didn't do so hot after Ike in Galveston.

Frankly if you want an emergency phone whoever is the local wireline provider (even if it is a cheap prepaid) would be the most reliable. They tend to have more robust pre-positioned emergency repair equipment and generators since they not only have to fix the towers they have to fix the COs (Central offices). This really only works for Verizon and AT&T though.

My Sister had AT&T during Ike and was staying at the San Luis during the storm with virtually all of the journalists from around the country(she's an editor for the paper in Galveston and had to stay). Countless Journalists kept coming up to ask if they could use her phone to call their home base since for the 1st 24 hours only AT&T had ANY towers up and operating. After 24 hours pretty much all of the working towers had generators brought in and it wasn't an issue for any of the providers.
 
2012-08-25 10:13:05 AM  

Kiwimann: meat0918:
That's almost as lame as the "I Robot" Converse product placement.

That was the worst product placement I've ever seen in a movie. EVAR. Completely distracted the viewer from the movie (which wasn't even that great otherwise).


That's probably because, except for the names of the main characters, the scenario bore no resemblance to Asimov's short story on which the producers claim to have based the movie. It did feature a nice product placement for the MV Agusta F4, though. With one of those you could quickly get out of the way of any hurricane coming your way, but you wouldn't get to find out if your smart phone still worked

/threadjack over
 
2012-08-25 10:19:24 AM  
Here in Cancun in 2005 phone service was one of the last things to go down when Wilma hit. We were following the news on the Internet right up until Cuban radio announced that Cancun has disappeared, it's gone. A little while later, the power was cut off, but the telephone still had a dialtone.
 
2012-08-25 10:27:46 AM  

ExperianScaresCthulhu: Get a dedicated solar cell phone charger for emergencies. There's also a red cross kit out there which is the swiss army knife of radios:

[www.redcrossstore.org image 320x205]

35 bucks I reckon someone can find it cheaper at a local surplus store, as long as the owners are passionate instead of police knob gobblers (yeah, I'm looking at a certain surplus store here in town which gouges everyone, including military, but fellates cops with 'discounts').


You'd have to wait
but you could hear it
on the AM radio, AM radio..
 
2012-08-25 10:34:07 AM  
Let me end this debate.

Any form of communication is highly dependent upon variables that you can't control during a natural disaster and all have working odds that vary greatly depending upon the disaster.

Cell phones, versus landline, versus cable internet, versus whatever. Each disaster will be unique in what fails.

Cell phones are dependent upon the tower (it surviving is likely... it having sufficient back-up power and a clear trunk back is variable... yes fiber links do get broken) and the routing network (after Katrina a certain major provider lost their regional switch for all of the major metro New Orleans area). If those fail or get overwhelmed by traffic (remember, the shared bandwidth between all the devices is figured on average usage) then you're SOL. Though SMS has the best chance of working post-disaster if only because SMS is so low-bandwidth and queued it can get through when voice can't. Not a bad choice overall but don't expect it to work after a hurricane.

Landline? Good chance it'll be up but if you've got overhead lines, those can snap or be cut by overzealous clean-up crews. Boxes can be smashed and lines get soaked. It might not be a bad gamble if you get the cut rate price and hold it only for hurricane season. But it's a gamble whether it get knocked out or not. Though if it does fail, you can get a discount/refund on it while it's out.

Cable internet? Same problems as landlines with none of the regulatory oversight to ensure back-up. Charter around here after Katrina lost over a third of their equipment and took months to get most of their customers back up and working.

Absolutely best bet? Satellite. Sure it's internet speed sucks. But it's dependent only upon blue skies and your generator. Dish gets tilted? Straighten it up. Mark the proper alignment before a storm rolls through. Satellite phones don't care about trunk access back to the CO. But it will cost you. They're not cheap and it's a gamble that nothing else will fail.

Personally, I have DSL w/VOIP. Same internet reliability as a landline. Same network redundancies. Fairly cheap. The only problem is I expect the VOIP to get overwhelmed (all circuits busy at the moment please try your call again). Yea, they do the same bandwidth vs usage planning cell providers do.

This is just my opinion... feel free to argue with me about it. Any flaws in my logic I'd like to see pointed out.
 
2012-08-25 10:38:08 AM  
I would be happy if the idiots would do ANY planning at all, I have been through many hurricanes and it is always the same, at the start of the season I stock up on stuff I will use anyway but will be handy to have in case of a major storm (batteries, canned goods, propane, etc), when a storm is threatening I fill up a big 55 gallon water barrel I keep out back and make sure my diesel tank for the generator is topped up, when a storm is about to hit I fill up the bath tubs for flush water (I have a septic tank) and cover my windows and solar panels with premade covers I have, my neighbors just crack jokes about me and the sky falling yet the 4 times we have had major hits here guess where they run to crying that they need this or that, yup, the one neighbor who did do some planning and stocked up discovered that her canned goods were not much good when her electric can opener and stove wouldn't work without power.

After Charlie knocked out power here I actually had a lady threaten to call the cops (she may have for all I know) because I wouldn't let her hook up her house to my generator.
 
2012-08-25 10:56:52 AM  
OFor the three days after ike, we didn't have power, but cell phones worked just fine. Then people starting returning to their homes, even though there was still no power, and the cell phones were unreliable. Even our trunked radio system was brought to its knees. VHF worked just fine though.
 
2012-08-25 10:57:15 AM  
Most cell towers have pretty decent batteries, and sometimes a small generator, depending on the size.

You can run a phone off a 12v battery for weeks. The device uses orders of magnitude less energy then any television. Catch a Farking clue would ya?
 
2012-08-25 10:59:04 AM  
We get SMS alerts when bad weather is headed our way. When the power does go out (it happens weekly) it never kills the cell signal.

We also are signed up for the email alerts. weather apps aren't accurate or instant enough with an ever changing storm.
 
2012-08-25 11:24:41 AM  
Not a bad back up. Just don't let it be your only option.
 
2012-08-25 11:26:49 AM  
funny, when the big hurricane hit here and knocked out power to much of the area for nearly two weeks, the two things that still worked was a radio that ran on AA batteries and our cell phones.

we charged our phones at work and in the cars to and from work.
 
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