Disaster Tech

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Like many of you, I’ve been watch­ing the events in Japan con­tin­ue to unfold, and per­haps think­ing to myself, “I’m glad some­thing that dev­ast­at­ing didn’t hap­pen here”.

But what if it did, would you be pre­pared? I like to think that I am, but sadly, I’m prob­ably not.

Yes, I have a first aid kit, and I’ve got some camp­ing sup­plies, but it’s not organ­ized nor is it handy. And it’s likely not enough, which is why the Cana­dian Red Cross cre­ated these handy plans.

Get­ting Pre­pared
The Cana­dian Red Cross has this excel­lent resource for build­ing and main­tain­ing an Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness Kit list­ing what you need to sur­vive for 72 hours or more.

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Ok, step one is taken care of…or is it.
In my case, I’ve got pets so I need to extend my kit and plans a bit with this Emer­gency Pet Plan & Kit

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Now I’m set, except for some of the tech. Usu­ally tech is the last thing you want in your kit; it requires power, isn’t easy to fix when it breaks, and doesn’t fare well when wet. Yet there are some excep­tions.

Gear­ing up
These plans and kits all call for a bat­tery or hand-crank flash­light and radio. And I’ve found one that suits my needs per­fectly.

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The Etón FR160 self-powered safety radio uses hand crank or sol­ar power to re-charge the intern­al nick­el met­al-hydride bat­tery and fea­tures AM/FM radio and Envir­on­ment­al Canada weath­er band chan­nels to provide emer­gency weath­er information/public alerts. In addi­tion, the FR160 has an integ­rated LED flash­light, 3.5 mm head­phone out­put and a USB port for char­ging cell phones.

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The unit is small, light­weight, and won’t take up valu­able space in any emer­gency kit.

Of course, I tried it out, and yes, it does work well. Radio recep­tion was fine, and the crank, while a bit noisy, did charge well.

And as a bonus, Etón Cor­por­a­tion con­trib­utes a por­tion of every Cana­dian Red Cross branded unit sold to sup­port the mis­sion of the Cana­dian Red Cross.

If you’re look­ing for more inform­a­tion on the FR160, you can check out the manu­al here (pdf).

And yes, this will find a home in my soon-to-be-com­plete emer­gency kit.

But I’m sure you’ve got some tech-thoughts on addi­tions to my kit — what tech would you pack in your kit?

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Looking for a smart phone? Consider the Palm Pre 2. Seriously.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been check­ing out the Palm Pre 2 — the next gen­er­a­tion key­board / touch screen data­phone from HP. Pre­vi­ously I’d not con­sidered a webOS phone much of a con­tender against the tra­di­tion­al lead­ers (Black­berry and iPhone), but this little unit changed my mind.

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In this review, I’ll touch on the things that appealed (or didn’t) to me about the unit. I won’t be going into a long descrip­tion about each and every fea­ture though, so if you’re inter­ested in that, you can read more here.

For a $99 phone (with 3 year con­tract) there’s a lot going on inside this little black box. Con­tin­ue read­ing “Look­ing for a smart phone? Con­sider the Palm Pre 2. Ser­i­ously.”

Android, Blackberry or iPhone? Which is right for you.

Earli­er today I dropped in to the CityTV’s Break­fast Tele­vi­sion set to chat about the three main types of data phones.

Basic­ally we were look­ing at the data phones, and the types of people who each type of phone is best suited for — or not suited for 🙂




Here’s my notes from the early morn­ing chat:

Black­berry — Research In Motion — RIM
This is the ‘Go To’ busi­ness device. It’s the Star Trek com­mu­nic­at­or for the C suite set. You know you’re a black­berry type if you cov­et the device for the fol­low­ing reas­ons:

1) Huge busi­ness and gov­ern­ment pen­et­ra­tion — the key here is that most gov­ern­ment depart­ments and divi­sions, and the organ­iz­a­tions that do busi­ness with them have sim­il­ar tech­no­logy. They speak the same lan­guage, look at the same screens and share the same exper­i­ences.

2) Secur­ity — The Black­berry sys­tem is based on a pro­pri­et­ary serv­er tech­no­logy that routes all com­mu­nic­a­tion through a cent­ral serv­er sys­tem, man­aged by RIM. Black­Berry is basic­ally a totally integ­rated pack­age that includes phone, hard­ware, device soft­ware and hos­ted ser­vice, provid­ing you with a com­plete end-to-end email solu­tion.

3) Keypad — Though more recent mod­els use the touch screen inter­face sim­il­ar to the iPhone, the hall­mark fea­ture of the Black­berry over the years has been mini­ature chick­let-style key­board. This has caused numer­ous thumb-cramps over the years, yet some­how, the work of gov­ern­ment has been done. Go fig­ure.

Google’s Android
This is Google’s con­tri­bu­tion to mobile com­mu­nic­a­tions. If you remem­ber the old BASF com­mer­cial, Google doesn’t make the phone, Google makes the phone bet­ter. Google provides the oper­at­ing sys­tem, hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers provide the phone tech.

1)  You love the concept of an open and some­what hack­able phone oper­at­ing sys­tem. This lets you con­fig­ure the device to do exactly what you want, how you want.

2) You accept the risk of an open and some­what hack­able phone oper­at­ing sys­tem. This means that an applic­a­tion you add to your Android based phone could poten­tially cause you unforseen grief in the future. The Android store is open to any­one with min­im­al reg­u­la­tion and oversite. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.

3) You enjoy being at the bleed­ing edge of tech­no­logy. There is no finer place to be, as long as you really, REALLY, know what you’re doing with this tech­no­logy. There are dif­fer­ent Android devices run­ning slightly dif­fer­ent fla­vours of the oper­at­ing sys­tem. Yet, you know which apps will and won’t work on your phone. Yes, you are an Early Adop­ter..

Apple’s iPhone
This is the gold stand­ard by which all oth­er data phones are being meas­ured. Apple has basic­ally taken con­trol of this mar­ket, and for very many good reas­ons. Apple has cre­ated the tele­phone appli­ance.

1) an out­growth of the iPod — the iPhone is much more than a music play­er with a phone glued to it. It’s really a full-blown data appli­ance that you’d expect to see on Star Trek, but not only in the exec­ut­ive suite of cor­por­a­tions — the iPhone is the device for the rest of us.

2) The Apple store enabled a safe envir­on­ment for developers and con­sumers to explore the digit­al applic­a­tion mar­ket place for mobile digit­al devices. Apple ran the store, and had the right to approve applic­a­tions avail­able in the store. Put­ting the Apple repu­ta­tion on the line, applic­a­tions had to be safe, main­stream-accept­able, and tech­no­lo­gic­ally sound. You’d not get porn, vir­uses, or faulty pro­grams from the store on Apple’s watch.

3) It’s a data appli­ance. It must work. Every time. All the time. Apple guar­an­tees it. Your mom and dad could use it, and that’s what Apple’s bank­ing on. You don’t need an IT depart­ment to sup­port it (like the Black­berry) nor have to deal with eso­ter­ic inter­faces and com­mands (ala the Android). It just works.