Cool tools to survive the next power outage

Alison Young
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January 02, 2009
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When the power went out last week, I was sitting in a theater waiting for a movie to start. Just when the opening credits started rolling, everything went dark and the theater’s emergency lights went on.

Little did I know the outage was nearly islandwide and would last the entire night.

By checking the Twitter posts on my iPhone, within under a minute I learned the different areas the outage struck and that it was almost islandwide. The power of Twitter (http://twitter.com) is absolutely amazing. It was interesting, informative and sometimes entertaining reading everyone’s tweets and what they were going through during the outage. Kudos to all my fellow Twitter folks for keeping each other updated during this! It was just a portion of what kept me going through the night.


It took about an hour-and-a-half to drive home with all the traffic, and we managed to stop to acquire some ice for the cooler along the way, all the while listening to Perry &Price on AM 590 - thanks, guys, for an awesome job keeping everyone up-to-date! I must say that everyone on the roads with no traffic lights seemed to be cooperating and courteous at four-way stops.

After finally getting home and having to manually open our garage door, I whipped out some of the items from my emergency/hurricane cabinet. I refused to give up my gadgets along with Internet connectivity and ran them with backup power.

Besides the obvious candles and Maglite flashlight, to the right of my MacBook Pro you’ll see in the accompanying photo an extra laptop battery and a wind-up LED lantern - one of the greatest assets you can have in an emergency kit. Along with those candles, that little lamp lit up our house with no batteries - just lots of winding. I’ve had it for a while now, but you can find similar ones on Amazon.com by typing “wind-up LED lantern"in the search box. There you also will find wind-up flashlights and radios (we have a wind-up radio, too, but I didn’t include it in the photo).

My favorite part of the whole night were the iPhone battery backups and my Sprint card. We were using two different iPhone batteries - the more-thing Rechargeable Emergency Battery (http://www.more-thing.com, $30) and the Turbo Charge TC2 Portable Charger for iPod and iPhone (http://www.turbocellcharge.com, $24.95). More-thing’s device lasts two to four hours and can be reused up to 300 times. The only issue with this is it has to be charged up in order to work - good thing ours was.

The TC2 runs off two AA batteries, so it’s a little more flexible. Those two batteries are able to fully charge your iPhone/iPod up to three times, so I didn’t have to change out the batteries even once during the outage.

Thankfully, mobile phone service was not affected by the outage, so my Sprint card was working to give me Internet on the laptop (until my two batteries died). I have the Compass 597 ($249.99 - waived with a two-year agreement), and pay a little more than $60 for the service. Having it during travels and power-outage nights makes the fee worth it. If you’re primarily here on-island, the other alternative is Mobi’s Hele Wireless Broadband service ($34 per month, no contract required). Whoever had Mobi cards stayed connected as well.

Our power was finally restored about 4:30 a.m. Saturday, and the above items are what kept me going through the night, and are just a small bit of what you can do to prepare for an outage or other emergency if you can’t seem to give up your electronics. I still need to buy a generator for the house, too, one of these days - after going through the outage, it’ll probably be sooner than later ...

 

Click Chick’s App of the Week - SnapTell

The free app SnapTell lets you snap a picture of the cover of any CD, DVD, Blu-ray, book or video game, and you’ll see a rating along with where you can buy it close to your physical location as well as online with the complete range of prices. I found that after you snap a picture, it takes an average of 30 seconds (on my iPhone 3G) for it to find the product. You’ll see faster results using a WiFi connection.


Only products sold in the U.S. are supported currently, but international items soon will be added to the product categories. Since the iPod touch doesn’t have a camera on it, you’ll only be able to use SnapTell with an iPhone. Visit http://snaptell.com for more information and demos.

 

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