Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Survival Laptop

It wasn't so long ago that I made a post about smartphones. I'm still loving mine. With the extended battery I can go all day without charging it as long as I don't play video games or watch movies. As cool as it is, though, it doesn't replace my laptop. They're faster. They have a better, more customizable user interface. They're easier to fix if they break. The screen is bigger and they're much better at multi-tasking. Some of the batteries last several hours. You just have a lot more options with a laptop.

So what should you think about when you're picking out your survival laptop? First of all it needs to be small enough to take with you. That's why I like netbooks. A netbook with a 6 cell battery (I think that they make them with 8 or 12 cell batteries now) will last several hours between charges. The screen is smaller and everything in the system is bare bones so they're energy sippers. They're powerful enough for the basic stuff that you'd need in an emergency situation. They're a lot cheaper than most regular laptops. Get a solar charger and you can keep it running indefinitely.

Make sure that you have a good case for it. Another nice thing about netbooks is that there are good cases available that are cheap, small and lightweight. All laptops are fragile. The weak points tend to be the keypads (especially if you're using it in the woods), the screen and the hard drive. I have a spare mouse and keyboard for mine. I hate laptop keyboards and the mouse pads that come standard are even worse. There isn't much you can do about the screen. Try not to drop it. Solid state hard drives are starting to get cheaper and easier to find. I've heard that they're a lot more durable than mechanical hard drives (no moving parts). They also use less power but I'm not sure if it's a noticeable difference. I have no personal experience with them. I'm still waiting for the price to come down a bit more. I plan on upgrading to one soon.

You also need to take into consideration what you're going to be using it for. The most practical uses are obvious. Rather than trying to bring along your huge collection of survival books, military manuals and foxfire magazines you can just download them all and have them at your fingertips. Having hard copies are better in a lot of ways but you can fit a lot more in a smaller space on a computer. It's also easier to navigate your library and find what you're looking for when it's on your computer. Keep everything backed up on a thumb drive. You can get them small enough to fit on a keychain. You can also install an operating system on a thumb drive that allows you to boot up the computer from the thumb drive just in case your hard drive dies. More on that in a future post. Most phones have a slot for a micro sd card. Keep a backup on that, too. Just be sure to keep an adapter card handy.

The internet is the ultimate resource. I don't think that there's a laptop produced today that doesn't have built in wi-fi. The problem will be finding a wi-fi connection. You can get a cellular modem. They're about the size of a thumb drive and they're pretty cheap. Unfortunately, they'll only work when you can get a cell phone signal. I have one. Even on normal days it can be dodgy and annoying. The internet will be an invaluable resource for news and information during a major disaster. If you're actually in an emergency situation you can count on it being spotty at best. Just expect it to be extremely difficult to access. To improve your chances of being able to access it you need to make as many options available to yourself as possible.

The entertainment value cannot be written off. You'll have plenty of space to save movies, mp3s and even instructional videos. You can also play a lot of games. It's easier to keep a journal on a computer. If I ever have to survive an extended emergency I'll want to document the experience. If nothing else you'll have all of your pictures and family videos at your fingertips.

So if you ever find yourself bugging out or otherwise on the move I believe that a laptop is one of the most important tools that you can have with you. Mine is an
Asus Eee Netbook
. I've been very happy with it for the year or so that I've had it. I suspect that it will hold up as well as any other laptop (except for maybe a Toshiba toughbook....low specs, expensive and a marketing gimick in my opinion).

As you can see from some of the links in this post and a couple of banners that I've added on the sidebar I'm now affiliated with Best Buy. I've been shopping there for years and I've always had great luck with their products and, especially, their service. Since Amazon seems to be more interested in cutting off ties with affiliates and closing down warehouses in states who threaten to make them collect sales tax I've had to find some new ways to make a buck off of my hobby. At least with Best Buy you can walk into the store and talk to someone face to face. Not that you need to do anything but call them. I've always had great experiences with Best Buy and their customer service. A few years ago a fridge that I'd bought from them died. They fixed it twice. On the third try they brought me a new one. No questions asked. No hassles. I've never used Geek Squad so I can't speak for them. The only thing that I hate about walking into their stores is that I'll probably be bothered by a Direct TV rep. The clerks can be a little overly helpful, too. If you get within ten feet of one you can expect them to ask what they can help you with. You can avoid all of that by using the site to store service. Just order whatever you want online (by clicking one of my links of course) and then pick it up at the store.

Why affiliate with Best Buy on a survival site? Well, first of all this is an urban survival site. We city folk like our electronics. Besides, what better way to practice surviving the apocalypse than by picking up a
Microsoft Xbox 360 250GB Console with Kinect
or a
Sony PlayStation 3 (320GB) with PlayStation Move Bundle
Fallout New Vegas
? With games like
Killzone 3 - PlayStation 3
you can practice blowing people away to your heart's content without even leaving your living room! They also sell some stuff that's actually relevant to the topic. From time to time I'll post something up. In the meantime, if you're planning on buying something there, anyway, I encourage you to do it through this site.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Aquariums, The End of the World and Other Stuff

So my aquarium has been going strong for a few weeks now. I decided to go with zebra danios and some cory's that look like plecostomus. According to the pet shop they only get a few inches long. The run of the mill plecostomus that most pet shops sell can get two feet long! That's way too much fish for my little 20g tank and I don't really want to find a home for one when it gets too big. I also added some neon tetras today. From what I've read they're pretty fragile and need very specific water conditions. We'll see how they do. I also found a tub that should be the perfect size for my grow bed. Once I'm sure that the nitrogen cycle is established and the fish are doing well then I'll go ahead and set it up. I've been using the water from water changes to water my house plants and they have exploded. That's encouraging. I'm looking forward to the results.

If you listen to talk radio then you've probably heard the commercial that tells you to visit the website I finally got around to it the other day. If you follow the link to the actual website then you get stuck watching a one hour flash movie. The words come up and a voice reads them. You can't pause, fast forward, rewind or any of that. Luckily, you can watch the exact same movie on youtube where you can pause, rewind and fast forward at will:

I highly recommend that you check it out. Just turn it on sometime when you know that you'll be at the computer for a while. You don't have to watch it. Just listen. He lays out the currency crisis that we're in, explains the consequences in detail and gives examples of it happening in recent history and how it affected those countries. Make no mistake. If it happens here then it will be significantly worse than anything since the fall of Rome. You need to know what's happening, what the results could be and what you can do to protect yourself.

Obviously, the guy is trying to sell you something. What he's trying to sell you are a bunch of reports that explain the best investments you can make to insulate you from the coming crisis. I'm not about to pay for them so I have no idea what they are. Luckily, 99% of the video consists of him explaining the crisis we're in, what could happen and how other countries have been affected when they've gone through it. The common sense things that you can do become very apparent very quickly if you've already got the prepper mindset. I actually intended to do a very detailed post about it that broke everything down and explained in detail several of the points that I found important but I did it all in notebook and I woke up to find that my computer had reset. No I didn't save said notes. Maybe I'll try it again in the future. For now I'm too lazy.

The other day I received a copy of Getting Out Alive: 13 Deadly Scenarios and How Others Survived
by Scott B. Williams in the mail. I'm saving my review for after I finish it. I love the premise. While preparing for the end of the world is fun and all it hasn't happened in a long, long time. You're a lot more likely to get stuck in a difficult situation where you have no one but yourself to rely on to get out. It's always good to know what someone else did to get out of a similar situation. That's what this book is all about.