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Homeless Internet Admin Electronic Preps

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 25, 2015

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A couple of weeks ago I ran across a really fine article about how to negotiate and survive becoming Homeless, Homeless Survival : Practical Tips And Advice Derived From Personal Experience

In this article, the author details many good strategies for the Homeless person to continue onward looking like more or less a "normal" person who still has a home, although he didn't go over Homeless Cooking in the detail I have in some of my SNAP Card Gourmet articles.  He also covered maintaining Internet communications to an extent, using the Free Wi-Fi available in many places, but this was not detailed enough for me, because I am more of an Internet Junkie than most people.  So in this article I am going to detail all the hardware you need to not just get on the net, but to be able to Admin your websites, keep your hardware charged and operational, etc.

Internet-JunkieFirst thing for me is this is an ESSENTIAL, almost as important as my Food Preps!  I run or co-Admin about a dozen different Collapse Websites on the net now.  They are:

collapse.global Portal

Doomstead Diner Blog

Doomstead Diner Forum

Doomstead Diner Facebook

Doomstead Diner Twitter

Collapse Cafe You Tube

Collapse Cafe Soundcloud

Collapse Surveys

Doomstead Diner Legacy Blog

r/globalcollapse Reddit Sub

r/overshoot Reddit Sub

So I have a LOT of Internet responsibilities now to my fellow Kollapsniks TM!  It's obviously important to ME to run these sites (keeps me bizzy!), but it is important to the rest of the Diners too, and I don't want to let them down and not keep running these sites even if I become Homeless!  Which granted is not an immediate possibility since I still have money in the bank and the monetary system here in the FSoA is still working and there is a decent chance I will get my Bennies after becoming Disabled and a few Diners have offered me Shelter in the worst case scenario, but still I could become Homeless and without an official net connection and my own source of electric grid power for at least a period of time.  This could happen if for instance we had a major quake up here in the Mat Valley or if Mount Redoubt blows and drops a few inches of ashfall down which collapses the roof of my digs or there is a big wildfire in the neighborhood and I have to Bugout FAST!  Many Possbilities exist for my ability to Admin my websites to be compromised in some way!

Can I bring my Laptop and home electric security preps with me?  I have stuff like a generator, Deep Cycle Batteries, large solar panels, the WORKS here to survive a temporary loss of power in my location as long as the roof is still over my head and I can pay the rent.  However, either in a fast bugout situation or in the long term homeless situation, I can't be hauling these preps around with me all the time.  The Deep Cycle Lead-Acid Batteries are HEAVY!  The Yamaha Generator while probably the lightest and smallest in its class is ALSO pretty heavy.  So you can nix both of those for the Homeless person, although you probably could keep them in a Storage Unit.  No, what I need is a compact & lightweight kit for maintaining my websites in all but the most dire circumstances where the internet itself goes dark.  Then this whole bizness is OVAH and it is my time to Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond TM.  When the Internet Goes Dark TM, so does RE.  No more Reason to Live.  LOL.

What my goal here in creating the Internet Admin Survival Package TM was  was to put together everything I need to maintain connection to the net and do my Admin tasks until the day arrives that the Internet Goes Dark TM.  Most of the items in my Kit I already had, but I just invested in another couple I deemed necessary to complete the kit this week.  I will detail what they are as I go through the kit items.

bugout-electronics

#1- Smart Phone/Tablet Computer

The CRITICAL item in your kit is your Smart Phone.  Your choice of phones is important here, and you also need BACKUP!  This was driven home to me during our Diner Convocation down in Texas in 2014.  On that occassion, I destroyed my original Galaxy Mega Smartphone by dropping it on the concrete parking lot of our Motel Hell estabishment in ButtFuck TX where we stayed for the course in building Monolithic Domes.  In order to resolve this unfortunate problem, I had to borrrow Eddie's Mercedes and drive to the nearest ATT Store (a couple of hours away) to purchase a NEW Galaxy Mega at the full price of around $650 at the time.  Upon returning home, I was able to get yet another one of these devices for $150 off the Insurance Plan for having your device lost, stolen or broken, and I also have an older Iphone 4 which still works in the kit as well.  So triple backup on this lynchpin item.  If one craps out, I simply shift the SIM card over to another one and it connects to my ATT account., back on the net to do my Admin tasks. 🙂

The main PROBLEM with smart phones is generally their SIZE, and the fact they do not sport a real Keyboard.  You need to be a real Thumb Jockey to be able to even write a Twitter message of 140 Characters, much less the 3000 word articles I usually will write (like this one!  lol.)  So your Smart Phone is no good for real Admin work without a KEYBOARD!  "Have Keyboard, Will Travel!" 🙂

#2- Keyboard & Mouse

Perhaps some people can get along without these devices, but for myself doing Admin tasks without them is ridiculously difficult.  Fortunately, Folding Bluetooth Keyboards and Bluetooth Mice are available for the Android OP system the Galaxy Mega runs on, and in fact they work with the Apple shit too, so in the worst case scenario BOTH of my Galaxy Megas crap out, I can still use my Folding Keyboard and Bluetooth Mouse with the old Iphone.  Still a ridiculously tiny screen to work on though, so I hope things don't get that bad.  lol.

#3 Electricity

None of the above preps work without some access to electricity to keep them all charged up and operating.  You probably do want your own means of keeping your Comunications Equipment charged up, so I did invest in a couple of new items this week for this purpose.  First was a Folding 6.5A 5V output solar PV Array I could fit in my Kit Sack.  Probably not too necessary in most circumstances on the Homeless paradigm, I'll probably be able to keep my devices charged by going to the Library, a Coffee Shop and so forth and plugging in to their Grid Power..  For this purpose I bought  20,000 Mah external Li-I Battery which I can use to recharge the cell phone and the various other devices in the kit.  In conjunction with the Solar PV panels, on a decently sunny day in about 4 hours I should be able to charge up this battery in about 4 hours, and that then will enable me to keep the Smart Phones and Cameras and Diode Lites all charged up.

#4 Lighting

Since the smart phones themselves are lit up, you don't absolutely need auxiliary lighting.  However, if you are in a Tent or some other temporary shelter and want to be able to see your keyboard, you are going to want some other lighting besides the Smartphone itself.  Besides that, the Diode Emergency Lighting often is set up so that not only can your Crank Charge the light itself, but you can ALSO use this to charge your Smart Phone! 🙂

I have 4 lights in the Emergency Kit bag.  2 are Crank Lights, and also can serve to charge up my Smart Phone.

Light 1-  A Crank Up emergency flashlight which also has AM/FM Radio and can charge my smart phone.

Light 2-  A Lantern style Crank Up to give me enough light to keyboard by and also charge the Smart Phone

Light 3- A POWERHOUSE 350 Lumen Flashlight which runs on 3 AAA Batteries, rechargeable or single use, whatever I can get hold of.  This little light by itself can light up your entire digs pointed at the ceiling.  350 Lumens is BRIGHT!  You do not need any more than this to light up a room anywhere.    Trust me on this and do not look directly into the light.  You will go BLIND in an instant.  LOL

Light 4- A 100 Lumen flashlight which stands on it's own tripod and can be used together with my Camera in low light conditions to do an Interview.  Also works on 3 AAA rechargeable or single use batteries.

Ancillary Items

I have a few items in the Kit not absolutely necessary for my Homeless Internet Admin work:

GPS Units:  Not necessary for most circumstances, but handy for Locating myself anywhere if I need help from another Diner.  I can issue out the Lat & Lon coordinates within 10 feet anywhere on earth for an emergency pickup point.                                 

A/C & D/C Transformers to Charge 5V USB Devices: Essential Items to keep your equipment charged up as long as there is some Grid Power available somewhere or soe car that still has juice in the battery.

Audio Headse/Mict and Speaker.  Not essential in most circumstances, but for myself doing a lot of Audio interviews and the fact I like to listen to old favorite music, its and addition I like having in the kit.

Camera & Table Top Tripod for doing Video and Pics:  I can record with my Smart Phones, but even the El Cheapo Digicam does a better job for this than the Smart Phones.  As a modern era Reporter, I need means to get good pics and video up on the net, and a smart phone just is not good enough for this task in general.  OK in a pinch, but you really want a decent camera available if possible.  I have still better cameras then the El Cheapo, but I need a whole other bag for them.

Cables:  You need to be able to hook everything up of course, so you will need some USB cables.  USB comes in a few sizes, so adapters for these sizes are handy to have as well.

Now, all of this stuff is extremely light and portable and fits in a Shoulder Bag or Backpack and it is sufficient to fulfill my Diner Admin responsibilities if I need to make a Fast Bugout.  However, is this all I have for the bugout situation?  Of  course not. 🙂

If I at least still have my SUV to bugout in and to live in as a Homeless Person I can carry with me a whole lot more than this.

The next level up of Electric Preps is contained in a brief case. It consists of:

#1- 5W 12V Solar Panel

This panel is different than the folding one which outputs at 5V for charging the portable devices, instead it outputs at 12V good for charging typical automotive batteries.  However, because it is so small and only outputs 5W, to charge up a full size auto battery would take several sunny days without draining the battery for the purpose of charging other devices.  of course, if you have money to buy gas and do some driving each day, you probably generate enough electricity this way even without the solar panels.  In most cases though it will keep the battery nicely topped of with juice if you are judicious about how much you drain your other devices.

#2 10 AH 12V Deep Cycle SLA Battery

This is one of the spare batteries I bought for my Ewz Electric Scooter. It runs on 3 of these wired in series for 36V, but you can split them up and just carry one for the typical 12V use.  It is relatively small compared to an automotive battery and designed for deep discharge/recharge cycles.  Automotive batteries are designed to give a lot of cranking amps all at once to turn over an engine, not to deep discharge regularly.  SLA stands for Sealed Lead Acid, so despite being fairly small and compact, these batteries weigh a fair amount.  I would rather have a 12V Li-I battery which are lighter and generally do more recharge cycles, but they aren't available up here at Batteries & Bulbs, and getting them shipped here is bear also, since they are considered a Hazmat for air shipping.  However, since I am not carrying around this briefcase all the time, the extra weight doesn't matter very much.  They are also about 5X the price and that is hard to justify.

#3 200 W Modified Sine Wave Inverter

Your inverter converts the 12V DC to 120V AC which powers most household appliances.  The 200 W Inverter won't run stuff like a Microwave, but it will run low power draw items like a lamp, a slow cooker and most importantly, a REAL laptop instead of the Smart Phone/Folding Keyboard/Bluetooth Mouse combination.  While that combo works pretty good, it's still not as good as a real laptop for writing and doing Admin tasks on the net.

Other 12V aficionados often warn me about the dangers of using modified sine wave inverters and recommend I spend the extra money for a true sine wave inverter.  Reasoning being that modified sine wave can damage some complex electronics that run on AC.  Thing is, I don't use an inverter for running any such equipment.  Lightbulbs and the slow cooker don't care what the sine wave configuration is, and the Laptop actually runs on DC, you have a transformer between the inverter and the laptop which converts the electricity back to DC at whatever voltage your laptop runs on, which is usually somewhere between 15V DC and 22V DC.  These transformers don't care what the sine wave looks like either.

In addition to the 200W Inverter, I have a tiny 75W cigarette lighter size inverter, a larger 500W unit you clip to the battery itself and a behemoth 1000W inverter capable of running a Microwave Oven if you have enough juice and big enough battery to drive it.  You want to use the smallest inverter which will drive whatever device you are running, since there is more power wasted the larger the inverter.  The big ones require a fan to run to keep cool, which wastes still more power and is something else that can break down.  The 75W unit is JUST enough to run a typical laptop computer and keep its own battery charged up.

In order to reduce power wastage still more, I recently bought a DC-DC Transformer which takes 12V DC and directly changes it to anywhere from 5V to 24V to run just about any laptop computer on the market.  It also comes with 12 different Plug Tips that will fit any laptop you happen to have on hand for your Admin work.  I'm not sure precisely how much waste you are saving here, but I estimate about 25% which is significant if you have low storage capacity for your juice and limited generating power.

#4 AC-DC 6V-12V Battery Charger

This device plugs into the wall and will charge up any 6V or 12V battery you can scavenge up, so as long as power periodically shows up in your wall outlet, you can keep your batteries charged this way and then have power available for the times the juice is NOT flowing from the local electric plant into your outlets.  In normal daily use, I keep it hooked to a large 12V Deep Cycle Marine Battery about 2X the size of a typical car battery.  This battery when topped off (as it always is) will run all my portable electronics for at least 2 weeks, probably a month.  If I run my laptop off of it, probably still get a week without any generation from the Solar Panels.  This battery is of course way too big and heavy to carry around or drop in a brief case, but in a bugout situation with the SUV easily fits in the storage area of the vehicle.

Finally, in addition to the stuff that fits in the brief case, I have a larger 120W Solar PV Panel which can strap on to the roof rack of the SUV.  This provides plenty of juice to run all the equipment as much as I normally do without significantly draining the battery storage each night when I run a couple of diode lights and the laptop too.  The overall key here is to be aware of how much power your equipment is drawing, and choose low power consumptive devices as much as you can.

As long as you are just talking communications equipment and lighting, you really do not need a whole heck of a lot of juice available.  It's only once you start to add in stuff like Refrigeration to your bugout package that you need significantly more generating power.  As long as you can still get gas for the vehicle though and can afford it, your car alternator will provide plenty of juice to keep all your portable electronic devices charged up even without the addition of Solar PV panels.

Now, in most cases for the near future, I expect Grid Power to remain available somewhere, even if I am Homeless and can't afford to pay my electric bill.  For instance, if I go to the local Internet Coffee Shop where I did many of my early Collapse Cafes, at every table along the wall there is an electric outlet where I would plug in my laptop so as not to be discharging the battery unnecessarily.  This conserves the battery lifetime for your laptop battery.  Don't run it off the battery unless you absolutely have to.  In normal use they will last about 2 years of discharge cycles, mine is 4 years old and still going strong, because I simply do not run the laptop off of it's battery.  It's plugged in just about all the time.

In a real Homeless or Bugout situation, I could do more than just keep the laptop charged up though.  I could for instance walk into the local laundromat with a bag of clothes for washing and the big ass deep cycle marine battery below it with the 12V DC charger on my folding luggage carrier with wheels, disguised in a bag.  I plug this into the wall while my laundry is in the washing machine and drier.  In a couple of hours, I have scarfed up enough free electricity (for me anyhow) to not only power my communications equipment, but in fact enough to run a 12V Heated Sleeping pad as well so that I can sleep in toasty warm comfort in my SUV even if the outside temperatures drop to 20 Below.  You combine such a heating pad with a good sleeping bag and have enough juice to run it, you won't freeze to death no matter how cold it gets.  I can also cook my food in the slow cooker and not have to burn propane cannisters.  I can of course go into numerous Convenience Stores and use their Microwave and electric power to heat up more of my food.  Hot food, a toasty place to sleep, the only other thing you really need is water, which you can collect in a bottle each day at the convenience store in the bathroom sink as well.

Back to the main issue of communications and Internet Admin responsibilities though, once Homeless or in a Bugout situation, obviously you have lost your own high speed, high bandwidth connection to the net over cable or DSL, whatever you have at home.  You certainly want to keep your own 4G connection to the net on your cell phone, but this is an additional expense of around $50-100/month, which you may not be able to afford over time once becoming Homeless.

If that is the case, you're going to mostly need to use the Free Wi-Fi available at many internet cafes, libraries and even Mickey Ds.  You won't have a 24/7 connection to the net this way, but you can still do most of your writing while offline, and then simply upload your stuff when you do drop into a location with free wi-fi.  You're also going to want your own Skype Number for possible jobs to call you where they can leave a message and you can then call them back and seem like a "normal" person, not a Homeless one.  You can buy enough minutes for a Skype Number for this purpose for around $10, which probably lasts you a year given you probably will not actually use it for talking too much.  Most talking with friends goes across Skype itself for free skype to skype account.  In addition, you can use Google Hangouts for conversation with friends rather than the skype phone line.  The only purpose for this phone number is to have a number to hand out to possible jobs or perhaps the occasional person you don't want to give your Skype ID to.

Not being connected 24/7 to Global Communications is not something most of us net junkies are used to anymore, but of course this was the norm before the Cell Phones became ubiquitous.  In da olden days once I left the McHovel with its land line telephone, I was disconnected and nobody could get in touch with me until I got back home and checked the "answering machine", the predecessor to Voice Mail and itself an invention which only came around maybe in my early teens or so.  Prior to that, if you weren't home when a call came in, you simply missed the call and no message about it.  The person trying to reach you just had to do it again at another time.

The Homeless situation without your own (fairly costly) regular cell phone number puts you back in that situation more or less, and to maintain the illusion that you are still a "normal" person and not a Homeless one, you want to maintain a cell phone number and account as long as you can.  Once you drop below the poverty line, many of the cell phone providers offer a "basic" service for around $10/month which will at least allow you to get phone calls 24/7 and will take voicemail.  You won't have an internet connection with that service, bit it is cheap and keeps a line open for you even if you can't scarf up some free Wi-Fi somewhere.  Advisable to keep such a connection as long as you can afford it.

Now, this may seem trivial and inconsequential to you if you are more worried about FEEDING yourself with veggies grown in your raised beds or hydroponics tank, but it's not for me.  Internet Communication is Priority #1 for me!  The only reason I eat anything to begin with is to have enough energy to keyboard out some more Doom Newz!  LOL.

Seriously though, I think most people, even Doomers don't like it much when there is a Power Outage for one reason or another and their cell phone and laptop run out of juice after a day or two.  There are safety issues involved here as well, in terms of calling for help if you are sick or your house is floating downstream in a flood.  So you want to keep these things running as long as you can, and the above are my best strategies for doing that at a semi-reasonable price.  You DO NOT need a $20,000 Off the Grid Solar PV setup for your Doomstead to do it.  It can mostly be done in 1 or 2 bags with the right selection of preps.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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