Monday, January 30, 2012

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

D.W. Drang has a pretty interesting piece mulling the utility of a computers in various disaster preparedness situations.

I agree that a little netbook could come in handy in a lot of scenarios, and the hardened USB thumb-drive is rather clever. I'm wondering if that wouldn't be a good way to store scans of important documents, as well?


SGB said...

Good idea. I like the idea of scanning documents that are important.

Bubblehead Les. said...

There was a story a couple a weeks ago about a Canadian who was driving down to the States at Christmastime to visit some friends. As he was approaching the Border, he realized he left his Passport at home. But he remembered that he scanned it into his iPad, so rather than face a 2 hour drive back, he thought he'd give it a shot. That and his driver's license got him across and back.

So, I'd keep the Hard Copy in a Fireproof Safe, but scan the rest of the Important Papers work into a Machine or 2, plus some thumb drives. Just make sure you encrypt them, of course.

What's cool is that another piece of Heinlein Prophecy has come true. Remember the scene in "The Cat who Walks through Walls" where Col. Campbell had to bug out, and he transferred his important Docs onto a "memory cube" and stuck it into his Cane? And Gwen was using her "Magic Elf Box" all the time? Sounds like a Thumb Drive and a Smart phone to me.

Oddball said...

I've got a thumb drive with a TrueCrypt encrypted folder on it that contains scanned copies of important documents hanging off my keychain. Started doing that after an apartment fire a few years back. I was lucky in that I threw on my pants that still contained my wallet, keys, and money. A number of folks in the building weren't so lucky and were having to deal with going through paperwork without identification.

Remember, a disaster isn't always wide spread. Many times, you're dealing with something local enough that a usable computer is easy to find.

Anonymous said...

A dropbox account for storing docs in "the cloud" is another good idea and adds redundancy.

mikee said...

I went old school and put copies in a safety deposit box in a credit union. Unless the tidal wave from the meteor impact travels 350 miles inland, I think I can access them after most emergencies, without ID because the bank manager and many tellers know me personally.

That said, encrypted scans on a thumb drive is a darn good idea. Maybe I can make two, and keep one in the safety deposit box.

Anonymous said...

A tip - duplicate your encrypted documents on a backup thumb drive, and make sure to keep them synchronized. They do fail occasionally. And, if you have a very trustworthy friend or relative several hundred miles away an unencrypted set of PDFs on a DVD in a safe deposit box makes a good backup. It'll take some time for him/her to retrieve them, but those that are critical can be emailed to your gmail account no matter where you are.

When you're storing documents, encrypted or otherwise, pick a base format like PDF that can be read from almost anywhere with almost anything. A spreadsheet of serial numbers, descriptions, etc. in a software brand and/or version - especially a proprietary format on some high-end document imaging systems - that you don't have available isn't helpful.

Anonymous said...

Been using the thumb drive for some time. Have a multitude of them, with critical documents duplicated over at least three devices.

After fretting over the possibility of EMP I solved the problem by placing them in a 30 cal ammo can. A lot cheaper than the 'hardened' devices out there.

Randy GC said...

Upping the Geek quotient for the Radio Geek types, I commented over there:

Since you mentioned amateur radio, there a LOT of HAM apps that would be useful in a SHTF situation. APRS and PSK-31 come instantly to mind.

Course then you also need to pack an interface (I like the SignaLink USB) and a radio (my IC-706 is already in the truck and ready to go. The one in the shack comes out easily and into a case I have setup for it)

APRS is an application that can be used for position reporting, text messaging, getting weather info...

PSK-31 is an FM (Freaking Magic) text communications mode. I've worked Texas from Ohio on 5 watts and an antenna laying on the ground.

Shoot, Move and Communicate, the basic tasks.

Just My 2¢ said...

Regarding disasters being mostly local in extent - maybe, but they're probably larger than you can walk to find power or a working computer.

Oh, did you assume you will be able drive anywhere you want? You're probably in an area that has earth quakes, or blizzards, or tornadoes or hurricanes. Any one of those will force you to hike.

I'm kind of a neanderthal throwback. Yeah, computers are handy for a short disaster recovery so, by all means, scan your most important documents and keep the files secure.

However, I'd advise you to also keep photocopies. Laser print everything on either Rite-in-the-Rain or Tyvek sheets. They're pretty water resistant. You may need to access some of those records inside a Red Cross tent that's lit with Coleman lanterns.

And yeah, I still own a slide-rule, which is my SHTF backup for my old-school HP programmable calculator, which is a backup for my laptop.

Drang said...

So this where those new commenters came from! :-) Thanks for the link.

Multiple redundancy is good, so, yeah, scan docs in, and make printouts on Rite In The Rain paper. (Make you sure you get the appropriate Rite In The Rain paper, ink jet OR laser printer.)

What I really want is a USB drive with a fingerprint scanner built in, although fingerprint scanners can actually be spoofed rather cheaply. (Someone in the Microsoft Gun Club proved it could be done for $10 or less. It might have been Joe Huffman, I didn't save the thread, alas.)

A "toughbook" would be nice, but they're bigger than the netbook--which fits nicely in my 5.11 Tactical MOAB 6--and pricey.

Justin said...

I've often thought that it would be incredibly handy to have a couple of the laptops from the One Laptop Per Child program laying around for use in emergencies.

They're little laptops designed to be distributed to kids in 3rd world countries.

As a result, they're tough, energy efficient little machines. If there's no power available, you can charge the laptop with an in-built hand crank.

Anonymous said...

I keep 2 SSD USB2 256gig drives in the safe. Both are duplicates of each other and have all of the critical files canned on them. I also have an old HP palmtop that can access them and runs on 2 AA batteries that can be charged off a solar charger. I also have a 56k modem for it and still can actually dial in occasionally.

The only weak link is the wifi connectivity which after thinking about it, I will grab a spare dell mini-laptop and shove it in also. Since I keep backups in the safes also, with the little dell I will be good to go.