Survival Computing: When “The Cloud” Goes Dark

By HCS Technical Staff

When you imagine the archetypal Walking Dead/Katrina/Tornado type disaster scenario, we creatures of comfort may find the thought of our electronic gadgets and gizmos being rendered useless utterly terrifying.

The truth of the matter is that hardware and software used to send, store, and receive information (“IT” or Information Technology) is even more valuable than before in a disaster scenario.

If the power goes out for an extended period of time, we may not be able to access “Cloud” (buzzword for stuff hosted on the Internet…) services such as this blog, Google Docs, and DropBox but we can still readily retrieve the information we need to survive.

Information and Knowledge are not a substitute for skill (gained from a routine of sound practice). However since our time is limited and has to be balanced with other commitments having readily deployable knowledge can make things easier.

Getting Started

First purchase a tablet computer. Tablet computers are lightweight, can have a large screen, decent battery life, and can be “hardened” against the elements and other accidental damage.

I am assuming that you have a Microsoft Windows laptop or desktop already.

“What kind of tablet should I get?”

I personally recommend any iOS device with a camera to use as your survival tablet. Devices that use iOS are the iPod Touch, the iPhone, and the iPad.

The reason I prefer iOS devices over Android (“Droid”) OS devices is simply because Droid Devices vary widely in terms of quality depending on who is manufacturing them and what production model is being made. Since the Android OS is open source, companies that make Android Devices often configure the OS specifically for their particular device.

Think of the difference between AR-15s from Rock River Arms vs. Bushmaster vs. Vulcan Arms and you will understand what I mean when it comes to Droid OS devices. Even though they have the same “operating system” the quality can vary drastically and time can be wasted trying to find the perfect device.

Think of iOS devices as like the Glock pistol, no matter the model, it will work right out of the box and can be run the same way.

In terms of specific iOS device, I would recommend getting the one with the largest screen and the largest storage capacity that you can afford. I personally prefer the iPad for this role simply because of the large screen to easily read like a book, however the iPhone (which you may already own) or the iPod Touch can be easily pressed into service to read manuals or use survival apps.

“What accessories do I need?”

  • Crank powered AND solar powered Charger with a USB Port
  • Otterbox Defender is an absolute necessity to protect the device.

“What information should I keep on the iOS device?”

  • Legally-owned PDFs of survival manuals
    • Be sure that your PDFs can be searchable by text in iBooks
    • You can do this by purchasing Adobe Acrobat and selecting the OCR text options
    • Survival Apps from the App Store
      • A Flashlight App (but not as a substitute for an actual flashlight…)
      • Theodolite or a similar program for measurements
      • A color identifier
      • Medical Apps
      • GPS Apps
      • Camera and Video Apps
      • Motion Detector Apps
      • You are only limited by your imagination in terms of what apps you can get.
      • Pictures or copies of identification papers and/or property records
        • Be mindful that it is illegal to photocopy or scan any sort of US military ID or CAC.
      • Legally-owned Audiobooks
      • Legally-owned Cartoons for the kids (little ones and big ones!)
      • Legally-owned Music
      • Legally-owned movies and videos.

“How do I put stuff on my iOS device?”

  • Keep your Windows 7 laptop in good working order.
  • Buy stuff from the iTunes store and download to your iOS device or through iTunes on your laptop.
  • You can setup CopyTrans on your laptop as a free and easy to use alternative to the overly restrictive iTunes.
  • You could use a DVD Ripping Program to convert your legally owned DVDs over to iPod format, however please follow all applicable copyright laws. HCS and the author are not responsible for whatever you may do.

“What other things do I have to keep in mind?”

  • Keep your iOS software up to date!
  • EMP Shielded bags are available however you can’t see the screen…

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