Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

Summary: The unusual winter weather has caused a power outage, along with the connectivity upon which I depend to work. These are the times that demonstrate how good it is to be a mobile tech geek.

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TOPICS: Outage, Mobility
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Mobile hotspots by candlelight

Mobile hotspots by candlelight

We don't get much winter weather on the Texas Gulf Coast, but when it hits everything shuts down. The temperature at Mobile News Manor this morning is 19 degrees, and that has brought total power outages all over town. My power has been out for over an hour, along with the connectivity upon which I depend to work. These are the times that demonstrate how good it is to be a mobile tech reporter, as the very gear I cover comes to the rescue to keep me online and working.

The two key things that come into play during outages like this are battery life and wireless connectivity (3G/4G). The first is the easiest for me, with no fewer than six laptops in my office. Each of them has a battery that is charged, and two of them have 2nd batteries available to swap in when needed. I estimate I can keep working online for solid 30+ hours before battery life becomes a concern.

The connectivity issue is normally the most critical, as total dependency on wireless data networks means depending on battery operated devices to get online. Fortunately, I currently have 5 devices that function as mobile hotspots. The Sprint Overdrive modem and HTC EVO 4G can serve this need, but since the Sprint WiMAX network does not cover my house they revert to the 3G (EVDO) network. This is plenty fast enough, so that's just fine with me.

I happen to be testing a MiFi on the AT&T network, so that's what I am using currently. This is faster than the Sprint 3G network, and I am seeing very good bandwidth. When the MiFi runs out of juice, probably around 4 or 5 hours, I can switch over to the HTC EVO Shift 4G I am also testing. This will use the Sprint 3G network too, and as a mobile hotspot will probably work for around 5 hours before the battery dies.

When all other hotspot devices run out of juice, the Samsung Galaxy Tab can function as a MiFi on the Sprint 3G network for a solid 10 hours. This is a use for the Tab that isn't discussed often, but can come in handy during times like these.

I estimate I can keep online without power for a solid 30 hours using all of these hotspots combined, and that doesn't count the fact I have an extra battery for the EVO 4G. That would add another 5 hours of hotspot usage.

The only downside to having all of this mobile tech at hand is I never have an excuse to miss work. That was particularly evident a couple of years ago when I was able to work for a week during Hurricane Ike, without power nor wired connectivity. Mobile tech to the rescue again.

Topics: Outage, Mobility

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15 comments
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  • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

    James, if staying ON-LINE is so critical for you, why don't you purchase a stand-by auto on/off generator installed???
    jbenjamin1
    • Even a small portable generator would do the job

      @jbenjamin@...
      Ron Bergundy
  • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

    Because it's something that only gets used once every few years. It's hard to keep a generator working optimally when it's never used. Plus, as detailed in the post, i don't need it. Others might be wise to consider one.
    JamesKendrick
  • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

    I'm surprised you don't have one of those solar powered charging docks.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

    James,

    Don't forget that you probably have a car and a way to charge several, if not all, of these devices through the 12V power supply therein. As long as your car battery and/or gasoline last, you can have near infinite power.

    I have recently switched to Clear Wireless for my home connection. It is AC powered, but with a small inverter and my car, I could conceivably even run it if needed!
    jglopic
    • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

      @jglopic I did that during the 2 week Hurricane Ike power outage. It saved my bacon.
      JamesKendrick
  • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

    The Chronicle is reporting that they are rolling blackouts mandated by ERCOT. So, we may be experiencing these for awhile!
    grants04
    • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

      @grants04 Yes, I have experienced 3 outages so far today.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

        @JamesKendrick I had power again in time to watch the Google live event! Great new Android Market site!
        grants04
  • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

    Sprint 4g network - 100% outage (according to Sprint Cust service) since 5pm yesterday. Is anyone getting 4G today?
    colin.a.faith
  • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

    also keep in mind that the cell sites also run on battery power when the service power fails, these could go dead after a few days of no power. a couple of upses, the car, one of those solar chargers, provided the cell companies can keep their service going, you could be in operation indefinitely without regular power.
    kevinbr100
  • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

    "I estimate I can keep online without power for a solid 30 hours"

    Assuming, of course, that your providers are also not hit by the outage, and can keep themselves up for 30 hours.

    And, as others have pointed out, generators and your car's 12v power are also options.

    I'd also advise turning your devices off when not in use. And maybe revise the idea that you actually need to be on the internet 24/7 . . .
    CobraA1
    • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

      @CobraA1 Only when I'm working, and to get online weather updates during outages.
      JamesKendrick
  • RE: Winter power outage, mobile tech to the rescue

    Power outages are a non-issue at my house. After my first two hurricanes I bought a whole house generator. My outages last only 10 seconds, the time it takes for my generator to fire up. I runs on natural gas! The gas and AT&T are the only working utilities during storms and other outages. The generator starts once weekly and checks itself and when the maintenance people do their checks, they can tell at a glance if there is a problem.

    As for as I'm concerned, it has already paid for itself during several outages ranging for 30 minutes to 12 hours. Last Feburary, we experienced a 12 hour outage during the coldest days. The temperature did not change in my house.
    This is one worry I no longer have.
    eargasm
    • Generators Infrequently Used

      @windozefreak---The problem with infrequent use is fuel storage. Gasoline starts to degenerate into gum and varnish in about 3 mo. Diesel similarly has a short shelf life. Good to completely drain a machine for storage, or just mix in a fuel stabilizer compound.
      Natural gas and propane are the way to go if one can source and afford a unit that burns them.
      Gasoline is not a good fuel for idling. Diesel is good for that, but natural gas and propane generators are best all round.
      PreachJohn