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Friday, October 8, 2010

Smartphones

I finally took a flying leap into the 21st century and picked up a smartphone. This thing does everything. It's a cell phone! No it's a GPS! No it's a kindle! No it's a mini laptop! If it's electronic this thing can do it or keep tabs on it. I'm liking it a lot. So what does it have to do with survival?

Smart phones have a generous amount of storage space and they come with a slot for mini sd cards. Get one of those SD card adapters and you can plug them into just about any modern computer or laptop. I can also just plug mine directly into my computer and use it as a flash drive. Load your phone up with all of the survival .pdfs and maps that you've got on hand and you don't even need cell phone reception to have useful information handy. Having hard copies of important manuals, maps and papers is a great idea but that can get prohibitively expensive, they take up a lot of space and they're extremely bulky and heavy to take with you.

There's an app for that. These things can do everything from scanning barcodes to make sure that you're getting the best deal on a product to giving you the lowdown on a business just by taking a picture of it. Hit a button and it will tell you about all of the local businesses in the area. Hit another button and you've got a homebrewing calculator that will tell you exactly what you need to make the kind of beer you want. They make accessing anything on the internet extremely simple and easy no matter where you're at. I thought that my netbook was convenient until I got this smart phone. It still doesn't quite replace a real computer but it's close. There are a lot of things that a smart phone can do that a computer can't but there's just no replacing a large screen and a full size keyboard for some applications.

Anyone will tell you that it's a good idea to have a phone with you when you go out to the woods. Take one of these with you and not only do you have a phone but you also have maps, gps, compass and any other information that you had the foresight to load onto it before you left. The less you have to carry the better. Whether you're bugging out cross country or just going for an afternoon hike all of the information that you need to get you to where you need to go is wrapped up in this little package.

There are some cons. The screen is small and can be hard to read. The virtual keyboards are getting better but they can be a pain, too. The battery life is also very short. You can buy extended batteries (as long as you don't have an Iphone) but you're still only looking at a day or so of battery life. You can also get a solar charger. There are some good, compact ones out there. Obviously, if the big disaster ends up being an EMP then you're likely to be stuck with a paper weight. If anything else goes down, though, it will be very helpful as long as you've already got the information you need saved on it. There are a lot more disasters that could disrupt cell phone service and the internet so have the information you think you'll need on your phone beforehand.

Perhaps my biggest issue with smartphones is that they record and track your personal information, usage and habits. When I start hearing about people getting rounded up for political views, race or religion then it's going in the trash. For right now, though, I'm not that paranoid about what they're doing with my information. There are apps that will allow you to remotely delete all personal information in the event that you lose your phone or it's stolen. The privacy issue really is my biggest concern but what can you do about that? If you do anything on the internet you're being tracked. If the government really wants to come after you they can already tap into your cell phone and listen to you even if you turn your phone off. There are complicated ways to get around this (or you can just stop using a cell phone or the internet) but for most of us they can find out what websites you visit, your buying habits who your friends are and even where you live without much trouble. If SHTF I'd rather have this extremely useful, compact, powerful tool with me. Until then it's quickly becoming my favorite item for day to day use.