Electricity, Internet and Prepping
Do your preps include a heavy focus on keeping the power going? Mine don’t right now but the more I talk to Emmanuel the more I think in 90% of crises electricity and internet access are crucial. My original thinking was if the power goes out for everybody then it’s back to a survival situation and hunting will be more important than keeping my computer running. That’s probably true in the case of a coronal mass ejection or something truly crippling. But in an economic crisis electricity and internet is your lifeline in the same way that losing your car limits how many jobs if any you can get.
Emmanuel’s priorities right now are food and electricity and electricity is not far behind food. With access to the internet and enough power to keep his workstation going he can still do odd jobs for people online and make some money to buy some food, even at 15 years old. It’s a sad reality but it’s the difference between surviving and not.
Solar sounds like a great idea but if you live even remotely far north/south it’s hard to get a decent top up charge without a big panel and to do that you need to use it outside. If Emmanuel was to buy a solar panel and sit outside charging his equipment he might as well wear a t-shirt with a big red X that says “look at how much cool stuff I have, why don’t you take it”.
The easiest thing to do is adapt your workstation and that’s what Emmanuel is trying to do now, he’s looking to develop set up to what I have for outdoor working. A mobile phone, bluetooth keyboard, and phone holder. I choose a mobile phone over a tablet because it’s faster to charge although the battery life overall is less than a tablet. It’s a tough decision because tablets are more productive and have more options for using them like a laptop. Some mobile phones have HDMI out support and with a little technical know how you can actually run a full desktop environment on them. I’m refining my set up for camping so I can work on things I want to and then pop into a bed and breakfast occasionally plug it into a TV and connect to a powerful PC online that charges by the hour.
I tried to help Emmanuel get a cell phone and get it configured so he could stay productive in some form or other 24/7. This is where it becomes clear that preps are better when they are preps and before the fact because by the time Emmanuel peeled off enough money from what I sent for food to survive he could only afford a budget phone. A budget phone by indian or south american standards, which means it takes calls does some basic article editing very slowly and is not good for much else. Emmanuel did have two other phones at one point, one was stolen and one was broken. It’s easy to forget that Venezuela was one of the richest countries in south america at one point, and also that no matter how hard you prep, skills always outweigh things. No matter how hard you hide your stuff or keep it on the down low, somebody is going to notice that you are better fed or you will slip up with something. I think the only option is to share your preps at a certain point with a small group, and the thing about sharing skills vs things is skills go a lot further.
One of my personal thoughts on power generation is steam. It’s vey easy to buy a hobby steam engine and connect it up to a dynamo and with some minor electronics have it regulated to 5V USB out. I have not pulled the trigger on that yet because I’m still reviewing the idea and it’s not a small investment. If I do go that route I will post the results on site and any issues I hit. I don’t expect to hit many as there are many videos on youtube of how to do it and the parts are all easily available. The biggest issue would be adapting it to overnight laptop charging. I don’t have the electronics knowledge to know what I’m doing there. I think PowerMonkey make a device that would bridge that gap though.