Toughbooks, Hurricanes, Gobi, and other "Prepper" questions...

Discussion in 'Panasonic' started by thewanderlustking, May 6, 2018.

  1. thewanderlustking

    thewanderlustking Notebook Evangelist

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    Well, last year we were in the path of hurricane Irma. It pounded us directly overhead for 3-4hrs. We actually lost power12hrs or more BEFORE the hurricane was even overhead though... The wait was the worst part. Well that and the cleanup that followed. As of only last week, the final bits of the damage have been sorted and cleaned up.

    It was a MESS...

    But I learned a very VERY valuable lesson.

    CONTROL THE FLOW OF INFORMATION AND STOP THE PANIC!

    It came from all sides. Her uncle called us screaming "Get out or you will die, D-I-E DIE!" The newscasters sold lots of air time telling us how we were all likely to die. She panicked and wanted me to take her to the airport. It was closed. In Puerto Rico, well people actually did die. Many of our friends and family ran away scared. We had no choice and had to stay as she was recovering from hip surgery. SHe couldn't sit in a car for an hour let alone the 12+ it was taking to get out of Florida.

    The power going out was probably the best thing to happen, it turned the television off with all its overly sensational broadcasting. It meant nobody was calling us since we turned most of our phones off to save power.

    But we needed answers, so I powered up a Toughbook, tethered a phone to it messily, and started hunting for undoctored and real information. We were in evacuation zone E or something, WELL out of the danger for flooding and a couple steps from the "mandatory" evac zones. A little more hunting answered most of our immediate concerns.

    I came away from this with the realization that while we were way better prepared than most, we could have done better and had some problems to solve. Also, I think a cat 3 overhead is bad enough, not sure I would stay given the choice for a cat 4... Oh, and homeowners insurance is a joke, but that is another story. It really only protects against complete loss or extreme catastrophic damages....

    I have some problems to solve before this season hits us.

    1) I have to decide if my MK5 CF-19 is the best crisis option available. I have it on hand but it lacks a few things like backlighted keyboard. That is a SPENDY but kinda needed feature. Right now I am sitting in the dark with my Mac typing away. I can't touch type... So it has GPS but is missing WWAN card and no backlighted keyboard.

    2) Factory GPS is partially installed but I need to get it working and figure out what software will be valuable to include. Here, redundancy is good. I won't use the cell phones as they suck for dedicated GPS. A laptop setup is better, but best is dedicated units. But my Garmins though simply do not have the punch through that a Toughbook does (Out on the road this is mostly a non issue though). So I need to figure out a few things:
    2a) What options do I have on hand? (This one is rhetorical, I need to go dig through my junk lol!) I have a factory setup in my MK5, but I also have at least two different cards for my older CF-19 (the orange one).
    2b) Factory antenna good enough? And I do need an antenna for the older machine. Not really sure if I need a passive or active antenna.
    2c) Or, do I even care? While I want my Toughbooks fully operational here, it doesn't seem worth spending much for this. My first line will still be my Garmins.

    3) I need internet. I do not like burning phone juice to tether. In a crisis, I would prefer to just grab the sim and pop it into the Toughbook. So I would need a T-Mobile compatible Gobi. I don't want an additional data plan, but my current plan is already supposedly unlimited. Is this even doable? If so, what am I looking for? They seem cheap enough, but there are so many to choose from and I am not well versed in the ways of Gobi lol...

    Let me also ask your opinions. Is a Gobi setup even worth the limited use planned? If it can be done easily and simply enough it gets a critical piece of gear (my phone) safely tucked away and off. Tethering did require me having a power bank plugged into the phone constantly last year. Tethering isn't out, but I would really prefer not to. And if tethered then the next item becomes even more important.

    4) I need a power bank setup. I want a Goal Zero Yeti 150. Well I "want" a 400 or bigger, but the 150 is a hard enough sell as is. Are there other ideas that could work better, or be cheaper? A DIY option isn't out of reach as long as it remains fairly portable. A loose car battery with an inverter sitting on top doesn't quite fit the need.

    I do have to be realistic here though. I need either cheap, or SUPER good justifications for anything on this list. The computer is mostly for information and peace of mind, but there is a point where other supplies quickly outweigh in importance. We have a generator too. So once the storm passes, unless we are out on the road, we are powered back up. On the power bank, I really can't see needing more than 12hrs backup. 24hrs is a nice overkill. But not likely a storm will sit above us for more than a few hours.
     
  2. User32

    User32 Notebook Consultant

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    Do not get a CF-19 BLKB, it is NOT waterproof! Stock keyboard > rubber keyboard >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> BLKB.

    As for WWAN, i'm pretty sure a Dell card will work, a F5521GW worked in a 19 Mk2 but don't pin me on it, it's been years since i've last did that.
     
  3. Toughbook

    Toughbook Drop and Give Me 20!

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    How about YOUR LIFE?
    How about BEING PREPARED?
    How about RECOVERY AFTER DISASTER?

    You already have many justifications... It comes down to how important they are to you.

    First off... GREAT STORY! I had several relatives down there and was worried sick for days. One was supposed to be under 15 feet of water in Fort Myers. They ended up going to a friends condo on the 4th floor that had metal shutters and was built to withstand hurricanes. They came back days later to see there was no flooding where they lived... Just shingles in the yard and a few trees and branches down. They were VERY lucky! Others were not so fortunate.

    So... A few things I'm thinking about. Personally I like to have things around that I can use every day instead of buying special things to sit on a shelf "just in case." The exception of this is MREs. After Katrina, I try to stay stocked with at least 5-6 cases. This has reminded me that I need to get rid of the ones I have and to buy more as the ones I have are expired. I can still strip out the heaters though! ;)

    I looked up the Goal Zero series... VERY sexy... And expensive! I'd much rather have a small portable Honda generator from Craigslist and an Optima Yellow top deep cycle battery handy. For the same price, and if you are stocked on gas for the generator, you'd last far longer and be a lot more flexible. Plus... You can use the Optima in your car until needed and the generator for other things possibly. You could then find a solar back-up to that. Chances are that you will only need this for a few days until power is restored. If you are looking for longer terms than that... I think you'd have larger issues at hand, like civil order. In that case you'll need something with a sturdy handle that weighs more than a CF-19. The CF-31 swings really well! ;)

    I'd get a CF-31 and get away from the CF-19 personally. Shawn can tell you the WWAN card to get regardless of what model you choose. He's a guru!
    In my opinion... Gobi is great if you are a world traveler and are going to be using a variety of SIM cards depending on location. If you are talking staying put on one carrier, I think it would be unnecessary.

    I would think everyone in Florida (or other disaster prone areas) should have plans like this. I built my house with a big safe room and a 1/2" in-swing steel vault door. I also just put in a commercial grade 25kW Cummins propane powered genset. With my 1,000 gallon propane tank buried in the side yard, I can go for a long time without power if needed. Of course you have to draw the line somewhere... For me it was the expense of NBC seals on the vault door. If it comes to that, we all have larger issues. And to prep for that, the cost goes up geometrically.
     
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  4. thewanderlustking

    thewanderlustking Notebook Evangelist

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    I can't say if that is an issue I am overly concerned with...? First of I would rather beat my Toughbook to death with a sledgehammer than spend a week with a rubber keyboard. They suck. I had a backlighted chicklet keyboard for my old CF-30 and LOVED it. That brings me to jump ahead to this comment... But one more thought first. I go through keyboards. The stock Toughbook ones might only last me 2-3yrs on computers that are not my day to day use. Part of any emergency plan is spare parts. I keep backup Toughbook keyboards on hand at all times. If my Macbook one fails, I can fire a Toughbook up. I can't afford that to fail though. I also have a toolkit for electronics repair as part of my prep.

    Well, I already have two CF-19's on hand... I had a CF-30 and it just didn't do anything more for me other than the availability of a cheap backlight option. Even with its extra features. Sure it was heavier and would swing nicer, but it was also usually more in the way. So, convince me! What are the day to day advantages? Speaking of...

    This is a VERY good point. I actually use a lot of my "hurricane" supplies day to day already. I have a couple of the Streamlight Seige lanterns. I specifically got the 3d cell ones. I have gotten almost a full years worth of use out of the first set of batteries and only in the last month has it been telling me they need replacement. They worked so well that what was a hard sell to the missus last year, she put two more on the list to get for this year!

    So yeah, things that can't be put to use the rest of the year, especially battery powered items, are questionable. With that said, I just might use a large power bank (like a Goal Zero) enough to justify it. I also spent some time looking at making a DIY version. Portability is a big factor though... More thought is needed before I decide on anything more complex than the current plan. We pull a battery out of one of the cars, or grab a spare from the garage and use an inverter.

    A justification could be setting a power bank up as an uninteruptible power supply. We lose power here constantly. And everytime the power blips out for a second, the internet gets messed up. When storm season hits us, we will lose power for a few hours at least 2-3 times.

    My emergency plan is a very short-term one. The problem is the missus is deathly afraid of firearms, or herself around them. She is one of those people that still thinks the world is a pretty safe place, but yet is afraid to drive through the ghetto. It is an interesting mix...

    We do have a small generator. So the biggest issue currently is just getting through the storm. And bugging out if needed.
     
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  5. Toughbook

    Toughbook Drop and Give Me 20!

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    Okay... I like the CF-31 (MK2 and up) as they have the LCD screen and backlit keyboard (yeah, yeah, yeah) but they also accept an extra media bay battery. They can be tough to find but they can be found. With strategic usage... I can go 2-3 days between charges. A few hours use every day... 3-5 or so. It is larger so easier to type on and a larger screen for you to see. Plus it is just the best all-around laptop money can buy. You have already talked yourself into it anyway! ;)

    How about a rifle or shotgun? No? How about OC gas, a stun gun and a Katana?

    Oh... And in case power is out everywhere around and you have no cell service... You might want a small shortwave radio. Something like this...
    https://www.amazon.com/Kaito-Powere...8833&sr=8-7&keywords=portable+shortwave+radio

    Just a thought!
     
  6. sunrk

    sunrk Notebook Evangelist

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    During any sort of large-scale natural disaster there is going to be no internet, no mobile phones, no landline phone services, and probably no TV. And of course no mains electricity. Wow - it's life. Learn to live without mod-cons. ;-) There are times when no Toughbook is going to be required.

    BTW here in Australia most people don't need or want guns - I will not go into that debate except to say Trump's recent speech is utter lunacy and he loves the NRA to death (perhaps literally).
     
  7. r0tati0n

    r0tati0n Notebook Enthusiast

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    I was rather thinking of a HAM radio license and a radio.
    In case of emergency there is no internet as the mobile phone stations will fail.
    The HAM radios cover quite some distance, even the cheap Baofeng.
     
  8. thewanderlustking

    thewanderlustking Notebook Evangelist

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    We have found in the situations we deal with here each year, that our cellular grid usually stays online. In fact in the hurricane that hit Texas last year, the cellular grid was the main form of communications. Most Americans do not have HAM radios or the motivation/knowledge to get the license.

    But yes, I do have a pair of Baofeng radios. Although, I have NOT found them to have good distance. We lost communications at two blocks away, less than 1/4 mile. Is this bad antennas, or operator error? I don't know yet but that is a problem on my list to solve.
     
  9. thewanderlustking

    thewanderlustking Notebook Evangelist

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    Well, I based my question off of a very specific scenario, hurricanes. Where I live this is what happens EVERY year. We lose power when even a small thunder-storm comes through. In the last three years, we have been hit with just as many serious hurricanes. None of those times did the cellular grid go down, television down (although we had to listen via radio), or internet (although service is a problem when it relies on the mains being powered up.

    I am not talking what could happen, we are talking about the reality of what WILL happen. Now how bad, that is another story. Last year we were without power for a week. The year before, it was even WORSE. We lost power for almost two weeks because it rained for 3 days straight. A tree came down and took out our whole neighborhood's power grid.

    What does happen everytime a hurricane comes through, media blew things way out of proportion, caused panic, and extream potential for more issues than just the storm itself caused.

    What could have avoided that, is control of the information. IE intelligent use of the internet to watch the radar images, and get up to date information on what has happened, and where exactly the storm is.

    The worst part was as the storm was pounding us, not being able to actually see up to date radar images. Almost as bad was the calm spent waiting for it to hit.

    When would that be? Seriously! When the real SHTF happens, you need the logistics a computer supplies even MORE. Will you have normal internet? No, but that is when other things take over. Worldwide communications and transference of information can be sent via packets using a computer and shortwave radio. While communications can happen just via radio, information, IE a whole medical manual, can't be. I am not sure where I copied this from, likely a thread on here...

    But with a computer you can:

    1. Run inventory/consumption spreadsheets for supplies, fuel, food, etc.

    2. Display/print digital imagery taken for a variety of projects to include defensive arrangements, site surveys of proposed usage locations, inventory of property, route reconnaissance photos & videos, etc.

    3. Generate SOPs, Rules, Instructions, Operations Orders, Patrol Orders, WTB/For Sale ads (barter), wanted posters, journals, letters (for courier delivery), etc.

    4. Generate duty rosters and work schedules (guard, kitchen, radio watch, planting season, etc.).

    5. Generate maps and tactical graphics for local defense.

    6. Print applicable extracts from .pdf files (user instructions for radios, GPS, weapons, engine repair, food prep, recipes, medical care, drug dosages, how-to documents, etc.).

    7. Run local hard wired security camera feed to laptop.

    8. Organize and maintain personnel files (missing persons lists, skill sets of people in your group, personnel rosters for new additions).

    9. Use for weather prediction (using downloaded NOAA yearly weather data to estimate typical weather for each month, season, week, etc.). Readily available data that shows how much rain, sun, hi/low temp, cloud cover you can expect. Almanac stuff.

    10. Use for encrypting communications between locations (to be passed via flash/thumb drives). Might be worth someones life to not be found with an incriminating document in their possession. Rather than having the same info buried electronically deep in an almost unbreakable (and easily hidden) Iron Key encrypted thumb drive.

    11. Organize all gleaned news, rumors, and collected intelligence into something to brief all present on a daily, weekly, monthly basis...keep your people informed.

    12. Keep minutes of group discussions or meetings.

    13. Use to train folks on specific skills via videos, manuals, or instructional pages pre-saved to the hard drive.

    14. Repository for all identity, insurance, property, and personal documents if/when emergency is effectively over (and a recovery, rebuilding, and claims process begins).


    Well I am pretty sure Trump is a lunatic. But on the other hand that might be just what we need. Putting that aside, the American government has been going the wrong direction for a while and we voted said "lunatic" in to hopefully shake things up and fix them. That at the very least seems to be happening. Personally, I do not own firearms so the whole politics of that debate is not something I can add personal experience to.

    If you want to talk about extreme civil unrest and want an idea of why some of us feel so strongly about this, KATRINA. The things that really happened in Katrina were beyond reproach and unconstitutional. Our government did nothing and when they finally responded, it was to send in mercenaries to quell the disorder. Yes, harsh word and TRUE. The abuses of power that occurred were extreme. They sent in private military contractors to disarm the locals... Katrina generated a whole new set of "preppers" and citizens not willing to ever have their rights abused in that way again.

    And unfortunately, it is simply how our judicial system works. Years ago my house was broken into while I was home. I used reasonable force to eject that person from my home. You know what happened? Half an hour later, I was arrested for attempted murder. MY HOUSE was broken into, I solved the problem by tossing them out. They were mildly injured in the process. I go to jail.

    Both the arresting officer and then the prosecuting judge told me that I had the right to use deadly force to protect my home, and if I had done so all would have been fine. I WOULDN'T HAVE EVEN BEEN ARRESTED. While I was acquitted of all charges and my record expunged, I lost my job, my home, and everything I owned over that incident.

    Yes, if I had use DEADLY force instead of just reasonable force...

    I will not hesitate to use deadly force next time. And then reality sets in. A gun is much much cleaner to utilize than a katana or other bladed weapon. And it is seriously hard to find a master Japanese sword sharpener in the States.

    STUPID stuff happens here though. Just a few weeks ago, one of my coworkeres was out a week. I figured she simply took a vacation. When she got back, she looked like hell. It turned out in a road rage incident, she had been dragged out of her car and gotten the $4!+ beaten out of her. I didn't discuss all the details with her, but turns out she has a conceal carry permit. She wasn't though because she had just left work. She said she won't make that mistake ever again.

    That person goes free and unchecked, because the cops didn't have enough evidence to figure out who it was.

    Back on track though lol...

    As I said my primary plan is to simply deal with the short term of what will happen. We WIIL loose power hurricane or not, and to have the information needed to make an educated decision the next time a hurricane is about to make landfall here. If we decide to move out, to have the supplies to quickly do so. If we decide to stay, to have the gear to weather the storm.

    This hurricane season is predicted to be even worse than last year.
     
  10. thewanderlustking

    thewanderlustking Notebook Evangelist

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    Heh yes, I do own at least one of those items. Can you guess what one?! :D Words of wisdom, if you want to ensure your never messed with again, chase two hood rats 4 blocks across the ghetto and hold them at "___" point until the cops arrive! Although these days the cops might just shoot you first... :(

    Is that a specific product recommendation, or a generalization? A cheap transistor type radio is on our short list. That would cover a lot more though.

    If anyone wants to post up specific recommendations you have used, please do so!

    Also, I am planning to move forward and play with a GOBI setup. Everything except the card appears to be in my CF-19 and the cards aren't expensive from what I can see.
     
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