Emergency Computing for the Masses.

When I did the Solar UMPC tour in 2007, it was an expensive job pulling together all the equipment. Foldable solar panels and ultra mobile computers were specialist items and difficult to find. The UMPC alone cost over 1100 Euro and had to be ordered through a specialist. Fortunately, Intel are starting to deliver on their promise of consumer-focused, highly efficient Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)and it’s looking great for anyone wanting to power a real PC from the sun.

What was 1KG and cost 1110 Euro one year ago is now less than half the weight, takes half the power and cost a lot lot less. Within 12 months, the price will be down to 50% of what it was a year ago bringing mobile computing to the masses. Take the Aigo MID (see info below) It’s a full Linux-based PC with keyboard and screen, storage, usb, a camera, wifi, bluetooth and will even be available soon with built-in 3G. Its just 350gm in weight and having looked in detail at test results and asked owners about the battery life, its clear that it’s running in less than 4W of power meaning you can last twice as long on the same amount of stored power or reduce the size of the (expensive) solar panel and power storage. A huge step forward.

Survival with the Smallest and Most Efficient.

q1p-tent 051Recently, I have been thinking more about short-term emergency supplies. I usually keep a stock of foodstuffs and water in my cellar along with a radio, small gas stove and a radio but I really think a mobile computer should be part of my survival kit, even if it’s just for day-to-day ’emergencies.’ From being able to compute when your ISP has problems to being able to walk into the middle of a city without power or communications and instantly set up a WiFi hotsopt or Bluetooth hotspot with a simple, self-contained web-server offering emergency information. From being able to move away from an emergency area with your computer with scans of your important documents to being able to send an e-mail greeting to your mother when you forgot to send a card for her birthday (arguably one of the worst disaster scenarios possible!)

In times of disaster, you need to earn money too. As a pro-blogger (UMPCPortal) I would instantly lose 100% of my income if the Internet went down but by having an emergency Internet ‘station’ I’d have a lot of possibilities. Can you imagine how much bartering power you would have if your were one of the only people left in your area with a working PC and a 3G connection that could send and receive emergency SMS messages from the cellular radio system!

In times of comfort and stability it sounds almost extreme to be thinking about such scenarios but in the western world, we live in a just-in-time economy. Like the weather, everything could change in 48hrs. Considering your electronic storage, communications and computing as part of your survival kit is is something many people will be doing and having the lightest and most efficient kit is obviously the best way to go. Thank goodness for Mobile Internet Devices!

Solar UMPC Tip of the moment: (click on the links for information from the UMPCPortal database)

Aigo P8860 – One of the first consumer-focused Mobile Internet Devices based on Intel’s Atom processor and Moblin, Linux-based operating system. Currently available by import. Average power drain (in-use) under 4W. 5V DC input. Micro-SD port. Wifi, Bluetooth and USB port about to take external peripherals. Also available in France as the Mi PC through the carrier SFR and expected to be launched under the Gigabyte brand soon as the M528.

Is anyone reading this considering a mobile PC as an essential item in their emergency kit? Is anyone even considering some form of fallback scenario?

  • John Wesley

    Cool idea about having a mobile computer. I’m not sure how reliable service would be in a wide area power outage, but if a solar powered device could still have uses, it may be worth having.

    John
    http://www.destinysurvival.com

  • Bob

    I carry my Nokia N800, along with my cell phone, when I go to town!
    As for my home:

    I watched “NOVA: Saved by the Sun” last Tuesday. I’ve seen this episode before but I enjoyed it the last time because it featured folks like me who are trying to leave as small a footprint on our environment as possible. One so-called “Physicist” said that solar cells are only good for powering calculators and other small devices! I thought that was rather amusing that I am able to watch this guy say that on a TV that is run off my home’s electric that’s powered by solar cells, which also runs my refrigerator, computer, lights, and other “devices”. So much for any credibility this particular Physicist may bring to the table! Experts! They’ll get ya every time!

    Take care!
    //bob

  • Chippy

    John.
    Thanks for your comment.

    As a low cost, relatively rugged and compact pc based on linux, these MIDs should find a place in most peoples home or grab-and-go kit eventually. Ive started to build an ebook collection, a family photo album and personal scanned doc store on mine.