Farmer's Hours and Alan November

In the aftermath of Hurricane/Frankenstorm/SuperStorm Sandy we are reminded what is was like back in the mid 1990's.

Those dark times when we had internet so slow that the only movement was that of animated gifs. The difference was that those animated gifs were done with a purpose, like the fantastic Olympic Torch that I asked all-around-cool-guy Doug George to make for either the 1996 or 2000 Olympics coverage on a website we both worked on. The gif showed a burning Olympic torch. It was about 20k in size and was so cool that PC Magazine used it to highlight an article on, well, animated gifs. A time when the only phone we had was the one we rented from the phone company which was miraculously powered by voodoo even when the real power went out.

But I digress and besides, now it's different.

Wiltonians use wifi and plugs at The Wilton Library on
Wednesday after Sandy. Inside it looked the the
London Underground during the Blitz
When I seek a place to recharge my devices I take a power strip. Between computers, iDevices, phones etc there are not enough plugs at the library.

I know that some of you will say that this is the very reason why we should ditch this whole technology thing anyway. Although if you're reading this blog then you probably are not thing that way.

This experience with no power has given me a few things though;

  1. an understanding of the term "farmers hours" (in bed by 9 and up by 5:30).
  2. an understanding that I might, and I stress might, spend a little to much time on Xbox.
  3. An appreciation for the excellent battery in my iPad 2 when I am just using it to read and
  4. Time to read Alan November's book, "Who Owns the Learning".
My biggest lesson was to prepare. Years of not being a boy scout  have made me soft, last year reminded me about getting ready and, with the exception of not buying a generator when I had the chance, we were as ready as we could be.

The not buying a generator thing coupled with a need for electric power just to communicate got me thinking about generators and alternatives. Generators are advertised and sold virtually anywhere, but not now, at any home supply store like Home Depot or Lowes. It was when thinking of non-carbon fueled alternatives that I remembered a demo at Costco a year ago or so that didn't involve frozen Peruvian chicken pizza.

The product was from a company called Goal Zero. They make "portable" solar power stations for anything from iPods to laptops. Although the packages they offer can be as much as a gas generator it looks like it might be one way to go. 

If you think about it, when most non-Sandy hurricanes go through, you have nice sunny skies and could be charging all those devices for "free". If I had done that, I could have finished my Alan November without going to charge my iPad at the Library.