Sunday, June 16, 2019

5 Lessons From the Target Tech Outage

Apparently if you were shopping at Target yesterday, you got to experience what a tech outage looks like.  The news began reporting a "chaotic nationwide tech outage" at Target stores in the early afternoon.  There was much discussion about said outage on social media.  Eventually the situation was resolved and all became well again.  What can we learn from this?

  1. Bring cash.  People can demand that the cashiers take the credit cards all they want but when all of the technology that goes into taking credit cards goes down, there is literally nothing cashiers can do to take credit cards.
  2. Keep your cool.  Getting huffy and screaming at cashiers/management won't make the tech failure suddenly fix itself.  People who throw tantrums in public places look like fools. 
  3. With adequate stockpiling of necessary items and storage of said items, there should be no reason you ABSOLUTELY have to have anything at Target this very minute.  In the case of buying needed medications at their pharmacy when the system goes down, research ahead of time to find out what other pharmacies in your community you could use as a back-up and secondary back-up.
  4. Is it me or is it everyone?  There are generally a couple simple ways to determine what is happening with any given situation.  Hop online and check social media (this is usually where first reports of such incidents occur) then Google (name of store) and (situation).  With a bit of extra information you can determine your next course of action (leave the store and come back later, wait for a while in the store, and even ask for coupons as were handed out at Target for $5 and $10 off future visits).
  5. Imagine what would happen if not only this one Target-specific tech outage hit every store nationwide but if all of the technology systems went down nationwide.  Electricity, stopped working.  Water systems, stopped working.  Walmart, stopped working.  Grocery stores, stopped working. Et al.  Then you would have a problem (but hopefully not as big a problem as the rest of the masses since you have been preparing and practicing and planning for such an incident for ages).

Friday, June 7, 2019

20 Hobbies for Preppers

You never know what prepper skills you will need during a disaster, but having hobbies that you engage in regularly that can also be useful during a SHTF event can pay dividends besides being an enjoyable way to spend your free time.  Here are 20 prepper-related hobbies to consider:

  1. Practical Shooting (USPSA)
  2. Amateur (HAM) Radio
  3. Orienteering
  4. Locksport (lockpicking)
  5. Geocaching
  6. Adventure Racing
  7. Drone Flying
  8. Gardening
  9. Hunting
  10. Fishing
  11. Krav Maga (or other self-defense sports)
  12. Backpacking
  13. Animal Husbandry
  14. Blacksmithing
  15. Archery
  16. Food Preservation
  17. Homebrewing
  18. Woodworking
  19. Sewing
  20. Paintball

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

Taking a few minutes today to think about Memorial Day.  While "all gave some and some gave all", a big thanks goes out to all who have served our country.  As the "Army tweet that backfired" confirmed, Memorial Day remembers those who have died in service to our country however many people who served our country are still alive yet war took a part of them that will never be recovered and in many cases, pushed them to ultimately end their lives.  War is Hell, obviously, and now we have two generations of kids (Gen Y and Gen Z) who have never known the US to not be at war.  Here's hoping we can move towards a more diplomatic approach to keeping peace in the world and a less eager approach to sending our young people around the world to fight and die in order to keep the military industrial complex humming along.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Sometimes I Think We are Regressing to the Dark Ages...

To wit...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Five Disasters on the Horizon

Some summer disasters to consider...start prepping now.

  1. It seems weird to warn about wildfire season in early May but there it is.  It seems wildfire season is starting earlier and earlier each year.
  2. And while hurricane season doesn't officially start until June 1, it is never too early to start preparing.
  3. Of course infectious disease are always a threat (check out info on measles and the flu here).
  4. Many families move during the summer, if you are finding a "forever" home, take rising sea levels into consideration.
  5. And as long as we are talking about summer, consider that there could be problems with overtaxed grids or proactive shut downs of power supplies.  Prepare accordingly.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

20 Things About Tech

A bunch of random musings about technology from yours truly...

  1. If you use any sort of technology at all, you have NO privacy (you can take steps to secure your privacy on tech devices but there is no such thing as 100% privacy where technology is concerned).
  2. I am NOT an Apple fan.  Every few years I will buy an Apple product and experiment with it but in every case the item is returned (Android devices, IMHO are infinitely better).
  3. If you can get your software through a non-profit (via TechSoup) you will save A LOT of money.
  4. Always carry spare thumb drives and memory cards (generally micro SD cards).
  5. YouTube is a goldmine of tech info from reviews to tech EDC videos to news on all of the newest tech on the market.
  6. Limit your tech when traveling internationally (and leave all of your sensitive documents and files at home...you never know when border security will hijack your stuff which is legal for them to do).
  7. Speaking of international travel, leave your drones, HAM radios, and even your RTL-SDR dongles at home...this sort of stuff looks like spying equipment to many foreign governments.
  8.  Advanced cell phones are great (Galaxy 9 and 10 stuff is amazing) but always buy these things at a discount (paying full price is ridiculous for technology).
  9. The leading edge advanced tech devices (like the new $2000 Galaxy Fold) is stuff you want to steer clear of until #1 the bugs are worked out, and #2 the price drops significantly.
  10. Power banks are a Godsend.  Always carry a spare and put one in your EDC and BOB bags too.
  11. It's popular to store your documents/photos/videos/etc in the cloud now.  I don't find these services very secure, YMMV.
  12. I keep a few digital back ups of my important documents, encrypted on thumb drives and memory cards, and hidden away in various locations.
  13. There are no digital assistant devices in my home, IMHO it is like welcoming a spy network open access to your home and everything/everyone in it.
  14. I am a huge fan of Dell XPS laptops, Samsung (high end) tablets, and Galaxy (S4-S10) cell phones.
  15. If you are concerned about having your tech stuff lost or stolen, enable the device so you can locate it or toss a Tile tag or similar device on it.
  16. I've tried several fitness trackers and I simply can't bring myself to use them, mostly because I never got into the running/walking metrics thing and also because they are a security risk in several ways.
  17. Social media is a shitshow.  Be aware that what you post on social media can be traced back to you, that nothing you post is private even on SnapChat, and everything you say can be used against you in court.
  18. YOU are the product when it comes to using websites (everything from Amazon to Facebook to Twitter, etc).  Your usage and data is meticulously tracked, ads are specifically targeted to you, and many of these apps and websites have miles-long user agreements in which you basically agree to let these "free" services do anything they want.  See also #1 above.
  19. I trust newer tech even less than older tech.  DNA testing, "cashless" stores, microchip implants...no thanks.
  20. The last video game I played was Asteroids somewhere back in the early 80s.  Needless to say I know nothing of contemporary video gaming.  I do, however, love the fact that I can download thousands and thousands of free e-books from our local library.
Bottom line, tech is ever-evolving and many things are hella cool but use what works for you with the full knowledge that literally EVERYTHING you do via technology can and will be linked to you for the rest of your natural life.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Mini BOB for Your Kid's Locker

If you've been following the weather in the Plains states, you know that those areas are suffering everything from tornadoes to severe flooding.  The students at one school even had to stay over night at their elementary school because it was too dangerous to send them home through the floods.  Fortunately the school was prepared to keep the kids and the staff went above and beyond to take care of them.  Which brings us to today's topic.  Does you kid have a mini BOB at school?  Do they have a locker or space to keep a mini BOB with necessary emergency supplies?

If possible, kids should have (age appropriate) emergency supplies to help them take care of themselves in an emergency, kept either in their school backpack or locker.  Items to put in this pack might include:
  • Wet Wipes
  • Packet of tissues
  • Bandaids and appropriate first aid supplies (some schools consider any sort of medication, even aspirin, contraband)
  • Granola bars/jerky/other easy to eat food
  • Bottles of water or juice boxes
  • Mylar blanket
  • Whistle
  • Tiny flashlight
  • Spare charging cord for their cell phone and/or power bank
  • Emergency medicine like an Epi Pen, prescription meds, etc (consult with the school about this particular topic)
  • Spare feminine hygiene supplies for females
  • Condoms for males and females (yes, kids really do have sex at school)
  • A typed/handwritten list of emergency contact info (names, phone numbers, email addresses for several friends and/or family members) as well as other pertinent info (list of allergies, doctor's name and number, address, parent's names and numbers, etc)
  • Spare coins and cash
  • Pre-paid gift cards (for the local gas station if your student drives to school, to the local fast food place, a pre-paid visa card, etc)
  • A small magnifying glass (matches may be considered contraband but they can easily start a fire with a magnifying glass in an emergency)
  • A complete change of clothes (easier to keep in a locker for emergencies than to carry the around in a backpack)
  • Glow sticks
  • Face mask
  • A fluorescent strip of fabric to use for an emergency signal
  • Sunscreen (if you live in a sunny area)
  • Pocket knife (I've carried mine since I was a child, this may be considered contraband at some schools)
Remember to keep these items age-appropriate and follow the rules about what is and is not allowed at school (you don't want to have your kid take a pocket knife to school then be expelled for the rest of the year because they were caught with it).  Also remember to provide training for how and in what circumstances to use each of these items.