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Summer Fun Food and Drink - Techo addiction - Chapter 23 · 6.09.10 by colin newell

depending on too much of the same technology? Call home!I have a pretty sassy old mom… in her 80’s and as spry as a UVic rabbit dodging a Jack Russell terrier.

Was wowing her with an internet radio that I am testing out. Maybe you have seen them. They look like radios. They pick up a WiFi connection and can spit out 15,000 radio stations.

For most people, it is a 99 channel Universe – especially for those of us who live in urban areas. My wife and I have a digital Shaw cable account that is wrapped with broadband internet. Works pretty well for us. Not always reliable as gravity but I have few complaints about the service. If you pick up the phone and call for help, chances are you are going to speak to some young person in the Victoria area. That speaks volumes for customer service.

Anyway – I am digressing.

My mom goes back to the days of radio. Where there was nothing but radio… and direct dial rotary phones. Where a long distance phone call would cost you bucks based on distance. Unlike today where you can call Mars for about 9 cents a minute.

So she has seen it all. But was immensely impressed with the fact that I could call up a Stereo FM quality radio signal from anywhere on the Planet — via the miracle of the internet of course.

In the space of 5 minutes we were “tuning” in St. Johns Newfoundland, the Vatican, France, the BBC and then back to CBC Radio 1 Victoria.

As my mom also knows, I am a radio guy from a long time ago – at 12 years of age I was building shortwave radios and dabbling in Ham radio. So, through some degree of osmosis, she has soaked in some of this legacy technology.

Fact is, in 2010, we have come to really depend on the leading edge technologies; cell phones, internet, internet phones, iPhones, blackberries, portable PC’s and Macs that depend on a stable broadband connection… that are totally centralized. And where this is a problem is, when there is a power failure, local brown out or, God forbid, a “mass coronal ejection” from the Sun… We could be entirely dead in the water as far as communications are concerned. Under the right conditions we could not even talk across the street – much less connect to a police station or hospital.

Our highways are much like that. Cut one big link and we are screwed.
And do not get me wrong – I am not offering any solutions. Just making an observation.

Like dear old Mom did when she asked…
“This internet radio does not work by itself does it? It is not picking up all these stations out of the air is it? You have another piece of hardware in the home, yes?”

Her words exactly.

My internet and digital connection is a pretty massive and fragile lifeline.

It’s a good thing that I am a licensed ham radio operator capable of helping dig out from a natural disaster and aiding in coordinating communications in the event of…

You get the point.
My advice is: Be prepared with alternatives. An emergency kit is a good start. And a battery powered traditional radio to hear what’s going on.
The rotary dial phone? Sorry. Cannot help you there.

Be safe.


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