News, Blackberry

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

North Koreans are playing cat-n-mouse with the US navy in regards to a ship suspected of carrying illegal weapons, hamthrax is spreading throughout the US, the economy is still ailing, oil is up, the Middle East is doing its usual superb job of self-management and the public’s attention is focussed on the death of a pedophile musician who hasn’t even been musically relevant in, what, ten or fifteen years? Every one of those people that you see standing by some curbside candlelit vigil, teary eyed and hysteric, are people who have no ability to discern what is or is not important right now.

The economy is in rough shape, people are losing jobs, and some idiot somewhere thinks this is a good time to take a couple days off from work to drive to California to leave a teddy bear and a homemade card at the gates of Neverland? Very badly ordered priorities. Right now is the time when you give 110% at your job so that when the axe falls it falls on someone else, you save as much as you can, stockpile as much as you can, and make moves to limit your risk and exposure in these uncertain times.
I’m usually resistant to new technological devices. Often I’ll say something like “But this one I have now has worked fine and done everything Ive wanted for years! Why would I want to upgrade to this new one?” As Scotty said in the Star Trek movie “The more complicated the plumbing, the easier it is to plug it up”…or something similar. So, I was a bit reluctant to make the move to the Blackberry. I had a regular cellphone that functioned fine and took plenty of abuse…why would I need this touch-screen gizmo that would probably break at a harsh word?

Now, I am reluctant to upgrade to new technology but Im not an idiot…if theres an advantage to be gained, I’ll make the switch. That’s why I moved from 1911’s to Glocks. The Blackberry has a number of uses that Im finding fit in very well with my preparedness lifestyle.

Let me start off by saying that if the cell phone infrastructure goes down then obviously this thing is useless. Im aware of that. But my older, less techy cellphone would be equally useless. Most of the advantages the Blackberry offer are advantages that are most practical during pre-SHTF times anyway.

Lists – The Blackberry has a crippled version of Excel spreadsheets on it. I can download all my spreadsheets onto the Blackberry so I can have current up-to-date lists of food, ammo, gear, etc. on hand. How is this useful? If I walk into my local Albertsons and they have canned pears or canning jars or toilet paper on sale at big discounts, I can consult the Blackberry and find out just how much I have on hand at that moment. Thus I don’t spend money on stuff it turns out I already have or I can take advantage of a sale when I find that my supply at home is running low.

Camera – I use this almost exclusively for taking photos of the sides of product boxes to capture the specs of a product. For instance, I was up at CostCo and they had a solar panel package on sale. I took a photo of the side of the box and that saved me from having to stand there and write down all the details about the product. No muss, no fuss. Its also useful for things like gun shows where I can take a picture of a gun, send the image home and say “Want me to get this?”

Internet – This is useful on so many levels. First off, I have all the major news outlets bookmarked so if things suddenly get weird I can get the latest news as quickly as possible…and as we all know, forewarned is forearmed. Its also very handy for quickly researching a product in the store…just head to the website of the product manufacturer and get necessary info. I also use it to get up-to-date prices on metals and stocks. Oh, and its handy for porn while traveling.

File storage – the Blackberry also doubles as a USB drive. I use it to shuttle music and files between home and work. In fact, I type up most of these entries at work and then shuttle them home on the Blackberry. I also keep useful files on the Blackberry, such as a scanned image of the FFL that we use for gun purchases. That way I can go into a gun store somewhere and if I see a gun we want I can email a copy of the FFL to the store right there. (And, yes, emailed and faxed FFLs are valid these days as long as the recipient verifies its validity against ATFE’s website database.)

Applications – I haven’t explored all the various applications out there for the Blackberry yet. I very much want some ballistic and mil-dot applications as well as some cryptography applications. Need to hunt those down…Im sure someone somewhere has them.

GPS and maps – The Blackberry lets me and the missus keep track of each other if we enable privileges on our respective Blackberries. I can pull up a Google map and there’ll be a little dot at her last known location. Can be very handy in a crisis. Of course, anything that lets you track someone can also be used to track you…and Im painfully aware of that.

Is the Blackberry a critical piece of gear? Absolutely not. Is it useful? Very much. Is it worth the money? Well…that depends. I think its about $60 a month for the service but it very much has a great utility to me. It may not be as useful to you, but I find it extremely handy. For me the ability to streamline my shopping experiences by having up-to-date lists, do math calculations and check product info at manufacturers websites is very, very attractive…it makes me a very informed consumer and that saves me money in the long run. (For example, I can be at Barnes and Noble and see if the book in their discount bin is cheaper at Amazon…or if the batteries at Best Buy can be had cheaper at CostCo..) I suppose the class-warfare nobly-poor types will call it a ‘yuppie survivalist toy’ and snicker mightily…whatever, man. If I find something that makes me more efficient, and I can afford it, why wouldn’t I take advantage of that?

Me being me, I have some rubber armour that encases the Blackberry to provide a little protection but I find the best thing for it is the belt holster made by Maxpedition (product #0109) … it features a belt clip, MOLLE back, retention strap, and is available in OD. Does a decent job of protecting my Blackberry Storm, too.