Working in the Dark: Mobile Tech at Home


This morning didn’t start as planned. At 5 A.M. there was a loud “boom”, the power at home went out, and then there was a second loud “boom”. The power was out in the immediate area, and we stumbled around in the dark until candles were lit and flashlights were located. The only good thing about this unexpected darkness was it happened right at the time my wife’s alarm clock signaled it was time to get up for the day. She has one of those job things that requires her to actually go to work, unlike me who has a 5 second commute to Mobile Tech Manor. Fortunately for us both, my home office is outfitted with outstanding mobile technology, and that comes in handy when the power decides to go away.

We normally watch the morning news on TV while sipping our first cup of coffee, and my wife didn’t want to miss this part of the daily ritual. I fired up the Sprint (s s) Overdrive hotspot, and once connected to the Sprint 3G network (we don’t have 4G coverage at home) I powered on the Acer Ferrari One laptop I have been testing. Our local ABC TV station broadcasts the news online, so my wife was able to get her morning news fix with no problem. I was on the iPad (s aapl), happily tweeting via candlelight.

When the power outage entered its second hour it was clear we were in for the long haul. No worries as I have been working away on my MacBook using the Overdrive 3G connection. It’s almost like all the other mornings when we have power, just a bit darker. Working in the glow of the laptop screen reminds me of the period after Hurricane Ike, when we lost power for almost 3 weeks.

Having all of this mobile tech around is a great thing when confronted with a situation like this power outage. I figure between the MacBook and other laptops in Mobile Tech Manor I could easily go 3 – 4 days without power before all the various batteries run dry. The Overdrive modem is only good for 3 – 4 hours on its little battery but when it starts running out I will just connect it to the currently used laptop via USB. It will take a hit on the laptop battery but I won’t care, I’ll still be online and working away.

I do miss the 40 Mbps broadband I normally enjoy, and the 24-inch monitor on my desk too. But times like these remind me those are nice to have but not essential to get the work done. Just lots of batteries and mobile broadband and I am good to go.

I must admit that while it was romantic tweeting via candlelight, it is kind of sad when a power outage is no excuse to miss a little work. This situation does make me proud of the green tech work the GigaOM network does, especially the GreenNet 2010 conference kicking off this month.



Sounds like a transformer, or whatever they are called, blew. There is one of those on a power pole at the end of our yard. A few years ago it went out and went boom on a Sunday morning. We thought it was Armageddon! :)



You didn’t mention that you have any UPS there? It can be very useful both as a backup power source, and also a surge protection device. Black out or brown out can damage electronics (some, not all) without surge protection.

James Kendrick

No UPS here, something I should consider. The truth is these outages are so rare and I have the ability to keep going for days when they occur so it’s hard to justify the cost and hassle of keeping a backup system. That’s just my particular case, of course.

Scott Case

The esteemed geniuses at Comcast came by the house this morning to bury the cable for our neighbor who got their service. Along the way, our service with them got disconnected. Long, painful day with phone calls and what not for my bride trying to get through to the collection of rocket scientists.

But we’re back working tonight, not on Comcast, but rocking the Sprint Overdrive in the house (thanks for the suggestion, James, got it FREE with the iPad yesterday!) and providing the internet to her iMac, my MacBook and the iPad.


This isn’t particularly related to your post but I think its something that might help you out if you haven’t already heard of it. Its the Early Edition app for iPad. Its a beautiful looking app that seems to be far from useless. Here is a YouTube video.

What do ya think?

James Kendrick

Must have been pretty serious. Power was off for 3 hours, came back for an hour and then went up and down for a while. Seems to be back OK now though.

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