USB Modem Saves the Day for Anxious Fire Victims
October 25, 2007 9:31 AM
comment(s) - last by
Finding out that your home is still standing means the world when you're an evacuee.
The phone rang and we heard a recorded voice telling us to leave home immediately, and bring only what we could carry. It was the dreaded call that hundreds of thousands of families like ours have gotten since the mass evacuations of San Diego County began on Sunday.
So we loaded up our “family” – a combination of children, dogs, cats, horses, and a lone rabbit -- and made our way to
a nearby horse ranch
that lies just outside the immediate evacuation area. Here we sit, breathing the fumes of the fires and the stables, wondering about everything we left behind.
That wondering, as it turns out, is worst thing about being an evacuee. Ironically, the one item that has brought the most solace to the families gathered here has turned out to be a little gadget about the size of a pack of gum: Novatel's cellular USB data modem, sold by Verizon Wireless as the USB720 NationalAccess Broadband device.
Even with the radio and TV broadcasts we can receive, we were soon frustrated by the lack of specific information on our plight. Local stations focus only on the biggest fires ravaging our area, and have no time or personnel to report on our tiny blaze, which has consumed only 7,500 acres, 200 homes, and evacuated a mere city of 40,000. Public agencies are too busy fighting fires and saving lives to update their telephone information lines. While our
community newspaper publisher
has valiantly updated her lead story every few hours, it hasn’t been enough to satisfy the refugees, each one hungry for details on whether their own homes and loved ones have survived the ordeal.
In the end, we have relied on three main sources of information: two are online, and one is decidedly low-tech:
The California Highway Patrol’s real-time incident log (http://cad.chp.ca.gov).
The log is designed for CHP officers logging on from their cruisers, reporting their activities in the field. The information is full of police jargon and traffic-related minutiae, but occasionally it contains references to where the fire is erupting or being extinguished. Because the data is all recorded in real-time by first responders, it’s a godsend to information-starved evacuees.
Impromptu user forums in the comments sections of articles published by our local “rag,” the North County Times (
The articles themselves were nominally valuable, but readers interacting spontaneously in the comments sections were priceless. For example, I came across a post last night where a woman mentioned that her elderly mother had just broken the evacuation order and returned home. I recognized the lady in question as my next-door neighbor, and the post confirmed that my home was also still intact.
A 10-year-old fax machine.
About as low-tech as you can get, the fax machine sits in my home office. Every so often I call it from my cell phone, just to reassure myself that the house is still there. As long as the machine picks up and screeches back at me, I know we still have a home to return to.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Fax machine...
10/25/2007 8:49:20 PM
I agree 100% and have been saying the same thing for years.
Don't get me wrong, I have environmentalist tendencies in my way of thinking; but even I know that you need small burns every now and again to clear out the under brush or you get what is going on now. Add to that the fact that the ash from the small burns is good for the soil and the trees in long run you your setting up for a slightly less fire resistant forest by not setting or managing the smaller burns.
My two cents any way.
RE: Fax machine...
10/29/2007 1:32:11 AM
Yeah, fires are natural; look at the ponderosa pine. I thought controlled burns were back in favor since the Yellowstone fire that was so destructive from the years of accumulated undergrowth/debris. Why aren't foam fire suppression systems available for houses by now? Personally, I can't wait for forcefields so we can have climate controlled camping style living spaces with HDTV home theater setups of course.
"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
Latest By Steve Kovsky
DailyTech Readers Weigh In on Virtualization’s Role in Modern Computing
October 14, 2009, 7:11 AM
How concerned are you with virtualization security?
September 29, 2009, 5:59 PM
Data Center Expert Warns SMBs Against “Over-Virtualization”
September 16, 2009, 8:40 AM
What’s the best use of desktop virtualization?
September 4, 2009, 9:14 AM
What makes virtualization worthwhile for small to mid-size businesses?
August 26, 2009, 6:55 PM
DailyTech Readers Split On Virtualization Trade-Offs
August 26, 2009, 11:51 AM
Cloud Computing’s Future Remains Murky
August 24, 2009, 7:00 AM
LG Preps Monitor with Built-In Virtualization
June 22, 2009, 4:17 PM
Desktop Virtualization: What’s the Big Idea?
January 27, 2009, 7:25 AM
Virtualization Has Data Centers Seeing Green
January 27, 2009, 4:22 AM
"Bitcoin COO" Explains Bitcoin to Conan O'Brien in Layman's Terms
March 11, 2014, 9:53 AM
AT&T Cuts Price of 2GB Shared Data Plan, T-Mobile Ups Cost of Unlimited Option
March 10, 2014, 2:51 PM
Vine Users No Longer Allowed to Post Pornographic Videos
March 7, 2014, 1:47 PM
Facebook Launches Slightly Tweaked News Feed
March 7, 2014, 9:03 AM
Target Chief Information Officer Resigns in Wake of Holiday Data Breach
March 6, 2014, 2:01 PM
Quick Note: Yahoo to Require Users of its Services to Have Yahoo IDs
March 5, 2014, 4:55 PM
Most Popular Articles
Bitcoin King Pt. II: Mt. Gox's Dictator Karpelès Proves Tragically Flawed
March 7, 2014, 1:12 PM
Bitcoin King: Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpelès' History of Arrests, Firings
March 5, 2014, 9:05 AM
USAF Moves Forward With Long Range Bomber Program Despite Budget Crunch
March 4, 2014, 9:44 AM
Windows 8.1 Update 1 Leaked Early
March 7, 2014, 9:30 AM
Apple Won't Let UK Sons Unlock Their Deceased Mother's iPad
March 6, 2014, 12:44 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
Global Cyber Espionage Concerns Reveal Growing Cyber Armies
Nov 29, 2013, 11:04 AM
Is The Period Becoming an Expression of Anger?
Nov 26, 2013, 2:02 PM
NSA and Congress -- You Will Never Kill the Constitution, It's an Idea
Nov 10, 2013, 2:00 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information