Miscellaneous Ramblings

More Power Blackout Adventures

Charles Moore - 2011.12.14 - Tip Jar

It's shaping up to be a rough season of power outages here in Nova Scotia. Last week, we had our second major power blackout here when a so-called weather bomb (defined as an intensifying low-pressure system that brings about a dramatic drop in pressure) rolled in on us from the US northeast. In this instance, the pressure gradient was reportedly some one-third greater than the threshold for qualifying the term, and in our neck of the woods it resulted in wind gusts up to about 110 kph (roughly 70 mph). We actually held on to electricity throughout most of the storm's passage, albeit with lights flickering, but finally a mighty gust hit and that was it.

No mystery as to why. About 1,000 feet up the road a large tree fell on the power line, severing it. However, at one point over 30,000 customers in the province were without juice, although our immediate issue only affected four occupied homes on our isolated dirt road, so we are pretty low on the restoration priority list. In the end, we got power back some 26 hours later, during which I lost wireless high speed Internet, since the wireless broadband service's tower has no backup power supply and gets its utility feed from the same local grid as I do. In any case, it was disabled by other outages farther up the daisy-chained network. Back to dial-up.

Pismo PowerBookLengthy power outages are one of the reasons why I'm in no hurry to give up on my to 11-year-old Pismo PowerBooks, both of which have internal modems for making dial-up connections, and very decent battery life for such old machines. But dial-up is soooooo sloooooow.

It is a whole lot better than no Internet, though.

Another casualty for the duration was my iPad, which could theoretically be a useful platform for working through power outages if there were only some way to conveniently transfer data to a modem-equipped Mac without using WiFi. There is no 3G or GSM service coverage here, so that would not be a workaround option even if my iPad 2 was a 3G model, which it isn't. I'm resigned to the fact that there's no way Apple is ever going to make iPads dial-up compatible, but I've abidingly lamented the absence of a real USB port that could support a thumb drive or even a direct data connection with a Mac or PC without the clumsy intermediary of iTunes. The iPad remained an inert slab throughout, while the old Pismos took up the slack.

Anyway, thanks to the goodness of the Pismo, I was able to stay reasonably current with work, although everything took longer, and some websites are just hopeless on dial-up. On a fully-charged five-year-old battery, the Pismo gives me about five hours of runtime, and with my spare battery, I can complete a full work day.

However, we opted to fire up our gas generator. Unfortunately I injured my back pulling the starter ripcord at an unergonomic angle, so my wife had to step in and do the honors. The little gen-set kept the fridge and freezer cold taking turns, supplied light, and we were able to watch some TV, as well as charge the laptops. My back is recovering. I also have an automobile power adapter for the Pismos that would allow recharging the laptops from car battery power.

Unibody MacBookUnfortunately, the Apple USB Modem I bought along with my Core 2 Duo MacBook back in early 2009 is not supported under OS X 10.7 Lion, which is another of several reasons why I'm an OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard holdout. I simply can't afford to be without Internet access during protracted power and Internet outages like the five-day one I weathered in September 2010 after Hurricane Karl blew through followed by a cold front and a spectacular lightning storm that took out my wireless broadband antenna modem's power supply, and another four-day one due to a malfunction at my ISP's nearest transmission tower.

I'm sure many folks in the US northeast can identify from recent experience with a freak November snowstorm that knocked out power for a week or more in some areas.

During lengthy power and Internet blackouts, good old dependable dial-up has saved my bacon, making it possible to continue working in cyberspace and keep up to date with what was happening in the world, since for some reason the landline telephone network is much more robust than either the power or wireless broadband Internet infrastructure, and the local telephone distribution box has a backup power supply.

Fortunately, some third party USB modems do work with Lion, so there is a workaround, but it irks me to have to buy a new one to replace a less-than-three-year-old unit that still works just fine with OS X 10.6. More arbitrary forced obsolescence from Apple.

I'm sure the very notion of dial-up Internet seems quaint to the folks in Cupertino, California, but not so much in this rural Nova Scotia backwater I call home.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

Links for the Day

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Custom Search

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

MacSurfer
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
MacInTouch
MyAppleMenu
InfoMac
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
RetroMacCast
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
DealMac
Mac2Sell
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

Affiliates

Amazon.com
The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac
eBay

Low End Mac's Amazon.com store

Advertise

Open Link

More Power Blackout Adventures

Miscellaneous Ramblings

More Power Blackout Adventures

Charles Moore - 2011.12.14 - Tip Jar

Nova ScotiaIt's shaping up to be a rough season of power outages here in Nova Scotia. Last week, we had our second major power blackout here when a so-called weather bomb (defined as an intensifying low-pressure system that brings about a dramatic drop in pressure) rolled in on us from the US northeast. In this instance, the pressure gradient was reportedly some one-third greater than the threshold for qualifying the term, and in our neck of the woods it resulted in wind gusts up to about 110 kph (roughly 70 mph). We actually held on to electricity throughout most of the storm's passage, albeit with lights flickering, but finally a mighty gust hit and that was it.

No mystery as to why. About 1,000 feet up the road a large tree fell on the power line, severing it. However, at one point over 30,000 customers in the province were without juice, although our immediate issue only affected four occupied homes on our isolated dirt road, so we are pretty low on the restoration priority list. In the end, we got power back some 26 hours later, during which I lost wireless high speed Internet, since the wireless broadband service's tower has no backup power supply and gets its utility feed from the same local grid as I do. In any case, it was disabled by other outages farther up the daisy-chained network. Back to dial-up.

Lengthy power outages are one of the reasons why I'm in no hurry to give up on my to 11-year-old Pismo PowerBooks, both of which have internal modems for making dial-up connections, and very decent battery life for such old machines. But dial-up is soooooo sloooooow.

It is a whole lot better than no Internet, though.

Another casualty for the duration was my iPad, which could theoretically be a useful platform for working through power outages if there were only some way to conveniently transfer data to a modem-equipped Mac without using WiFi. There is no 3G or GSM service coverage here, so that would not be a workaround option even if my iPad 2 was a 3G model, which it isn't. I'm resigned to the fact that there's no way Apple is ever going to make iPads dial-up compatible, but I've abidingly lamented the absence of a real USB port that could support a thumb drive or even a direct data connection with a Mac or PC without the clumsy intermediary of iTunes. The iPad remained an inert slab throughout, while the old Pismos took up the slack.

Anyway, thanks to the goodness of the Pismo, I was able to stay reasonably current with work, although everything took longer, and some websites are just hopeless on dial-up. On a fully-charged five-year-old battery, the Pismo gives me about five hours of runtime, and with my spare battery, I can complete a full work day.

However, we opted to fire up our gas generator. Unfortunately I injured my back pulling the starter ripcord at an unergonomic angle, so my wife had to step in and do the honors. The little gen-set kept the fridge and freezer cold taking turns, supplied light, and we were able to watch some TV, as well as charge the laptops. My back is recovering. I also have an automobile power adapter for the Pismos that would allow recharging the laptops from car battery power.

Unfortunately, the Apple USB Modem I bought along with my Core 2 Duo MacBook back in early 2009 is not supported under OS X 10.7 Lion, which is another of several reasons why I'm an OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard holdout. I simply can't afford to be without Internet access during protracted power and Internet outages like the five-day one I weathered in September 2010 after Hurricane Karl blew through followed by a cold front and a spectacular lightning storm that took out my wireless broadband antenna modem's power supply, and another four-day one due to a malfunction at my ISP's nearest transmission tower.

I'm sure many folks in the US northeast can identify from recent experience with a freak November snowstorm that knocked out power for a week or more in some areas.

During lengthy power and Internet blackouts, good old dependable dial-up has saved my bacon, making it possible to continue working in cyberspace and keep up to date with what was happening in the world, since for some reason the landline telephone network is much more robust than either the power or wireless broadband Internet infrastructure, and the local telephone distribution box has a backup power supply.

Fortunately, some third party USB modems do work with Lion, so there is a workaround, but it irks me to have to buy a new one to replace a less-than-three-year-old unit that still works just fine with OS X 10.6. More arbitrary forced obsolescence from Apple.

I'm sure the very notion of dial-up Internet seems quaint to the folks in Cupertino, California, but not so much in this rural Nova Scotia backwater I call home.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

Links for the Day

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Custom Search

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

MacSurfer
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
MacInTouch
MyAppleMenu
InfoMac
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
RetroMacCast
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
DealMac
Mac2Sell
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

Affiliates

Amazon.com
The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac
eBay

Low End Mac's Amazon.com store

Advertise

Open Link