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4/1/2020 4:14:10 PM
4/1/2020 6:58:51 AM
Posted: 11/18/2008 9:40:16 AM EDT
I've been considering scanning copies of our "life" documents and storing them on a jump drive.  Then I got thinking "what good will it do without a trusted computer to run them on?"  So I've got a few questions for the group.  1.  Is there a "field" capable computer?  Probably a laptop/portable?  2.  Is there a rugged jump drive that could be used with said computer?  3.  How do I secure/encrypt said documents/photos?  4.  Is there a solar power source or recharger that will work for a laptop?

I'm not a computer wiz but I can understand it fairly well, and I've got a kid who is a computer wiz.

Thanks for any info.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 9:49:07 AM EDT
Rugged Notebooks & Panasonic Toughbooks are two I know of.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 9:54:57 AM EDT
It appears that truecrypt is a preffered method of encryption by many on this board.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 10:16:01 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/18/2008 10:20:13 AM EDT by Cacinok]
1. yes, as mentioned above panasonic (and others) make ruggedized laptops.  google tough book.

2. yes there are also ruggedized jump drives.  iirc, some are even waterproof.

3.  truecrypt is a small encryption program that will run from the jump drive.  

4.  yes there are solar rechargers.  google and you'll find 'em.

for a how to on the encryption, etc., check out shaneS' blog listening to katrina.  he walks you through using true crypt.  he regularly posts here, and his blog is invaluable.


on a different, but related note, you can get adapters to run your laptop from a 12v source.  mine tablet came w/ one, but they are invaluable.  

also, add a USB tv tuner and you'll be good to go to receive over the air tv signals.  the one i bought is HD and can record the tv program as well, even has a remote, so i don't have to lean two feet forward to change channels w/ my mouse.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 11:09:32 AM EDT
Since we run a business here at home, we have a Dell Mini 9 (one of those tiny netbooks) as a bug out computer.  We also have 2 external USB Drives (One is 40 gig and the other is 120 gig) with everything we would need to keep working. As long as we have net access we can keep working.  I keep many of those mini USB Drives encrypted with personal info as well.

The Dell mini is about the size of your average DVD player.. its a very neat smaller computer and pretty much most anything you do on a main work computer can be done on it.  It may not be the best for gaming but it works for anything else nice and easy.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 11:49:21 AM EDT
I've got a cheap old IBM ThinkPad 600E. They were originally built for salespeople to lug around, so they're pretty sturdy. Lappy already has a wireless card. The battery doesn't work anymore, so I have to make sure to carry my adapter cord.

I have everything I need for it in a nice padded case.


This is the case showing the inner compartments.


Here is Lappy with most of its essential stuff:

Leather hard-sided mouse pad/writing surface
4-port USB hub (because Lappy only has one USB port)
Multitool with pliers
Retractable USB mouse
USB to RJ45 Ethernet adapter and cable
110 Inverter

There's usually a bit of other stuff in there as well, like a flashlight, spare batteries, pens, phone charger, MRE spoon (you never know when you'll need one), permanent marker, etc.

My external data drive is on my computer and would be tucked into the bag when bugging out. My flash drive data sticks are various places from the SwissData on my keychain to the ones in my purse.

I bought a new 2Gig Cruzer Titanium flash drive from geeks.com that's pretty sweet, and has a serial number.

In my car, I have a Belkin inverter that's a bit bigger than the one I keep in the laptop bag. I've found that having an inverter is really useful when you have an older laptop.

Actually, just having an inverter is pretty useful.

Anyway, that's my setup, and it's worked out pretty well for me. The only thing I don't have is a DVD player because Lappy is old and decrepit. It's a PII, which is plenty when all I'm doing is looking up maps online or checking e-mail.

Newer laptops aren't that expensive these days, and you could probably find something exponentially better for not too much money.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 11:55:49 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/18/2008 11:56:03 AM EDT by leadnbrass]
I have a Panasonic Toughbook CF-29 issued at work.

It truly is a beast...fell off my car at 30mph and survived.

Is $$$ and I wouldn't buy one at that price but it really is tough.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 12:06:30 PM EDT
As far as the laptop, I would also suggest a toughbook. They are EXTREMELY durable. As far as a drive, you can use truecrypt, but I would suggest Ironkey. They are expensive, but are extremely reliable, durable, and probably one of the safest portable drives out there.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 12:21:43 PM EDT
Toughbook if you really want rugged.  For portability, I am looking hard at an Acer Aspire One (small and cheap).  Encrypt your data with Truecrypt.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 2:20:04 PM EDT
I just picked up an ASUS EEE PC. it's tiny and can easily be charged up via 12V, has all the function of a larger laptop, and the only moving part on the whole computer is the cooling fan. Fits folded in my cargo pants pocket.

They start around $300 for one worth having. Wifi works great on them!
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 3:27:57 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 3:40:10 PM EDT
One of these might fit the bill, if you can find one:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLPC_XO-1
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 5:13:40 PM EDT
I have a Panasonic Toughbook CF29.  Bought it through an Ebay seller....although I bought it at the store.

Paid $930 with tax.

Touch screen.  60GB drive.  CD burner/DVD reader.  Built in wireless.  1GB memory.

The battery still works.  Gets about 4 hours of run time.  I'll get another battery eventually.  

We have them in our cars at work.  They are abused, worked in broiling hot temps down to freezing temps.  They just keep going and going.

I vote for the Panasonic Toughbook.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 5:35:43 PM EDT
I honestly think a PDA style phone with windows mobile would be very handy. Its small and portable. They are just about as powerfull as an older laptop. They can text, phone, email, have wifi, and can work/read most common documents. Some can also do GPS.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 7:23:11 PM EDT
Being in the IT industry for a number of years, I've been somewhat forced to compile a "SHTF Computer Kit."  A kit I can rely on when I need access to data at a moments notice, or need to diagnose servers, networks, PCs, etc.  My advice to you would be the following:

1. Get yourself a laptop, any size or shape will do, as long as you can carry it when you need it.  I would stay away from the "rugged" laptops, as they can be very expensive to maintain and/or repair.  As long as you're not tossing it around or using it in a constant downpour, it will continue to function.  That being said, if you're set on a rugged laptop, go for the Panasonic Toughbook brand...as they have been around longer than most.

2. Obtain numerous ways to power your laptop.  AC/DC/Solar...whatever you think you may need.

3.  Make copies of everything you need to keep the laptop running the way you like.  This includes the operating system, DRIVERS, office applications, media players, ripping/burning software, document readers, etc.  I recommend free apps like OpenOffice, VLC Media Player, CDBurnerXP, Adobe Reader.  Also make sure to stay up to date on frameworks such as Java, .NET, Flash.

4.  Keep your data on an encrypted external hard drive, save your laptops hard drive space for applications and application data.  Be sure to duplicate everything from #3 on the external hard drive as well.  Most modern external hard drives lock the heads when turned off so you won't scratch the platter and destroy your data.  You will be able to plug this into most computers you encounter, should something happen to your primary laptop.  Keep it neat and organized.

5.  Make sure your laptop has various ways to connect to the network/Internet.  This includes network cables (CAT6 RJ45), telephone cables (RJ11), built-in wireless capabilities (802.11b/g/n), or aircards (USB/ExpressCard/PCMCIA).  Many people forget to include a 56k modem on their notebooks, don't.  You may find yourself in a place where you have no other choice than to dial-up the the network/Internet.  Keep software for dial-up (AOL, NetZero, Earthlink, etc) on hand just in case.

6.  Use TrueCrypt for data encryption.  It's free, and as close to Government grade as you're going to get.  Just make sure you know how to use it, and don't forget your password.

7.  Keep the peripherals to a minimum.  I have a small wired laser mouse simply because it's easier to use than any trackpad.  You may wish to keep a few USB flash drives for yourself and your family as well.  I like the Corsiar Survivor series.

8.  Get a comfortable laptop bag that holds all of this.  In fact, as soon as you bring it home, load it up and carry it for a few days.  You'll know if it's a keeper or not.

You've made a great decision to archive your personal data, something which most people neglect to do.  Don't forget to scan some family photos as well.  I hope this info has helped.  If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.


-45JHP

Link Posted: 11/19/2008 6:20:13 AM EDT
If you want portability and ruggedness here is your answer.

Itronix UMPC
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 6:57:06 AM EDT
I picked up an Asus eeepc 901 for this. Its not ruggedized, but its tiny and was only $400 new. It only has SSD, and no hard drive, so that helps with the battery life and shock proof, although its SSD is slower.

It is running eeebuntu, based on Ubunut linux. The keyboard is a little cramped, but for the overall size I don't mind. With a 16gb SDHC card, I can store most anything I need.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 5:24:12 PM EDT
Originally Posted By eXe:
Since we run a business here at home, we have a Dell Mini 9 (one of those tiny netbooks) as a bug out computer.  We also have 2 external USB Drives (One is 40 gig and the other is 120 gig) with everything we would need to keep working. As long as we have net access we can keep working.  I keep many of those mini USB Drives encrypted with personal info as well.

The Dell mini is about the size of your average DVD player.. its a very neat smaller computer and pretty much most anything you do on a main work computer can be done on it.  It may not be the best for gaming but it works for anything else nice and easy.

Another +1 for  the Dell Mini 9. Do spinning hard drive, uses a flash drive instead which should in theory help it last longer from rough handling.
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