Letter Re: Cell Phone Masking and Denial of Geolocation Data

Hello James,

I was stunned when out of the blue Google Maps sent me an e-mail detailing several hundred locations I have been to over the past several months. I immediately attempted to change settings to prevent this, but I feel Internet/cell phone data is an insidious invasion of privacy with the next logical step for government to bypass the usual requirements to access locations, phone numbers, data, et cetera, the 4th Amendment be damned. There are various RFID-blocking cell phone wallets/sleeves for sale online with varying degree of price and effectiveness as per reviews. Can you recommend a product to shield cell phones from transmitting data? – D.W.

JWR’s Comment: Yes. Simply buy an older-style cell phone from which you can quickly and easily remove the battery. (Most of the newer smart phones have integral batteries that require complicated disassembly of the case.) A TracFone flip phone is what … Continue reading

Enjoying (and Surviving) Solar Eclipse 2017

On August 21, 2017, residents of a narrow swath through the United States will have a rare treat: The chance to observe a total eclipse of the sun. The path of totality will transit several major cities, including Greenville, South Carolina and parts of St. Louis, Kansas City, and Nashville. In the west, most of the viewing will be in smaller towns, since major cities, like Denver and Portland, are well outside of the path of totality.

Because this eclipse is occurring in mid-summer (with a lower chance of cloud cover), there should be good opportunities for viewing, if you are positioned inland of coastal fog. I have heard that many hotels and motels that are in or near the path of totality have been fully booked for the eclipse travel period since late 2016. And I heard that the hotels and motels in or near Jackson … Continue reading

Keep Your Bicycle Running in Tough Times, by S.H.

A lot of times you’ll hear folks say that doing some activity is like riding a bicycle; once you know how to do it, you’ll always remember. Well, it’s true that no matter how long it’s been since you’ve ridden, you can get back on your bicycle, but only if you remember you have one! One thing I’ve noticed in a lot of posts regarding times post-after the Big Schumer hits the fan is the gap that bicycles could fill for transport needs.

Notably, bicycles were employed by a few characters in the book Patriots, so kudos to Mr. Rawles. They’re conspicuously absent from much of the other fiction out there. Horses are of course great if you have the means and knowledge, but they need to feed and have some care.

I’ve personally always enjoyed my time on a bicycle. From the day I got … Continue reading

Survive the Drive – Vehicle Survival Preparedness, by Prepper Ray

Where will you be when the SHTF? You need to consider that you may not be at home when the world around you begins to fall apart. You are very likely going to have to travel to get home or a bug out location. You may be at work out shopping or even on vacation. No matter where you are the problem is going to be just being able to get from point A to point B. The type of vehicle you have and the equipment you have in that vehicle may in fact determine your ability to get to where you need to go in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

I discovered many years ago while trying to reach relatives in the destruction and aftermath of Hurricane Hugo that driving even a short distance, can be difficult if not impossible without the right vehicle and equipment. … Continue reading

Geocaching for Preppers, by R.H.

As preppers we are under some pressure. We are naturally concerned about water purification, food storage, defensive weapons, bug out locations, and the list of challenges is seemingly endless. We worry about a total collapse of the financial world, a global pandemic, solar flares, or other crisis. There is certainly no shortage of concerns. Have we done enough? Do we have enough? Are we knowledgeable enough? Once in a while, I think we should all take a deep breath, relax, and have some fun!

What follows is a brief explanation of Geocaching– a fun activity that can be easily adapted to actually benefit your prepping.

For those that are not familiar with the term, Geocaching is an outdoor game akin to treasure hunting that uses the Global Positioning System (GPS). Geocachers use a GPS unit to navigate to a set of coordinates that are published on a website (Geocaching.com) and … Continue reading

Two Letters Re: Route Security

Route Security by Chuck S. was a good article, but I would add a few things:
–          Newer cars will have daylight running lights and some basic tools may be needed to disable them for real covert night travel.
–          If you can afford them, and practice using them, NVGs are great for covert night travel.
–          Relying on Fuel en route is a gamble. Ideally, carry the fuel you need to get to your destination. For that, you should have a fuel supply stored and rotated. Use proper storage containers and procedures for safety. Use fuel stabilizer to ensure freshness of fuel and protect your engine.
–          Have tools and experience siphoning gas from abandoned cars.
–          Plan to use up to double your normal fuel consumption in a car evacuation due to:
o   Detours to avoid … Continue reading

Portable Satellite Phones: Communicating Off the Grid, by Jon Aldrich

If you’re reading this blog you are no doubt already well along on preparedness spectrum, finding yourself someplace between never in America and not if but when, more likely you’re nearer the latter.  You’re probably well versed in all aspects of food procurement, preparation and storage, water purification, providing shelter and security for yourselves and your families as well many of the other nuances related to preparing for future contingencies.  There is a world of good information available on all these subjects and more and, for most of it you need look no further than right here on the SurvivalBlog.

One key question is how we will communicate when land lines and cell phones are no longer dependable.  There is precious little available on the traditional information sources relating to communications, especially communications specific to person-to-person private communications.  This article is one person’s attempt to mitigate that void.

Continue reading

Pat’s Product Review – Rescue Me Personal Locator Beacon 1

I’ve been out of the military for a long, long time now. However, I still remember many of the things that were taught to me back then. Those Drill Sergeants, bless their hearts, really knew how to drive home the lessons they were teaching us. Looking back over the years, I can see they were teaching us lessons that would save our lives in combat. I can still remember our map reading and compass orientation course, and the drill sergeant told us “a good soldier never gets lost, they just get disoriented.” At the time, I wasn’t sure what that actually meant, I mean, “lost” is “lost” isn’t it – no matter what you might call it? And, map reading was a very important skill to learn, not just for a means of finding you way back to the base camp, but for calling in artillery on an enemy position, … Continue reading

Getting Out After a Trigger Event, by Paul H.

Despite years of reading valid arguments for moving to the American Redoubt or other remote area, of the hundreds of preppers I’ve met I can count on one hand those who made the move and most of those were retired.  I meet relatively few preppers living at a secluded retreat, a few with secondary retreats, many planning to bug out to property they do not own (hopefully by agreement), and the majority still living in and around cities with no alternative plan to shelter in place.  Only one of those four types I just described is unlikely to be on the road at some time after a trigger event. According to NOAA, 39% of Americans live in counties directly on the shoreline.  It is for those who are not already where they intend to weather the long emergency that is to come that I share my experience.    

I am blessed … Continue reading

Teaching Opportunities, by J.L. in Pennsylvania

My story begins as another closet prepper.  As many of you, I did not have the support of my spouse for my new found drive to prepare for the unknown. Often I would attempt to sneak items that I planned to lay up long-term into the grocery bill without her noticing. I would even have online purchases delivered to a neighbor claiming to him that it was for her birthday or our anniversary. Needless to say, I usually (always) got caught, which would lead to long discussions about me “wasting money.”  As fate and the good lord would have it, I finally got my window of opportunity to prove what I was doing had merit. 

As I recall, it was late February. Pennsylvania had another one of its wonderful snow storms topped with ice. We awoke without power to a somewhat chilly house and a few feet of snow.  … Continue reading

Letter Re: Rapid Progression of the Geomagnetic North Pole?

Is it true, what the rumors have been saying about the [magnetic] north pole shifting 161 miles in just the past six months? can that be true? Is it possible that there will be a pole reversal in the next few years? Should I be worried? – Elaine T.

JWR Replies: This topic has been discussed before in SurvivalBlog, but mostly vis-a-vis the need to keep maps updated with current magnetic declination data. (The difference between magnetic north and true north.)

The geomagnetic north pole moves laterally because of shifts deep in the Earth’s core. It is presently in far northern Canada, but it is gradually shifting to the northwest and it is presumed that it will probably be in Siberia in a decade or two. (Although it is notable that the auroral toroid is pushing more toward the southeast.) … Continue reading

Letter Re: GPS Jamming is Illegal in Most Jurisdictions

Please let your readers know that GPS jammers are illegal to own, operate, and market in the United States. Here is a link to the FCC
consumer alert on GPS jammers

While I can understand that someone could make the personal decision that their personal privacy justifies blocking GPS tracking, please be aware that these GPS jammers are very effective and can jam an area up to a mile in diameter.

There was well-publicized incident of a personal GPS jammer that shut down the aircraft landing aid at the Newark, New Jersey airport. And there are documented cases of organized crime using GPS jammers in Europe to hide their theft of high-value cargo trucks. Due to these incidents, and other reasons, the government is actively pursuing effective GPS-jammer locator systems.

I would propose to you and your … Continue reading

Letter Re: A New Online Mapping Tool

I thought you might be interested in this new mapping tool. It is much faster than Google Earth.  Is there nowhere to hide?

After opening the link to Showmystreet.com, type in the address you want slowly, letter by letter, space by space, and watch where it takes you, incrementally.

It located our home in the whole world after just seven strokes of the keys. – Rip

Geospatial Intelligence on a Laptop, Part 1, by N-101

Geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) is mapping using satellite images, digital elevations, transportation networks, land use classifications, vegetation classifications, weather data, demographics and much more to help the decision making process for any activity a corporation, army, or group wishes to undertake.

Unfortunately much of the best data, the highest resolution and degree of accuracy, is only available to large corporations and nations. This does not mean it is not possible to create your own GEOINT solution.

A small scale solution is constrained by data storage and computing power, in every GIS (Geographic Information System) user’s dream is to be able to have all the data and use it too! To make this possible we are only concerned with the area around a BOL or a route to a BOL, thus keeping the data storage and visualization processing low.

Open source data is available to satisfy most of what a … Continue reading

Letter Re: Acquiring Local Topgraphic Maps

Dear Jim:
A reminder to folks who don’t have good topos of their local area – get some.

Just went to get updated topo maps of my local area in the 1:24,000 scale.  Little did I know that the 1980s vintage map I currently have is superior to the current maps!  The US Geological Service, decided in their <sarcasm on> “infinite wisdom” to update topos with roads added since the 1980s, but delete much of the vital information like pipelines, fencelines, gravel pits, radio towers, etc., etc. that make a topo useful.  It must have been just too difficult to add new road information to existing data. <sarcasm off>. 

The new maps show roads and elevation but are otherwise very sparse on actual on the ground details.   If you want the detailed map features, plus all the modern roads you have to get the old and the … Continue reading