Tag Archives: power

When the Lights Go Out: Protecting Personal Digital Assets

Photo of a man reading a book by candlelight.Earlier this month I wrote a post about how our digital assets are protected in the cloud in the event of a disaster such as an earthquake. A recent incident at my house helped me understand the importance of protecting my personal digital assets. I was reminded how essential it is to protect my data and my equipment in the event of a disruption.

When The Lights Go Out

Last week I lost power at my house for several hours because a driver barreled down my gravel road at twice the posted speed, at night, missed a corner, and plowed into a power pole. Luckily he was fine, but the pole was not and neither was his truck. My work came to a crawl as I realized that while my laptop would last a few more hours, I was an island in terms of my Internet connection. Without power I had no router and without a working router I had no access to my remote files. I was uncomfortably aware of the holes in my personal continuity plan.


In the event of an outage I want to know that my cloud data is secure and that I have backed up my local disks. The cloud data is largely up to my service provider, whether it be Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or any number of other providers that store data. If it is a localized interruption then my data will be secure in a remote data center. If I have data on a local disk then I need to remember to back it up onto another physical disk or back it up to the cloud. The key here is “remember,” which I sometimes forget, so an automatic scheduler is important.

Line Conditioning

In case of a power outage of any kind, it is important to ensure that your computing equipment is safe from voltage spikes and drops. A line conditioner attached to your home equipment will mitigate these problems. Even better is a line conditioner with battery backup such as the APC home unit. This will protect against voltage spikes and drops but it will also give you enough time after an outage to close all of your files and shut down your equipment properly. If your router is plugged into this unit, it could give you time to download important files to a local drive in the event of a prolonged outage.

Alternative Power

Portable battery chargers are useful for rescuing dead smartphones but they can also extend the life of a tablet or even a laptop. If you are experiencing a long outage, this could give you the power you need to post that last tweet or answer that important text message. It is necessary to make sure that you keep your backup battery charged at all times or it will be useless in an emergency. Some portable batteries charge using solar energy. The Biolite camp stove charges a device by burning small twigs and leaves, which is perfect if you want to warm yourself and charge your device at the same time.


It is important to have a personal continuity plan for your digital devices as well as for your own personal safety. It takes planning and preparation but can pay off if you ever face an emergency where someone or something interrupts the power supply. Tell me about your personal continuity plan. Has it ever been put to the test? Did it work? Let me know.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Power of Information: Finding Relevancy in an Information Avalanche

Hand on digital matrix

I have written before about the power of information, but I am continually reminded of it as I watch world events unfold. We recently posted an article to Facebook contrasting soft power, meaning the power to change a position with information, and hard power, which uses guns as the means of persuasion. Using information as a soft power often results in a more permanent solution to the immediate problem. Using violence, or hard power, often begets violence and escalates conflict. With that in mind, I want to discuss a few examples where information truly is power.

The New Digital Age

In the 2013 book The New Digital Age, authors Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Google executive Jared Cohen talk about a future where information will be used by peacemakers and terrorists alike. “The power of information is underrated,” says Schmidt. Their premise is that the use and dissemination of information (or disinformation) will be one of the new war fronts and the side that can deliver trusted information about situation will have the upper hand. Political regimes have physical power, but it is possible to overcome that with timely and persuasive information. Schmidt warns that there is a dangerous gap between the technical world and the geopolitical world. I believe that the gap is closing with the help of information and the Internet, even in countries that traditionally suppress technology and free speech. Information is political power.

Health Information

We have more health information than ever before. We have the opportunity to learn about our personal genetic makeup and understand our health risks before they become problems. We have unprecedented access to nutritional information that could help us to live healthier and longer lives. It is remarkable to me to think of the progress that we have made in combating diseases over the last 100 years, due in part to the timely information available to us all. Even new viruses are quickly isolated and contained, partly by sharing information. We have become empowered to be responsible for our own health and not rely solely on the medical community. Information is personal power.


Information is power. Our world of understanding has expanded since Gutenberg created the printing press in the 1400s and ushered in a new age of literacy and information sharing. Sometimes it feels like we have access to too much information, but if we can learn to glean the relevant and the useful points, it can help us personally and as world citizens. Have you been able to use information to make your life better or to help others? Let me know.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and professor of practice for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.