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Everyday Tech Myths: Free For All!

Fresh Air, “Free” Energy

Question: Can you send a group of geeks into the woods and leave them operational on solar power alone?

Answer: Probably, if you can handle the initial cost.

There were five of us. You could tell which guy wasn’t a geek because he showed up with an old school flip phone and a palm-sized camera with dead batteries and no charging cable. The other three are employed by Intel, Radisys, and Tektronix, so you know they brought a bunch of junk. And then there was me, who brought the most gadgetry of all. We’d all brought our sons for a “men’s retreat” into the Cascade Mountains, half-way between Portland, Oregon, and the beach.

In this crazy interpretation of roughing it, the Intel guy would occasionally use his phone (via Slingbox) to check in on what his wife was watching and change the channel, just to mess with her. The Tektronix guy would help his kids rest during mid-afternoon with cartoons on his widescreen Creative video player. There were photos to take, video to shoot, articles to work on, etc. All told, that’s a lot of energy consumption without an AC outlet in sight. We arrived on Friday, returning home on Sunday. Never mind food and water. How were our gadgets going to survive in the wild?