Technology in the face of Disaster

I am at a standstill for any interesting php or ruby topics today. Like many people, I have been stunned by the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. So please indulge me in speaking what’s on my mind today. Lately whenever I read any blog any where, I skim quickly looking for any mention of the hurricane, somehow just desperate to see how it affects others.

I felt as I did after Sept 11, 2001. Stunned and sad. I didn’t personally know anybody killed by either. I have some family and friends near New Orleans, Louisiana, they are OK.

The biggest problem though this disaster was communication. What do you do when the power goes out? Everything comes to a standstill. Even with a generator in your home, you still have no contact with the outside world. My generator won’t power the cell phone tower that I would need…or the newspaper press, the television station, the ISP.

My domain registrar DirectNic is in New Orleans. I remembered sometime on Monday, hey, wonder if they are even still up! I went and checked and they said they were still up and to read this blog for more info. I read it and have followed it day to day. These guys, in the central business district part of town did not experience any flooding. They managed to get enough fuel for their generator to keep it running non-stop. A few times they thought they would lose their internet connection. They were down to one OC3 a few times.

They had a webcam up, during the day pointed out the window and at night, pointed at them inside as they sat on the computers. I never saw anything particularly interesting but it was nice to see what is going on.

These guys (and a girl) have stuck it out for 9 days so far, they were able to get the Town Hall connected with internet access and set up VoIP. They mentioned working on getting comms setup for the police yesterday. They reported on the blog every few hours of what they knew of what was going on. Even CNN commented on the blog and used some of the pictures I think. I don't watch CNN, but people who commented on the blog said so.

I don’t know if DirectNic staying up helped any with the efforts, but I think it kept a lot of people informed about the situation. Helped ease some minds at least. I would think keeping up their 800,000 sites helped the rest of the world keep moving through this situation.

Blog: The Interdictor Blog

Rather Disappointed

In the lack of support in the programmer community about this disaster. I've only found a few mentions about it.

But check this out:

PHP Archtecture has written a php reference, ith all proceeds going to the Red Cross Hurricane Relief. And, they are canadian, not even a US company. Nice huh?

(if you have a problem with the Red Cross, donate some other way. Don't turn this into a rant about the Red Cross)

Salvation Army

I'll save my opinion on the Red Cross and instead share an alternative route: