MobileViews Podcast 385: People & severe weather; Tech for remembering beloved pets;

Jon Westfall and I are back after an unplanned podcast hiatus last week.

There were several serious weather related problems in the US this past week including the deadly tornadoes that went through Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. And, although hurricane season ended in November for those of us in Hawaii, we were hit by a storm system referred to as a Kona Low. I’d like to discuss tech failures and successes in the weather issue I dealt with.

But, first, I want to note the passing of a beloved pet – our rabbit Bunbun. Jon and I have both had pets pass away in the past couple of years. And, a number of friends who have appeared on this podcast have also lost pets in the past few years. In the best situations, pets are family. So, what are the tech solutions that help you enjoy your pets while they are with you and then, sadly, after they have passed?

The obvious answer is recording photos and videos throughout their life. Is there something else (short of pet cloning?). 3D tools? Which photo/video tools do you use to enhance memories? Google Photos and its built-in search, album building, and other tools is my key tool for these memories. What else is there?

Despite having lived in Hawaii most of my life, I do not recall hearing about a Kona Low (or Kona Storm) until two weeks ago when the island chain was confronted by one.


Kona lows are subtropical cyclones that occur during the cool season in the north central Pacific (Simpson 1952, Ramage 1962). The Hawaiian word, kona, means leeward and is used to describe winds with a southerly component that replace the usually persistent trade wind regime. Historically kona lows have produced a variety of weather-related hazards, including heavy rains, hailstorms, flash floods, landslides, high winds, large surf and swell, waterspouts, and severe thunderstorms (Schroeder 1977a,b; Ramage 1995; Kodama and Barnes 1997; Businger et al. 1998).

Most of our issues were related to flooding due to many inches of rain falling in a 24 hour period. I don’t think most populated areas had high wind issues although major mountain tops recorded winds in excess of 100 MPH (161 KPH). And, we were fortunate not to have any fatalities attributed to this storm system. That said, some key technology failed. Electricity outages were a big problem with a significant part of downtown Honolulu (the business district) being powerless for several days (up to three).

For me personally, my internet provider (Charter Spectrum) went down and then remained spotty for nearly 24 hours. I have a work-provided Verizon MiFi. However, the Verizon tower near my home was one of the 10 Verizon towers that I learned had become inoperable during the storm. Fortunately, I also have at AT&T phone and its voice and LTE service remained up allowing me to continue to work remotely through the worst part of the storm. I was also fortunate to have power at home throughout the storm. And, my office building has a generator which allows us to continue to process tasks around the clock throughout the storm.

It is still a mystery to me when government issued severe weather alerts sometimes are triggered on my phone and not others when I can clearly hear or see other phones getting these critical alerts. And, yes, I checked my setting to confirm that my phones are set to receive these alerts.

Although I have not installed the Apple 2021 Apple Watch app awardee Carrot Weather on my Apple Watch, I do have the full app installed on my iPhone. I found it more useful that the Apple owned Dark Sky. This is somewhat puzzling since Carrot Weather actually uses the data from Dark Sky for its forecasts.

Apple 2021 App Store Awards

Some you might be surprised to know that your Android or iPhone has a barometer built-in. I happen to have an iOS app named Barometer S10 installed on my iPhone. You can see the dramatic barometric change that it recorded during a 14-day period before and after the Kona Low event.

Jon’s End of Year Reminders:

  1. Run a backup even if you run regular backups. My air-gapped backup (an external drive) gets updated once a month, even though I have nightly replication of most stuff to my off-site. You need on-site/online, off-site, and air gapped.
  2. Check your important paperwork. If any of it is lost, you want to know about that before you need it.
  3. Update firmware/software on any embedded devices you usually keep offline. Crypto cold wallets are good examples.
  4. Review your end-of-life instructions for your loved ones. Update any passwords you changed, add any new financial accounts, strike out outdated information. I have a 3 color system: Black for initial entries, green for additions, and Red for strike-out/corrections.