Communities in Scotland Adopt Zello for Residents to Use for Emergency Situations

This is a follow-up to my recent article about Zello at http://bit.ly/2Ej5vlB. Perhaps your community needs a similar plan?

Largs, Fairlie and Skelmorlie can suffer gale force winds in the winter and the roads are often affected by flooding or heavy snow. A new project by the town’s community resilience team plans to improve communications with the public during adverse weather conditions, such as the recent Beast from the East storm which cut off certain areas of the town.

The new Zello app would run in the background of people’s mobiles. It provides communications amongst residents of the towns along with highway maintenance personnel and emergency responders.

Zello is free to download for iPhone and Android. Once installed, users can search and add the following channels: Largs Community Information, Largs Community Chat 1, Largs Community Chat 2.

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The Zello App Can Help Save Lives During Major Storms and Has Many Others Uses Also

NOTE: This article is off-topic: it has nothing to do with privacy. If you are looking for privacy articles, you might want to skip this one. However, it is something that I believe all cell phone users should be aware of. The online app called Zello could save your life. It is also a great way to communicate with groups of people, such as relatives or members of a search-and-rescue organization. I have been using Zello for non-critical communications for a couple of years now and would hate to be without it.

Zello converts your Android or Apple iOS or Blackberry cell phone or your Windows computer into a general-purpose walkie-talkie. It is sort of a high-tech replacement for CB radio except that Zello converts your cell phone into a free 2-way radio with worldwide range. I have used the free Zello app to talk with friends and relatives in North America free of toll charges while I was walking along the streets of Singapore as well as when I was in New Zealand. I have also used it to talk with communications hobbyists in South America and in the Sahara desert while I was driving in my automobile in Florida.

Zello also was recently used in the Houston area, New Orleans, all over Florida, Puerto Rico, and in other Caribbean islands during the recent hurricanes when wired telephones and emergency two-way radio towers (police, fire, ambulances, and others) were destroyed by the hurricanes. Cell towers also were sometimes knocked offline during the hurricanes but usually were the first communications systems to be restored to operation once the winds subsided.

Perhaps the greatest story of all was the use of Zello by the “Cajun Navy” during Hurricane Irma. According to Wikipedia:

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Google’s Project Fi Introduces Family Plans and Discounts on Nexus 6P and 5X

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with privacy. Instead, it is about one of my other interests: saving money while simultaneously obtaining better products and/or services.

I have written several times about Google’s Project Fi cell phone service. Click here, here, here, and here to see my past articles. I have been using Project Fi for about a year and love it. It is a service that uses rather expensive cell phones and then provides high-quality but extremely low-cost cell phone service. The end result is that my total cell phone expenses have been cut dramatically over a one-year period.

Specifically, I previously paid AT&T about $1,260 a year for cell phone service with a cell phone included in that price. I had a two-year contractual minimum. If I canceled early, I would be charged major cancellation fees. Instead, I waited and purchased my new Project Fi service the same week as my old contract expired.

With Project Fi, I paid $600 for a new cell phone plus $30 a month ($360 for the first year of service), a total of $960. That obviously is a $300 savings. However, in the next year I will not need to purchase a new phone, so the second year’s expense should be only $360 for the monthly service, an annual savings of $900 per year from my old cell phone service.

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LibreOffice and Other Desktop Office Suite Programs Offer Better Choices than does Microsoft Office

NOTE: The following article has nothing to do with privacy. However, I feel that every computer owner should know about these free and low-cost choices available.

Microsoft Office once had an unquestioned stranglehold on the world of productivity suites and programs. However, recent software products now compete with Microsoft Office, and I like one of them even better than Office. Best of all is the price tag: FREE.

LibreOffice_logoLibreOffice is a desktop office suite for Windows, Macintosh, and most versions of Linux that combines a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation program, drawing program, math program, and a database program. It competes with Microsoft Office in most every way except one: price. LibreOffice is available FREE of charge. There is no “pro version” or upgrade to any other available versions. There is only one version, and all features are available free of charge in that version. Indeed, “Libre” is the Spanish word for free.

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The Easy Way to Store Backups on Multiple Online Services with cloudHQ

cloudhqThis article has nothing to do with privacy. However, having backup copies of all your important documents, pictures, videos and other items is a must for everyone. I will suggest that having backups of your important data can be a lifesaver.

I believe that everyone should have a MINIMUM of three copies of every digital file that is important: the original file stored in the computer’s hard drive, plus a copy of that file stored on a backup device (hard drive, flashdrive, CD-ROM disk, or whatever you choose) that is stored near the computer for convenience, PLUS AN ADDITIONAL copy or two, stored off-site where the copies will be safe from in-home disasters, such as fire, flood, or burst water pipes.

Three copies are a barebones MINIMUM. For safety, I would recommend even more copies be kept in more locations. Luckily, that is easy to do.

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Buy a Chromebook and Receive 1 Terabyte of Free Google Storage for Two Years

Are you thinking of storing a lot of files in a cloud-based file storage service, such as Google Drive? Here’s a deal for you: buy a Chromebook.

Google is now offering one terabyte of storage FREE of charge for two years to anyone who purchases a new Chromebook laptop computer and redeems the offer by January 31, 2015.

Get your calculators out and do the math: one terabyte of storage on Google Drive normally costs $9.99 per month. Multiply that by 24 months for a total of $239.76. Let’s round that up to $240 for simplicity’s sake.

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