Technology to help you survive the end of the world

If you aren't Raptured, a nice Leatherman and good flashlight might brighten up a dark future

According to those who have analyzed and integrated conclusions explicated from imprecisely translated, just barely incoherent prophecies from both the ancient Christian and ancient Mayan traditions have concluded that tomorrow, May 21, 2011, will be the one on which the world will end.

Or possibly it will be the day all the good people disappear and the rest of us are left here alone. Looking around I think it's possible to argue that happened a long time ago, but this particular disappearance is supposed to include global suffering, death and disasters of the natural and unnatural variety.

(Again, if you include Japan's tsunami, nuclear power stations, the floods in the American Midwest, 40-ish days of rain in the Northeast, and the unnatural terror caused by the influx of iThings into any enterprise IT environment, and I think the argument becomes stronger that the Rapture has already happened. )

Assuming it hasn't, what would you want to pull from the gadget bag to help you over the post-Rapturous chaos, assuming that good old technology can help you prevent or recover from calamity rather than just giving you something to read or a game to play while waiting for the train to Hell.

I'm not well versed in the details, but here are some highlights:

  • Violence will increase in all parts of the world, both nation against nation (ethnic wars) and domestically. Men will indiscriminately slay one another as peace will be removed from the earth (Rev 6:3-4).
  • There will be extreme inflation, poverty, and lack of food as one day's wages will buy enough food for one day for one person (Rev 6:5-6).
  • In a very short period of time, one-quarter of the earth's population will be killed due to wars, famine, pestilence and wild beasts. These wild beasts could very well be viruses, bacteria and other microbes. In late 1995, Time magazine ran a cover story on the rise of new infections and called microbes "malevolent little beasts" (Rev 6:7-8).

That was all from the "Post Rapture Survival Guide," which is long on explanations of the theology and short on product recommendations. It did say hard currency will be obsolete; so you can quit worrying about how insecure that RFID card is.

The NYT ran a piece last month predicting the Rapture for the "high-tech elite" would actually be the Singularity genius/gadfly Ray Kurzweil has been predicting as the near-term goal for those who want to combine the best of the technical world with the best of the natural (or those with a cyborg fetish).

If you were trying to take practical precautions, you'd think the best advice would come from documentaries like Zombieland, the Zombie Survival and Defense Wiki, or official guides like Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, published May 16 by the Centers for Disease Control, which apparently knows something the rest of us don't.

Ensconced in GeekLand rather than Zombieland, however, I can pass along an innovatively crass promotional effort from TOA Technologies – which provides disaster planning and recovery based in its cloud service, with promises of one-hour recovery at 98 percent accuracy, not to mention these luxury features designed for the enterprise (since TOA is apparently more concerned with the survival of your data center, rather than you):

Triple-tiered remote hosting, for when the first two tiers become clogged with the zombie bits;

Human guards to shoo away the undead;

Remote-sensing technology in case the undead are too icky;

Remote monitoring of the hosting center and help desk, available 24x7x365xEternity;

Self-contained power (presumably from generators, not ancient, infernal magic), environmental control and communications.

The multi-day outage at Amazon's EC2 that brought down a host of high-profile companies did remind a lot of people that disaster recovery that lives outside the cloud is a good idea both for traditional IT and as a backup in case the cloud itself evaporates in a blast of sulphurous heat.

If the world really does end tomorrow, I think I'd be as likely to take advice from this site detailing the prophecies and unpleasant future ahead for me, about which Leatherman multi-tool to choose than I would from my colo provider.

There are plenty of sites filled with tools and advice for survival in abruptly unfriendly conditions – divided into Urban Survival for more cosmopolitan readers, wilderness survival for those with a bucolic bent and one with products to help survive natural disasters, for those who prefer to let the catastrophe come to them.

In case you're a planner, Christian radio host Harold Camping not only predicts that the end of the world will be tomorrow, he says it will be at 6 p.m. local time.

That presumably presents some problems for those organizing the destruction, who can't just destroy the world. They have to kind of paint the destruction in so it can start in one place at 6 p.m. and sweep West around the globe at the speed of the Earth's rotation.

That odd bit of logistics will give most of us some warning of what's about to happen, and give the luckiest of us 23 hours 59 minutes of time essentially free to do whatever we want before the Apocalypse that came to earth just to our West eventually sweeps all the way around to crush us as well.

Starting now should give you a head start; unfortunately, most of the survival sites I mentioned don't have delivery times quick enough to get the perfect Zombie- or Demon-killing shovel or baseball bat or Holy Water SquirtGun to you in time to do you any good. I'm assuming even FedEx will stop delivering once the end of the world actually begins.

Sorry about that.

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