Episode-2085- Listener Calls for 9-13-17 — 33 Comments

  1. We have a backup smartphone we deemed the “Bat Phone”. It started out as second phone for me since my business number was my personal phone. After moving to an area that wasn’t served by our existing cellular provider which is AT&T and our only real option for internet is satellite it ended up proving to be more useful. We have two cell towers within line of sight of our new home and after some research found out Verizon is who was hanging on them. We went with a basic Verizon prepaid android smartphone and set it up with it’s own google account that me and my wife both have access to. We added the local weather app, zello, glympse etc. on it. It stays charged and serves as an internet backup if our satellite or AT&T don’t work. We paid around $50 for the phone and its on a auto renew plan with unlimited talk and text with 2Gb data for $40 month.

  2. For back up cell phones. This probably isn’t the most helpful but we have an old cell phone from t-mobile on a plan that you can no longer purchase where you pay something like $10 or $15/year (pay as you go) to keep it active.

    Our regular phones we use FreedomPop which uses the Sprint network. They give you a certain amount of free minutes (200) and data (500 MB) every month. We usually keep it on WiFi and don’t actually use the number they give us, we use Google Hangouts to receive and make phone calls. My wife’s phone doesn’t ring with Google Hangouts for some reason so we just forward it to the FreedomPop number. But we’re not talkers so it doesn’t matter minutes wise. So, we basically get free phone plans for our smart phones – for people that rely on their phones more for work this probably wouldn’t work.

    The catch with FreedomPop is you need to make sure to unsubscribe to all their services. There is one service that is a bit tricky to unsubscribe from you have to dig a little and push some small buttons. It gets us every time we purchase a new phone from them. Speaking of which get a phone that is at least $100 or more if you are buying from them. The last one we bought was $150 and it works great. I have an older $50 one that doesn’t work very well but I use it mostly to listen to podcasts, so although it would be nice to have a better phone, I’m not sure if it would be worth it.

  3. I think that Tracfone by have some great options for this. You can get a year of service with 1,500 minutes, 1,500 texts, and 1.5 gigabytes of data for $125. They have Android phones for $30. So for $30 plus around $10 a month, this gives you a nice backup phone. You can get phones that will work on either Verizon and Sprint’s networks or AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks, so you can easily get a phone on a different network from your primary phone.

  4. One advantage of having two phones and two sim cards is that if you are out somewhere on your own and happen to mislay one, then you can use the other to ring it to find it. I have one smaft phone and one very basic phone which has a great battery life.

  5. In Europe CBs have become a cult hobby, definitely not dead but not widely used either.
    Many of the old classic radios from the 80s have been reproduced to look the same on the outside but modernn insides.
    Still used a lot in rural areas, on boats etc.
    I keep one in my vehicle and one at home for emergencies or for when cellular network goes down sometimes.
    They have paid for themselves several times over by saving my ass several times.

  6. Jack on your thoughts about China moving towards Capitalism and America moving towards Communism.
    I think the future of the world will combine the worst aspects of Capitalism with the worst aspects of Communism. But the best aspects of Capitalism and the best aspects of Communism will be discarded.
    There will be a blank buffer space between the wealthy and the tuff poor, I.e the decent people will not exist as a class.

  7. Ting ( is perfect for a backup cell phone. I use it for my old Iphone, that I gave to my parents and they rarely use. It’s 6 bucks a month to maintain a line, and then you pay a pretty reasonable rate for messages and phone calls. Data is reasonable too, but can run up pretty fast if you’re not careful. But it’s still cheaper than most regular plans with the major carriers. No contracts. You can bring your own phone or buy phones from them (even refurbished), and you can choose either the Sprint (CDMA) or T-Mobile (GSM) networks. They have great customer service too – I’m very happy with them. Before I gave the phone to my parents, I kept it on a charger in my “safe room” (walk in closet) so it was always ready to go in an emergency.

  8. We have 2 different cell phone providers (one is for work), however, my thoughts for a backup would be to have a mobile hotspot. We have a drawer of older smart phones, or even a small tablet and with a mobile hotspot from a different provider you could use VoIP, and have access to news and media. Here is a review of some,2817,2400503,00.asp
    some even double as battery backups.

  9. I have Verizon which is CDMA in Jacksonville. I’ve gone a week now with almost no service. Definitely no data due to the hurricane. Would it make sense for my back up to be a GSM carrier or one where the carrier doesnt share a tower??

  10. Comment on the “geared up” police from a retired officer. It may be that the officer’s uniform incorporated an external ballistic vest as opposed to the “normal”concealed vest that is worn under a uniform shirt. The external vests these days look similar to a tactical vest with pouches, but it is usually the same color as the rest of the uniform. My department went to these because it distributed the equipment weight around the body as opposed to only on the duty belt, supposedly to prevent back injury in the future. Also, it could be easily taken off to cool off. An example of an external vest is on the Alaska State Trooper tv show, however, mine had a couple more pouches.

  11. A side note on the cell phone thing. Here in Prescott AZ (actually most of Northern AZ I believe). Someone vandalized (stole) a portion of cable that went from Phoenix to Prescott. Wiped out all the internet, landlines, 911, and cell phones. The only cell phone that worked was Verizon since they used a different cable.

    It was a good time to have cash and HAM radio 🙂 . Of course, some stores refused all payments since they didn’t have an internal item tracker on their computers.

    I was living in Phoenix at the time so I didn’t experience it first hand.

  12. This doesn’t quite meet the two as one one is none criteria for the phone but… in my car I keep a BLU Tank II (TSPAZ Item of the day) phone that I can drop the SIM card for my smartphone in or get a T-Mobile prepaid card from Walmart for.
    In my wife’s car I have a prepaid phone from PayLo. It is not activated, but using a debit or credit card I can make a call from that phone to activate it.
    …Any cell phone even without a plan on it can be used to call 911 in an emergency.
    Not ideal, but I don’t have to continue to pay for plans that I’m not actively using… in an acute emergency we can at least call the “authorities” and in a broke or lost my phone emergency at least we could set up communications in a short amount of time.
    Another idea is…if you bought a prepaid phone, activation card, and minutes card, from Walmart and keep them in your kit without activating them . You’d have to look at the particular providers rules as to how long shelf life those items would have.

  13. For training dogs without crates, use a screw eye bolt to a stud with a 3′ lead. Dogs stays secure, does not crap and he is not in a crate. I have used this on 2 border collies and a GSD.

  14. I have been eyeing the SpareOne emergency phone for a while now. Does anyone have any experience with it?

    There is also a company based out of NY that created the Gotenna, which is a device that pairs with your cell and let’s you text and use GPS without service using a mesh network.

    • @Hal Knights,

      Gotenna reminds me of Open Garden’s FireChat app, except the FireChat app doesn’t require a separate device. I’ve never used it though.

      Looks like there are a lot of different mesh networking devices out there. Except you need enough people to be using it to make it work. Looks like it’s been used for large events, disasters and protests. Assuming it worked well it might be a good app to use.

      I like BitTorrent’s Bleep app too for secure conversations/messaging. Once I buy a better phone (in the next 3 years or so?) I’ll put it on my phone.

  15. I really enjoyed the rifle build question and answer. Jack went a different way w/ the rifle. After I finished listening to that response I was in a local Walmart. They had a Weatherby Vanguard .30-06 for $458. I was tempted to buy it even though I have no need for it right now. One thing I want to point out is the receiver said, “Made in Japan”. I believe I read years ago in American Rifleman that Howa and Weatherby are somehow connected. I can’t remember all the details, but will attempt to find that article. Regardless, you can’t go wrong w/ either piece.

    • If I run across one for 458 it is coming home with me. As to Howa and Japan.

      Today, Weatherby still offers only two lines of centerfire rifles: the Mark V and the Vanguard.

      The Mark V barreled action is manufactured by ATEK in Brainerd, MN while the barrel and action for the Vanguard are still manufactured by Howa in Japan.

      Final assembly of the Mark V and Vanguard is performed at Weatherby’s company headquarters in Paso Robles.

    • I couldn’t believe the price. That would’ve been the third .30-06 and I just couldn’t justify it. Now, if it would’ve been 7mm mag or 6.5×55 swede (assuming they chamber it in that round), I probably would’ve bought it.

      If you were still in Schulykill County, it was only located about 75 minutes from Pottsville.

      Thank you for clarifying the relationship between Howa and Weatherby. I could not remember how they were related.

  16. I wait until my contract is done before I upgrade my phone. I get to keep my old phone when I do that. The last time my phone died I took my old phone into the store and had the sim card moved over until I got my replacement a few days later. Had full use with my old phone until then.

  17. Regarding the “Farm” series, this is an example of companies not understanding the market of the world we live in. I would gladly buy all of these from some kind of streaming service. But I have repeated look and haven’t been able to find them. There are available on DVD from amazon, but not a version that will play on a US DVD player.

  18. Doing a fair amount of international travel I have multiple GSM SIM cards that I switch out depending on whether I’m in the US, Mongolia, China, etc. Like Tim above, I’ve found Ting to be most useful as my US service provider since it only costs me 7 bucks and change (6 bucks plus taxes/fees) per month when I’m not using it, which is most of the year. Plus it’s the best way I’ve found to keep my long-held US mobile phone # available and be able to check on any phone messages from people who still try calling me on my US number (I use Skype to check my phone messages… a couple cents to check my messages on Skype beats the high rates to check the voicemail directly with the phone). I usually don’t keep this ‘semi-backup’ SIM in another phone since I switch out the SIMs as I travel, but I do keep on hand my old Samsung Galaxy (7+ years old at this point?) with a SIM card size adapter already in it that I can pop in should my regular phone be lost/stolen/broken. Another handy thing with the Ting service is that I can use it in most countries… the rates are comparable to what most US providers charge for int’l travel (i.e. expensive, but at least the option is there). Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my other SIMs when I’m outside of their country of origin. So when I’m in the US I have my old backup phone in case I need it, but I don’t have a backup provider or SIM to use. Since that’s only 4-5 weeks out of the year it’s not something that consider a high priority.

    Anyway, from my experience if one is considering a backup phone & provider, I highly recommend the backup phone be an unlocked smartphone (old is fine) that uses the same kind of mobile standard (i.e. GSM or CDMA) as your regular phone and for your backup provider choose one that uses that same type of mobile network. That way you can use either SIM in either phone, which is helpful when the problem is with your main provider but you still want to use your main phone (therefore having your recent contacts, call logs, etc. right at your fingertips). Also, make sure you already have ON HAND whatever SIM card size adapters you may need to switch your SIMs between phones. Those SIM card adapters are stupid cheap but when you need one they are not always easy to find…

  19. Perfect choice on the Vanguard rifle. I own one in .270 and shot all my deer with it. Even though the trigger is adjustable I’ve never touched it because it was so perfect out of the box. I also like the 3 position safety where you can still load a round into the chamber with the safety on or lock the bolt and the trigger with the safety.

    I love the stock that came with it. But I may be looking at Boyd’s soon since I haven’t even thought about a new stock until you mentioned it.

    Thanks again for the great information.

  20. In regards to the “life establishment fund” and the terrible interest rates at local banks I just want to point out that we use for a savings account. They have good rates (1.2% right now) and the interest accrues monthly.

    It’s really easy to move money over from your checking account with another bank and if you need the cash it’s just a day or so to get it back.

  21. I use it’s app based cheap and I can even log online and text from a computer. So any smartphone I can download the app sign on and be able to call. They buy there minutes from Sprint. Been using them for years. There plans start at $15 a month unlimited but it is lower G connection for the cheap plan but I have no problem making calls or texting. They have cheap smart phones as well.

  22. Re Backup Cell Phone… I’m typing this from Spain while on vacation with my wife an another couple, so not exactly one of those “if times get tough” scenarios but being prepared has helped all of us avoid outrageous international voice and data rates.

    An old unlocked Samsung AT&T Galaxy S5 with a 20Euro SIM card has been our constant companion and pocket WiFi hotspot for nearly three weeks. Everyone has their regular smartphones connected in via WiFi wherever we go. We just hit 4GB of the 6GB data allotment with the four of us using WhatsApp for Texting and WiFi calls home, uploading pictures, GPS navigating, etc. etc. I also use the S5 for in-country calls and calls back home when necessary (modifying car rental dates with Hertz for example). Overall this is a must-have for your international travel preps!

    Thinking in terms of a backup phone for use back home, some key criteria would be…

    -Smartphone vs non-smart. Smartphone all the way. The features and capabilities are too numerous and useful.
    -Carrier diversity. Ex: If your main mobile carrier is AT&T for example, be sure to use Verizon, or Verizon partner, as your backup. IMO Sprint is a carrier of last resort.
    -Phone with an easily replaceable battery. The Galaxy S5 fits the bill perfectly. Replacement batteries are readily available, inexpensive, and can be swapped in less than a min. While external battery packs are important prep items, I prefer swapping internal batteries if/when available.
    -G4 LTE data rate capable (as of 2017 anyway). Again the Galaxy S5 fits the bill perfectly.

    So I’m thinking I should get an unlocked Verizon S5 when I get home. Interested to see how this comment thread pans out regarding the best plans for a backup phone.

  23. Anyone tried a FreedomPop sim card? Supposedly offers very basic plans for free. Just need an unlocked GSM phone…..

    • @Cian, Yes, I do, you can see my other comment on this thread about it. I don’t have a phone bill because I use it.

  24. Backup phone question option. For almost 2 years I have used Google fi as my cell provider for the simple reason it is the cheapest plan I could find period for being hassle free.

    A smart phone plan starting at $20 for access (unlimited talk/text) and $10 per GB data.
    Data usage is not charged when on wifi.
    Any unused data is credited to your next bill.
    Google fi does not have its’ own network it uses wifi, Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular for coverage and intelligently picks the best option at any given point.

    You must buy a Google fi capable smart phone of which there are not many and none of them are terribly inexpensive (used market now is probably an option).
    You must create a google account if you do not have one for billing.
    While coverage is relatively good it is not as good in my area as Verizon.
    Andriod only.

    I personally get billed between $25-$29 a month after tax but I use very little cell network data. My wife uses about 2GB of data a month so we are around or just below $50 for her line. With this switch we save over $150 a month from what Verizon cost us with only 1 smart phone which makes me think this may be a viable secondary provider option.

  25. Some people still use CBs. I am a ham radio operator, CBer, and a member of AMRRON(American Redoubt Radio Operators Network), a nationwide emergency communication group. They recommend using Channel 3 for emergencies, on CB, FMRS/GMRS, MURS, for 2 minutes, at 1 minute after the hour in case of a emergency. No subchannels or privacy codes. They call it the Ch3 project. Why reinvent the wheel?

  26. A little late to the party, but wanted to throw Republic Wireless into the ring for a backup smartphone.

    For a strictly emergency use only, I don’t think anything can top the Ting plan. However, how a phone that may see occasional use, such as an area with spotty service where only one phone or the other might have service, Replubic might be a better option.

    Both Ting and Republic run off on the Sprint/T-Mobile network, have no contracts, and offer the same entry-level smart phone, the Moto E, at the same price, so it’s easy to do a direct comparison.

    If the phone is never going to be used outside of emergencies, at $6 a month, there’s no competing with Ting. However, at $15 a month for unlimited talk and text, versus $12 a month for 100 minutes and 100 texts from Ting, it’s a much closer comparison, as exceeding Ting’s limits for one or the other will bump the cost above Republic’s.

    Adding 1GB of data, Republic comes out on top at $20 a month with unlimited talk and text, while Ting is at $28 a month with 100 minutes and 100 texts. Above 1GB of data, Republic’s savings increase in comparison, but above 1GB I wouldn’t really consider it a backup phone at that point.

    Two addition notes: One, you can change plans on Republic twice per month. So you could have the basic talk and text plan month-to-month, upgrade to the 1GB data if you would need it, then switch back at the end of the month.

    Two, Republic has Wifi calling and texts, so if you don’t have service, but can find a Wifi location, you can still communicate like normal. That was a big feature a few years ago, but I think most carriers have adopted that technology since then, so it’s probably not as big of a deal now as it used to be.

  27. My wife and I have two different cell plans, she is on Sprint unlimited for $50 And I use Republic wireless which runs me $23 for 1 gig. Republic offers only smart phones and the plans are no contract, you can change you plan whenever you want. They offer android only phones and go from $5 a month for Wi-Fi only up to however much data you can use. It’s around $15 a gig. We do have a backup cell (my old moto from republic) that stays charged and I can activate it whenever we need to use it. They also have a $10 plan that’s unlimited talk and text.