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Communications Software

Browser To Facilitate Text Browsing In Emergencies 40

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Programmers at Fast Company are developing the Cosmos browser to allow text browsing from Android phones when networks are buckling under the load of local disasters. A common phenomenon when disaster strikes is the overloading of cell and data networks by massively increased traffic. The Cosmos browser is intended to facilitate using SMS text messages, which often still get through in such circumstances. To quote one developer, "We want this to be a way for people to get information when they're in dire need of it." Sort of a Lynx comes to Android affair. The Smithsonian contemplates the possibilities, here."
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Browser To Facilitate Text Browsing In Emergencies

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  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @10:59AM (#47917481) Homepage Journal
    We saw a project like this (at least) a couple years ago. Someone did something like this previously, when data plans were generally expensive but unlimited SMS was easily available.
    • There will always be some circumstance when bandwidth is limited.

      But that won't stop everyone from "modernizing" their sites into things that won't work in low bandwidth browsers.

      • by znrt ( 2424692 )

        There will always be some circumstance when bandwidth is limited.

        this isn't just about bandwith, but enabling a fallback sms transport.

        But that won't stop everyone from "modernizing" their sites into things that won't work in low bandwidth browsers.

        modernizing the hell out of the web is just fine as long as you provide fallback, and any professional would honor this basic accessibility principle unless requirements stated otherwise. and they often do. much of the industry just doesn't care because the requirement is milk the cash cows, and there's cows enough to bother with the few alienated. it isn't even a difficult or expensive "best practice" to follow, at all. it just requires

    • why much it up with browsers and stuff?

    • Actually, they used to have something like this in the mid-90's. There was a way you could get the text of webpages sent to you via email, or access them via gopher--back when not everyone had a SLIP/PPP account.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    With all the javascript driven websites these days, text browsing is a PITA.
    Important information should be served via Gopher.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @11:04AM (#47917521)

    So in a disaster, when SMS i the only communication left, they want to encourage people to send even *more* SMS messages to ensure that SMS's fail too?

    It's not likely to work very well, in the one disaster I was in where I could use SMS but nothing else (even my landline had no dialtone), SMS between customers of the same carrier worked well. SMS messages destined for other carriers took hours to arrive, sometimes longer, some didn't make it through at all. SMS's coming through an SMS to Email gateway stopped coming through at all, until after the disaster when they all came through at once.

    • Well said....

      Leave SMS to just be SMS for disasters.....we don't need people trying to browse via text and overloading the SMS network (which will already be straining). JMHO...
    • You can always buy a portable HF/VHF transceiver with some nifty digi modes. When disaster comes, what else is going to work anyway?
      • by sabri ( 584428 )

        When disaster comes, what else is going to work anyway?

        I have my handheld aviation radio. Tune in to 121.5 and someone is going to listen. I also have CB radio as a backup. Plus of course, said AM radio (but most people will have AM, even if they don't know it: just get into your car).

  • The Cosmos browser is intended to facilitate using SMS text messages, which often still get through in such circumstances.

    But now that we're crowding SMS, people in need can't get those through either. Good going. This is a case of "Just because you can doesn't mean you should".
    Having a text browser option is interesting, but if you can text, then why browse instead of texting? It seems inefficient. That said, IF (and that's a big if) people knew to go to some site to get information or updates and everybody could go to the site rather than individually texting the world - then that would be an improvement. While it wou

  • Get a Radio (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmanforever ( 603829 ) <.gro.llorkcor. .ta. .reverofnamj.> on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @11:25AM (#47917729)

    People are foolish to rely on a mobile phone for anything during a disaster or wide-area emergency.

    If you want reliable information in those times, get a battery powered AM radio, and tune to your local station.

    Forget about the FM music stations, they are all automated, and will just keep on playing "more music per hour than..." No one is there.

    Your locally owned, small-market, analog AM station will have someone there giving you needed information.

    Radios are still available starting at around $10. More expensive models also have the VHF NOAA weather band - a big plus, as in many states, the weather service radio stations are also authorized to provide emergency information, weather related or not.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      A lot of AM stations are automated these days also, syndicating popular national talk-radio programs. Any idea how to find out which ones aren't?

      • ...Any idea how to find out which ones aren't?...

        The last two times the power went out for days, I turned on my battery-powered radio and just scanned the dial until I heard a station giving local information.

        That seemed to be a rather easy way to find which stations were broadcasting local info. btw, there were four stations that I could receive which abandoned their automated programming to go local.

    • In Florida, you'll see Hurricane info signs on the Interstates, listing a low-end FM radio station frequency. It's usually going to be the local public radio/NPR affiliate.

      The local weather radio channel is also designated as an emergency information source, and I believe that's a national mandate.

      I'm covered. Have a battery/crank radio with AM, FM, Weather and shortwave (for what that's worth anymore). Plus a battery-backed weather radio with SAME alert capability.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Battery operated TV set here.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Instead of a battery powerd AM radio, go for a Crystal radio []. If you still want one with batteries, use a cranck radio, so you can charge the radio when you need to and there is no power. Something like this right here [].Solar power, hand cranck, USB charger for your phome.

      I am sure that if you search, you will find other models as well.

    • Check out Degen or Sangean on Amazon. Some are shortwave radios, some world-bands, graphic-equalizers, portable, many take SD cards for MP3 playback.
    • by benob ( 1390801 )

      Say welcome to the internet read over AM radio through a synthetic voice. Question: how do I click this link?

  • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @11:28AM (#47917767) Homepage

    Everything old is new again.

  • I've had Lynx on my phone for a long time now...I would like a text-only browser that's more user-friendly (as in, more "normal") and maybe tries to make the layout match the rendered HTML more closely than Lynx though. For example Lynx shows a lot of menus as trees with different levels of indentation. There's no reason a pop-up menu system couldn't work in a CLI.

    • Um, yea - Lynx (the text based browser) has been around since the '90's (1992 I think). How is this a "new thing"?

  • SMS is a part of GSM circuit-switched technology (and retrofitted into CDMA). Carriers would like to eventually drop GSM altogether. In LTE, is't SMS supposed to eventually just be a virtual circuit, along with voice?

    Then SMS isn't so simple, and loses a lot of it's robustness. An awful lot of stuff has to work vs the simplicity of SMS over GSM.

    I wonder how reliable SMS will be when it is nothing more than just another packet, which may have somewhat higher priority over other packets?

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