If you are watching the snow, sleet, ice and rain fall as you rest in the path of the winter storm that’s heading toward New England, there’s a chance you may soon be doing it without the benefit of the electrical power or the Internet.
Strong winds and ice can take down power lines and knock out internet service.
While there’s not an app for that, there is a workaround, as long as you have cellular service.
During and after the storm, you may find that making phone calls becomes impossible, and that 3G and 4G internet service isn’t working, or at least not working well. The good news is that you may still be receiving text messages.
A story from The Washington Post offers some tips on how to use Twitter in a situation where internet service is spotty. Twitter was originally a text-based service, so it lends itself well to such a use.
Here are a few other ways to keep in touch with the outside world:
Every phone has an email address, and every provider offers something called an email “gateway.” The gateway allows you to send and receive emails via the text message function on your phone.
Here, courtesy of HumanInet, is how to find your phone’s email address:
If you’re on Verizon, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org (as in email@example.com), or if that doesn’t work, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re on AT&T, it’s email@example.com, or if that doesn’t work firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re on Sprint, it’s email@example.com
If you’re on T-Mobile, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org
(For other carriers, or to troubleshoot yours, check here.)
Once you have your gateway address, you’ll need to forward your email via SMS to that address.
To do that, go into “settings” in your phone and look for something like “add a forwarding address.” When you find that, type in your phone’s email address.
According to HumanInet, that method may not work on some phones. If you have a problem with your phone, you can use an automated forwarding service like TXTJet, they suggest.
If you want to send an email via text, you can enter you email address instead of a phone number.
If you want to get updates from Twitter accounts when the internet gets spotty, you can set up a SMS “Fast Follow.” You don’t even have to have a Twitter account to get updates from those you choose to follow.
You do this by texting “Follow (username)” to 40404. (Follow@NWS to follow the National Weather Service, for instance).
You cannot use this function to post on Twitter, only to receive notices.
To post something on Twitter, the social media company says to do this:
- Send a text to Twitter code  with the word START.
- Twitter will reply and ask you to text YES to the Twitter short code.
- Text your username to the same number. Do not use the @ symbol or quotation marks. Send your username ONLY. For example: larrybird
- Next, text your password. This is case sensitive, so be sure you are sending your password correctly.
Then you can text messages to go out on your Twitter account.
If you can’t live without Facebook, even during a storm, activate Facebook via SMS by going to Facebook account settings and clicking “Mobile,” it’s on the left side of the page.
Turn on Facebook Message Forwarding and Notifications. After it’s set up, post by texting to 32665 or FBOOK.
You can even search Google by adding 466453 (GOOGLE) to your phonebook, then text to it to search.
Sources: Twitter, The Washington Post; HumanInet; Facebook; Google