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Mobile tech tips for rally-goers this weekend

Many people will assemble on the Mall this weekend. Some of them may try to use their phones. Those phone users may not be happy with the results.

You could use the preceding sentences to describe numerous rallies, marches, protests, gatherings and concerts on America's front lawn. Only the names of the events and the numbers of attendees change.

On tap this weekend: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear". The event could have tens of thousands or more people assembling on the Mall from noon to 3 on Saturday.

If you plan to be among them and want to use your phone to text, tweet, update your Facebook status, check in on Foursquare, update your blog -- or, you know, make a phone call -- the following tips may help you deal with overloaded airwaves.

  • Forget voice calls. Text instead of talk; that uses less of your carrier's bandwidth and less of your phone's battery. Plus, you don't have to be the buffoon shouting into your phone: "I SAID, I'M AT THE RALLY ON THE MALL!!!"
  • Use mobile versions of sites instead of their full-sized versions; again, you'll save bandwidth.
  • If an Internet-connected app doesn't work, try using that service's mobile site. If the mobile site doesn't work, try using the app. If neither connects, perhaps you weren't meant to use that service.
  • Switch to WiFi if you can find an open signal. There are WiFi hot spots on the Mall, from Third to 14th streets under the name "DC WiFi," but I doubt the network behind them was built for this kind of traffic.
  • Carry a spare battery if you have one and your phone allows it. Phones run down quicker when they're constantly hunting for a signal.
  • Switch to a phone on another carrier if possible. If you're lucky, a different firm may have an extra COW (Cell On Wheels) trailer or COLT (Cell On Light Truck) vehicle parked nearby to augment its regular network.
  • None of the above may help, as anybody who was on the Mall for President Obama's inauguration can attest. So, just in case, set a meeting place and time for the end of the day. If you're not clear on how this works, please ask somebody over 35, and they can probably set you straight.


If you have other tips, please share them in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  | October 28, 2010; 10:56 AM ET
Categories:  Mobile, Telecom, Tips  
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Comments

How about this: if you're NOT planning to use wifi, turn it off to save battery life.

Posted by: 4nash | October 28, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

If you don't do these things often, before the ralley practice texting, using your phone's camera and video and navigating on phone's browser - help out your fingers with practice - to avoid missing interesting pics, etc.

Posted by: hcypress1 | October 28, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Here's an idea:

leave your phone in your pocket, look up at the sky and trees and monuments around you, and maybe, just maybe, talk face to face with those around you who are at the rally for the same reason you are.

Posted by: summerandwinter | October 28, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget your tinfoil hat!

Posted by: GaryJean | October 28, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget your tinfoil hat!

Posted by: GaryJean | October 28, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I think it's more dangerous to walk on the escalator. More chances of putting your foot down on the side where it can get caught.

Some people not walking on the escalator may be seniors, children, those with autism spectrum disorders, or others uncomfortable with walking on something that's moving, and they choose to not use the elevator.

http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt122612.html

Posted by: TheChileanPresidentIsMuchBetterRespondingToDisastersThanObama | October 28, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Stand on the right and let other pass on the left!

Posted by: tbirago | October 28, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Here's a thought:

You should just turn OFF your phone entirely during the rally. With so many people in one place together, the chance that somebody is going to have a heart attack or other health emergency and want to call 911 at some point during the rally is pretty high. But that person isn't going to be able to get through to emergency services because you want to tweet or upload photos in real time. It seems to me that part of being "reasonable" is thinking about the welfare of others. Just turn the thing off for 3 hours, you'll have more fun if you focus on the rally than your gadgets, and there's a small chance your decision ends up saving somebody's life.

If you want to use your phone as a camera, just put it in airplane mode.

Posted by: teamw23 | October 28, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

TheChileanPresidentyadayadayada:

"Some people not walking on the escalator may be seniors, children, those with autism spectrum disorders, or others uncomfortable with walking on something that's moving, and they choose to not use the elevator."
----------------------------------------

Yes, and those folks should stay to the right, so that those who want to walk can pass them on the left.

Posted by: FrankIBC | October 28, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

And don't feel that you have to record the entire event with video or endless photos. Just savor the moment with your eyes and ears.

Posted by: FrankIBC | October 28, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

"Stand on the right and let other pass on the left!"

Now there's an apt metaphor for you.

Posted by: surly4130 | October 28, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

And bring cookies to share with other rational rally goers.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 28, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

surly4130 said... ""Stand on the right and let other pass on the left!"

Now there's an apt metaphor for you."

:)

Posted by: JBinVA1 | October 29, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

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