There comes a day when you’re wandering through one of those massive fortresses of commercialism and notice this aisle full of flashlights.  There are the aircraft aluminum-bodied ones, which are a premium choice for bouncers.  There are lantern ones for those hesitant to play with  oil and fire in the middle of a nice, flammable forest.  And it goes on… cheap flashlights and expensive flashlights and those snake flashlights you can wrap around stuff and point where you want them to go.

You don’t really need a flashlight, but your daughter likes to "camp" in her room and has burned through tons of batteries with lights you kept around for emergencies.  You decide to go with this neat little winding flashlight that can be recharged by hand-cranking it.  Yay!  That battery graveyard just got a little smaller around the house.  And you’re a step ahead… get one for her to use and also get one to keep in the kitchen drawer for emergencies.

And then that day comes when the smaller UPS in your office start with their dreaded wail, "Aah! There’s no power in the house so I’m gonna make this constant annoying beeping sound to help drain the life out of this poor 12-year old battery all the more quickly and wake up the entire family late at night.  Weeeeeee…" 

No problem.  I’ll go downstairs, get my flashlight, look up the number for the power company, and call them up to report the outage.  The sooner they’re aware of the problem, the sooner it can get fixed.

But there is a problem.  No emergency flashlight in the kitchen drawer.  No light means reading the last electric bill for the 24-hour number will be a bit more difficult.

Luckily, my long years as a dba prepared me for such a situation.  I had a backup.  I had a backup where my daughter wouldn’t think to look for one.  I guess it could be considered an "off-site" backup in that sense.  But the things about backups are… if you don’t use them from time-to-time, you can forget them.  That’s just what happened here.  I forgot where I put my backup light source.

Good thing I had my netbook handy with its 8 hours of battery life.  And a nice bright screen.  With my netbook in hand, I got the phone number, called the power company, and even managed to finally track down my backup lights (some nice little 170 hour waterproof LED lights… if I only had a pool, I’d be tempted to find out how waterproof they really are).

So, thank you, netbook.  You may cause my hands to cramp up from time-to-time with your scaled down keyboard and you definitely aren’t helping my tech industry inflicted eyestrain.  But you made a damn good flashlight and kept me entertained in the dark with a mean game of Texas hold ’em as I waited for the power to be restored.