Firechat on the Playa

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Ozness
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Firechat on the Playa

Post by Ozness » Sat Apr 11, 2015 4:28 am

Hi all. I recently read about the Firechat App and that it was developed for events such as Burning Man as a method of keeping in contact in areas where you have no phone reception. Personally I am looking forward to being "off the grid" for the duration of my stay on the playa, however I am wondering if anyone has used this app at previous burns and if there have been times where it has come in handy.....
Thanks!

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Ratty
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by Ratty » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:58 am

Ozness, Do yourself a favor. Bring a digital camera for taking pictures of yourself and friends. Lock your phone in the vehicle when you get there and don't touch it till exodus. It's very freeing. You'll be surprised at how nice it is to look people in the eye and give them full attention.
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digital
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by digital » Sat Apr 11, 2015 2:22 pm

FireChat is designed more for Coachella than Burning Man. IIRC, it creates a mess network using nearby FireChat users. This is great for Coachella, or protests in Hong Kong, because there are plenty of nodes (phones) near each other. At Burning Man there are very few of us who carry a cell phone. If we do, it is in airplane mode.

HAM radio. So. Much. Better.

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Ozness
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by Ozness » Sat Apr 11, 2015 2:55 pm

I figured as much. I don't use my phone at the best of times, so wasn't really planning to, but thought it might be used to let people know about certain events that were coming up around the playa, finding people that have gone AWOL etc!

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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by Elliot » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:19 pm

That day when the cell phone tower arrived on Playa shall forever live in infamy.

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digital
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by digital » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:44 pm

Ozness wrote:I figured as much. I don't use my phone at the best of times, so wasn't really planning to, but thought it might be used to let people know about certain events that were coming up around the playa, finding people that have gone AWOL etc!
Do you have an iDevice? iBurn. ;)

And HAM radio.

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Jackass
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by Jackass » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:01 pm

let people know about certain events that were coming up around the playa, finding people that have gone AWOL etc!
Events happen day and night, you just have to be there for them. Kinda like the tree falling in the forest, and if you're there to hear it or not. I sometimes suffer from FOMO out there. Fear of missing out. But, alas it's a fool's errand to try and do EVERYTHING.

People that go AWOL many times don't want to be found...Until it's time to sleep it off in the back of the box truck, all the way home.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Simon of the Playa
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by Simon of the Playa » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:14 pm

i like to tag all of my newbs with RFID chips AND shock collars.




it makes the "round up" much easier.




you can get all of this stuff pretty cheap at the grange / cattle / feed store / pet supply house
Frida Be You & Me

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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by Jackass » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:32 pm

Are those WiFi and Bluetooth enabled?

Perhaps this is a good opportunity to develop the "Summon Your Passengers" app.

If they want a ride, they do need to be present...
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

11th Principle: Depussyfication - Keeping Burning Man potentially lethal. Token

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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by trilobyte » Sun Apr 12, 2015 6:06 pm

I've used firechat in a variety of settings, and yep, it'd theoretically work well at the playa if you and other users were within your device's range of each other (for those not familiar, it uses a tech called 'mesh networking' that links devices directly together without the need for wifi base stations), but it's something that I've had little to no interest in doing while I'm in the desert.

Once I get away from Reno I largely try to minimize my tech and communications device usage as much as I can. On the playa, I only use it when absolutely necessary, otherwise my phone is switched into airplane mode and I carry it around for either use of the photo toy apps or very occasionally referring to one of the resource guide apps that are out there (they send out an update just before the event that contains all the latest info and listings, you can access and use it without needing a signal). Shutting off the device's radio not only greatly helps with battery life, but it also helps me with immediacy and being present in the moment. I feel like I don't get nearly enough time to spend experiencing and appreciating all the amazing art and people in the desert, I don't want to waste any of those moments staring at a screen.

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Ozness
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by Ozness » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:02 am

digital wrote: Do you have an iDevice? iBurn. ;)

And HAM radio.
Hey Digital- thanks- I just checked out iBurn- looks pretty cool- I like the idea of being able to check out the different camps that are around the playa, even if I know I wont make it to most of them.... Do you know when the app updates to this year's burn details?

And not sure what HAM radio is- is that a local station on the playa?

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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by mooserider » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:27 am

Ozness wrote:And not sure what HAM radio is- is that a local station on the playa?
No, that's being licensed to operate your own personal radio stations, not as a commercial business, but as a personal hobby. Much more versatile than mere CB or FRS radio. Strictly speaking, the term is "amateur radio", but the term "ham" got stuck to it almost 100 years ago and it's still there.

There are hams all over the world, communicating by all sorts of radio gear; it's a worldwide hobby recognized by the International Telecommunications Union and most nations of the world. The benefit of ham radio at Burning Man is that hams have far more radio spectrum available for their use than the limited number of channels of the Family Radio Service and General Mobile Radio Service, so it's far more likely you'd be able to get through to someone on the playa, or be able to get out of the playa to anywhere else in the world. The only real limitation is that you can't conduct commercial business over amateur radio. Ham radio is actually part of the support infrastructure for Black Rock City (used as an auxiliary communications service by the ESD, just as it is in other jurisdictions around the world).

As an Australian citizen, you would have to become licensed by the Australian government, and then follow the procedures to get reciprocal operating privileges in the United States. In theory, you could get a US amateur radio license, but it would take long enough to process that Burning Man would be over before you got your callsign assigned to you.

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lucky420
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by lucky420 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:52 am

Turn off devices and back slowly away...


Then go out and have the time of your life. Really
Oh my god, it's HUGE!

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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by Jovankat » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:18 am

There is a radio station at BM though; BMIR 94.5FM you can also listen online.

And Time to Burn doesn't update until very late, maybe once the gates have opened? Or more specifically you can get the update a few weeks out but unlocking the locations has to be done very late possibly after the gate has opened. I know I had to find wifi and update on playa last year because I'd gone in for early entry. There is a specific reason for this but I don't remember what it is....

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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by FIGJAM » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:19 pm

There are several radio stations at the burn.

One plays nothing but Frank Zappa 24/7 for the week!!! 8)
"Don't buy ur Burn...........Build ur Burn!"

"If I can't find an answer, I'll create one!!!"

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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by FlyingMonkey » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:31 pm

Ratty wrote:Ozness, Do yourself a favor. Bring a digital camera for taking pictures of yourself and friends. Lock your phone in the vehicle when you get there and don't touch it till exodus. It's very freeing. You'll be surprised at how nice it is to look people in the eye and give them full attention.
+1000
In your wildest dreams you can not imagine the marvelous SURPRISES that await YOU.

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some seeing eye
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by some seeing eye » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:52 pm

There are all kind of discussions and flames on ePlaya, primarily around commercial mobile phone service and Internet access. You can search. Then there are the unlicensed and licensed, FRS/GMRS and MURS, handheld radios. Many become congested to unusability. Firechat as noted is unlikely be dense enough to mesh and there is a lot of WiFi clutter from GoPro's transmitting unnecessarily. There is often an experimental texting service which requires a compatible phone and SIM. There is also spotty WiFi. But none of it is dependable or available all times or places or even works at all. Usually friends schedule a meet time - place once or twice a day to coordinate, but people get distracted, are late, forget, so that is not dependable either.
increasing the signal to noise ratio with compassion

maladroit
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by maladroit » Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:01 pm

It's too bad that FireChat is proprietary and uses a closed protocol. Otherwise it might be possible to create cheap FireChat mesh extender nodes using a $4 ESP8266 wifi module and a couple of AA batteries. Stick them on the road sign posts and you'd eventually get a city-wide mesh.

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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by mdmf007 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:19 pm

the last few years have been great for texts, voice service not so much. Leave the phone in the car, great advice though.
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trilobyte
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by trilobyte » Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:50 pm

Over the last couple years, the Time To Burn app has updated between the Sunday (one week before the gates) and Wednesday of build week, at least on iOS (checking the app store's release history confirms this). They may have done something last minute after that point, but the big update happens in that window. If your device didn't scoop it until later, you may want to try doing a manual update.

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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by pterodactyl » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:49 pm

Anyone try Firechat over the past few years? If so, how was it?

davr
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Re: Firechat on the Playa

Post by davr » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:09 pm

I tried firechat at symbiosis eclipse festival last year, was mostly useless. The app is buggy, crashes a lot, and due to needing to constantly scan wifi / bluetooth it burns through your phone battery. My experience was sending a message, waiting a minute, seeing nothing, and then the next day finally getting replies.

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