The curious collection of a slightly mad scientist
I listened to a pitch on “darkestdays.info” about survival after a massive solar storm, comet, super volcano, nuclear war or other man-made EMP destroys our power grid and electronics. I don’t think any of these things are likely to destroy both sides of the planet at once, but then again, where is the mighty T-rex now? I see only chickens. Thus, I got interested in preserving my own personal version of the collected works of human kind. How much useful knowledge can one person download these days … without breaking any laws?
In a scenario where all electronics get fried you will want a waterproof solar powered laptop that you will store in a Faraday cage (or EMP bag?) along with redundant USB drives that hold multiple copies your archive. There are much more important practical things you should do before this, of course, but that’s another topic.
To build your archive, here are some ideas: Buy a few 1 TB USB drives to hold your data (~$70.ea new, but check eBay for deals). Start your collection by downloading Wikipedia, the massive free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. It has, at this time, 4,727,647 articles in English. Here’s how I’m in the process of doing that:
Download some Peer to Peer (P2P) file sharing software (I tried Frostwire and another one. One of the two attempted to install a virus, so before rebooting (that’s when the virus installs itself big time) I had to spend time cleaning up with Hijack This! and and SpyBot Search and Destroy. After you have your P2P software sorted out, head over to http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Main_Page. Open your P2P software and drag the link that says “…using BitTorrent” from the web page onto your P2P software. It will prompt you to begin the download. With Frostwire, just clicking that link didn’t do anything, I had to drag it over. You can download the entire English language Wikipedia archive (currently 47.0 GB) plus a reader this way. Note that you may end up paying a lot if you pay by the GB for data with your Internet provider. The point of using P2P software is that you can interrupt your download, even shut down your computer and then resume the download later. Like when Frostwire keep crashing.
That should keep you busy for a while. Another big file of interest to me is the list of all species. This one I didn’t find with P2P so I downloaded with my browser.
wikispecies_en_all_2015-02.zim 12-Feb-2015 05:31 524M
What isn’t in Wikipedia that you will need? Plenty! Now that you have Kiwix which reads .ZIM files, you can get some other great resources. (The ZIM file format replaces the earlier Zeno file format. ZIM stands for “Zeno IMproved”. For me, it’s Xeno improved by Zeno IMproved.)
Wikiversity ( a wiki-based learning community of online courses in many areas including physical sciences, mathematics, engineering and education, where you can also create courses yourself. ) has learning resources and here’s the latest zim as of this writing which has all subject areas in English with pics:
wikiversity_en_all_2015-03.zim 04-Mar-2015 00:05 1.3G
Next, for your doomsday collection, you may want all of the books in Project Gutenberg in ZIM format. That’s another 40GB of books in English. Massive wordage.
gutenberg_en_all_10_2014.zim 26-Oct-2014 10:17 40G
Another tool you will want, to download entire web sites for offline reading, is this: http://www.httrack.com/
… to be continued…