Okay, so we're doing this.
America is inaugurating its 45th President this weekend, and that means a number of important things. People have traveled from all over the U.S. to experience the event, either in support or in protest, and historically that influx of people means a dramatic increase in strain on the cellular networks. Each of the major carriers claim to have beefed up their service in preparation, but there's a lot more to the Internet than just that connection. In a situation where anything can happen and likely everything you're imagining will happen to some degree, it's important to be prepared.
Here are some quick tips for getting through Inauguration weekend with your sanity, and hopefully also your phone, intact.
If you're in Washington DC
Whether you're a DC native or you've travelled in from far away, there are some tools you're going to want handy.
Amazon Prime Now is your friend
Before you head out to any of the events this weekend, make sure you have everything you need for a safe trip. Multiple payment methods on hand, a direct walking path to and from the event so you don't get lost, and a good rugged case for your phone. If you're not the phone case type, or you're rocking a slim folio, upgrade immediately. You're going to be surrounded by hundreds of people with arms that aren't likely to know exactly where you are holding your phone to get that perfect video. Fortunately, Prime Now works well in DC, so you can have a case or a glass screen protector delivered to you before you head out.
Don't rely on Wi-Fi
Someone else's wireless network is not your friend this weekend. It's way too easy to walk around with the equipment necessary to create hotspots built specifically for snooping your data and stealing your passwords. Crowded events like this are an incredibly common way to have your data stolen and your credit cards used before you even know what happened. Stay on your cellular network, unless you're using a service like Project Fi that secures your connection with a safe VPN.
Record, don't broadcast
As much fun as Facebook Live and Periscope can be, don't bother trying them this weekend. Your network connection is never going to be good enough to establish a high quality stream surrounded by all of these people with their phones trying to rapid fire tweets from the events in DC. If you want to capture something, record it through normal photos and video. If you're concerned about losing that recording, turn on iCloud Photo Library (or your photo backup service of choice) and automatically back up photos and video so you can access it from anywhere later.
There are so many apps
The volume of information at your disposal for these events in incredible, but here's a quick list of apps you'll want installed on your phone to help you through the event.
Twitter: The Trump Inaugural account on Twitter is going to keep you updated and includes quick glances at details like where the entrances and exits are.
DC Metro and Bus: Navigating Washington DC without a map of the mass transit system can be a little intimidating, so keep this handy.
Uber: You could also skip the mass transit system in DC and just go Uber, though at the peak of traffic it's likely surge pricing will be in effect.
Mobile Justice: DC: The ACLU app for DC makes it easy to record and report events that aren't exactly legal.
If you're catching the events from elsewhere
Whether you're interested in viewing the festivities or avoiding them entirely, there are some tools for you.
YouTube Live Stream
The Inauguration and its partner events will be live streamed on YouTube, which means it can be casted to your television with a Chromecast and you can watch all weekend.
Not interested in the opinions of others this weekend? Filter them out with Open Tweet Filter. It only works on the web, so you're on your own if you open the app on your phone, but this will either keep the Inauguration out of your feed entirely or keep you completely focused on the events at hand.
Go find something to do
Quoting Patton Oswalt:
Leave your TV tuned to a channel like Turner Classic Movies or National Geographic or any channel that will have zero inaugural coverage. Then turn off your phone. Then shut down your computer. And then -- IF you can afford it -- go find a struggling theater company and pay to see whatever play they're putting on. Or a struggling art gallery or music club or museum. Leave 'em money and see what they're about.
Go see an indie film that's got stellar reviews and no audience. Or a new restaurant or other small business that needs friends and customers. Download a new band. Go to an independent bookstore and buy something from a small press. Go to an open mike. Or see any comedian. Tip your barista or barkeep a little extra.
In other words, do all of the cultural and aesthetic things that Trump thinks are worthless. Make a whole big chunk of existence suddenly spike in importance. And then keep doing that, if you can.
Above all, be safe!