As difficult as this may seem, Mehl and colleagues have developed a naturalistic observation methodology that is similar in spirit. Rather than following participants—like a detective—with a video camera (see Craik, 2000 ), they equip participants with a portable audio recorder that is programmed to periodically record brief snippets of ambient sounds (., 30 seconds every 12 minutes). Participants carry the recorder (originally a microcassette recorder, now a smartphone app) on them as they go about their days and return it at the end of the study. The recorder provides researchers with a series of sound bites that, together, amount to an acoustic diary of participants’ days as they naturally unfold—and that constitute a representative sample of their daily activities and social encounters. Because it is somewhat similar to having the researcher’s ear at the participant’s lapel, they called their method the electronically activated recorder, or EAR ( Mehl, Pennebaker, Crow, Dabbs, & Price, 2001 ). The ambient sound recordings can be coded for many things, including participants’ locations (., at school, in a coffee shop), activities (., watching TV, eating), interactions (., in a group, on the phone), and emotional expressions (., laughing, sighing). As unnatural or intrusive as it might seem, participants report that they quickly grow accustomed to the EAR and say they soon find themselves behaving as they normally would.
So, all that remains to answer is one last question – what if both links drop? You should make sure that you have a way into your remote sites via Out of Band (OOB) management, such as a modem connection to a serial port of a connecting router. This gives the chance to test internally to the site (from the local area network [LAN] in times of complete cut off. The modem can be connected to a serial port on a router, or on a server on the LAN. As long as a dial-up line is configured and you can dial into it and connect, you can access your Be sure to secure everything correctly, do not allow someone to war-dial into your network via the modem, which is fairly easy to do if not locked down.