Help! On holiday with no internet connection

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

While sitting in the furthest reaches of the New Forest, I realised how hamstrung I have become.

Mobile signal is very erratic and not strong enough for a data connection and the public WiFi I can use nearby is so slow, that it reminds me of the old days when dial up was the only means of connecting to the outside world.

Then I thought, “We have become so dependent on a good internet connection for all things. What can you still do without one?”

It turns out, quite a lot. Would it surprise you to learn that I am still able to write this column using Google Drive, even though Google Drive is a web app? Yes, I am offline and using my Google Chrome internet browser in offline mode. Chrome has a ton of plugins available, some of which have support for offline use. Like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. When I eventually reconnect to the internet, everything will sychronise with Google Drive as if I had been online the whole time.

Yes, I could obviously use something like LibreOffice if I had wanted, as LibreOffice is a traditional style program that you install for offline use. However, it by itself misses out on everything the cloud and (in this case) Google Drive have to offer. It also means that anyone who believes a Chromebook is useless without an internet connection, is wrong.

There are of course some limitations while working offline. For instance if you want to look something up, you can’t exactly log in to Google and do a search on the internet. Nor can you send emails, download updates to software you use or communicate via Facebook or one of other social networks. You really are cut off from the outside world.

You can get by if you plan ahead. For instance, I made sure I had downloaded some films to watch on my Android phone before setting off, to avoid any issues trying to stream video with a dodgy connection. Ditto with my Kindle and the books I wanted to read while away.

Being cut off also means there are less distractions when you do sit down to get something done.

While I was able to manage being cut off from the internet and enjoy a distraction free existence, I was jolly glad when I got home!

Alan Stainer