Staying Productive while Offline

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

Feb 25, 2009 GMT
Dmitri Popov

Surviving a long train trip without an Internet connection can be tough, but with a little bit of preparatory work, you can stay productive even when offline. Here are a few ideas that can help you to do some work without Internet access.

Install Google Gears and enable it for Web-based services that support this technology. This allows you to manage emails stored on your Gmail account and work on Google Docs files as well as keep tabs on your to-dos if you use the Remember The Milk service as your Web-based task manager.

Prune your bookmarks and task list. If you use Firefox to manage your bookmarks, now is a good time to go through them and delete all the cruft. While you're at it, you might want to launch your desktop task manager and revise and clean up your task list.

Catch up on Web reading with the Read It Later (RIL) extension for Firefox. Once installed, RIL allows you to bookmark Web pages for later reading. What's more, you can use the extension to instantly save the bookmarked pages for reading offline. To do this, click on the RIL icon and press the Read offline link.

If you want to work on your OpenOffice.org documents or use other desktop applications, make sure that you have a syncing solution in place to avoid losing your work. The most simple solution is to use a USB stick to back up your work. You can, of course, copy new and modified files manually, but a better solution would be to install a synchronization tool like Unison that would do this for you. In addition to that, you might want to install the Dropbox utility which syncs your files to the cloud whenever you have an Internet connection.

Do some reading using an ebook reader. There are a few good ebook readers available for Linux. GutenPy, for example, allows you to grab books directly from the Gutenberg project's Web site, while FBreader can handle ebooks in several formats and sports a couple of neat features that make reading more pleasurable.

Learn new tricks by reading help files and viewing screencasts. No matter how good you are at using a particular application, you can still learn a trick or two by browsing its online help. Alternatively, load documentation in the PDF format, so you can read it using the PDF viewer bundled with your Linux distro. Another great -- and arguably more entertaining -- way to master a specific application is through screencasts. For example, if you want to learn a few clever Inkscape techniques, check the screencasters.heathenx.org Web site. And don't forget, you can evoke detailed documentation for virtually any command-line tool and application using the man command.

Finally, the most obvious advice. No matter how well you are prepared for the offline mode, unpredictable things do happen, so pack a good printed book to keep yourself entertained or educated.

Do you have other tips and suggestions how to stay productive offline? Share them in the Comments section.

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