Losing My Internet, Too?
It was a scary notion back when I first arrived in Azerbaijan. That I would be going days without seeing a web page, out of touch with the world, totally uninformed about what is going on around me. For someone who read multiple newspapers, followed many news and current events blogs, and listened to NPR religiously, that was a curious prospect. Yet, a few things have happened that have alleviated the pain of being removed from the internet. First, I realized that when you’re in Peace Corps, in a country where the problems that people face daily are less philosophical and much more tangible, getting the late-breaking news story about health care reform or the Catholic church abuse scandals or the political reactions to a president’s speeches aren’t quite as important. They still interest me, and I love reading about them, but for someone in Azerbaijan, or basically any other Peace Corps country, I’m sure their priority has fallen a bit.
That said, I still gobble up news and send a great deal of email and do a lot of research on the internet. Except I don’t have to be on the internet to do it! Due to the circumstances, we’ve found some excellent resources for when your electricity goes out, rendering your internet modem useless. Or, for when you just don’t have internet at all.
The first really cool thing we found is Gmail’s Flaky Mode. If you have Gmail, which you ought, you can set up your account to download recent emails and their attachments and you can log in offline. That means I can connect to the internet, sync up my account, and then have everything up to that point offline. I can write emails and read new ones, and scroll through attachments. When I log back in online, any emails that I “sent” while offline will automatically file out of my outbox out into the interwebs. For anyone who wants to read emails on their next long car ride, or deep in your forest cave, check out the Flaky Mode.
The second phenomenal feature we found is called Scrapbook. It’s a great add-on for Mozilla Firefox. Again, if you’re not using Firefox, you’ve gotta get on this train. It’s great. With Scrapbook, while online, I can grab webpages for use offline. If there’s a great article I want to read from The New Yorker that is 12 pages long, I can set it to grab the entire article and I can take my leisurely time reading through. The other thing I could do is have it capture the webpages of all the links on the page. Then I could follow links on blogs. This usually doesn’t work out too well, since a lot of blogs tend to carry hundreds of links. Within a few rounds of capturing webpages and their links, I could have the internet without being online. I just grab the page, no links. Yet, this way, I can basically keep up-to-date on everything.
The last big realization is that I can get a lot of work done now without the internet. Brilliant.