Hardly ever do I go somewhere without taking my laptop with me. When I want to have a break, but still be productive, I go to a bistro and luckily most bistros in my neighborhood offer wireless already.
But sometimes I’m on the road and no wireless is available. Sadly here in UK data plan flat rates only flatten your budget and not the road to being online anywhere (yet).
This means that sometimes I end up in locations without internet connection. I am sure the thought of this alone already scares many among you, but let me tell you, there’s life… even without direct internet connection.
And with little preparation and some (offline) tools you can perfectly continue working without losing your productivity. Actually some tools might even make you life easier.
Lets have a look at a list of 4 applications every web worker, problogger, designer who prefers classic bistros over Starbucks, professional who spends two hours or more daily commuting in a train compartment or traveler on a cruise ship, charged a whopping $15 for half an hour of internet connection, needs.
- Email : Thunderbird.
Little needs to be written about the free open source and very customizable Thunderbird. Unless your employer requires you to use Outlook, and you really know how to take advantage of the power of Outlook 2003 and higher, Thunderbird is what you should be using.
Customize your Thunderbird with one of the many available extensions.
Start your email client before leaving and read your mail while offline. Prepare your answers on the road, ready to be uploaded as soon as you’re online again.
- Feed reader : FeedDemon.
Every modern webworker spends several hours daily reading feeds and every webworker has many entries waiting to be read. Power up your offline feed reader before you leave, wait until all the feeds are downloaded and catch up with your feeds during your commute, at the cafe behind a cappuccino or as morning literature on the ship. Even with 400+ feeds it will hardly ever take more than some minutes to download every entry.
FeedDemon sadly isn’t free, but the $29.95 surely are worth it. I even FeedDemon when online, because it allows me to set the update rate manually for every feed or for categories. Over are the times when you only read entries when every one had already added their cents or pennies.
FeedDemon also has an awesome caching engine you’ll love when you want to search for older entries.
- Offline server : XAMPP.
Anyone who’s into design, or programming sites based on PHP should have XAMPP installed. XAMPP brings Apache, MySQL and PHP to your notebook, allowing you to play with your design or the code of your sites offline. Have your own (test) server without being connected. Feel free to hack anything without crashing your site. XAMPP even doesn’t need to be installed, unzipping the package is enough. Install now your blog, WP, TextPattern, Expression Engine.
If I mentioned that you don’t need to install XAMPP there’s a reason for : most blogger will with time play with other, probably also non-PHP blog platforms, such as Django. Especially with older versions the standard installation paths of certain server components might cause conflicts (If you want to run Django on the road, follow this tutorial as the required mod_python isn’t supported anymore under XAMPP).
AFAIK every platform offers an offline installation kit.
- Offline blog editor
There are many offline blog editors available, and Thunderbird probably is the most unknown one. Almost every blog software allows you to post over email, why not take advantage of this and use your Thunderbird also as blog editor.
Other recommended offline editors are ecto, the choice of most probloggers, but makes you $17.95 lighter.
Qumana, a lightweight free blog editor, with several features such as integration of Q Ads, and available in French, Spanish and Dutch.
Biggest problem, on WP, I’ve encountered with offline blog editors is that none supports Ultimate Tag Warrior (most do support Technorati tags though). If you’re über geeky, you can use a tool such as HeidiSQL to easily export your post and tag tables and import them on your localhost (the XAMPP install we discussed earlier on). When back online you synchronize both tables again, and every entry you’ve prepared on your localhost is up and running on your blog now.
HeidiSQL requires remote database access, you might have to request this from your hoster.
- BONUS : picture uploader for Flickr, Flickr Uploadr.
Flickr Uploadr is not a tool for offline usage, but I couldn’t live without it anymore. As soon as I am online again, all I have to do is drag and drop the pictures I’ve taken into the Flickr Uploadr interface and only one click later all my pictures are being uploaded to my account. Easier is hardly imaginable and it saves me time.
Right now this is everything I can think of, but I might add more tools as I discover new ones.
Of course the compulsary tools such as Notepad++, SmartFTP, the best free FTP client for private usage, and The Gimp/PAINT.NET/Photoshop, depending on your budget, also belong to this list, but they are more of general need IMO.
If you can think of any other tools, leave a comment. :)