SOS Blogger at sea.

Sometimes we forget just how much time we spend online. In direct communication via instant messaging, Skype, Twitter or surfing, downloading and sending emails back and forth. Allmost
90 percent of my day is spend in close proximity to a broadband
connection ( at home and  at work ) The other 10 percent is covered by
the Gprs connection abilities of my Blackberry or the emergency fallback connection of my 3G Usb modem for my netbook. Coming to think of it : We have come to the stage in our live where broadband connectivity is omnipresent in our every day.

Such accommodations
may seem a gadget or a novelty at first
, but after the experimental
stage wears of they either fade into oblivion to be replaced by the
next best thing, or they settle into the routine of everyday life. The
ability to be connected to the net has fallen into the latter category.
We are not only used to it, we live our lives accordingly. Technology
adapts to the ability to connect. Data shifts away from local harddrives and lives on the cloud. Communication channels slide over towards the IP-side of the spectrum. Applications slowly but surely erode from the desktop to reside on the world wide web.

So what happens if you take it away ? What happens when you disconnect such a web 2.0 lifestyle from the umbillical of the web. What if you ignite a "virtual" (if there is such a thing) EMP pulse onto the worldwide linkup to cyberspace. What if you put a blogger at sea.

That
happened to us today.
On a three day cruise to Hull (of all places)
that we embarked on (an excuse to go shopping for Dr Who memorabilia)
our IP was
taken from us. It all started off nicely. Upon boarding we twittered
back and forth with some friends from the British Isles and were
shooting pictures up to cyberspace to keep the ‘posse in the cloud’ up
to date with our latest progress. A quick chat with thehome front just
before departure, a last minute check of the website, a rapid
pound-to-euro rate update .. What the Blackberry did not manage to
cover was nicely picked up by the 3G modem hooked up to the netbook.

So we set sail into the vast calm and mysteriously foggy northsea on our way to Hull. As the reception bars on the Blackberry dropped away we got a last textmessage from the home front
and then.. everything went quiet.Surely we had taken the ‘offline" time
into account and were sure to take along some reading material and the
Nintendo DS to keep us entertained. But the little Netbook that tagged along .. Was not prepared for the trip. I’ll give you some pointers on what I"ve learned about being a blogger at sea.

Netbooks : Netbooks are powerfull devices to say they least. Allthough
they can rely heavily on a connection to the net to survive, they can
still be very functional in an offline world. PRODUCTIVITY : Should you
feel the need to be productive on your travels at sea (or during other
offline periods) make sure you have some light local apps installed to
do your thing. Used to working in Googledocs ? Install Googlegears before you leave and use the "offline feature" to pull the entire GoogleDocs suite "offline" together with your documents. If you are unable to do that ? Just use the terminal (good old nano)
or notepad as surrogates for a little typewriter. Being offline does
give one the luxury to work ‘uninterrupted’ (as you can see by the
length of this post) ENTERTAINMENT : Don’t underestimate the
entertainment value of your netbook. Why not download some nice ebooks in advance and store them on a usb
stick or an SD card. Perhaps they are not very comfortable to read
online, but hey : Who says you can’t use comics or cartoons to keep you
entertained. If you have Itunes or another podcatcher installed ? Download a crapload of podcasts or videocasts and turn that little netbook in your own little television station. By the time the people on board are dosing off listening to the old fart playing tunes in the piano bar on deck 3, you’ll be into episode 6 of Geekbreef
TV getting your daily overdose of Cally Lewis. For those of you who
can’t get enough: Install MIRO and subscribe to a whole bunch of
channels or keywords and download away before you head off. Storage
space a little on the tight side ? Slide in that USB stick or memory card and store away.

MOVIES:
Well, being lazy I mentioned all the content that you can subscribe to
and that gets "pulled in"
If you are a movie freak fire up HANDBRAKE
and convert some of those DVD’s to mpegs that you can play on everything. As much as I love my Ipod touch I absolutely hate to watch an entire movie on it while "holding" it in my hands. The netbook provides you with a perfect portable cinema to do it all. MUSIC AND AUDDIOBOOKS: ItunesU offers you a lot of free lectures to download and listen to if you don’t want to spend money on audiobooks and stuff. And of course there are hundreds of podcasts to choose from. Beef up and ALWAYS HAVE FREE CONTENT AVAILABLE OFFLINE ! Use Itunes (or another podcatcher), Miro and perhaps the awkward "youtube video downloader" to
have fresh content on your device. Like a traveler that has to cross the desest
needs to have fresh water with him at all times, you also need to have
‘fresh content’ at your fingertips for when you hit that "dry patch"
called IP zero.

GAMES: You don’t NEED a NintendoDS or live connection to world of warcraft to keep you entertained. Look for Java versions of classic games that you can download on your Pc, linux box or Mac. With 99 percent of classic 8 and 16 bit games coming into the realm of abandonware, they are available to download AND they are free !
Aside from that you can install some 200 odd games from the Ubuntu repositories if you are using Ubuntu and even play OpenArena (quake3) on your netbook. ( Tip: If you find a geek-buddy that does the same thing, you can even set up your own tournament over wifi and .. oh wait.. i’m ranting again.)

But hey. Who said it always needs to be a computer. Perhaps you can have a go at reading a book ( you know , those hardcopied pdf things they bind together and sell in stores ), take your Kindle or sony
E-book reader packed with "stuff you need to read" Or "look around" at
the world around you. Take some pictures with your camera, talk to
strangers .. there is quite a lot you can do.

What I have found
to be a very nice "upside" of my "downtime"
is the fact that you loose
the "online rush" when you go offline. You find the time and the
patience to work on that "long" article you’ve been meaning to write,
you might even ‘read through’ that manual you still have lying around.
The deprivation of ‘interrupting factions’ does isolate us from the
"attention Deficit Disorder’ lifestyle you have when you are CONSTANTLY
bombarded with NEW information. So take some offline time from time to
time. Stock up on content, pull the plug on the router and go into your
own virtual retreat where you can sit, meditate, consume or produce ..
in a calm and serene way.

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