I travel a lot as part of my work and there are many times when access to the Internet just isn’t possible. Currently, our temporary residence in Oregon is on a farm over 30 minutes from “civilization”. The farm has satellite Internet, so snow, big storms, freezing fog, power outage, or a glitch in the system shuts down all Internet access for us.
When work is so connected with being connected, it is painful to be disconnected. I can’t post to my blogs. I can’t check comments. I can clean out comment spam. I can’t email – I just can’t communicate with the world.
Usually, this is only temporary and rarely lasts more than a day, but there have been times when I’ve been disconnected for a week. While the Internet can be an addiction, for me, it’s a job. Being disconnected for any length of time hurts.
Foreknowledge of Offline Time
In the cases where I know I’m going to be offline for an extended period of time, I’m dependent upon the future post or timestamp feature of WordPress which allows me to publish articles ahead of time so they will release at the date and time of my choosing.
I’ve been using this since the very beginning of my involvement with WordPress 1.2. Since I travel so much, it’s easy to write up a bunch of posts and let my blog do the work for me.
Until the feature breaks.
In the rough early days of WordPress.com, there were a few sharp edges that took a while to file down. Since I’m sharing my blog struggles, having the future posts feature break was more than just a problem, it became a nightmare.
At the end of 2005, I kept turning in bug reports that not all future posts were posting. The development team worked overtime and finally fixed it, then it broken again. A few days later, WordPress.com’s server crashed and I lost a few posts in the big bang. It was a reminder to backup, backup, backup.
With the future post bug finally fixed, I worked overtime to have six weeks of future posts filed and ready to go on my blog as I prepared to drive my father cross-country from Alabama back to Seattle. I felt confident that my blog would take care of itself – at least from the publishing angle – for the long time periods in between Internet access points along the 5,000 mile trip from Alabama north to Ohio and across to his ancestors’ long time residence in Michigan, then across to Washington State.
Okay, so I was a schmuck. A few days before we started up the motor home to head north, I checked in to my blog and screamed.
To my horror, I found that all six weeks of blog posts had published at once.
Not knowing when they had released, I hopped over to the oldest posts and punching the Edit button almost through my laptop to change the future post dates and get the posts out of the published queue and into drafts. Anything to get them off the screen. In between panicked emails to Ryan Boren and Matt Mullenweg, I found a bunch of comments on many of the posts, which meant they were already in the feeds and being read. CRAP!
My father wasn’t happy when our trip was delayed three days to fix the motor home’s engine, but I was thrilled and worked round the clock to write all new posts to fill in the holes. Double schmuck me. I should have just let those sit there and had fun on my trip, but the panic to publish daily was still in my veins.
Our trip across the country was not the relaxing time I’d planned. Still, my dependence upon the future posts feature continues, reassured now that WordPress.com is much more stable with excellent backups and security. Still, I keep backups of everything I write, just in case, and I certainly don’t stress out over publishing every day any more.
Unplanned Offline Time
There are just times when I can’t get online. Bad weather, connection down, or my hunt for free WIFI fails. That doesn’t stop me from blogging.
I keep all my files on a small 5 gig portable hard drive including portable versions of NoteTab, Firefox, and other programs I’m dependent upon for my work. I can hook up to any computer anywhere and keep on working if I need to.
Without an Internet connection, my online research can’t go very far. So, I go through my ideas and start writing. I finish articles, come up with new ideas, clean up articles waiting for final edits, and prepare them for publishing – when I next get access to the Internet.
I go through my paperwork including files where I store notes and pages torn out of magazines I’ve found through my travels looking for new ideas and things to write about. I find my inspiration for blog material everywhere, so I’ve always got a huge list of things to sort through and turn into blog posts.
Sometimes I just rest and do something else, or catch upon other things in my life ignored by my long hours of work and travel. Downtime is time to catch up with my own life, too.
In general, though, I never stop working. I’m reading books, magazines, on the phone, writing, writing, editing, writing, editing, and writing some more. It’s my life. I love it, even when I’m not connected to the Internet, my life line to the world and my work.
Are you constantly connected? Or do you, too, have to work around online down time?
Update: Maybe I was asking for it. Maybe the planets just aligned perfectly for once. Who knows but this post, along with three weeks of other future posts, just published all in one day due to a glitch in WordPress.com. Again. Right as I am in the middle of a three day NOT WORKING vacation. Well, my apologies for this publishing ahead of schedule, and some day, I’ll get a real vacation.
Blog Struggles Article Series
- Blog Struggles: The Search for Blog Content
- Blog Struggles: Ideas and Drafts
- Blog Struggles: The Blog Focus
- Blog Struggles: Why Should Your Blog Have a Focus
- Blog Struggles: Finding Your Blog Focus
- Blog Struggles: Changing Your Blog’s Focus
- Blog Struggles: When Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation Interferes With Your Blogging
- Blog Struggles: When Are Too Many Comments Too Many Comments?
- Blog Struggles: Taking The Moral High Blogging Ground
- Blog Struggles: Blogger’s Depression
- Blog Struggles: It’s The Rituals That Help Us Focus
- Blog Struggles: Recovering From a Traffic Spike