Getting offline – the good old-fashioned way

offline no wireless symbolI keep thinking about what life was like before the Internet. I know, it’s hard to imagine — especially as I’m writing this (and you’re reading this) online.

The Web has so completely altered how we do things, how we think about things, and what we think about, it’s very difficult to remember what it was like before.

But there was a time before the Internet. I can remember it, however faintly. And I remember how quiet my weekends used to be, when I would spend hours just reading, studying books I had, instead of surfing around online.

I feel very ambivalent about this, to be honest. I do love all the expanded access to research and interesting information that the Web makes possible. At the same time, though, it’s so full of distractions, that I’ve missed a lot of insights about much of the information out there, because something (literally) shinier has popped up in my view before I could digest what I was reading.  Online advertising has not done us a whole lot of good, in that respect. And I think that fragmented, flashy way of hijacking our attention is a seriously Bad Thing.

Especially for people like me.

Interestingly, my electronic life has taken a new turn. A few months back, I bought a new-to-me computer for an amazing prize. A new version costs over $3,000, but I got mine (used) for just a little over $300. Score! Yes, it was refurbished, and yes, there were some “dings”. But it works great. It’s fast and powerful and has a huge amount of disk space, so I’ve been able to transfer all my various files in all my various external hard drives to a single place. That, in itself, is progress, because I have a lot of files, and I need to be able to find  them without sifting through a bunch of different drives.

The only thing is, the PC doesn’t have a wireless card. And it’s on the other side of the house from my router with the wired connection. So, I can’t get online, unless I lug it downstairs and plug it in.

At first, I was pretty upset. I spend a lot of time online, and I need access for a lot of stuff I do. On the other hand, I’ve been increasingly worried about the effects that online life is having on my state of mind, as well as my body. I spend way too much time sitting in front of of social media, clicking links and entertaining myself, when I should really be doing something productive. I can’t even count all the hours I’ve lost to Facebook,  Twitter, and other social media. Even Google News tends to be a time-eater for me.

I’ve been wanting to get away from online life for some time. The thing is, I do a lot of my writing while online (especially here), researching and following leads. That puts me at risk for “squirrel!” syndrome — where I can easily be pulled in by the shiny-flashy lure of some clickbait headline or link. It doesn’t take much, at times, to pull me off-course, and that’s been happening, now, for years.

So much so that many things I’ve intended to do have fallen by the wayside. Because I just got distracted.

That’s about to change. Because my new computer isn’t connected to the internet. Not only am I protected from the prying eyes of people who may mean me harm online, but I’m also shielded from the constant distractions of online life. I’ve been needing to make this change — revert back to my old ways of writing, when it was just me, my ideas, and a keyboard (and yes, I used to use a typewriter, back in the day). Clear out the clutter — the uninvited intrusions that suck away my most precious possession : time, as though they’re entitled to it.

Screw all that. Screw them. They’re not invited. I want my space back, I want my thoughts back. I’ll still be able to write things like this without being online. I’ll still be able to draft these posts and the transfer them to another computer that is connected. I just won’t be constantly distracted by other stuff that has no place in my life and shouldn’t even come anywhere near me.

As much as I love the web and all the connections it gives me, there’s a time to say “enough is enough”.

I’m saying that now and doing the right thing. It was an accident… completely unintentional. But my unconnected computer is totally for the best.

Totally.

Onward.

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A new – faster – browser

vivaldiI don’t generally promote products, but I’m making a big exception for something that actually makes the world a better place.

I just downloaded the new Vivaldi browser, and it’s very slick. I’m a die-hard Firefox user (Chrome uses up too many of my system resources – if I have more than one tab open, it slows my system noticeably), but Vivaldi “feels” much more streamlined and responsive. I really like it.

It looks like a hybrid between Chrome and Opera (I was a diehard Opera fan for many years, but it was considerably slower and clunkier than my both FF and Chrome (even more than IE, which is saying volumes), and I could only use it for certain things. I used it “on the side” to access sites that I visited infrequently — I stored all my passwords on it, so I wouldn’t have to remember all the logins, and I used it about once a month.

Vivaldi reminds me a little bit of Opera — for good reason, since the creator(s) were once author(s) of Opera. V has the same feel that O once did, and that’s a good thing, since O’s interactions used to be simply awesome.

V also reminds me a bit of Chome, and that’s because it’s built on Chromium and has an interface that can be customized to be very Chrome-like. If you’re not a tech person, it’s not going to mean anything, but the fact that they got away from the Opera approach (which used to be great – the first version of their browser could fit on a 3-1/2″ floppy disk, which was a marvel, back in the day)… that actually bodes well for it, because Opera went off in a direction that clearly stopped working, years ago.

I’ve had increasing problems with Firefox being slow and clunky. It could be due to the handful of extensions I have installed, but I can’t do without those, so I figured I was stuck.

That could be the same thing that happens, if I should ever install Vivaldi extensions, but the solution may be to keep my gussied-up FF along with a lean-n-mean Vivaldi, and use each for what it’s good for.

It’s a fantastic browser, built by people who specialize in browsers — not coders who were hired by a browser company. There’s a difference, just for the record.

You can get Vivaldi here: https://download.vivaldi.com/stable/Vivaldi.1.0.435.42.exe