Posts Tagged ‘open source’

Checking emails while on holiday

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

We have recently returned from an extended holiday visiting family in New Zealand.  We had a great time, the weather was kind to us and New Zealand is always beautiful.

But to keep going I needed to be able to check emails, browse the web and potentially to update websites while we were away.  I can’t expect my clients to wait for weeks until I return, if their site is broken it needs to be fixed now.

I could have taken a laptop but I didn’t particularly want to be lugging hardware around the world, it was supposed to be a holiday not a business trip.  Also we were mostly staying with family who all have PCs but who didn’t necessarily have Wifi or even routers.  I could have used their PCs with webmail to check emails but they don’t have all the web development software I would need to fix any problems.

I found the answer in portable apps which gave me a whole host of applications which could be carried on a USB memory stick.  The applications are mostly open source  but as I use the same applications from day to day that didn’t bother me at all.

First of all I tried using the suite but I found that this didn’t necessarily include the latest versions of the software so I downloaded the applications I wanted separately instead.  I could fit far more than I needed, including loads of data, on my 8GB memory stick so I could take applications for any occasion.

To use the applications all you have to do is plug the USB stick into a USB port on a handy computer.  Usually the stick would autoplay and you would be offered a menu which included starting the portable apps application, otherwise you have to use explorer to find the program on the memory stick and double-click.  Then you can select which of the loaded applications you want to run.

It is important to test the applications (I had to reinstall one of them) and to set them up with your own data before you hit the road but this didn’t take too long.  I was able to set up Thunderbird with all our different email addresses so I could check all our emails on the road.  We use IMAP for all our various email addresses so all our emails past and present are accessible on whichever computer we happen to be using.

In the end nothing went wrong, I didn’t actually need to run a webserver, edit an image, edit a program or change a website but it was nice to know that I could do it if I needed to.

I should point out that you need a  Windows PC to run this application but most of the software (being open source) will run across a variety of platforms so you can take you familiar applications with you.  And they are working on a portable linux operating system! That would be very cool.  You can already get a portable version of Mac OS7.