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Take It Off!

Take It Off
by Gary Woods

One of the hottest topics around is free or cheap programs like Office Suites and Calendars that you can access online. The cool part is that you can tap into them wherever you have an Internet connection and share them with other people. But the downside is what do you do when you can't get an online connection and you want to keep working offline?

Lately we have seen some of the applications add an offline feature so you can keep working. Zimbra, a popular open source email application added an offline version called Zimbra Desktop back in March. And Mozilla announced that Firefox 3 will support caching to allow Web apps to work off line.

With anything this cool you knew Google couldn't be far behind so they came up with something called Gears. Put Google Reader together with Gears and you've got a program that allows for offline reading of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.

Other companies have begun to use the Google/Gears framework like Remember the Milk ( which allows you to create calendars, to do lists and text messages. With Gears you can manage all of this offline then synchronize it when you get to an online connection.

Offline support is the element that's been missing in making browser-based applications truly capable alternatives to desktop apps. This means that no matter where you are, you can keep working. The question then becomes, is that really good news?

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. You can hear Gary on the Radio at 1290 AM Monday 9-10 AM and he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc