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How to Deal When Your Favorite Application Goes Down

How to Deal When Your Favorite Application Goes Down

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    I use a lot of free online services every day, along with a few applications I downloaded from the web. There are a few that I really can’t get any work done without: all my email goes to Gmail, I use Scribefire to write each of my blog posts and I’m constantly using Twitter to do research. I particularly like web-based applications because I can switch computers without a problem.

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    Despite the benefits of using all these great applications, though, sometimes something goes wrong. Last week, for instance, ScribeFire 3.2 came out. I updated and got back to writing blog posts. When I went to publish, though, nothing happened. Something had broken with the update. The folks at ScribeFire got things fixed up in a hurry, releasing version 3.2.1, but it’s a good reminder to have a plan of action in place if you rely on an application that you have only minimal control over.

    Putting Together That Plan

    Sometimes you’ll try to access a service that normally works just fine — but there will be some sort of hiccup in the process. A hiccup doesn’t always mean that something has gone wrong with the service you’re using, though: there can be a problem at your end just as easily as there can be a passing problem. Assuming the issue doesn’t resolve itself immediately, it’s worth checking to see whether other people are having the same issue.

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    My initial plan has two parts. First, I visit DownForEveryoneOrJustMe.com. Just type in the site that you’re having problems with on the front page and you’ll get an immediate response on whether the site is up or down. It’s an extremely simple approach, useful as an initial check. My second stop is usually Twitter. Many Twitter users have gotten into the habit of posting about their problems with applications almost immediately. Visiting Search.Twitter.com and looking for a specific application name can give you a good idea of who’s having problems.

    In many cases, Twitter offers a much better over all view — especially if there is a problem with an application with a working website. For ScribeFire, for instance, DownForEveryoneOrJustMe.com didn’t really help me. ScribeFire.com was certainly still up with no problems, but when I checked Twitter, I could see quickly that other bloggers were seeing the same issue.

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    Getting A Solution

    Knowing what isn’t working doesn’t always help you that much. You may be okay with a site or service being down for a little while if you have a backup of your data on your own computer, but not too many of us are actually as good about backing up data as we ought to be. In most cases, though, not being able to access services that we’ve come to rely on can be a bit of a problem.

    I make a point of trying to find out if the service provider has made any sort of announcement before doing anything else. Depending on what kind of service we’re talking about, such an announcement could be on a blog, on Twitter, sent out in an email or even placed on someone’s personal website. More than few times, I’ve seen announcements that amount to, “Yes, we know the service is down. Please stop emailing us and let us focus on fixing it.” If I see something like that, I figure that I need to just try to switch to working without that particular service or application for the time being.

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    Other sites will share things that users can do, like installing a new plugin or using a different URL. Occasionally, you even run into websites that don’t even mention that there’s a problem with the service. When that’s the situation, I typically look for an email address that will let me connect to the help department or someone else that can update me on the situation.

    I’ve talked to some people who don’t feel that it’s appropriate to email a person or company that offers a free service, asking why that service isn’t working. The reasoning is that when we use free web applications and other tools, we run the risk of them not working. I strongly disagree. When I couldn’t find information about how to get ScribeFire back up and running, I fired off an email. I got a great response: within a day, I had a response including a link to the new upgrade. It has always been my experience that even if a service is free, you can get plenty of help from the service provider.

    Waiting Out Downtime

    When you rely on a service and you’re not interested in making the switch to another option — whether the question is expense, hassle or something else — sometimes the only real option is to wait out the downtime. Even if your most important documents or data is inaccessible because some website is down, there may not be anything you can do. Even contacting the site doesn’t always help — and a rude or angry email might do more harm than good.

    Downtime comes with putting a good portion of your work in the cloud. The only way to avoid it is to work only on programs installed on your own computer (and even then, it isn’t guaranteed). It’s worth having a side project that you can work on if a web application, online service or even the power that runs your computer goes down.

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    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

    So, what to do in free time?

    Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

    Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

    1. Reading Files

    Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

    Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

    2. Clear out Inbox

    Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

    If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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    3. Phone Calls

    Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

    Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

    4. Make Money

    This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

    If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

    5. File

    No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

    But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

    Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

    6. Network

    Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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    7. Clear out Feeds

    If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

    8. Goal Time

    Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

    If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

    Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

    9. Update Finances

    Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

    Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

    10. Brainstorm Ideas

    Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

    11. Clear off Desk

    Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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    Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

    12. Exercise

    Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

    13. Take a Walk

    This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

    It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

    14. Follow up

    Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

    When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

    15. Meditate

    You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

    Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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    16. Research

    This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

    If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

    17. Outline

    Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

    18. Get Prepped

    Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

    You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

    19. Be Early

    Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

    Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

    20. Log

    If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

    Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

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    Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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