Yesterday, just as I was closing in on a 12-noon deadline for submitting a proposal online, my Google-hosted e-mail slowed to a crawl. Normally that's not too much of a problem. But now I needed to download several faxes (in PDF) that I received from OneBox and RingCentral accounts and then upload them again. But opening the e-mails was taking minutes (yes, after clicking once, I'd stare at the "still working" message highlighted in a depressing yellow-orange at the top of the screen). The downloading of the PDF attachment would take forever, coming in bit-by-bit at 1.8 Kb/sec on my 3.0Mb DSL connection! With less than 20 minutes to go, I realized that my netbook some 10 minutes away in another office had my Gmail accounts hosted offline via Google Gears. After a mad dash through downtown Boston, I had 5 minutes to go. The netbook was in sleep mode and booted almost instantly... And yes, those attachments had been synchronized via the recently enabled "offline" setting. At 11:58 a.m. the proposal was submitted! At which point my superego and manager began its lecture about time management.
It is worth noting in the age of cloud computing that there are many different kinds of services available to synchronize web-based content offline. One of the more useful ones that I use to keep my netbook, notebook and different home and office computers on the same "page" is My DropBox. Window Live is available offline, Gears in cross-platform, Adobe AIR has several offline widgets for flash (including YouTube) and other content. Of course, there are plug ins and clipping services for many web browsers--particularly for FireFox--to allow offline access to saved web content.