Yo, Human! No Internet? What?: Accessing Life with Adaptive Technology

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

The information hit me hard, almost not understandable. What did that service rep just say? No internet for almost two weeks? Really? I had her repeat the installation date again. Yup, no internet for two weeks. Wow.

We were moving into our new apartment in a couple of days, but, my face scrunched up trying to swallow the concept, no internet for two weeks. I even tried Googling "no internet," but only found people having trouble connecting to their internet service, which 'did' still exist. Ours however, I repeated it again so it would sink in, would not exist for two weeks. Uhg!

We are pretty much wire-cutter type people, we stream Netflix and other sites for our entertainment and news. We are not the type who have something going in the background all the time. My first thought was "I'm going to have lots of time for local projects, digitally speaking."

Since there would be no internet radio and we probably don't own an 'actual' radio , I pulled out my external media drive and copied hundreds of songs from my digital library over to the laptop. My external drive is old and noisy and takes up room on my desk. Hmm, this is sounding familiar. Anyway, moving them to the laptop works nicely.

I forget how easy this is in iTunes. From the Finder I browse through the folders full of songs and copy selections. Then command-tab to iTunes where the VO cursor is already in the correct playlist and paste the selections into the window. Then flip back to the Finder and copy some more. There, just over five hundred should get us through, favorites of my wife's and myself. From Madonna to Moody Blues, from Aretha to Zeppelin and everything in between. We would have to visit a classic and oldies rock internet station to hear these same favorites online.

What about my podcasts? We still have internet for another day or two, so I spent a bit of time online. I was looking for new releases and archives of my favorites to begin downloading. These include, but are not limited to :

AppleVis of course, to pick up any I haven't yet heard.

Maccessibility, always a good listen.

IAccessVO, another must listen.

The Mac Observer's Daily Observations, also check out the ACM and MacGeekGab podcasts. You can pretty much get any Apple news that actually matters at the TMO web site.

TED Radio Hour : NPR.
A journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, and new ways to think and create. Based on riveting TEDTalks from the world's most remarkable minds.

Star Talk Radio. Hosted by astrophysicist & and Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson. Where science, pop culture and comedy collide.

Another treat in iTunes, when browsing through my Podcasts lists I noticed many of the past episodes were already downloaded, some were ones I just downloaded again. I put the VO cursor on one that I still wanted and pressed 'Control-Option-Shift-M' to pop up the contextual menu. Then chose 'show in Finder'. This opened a folder full of past downloaded episodes, plus put me in the iTunes directories. I could copy and paste into the desktop folder where I am accumulating everything for off-line viewing. I ended up with over two hundred episodes this way. After listening, I delete the episodes by trashing the file in the Finder.

I normally use iTunes or the Podcasts app for listening to my podcasts. However, trying this without internet was becoming a battle with dismissing dialogs telling me repeatedly that I am not online. Rather than temporarily changing my settings for these apps, I decided to use one of my favorite media player apps, Quicktime Player. I find the podcast I want to enjoy in the Finder, press Control-Option-Shift-M, go down to the 'Open with' submenu, and choose Quicktime Player. I especially like the ability to fast forward or rewind in scrub mode, listening while I find my place. One can press the fast-forward and rewind buttons several times to cycle through different levels of speed. Press the Play/Pause button to stop and start the track.

Quicktime Player does much more than simply play media. It also allows for video, audio or even screen recordings. If you use a laptop, Quicktime uses the built in camera and mic easily. It uses the built in mic when recording the screen as well.

Another thing I wanted to download while we still had internet, some novel sized fiction reading. I searched for "novel book text fiction free download" and found many sites where complete stories were available. There were often several formats from which to choose. I went for the text versions, they take up less room and I can easily read through them with VoiceOver. These are entire stories, I have twenty five full novels downloaded, many of which I will eventually read. A couple of good sites are...

Baen Books free library. Mostly fiction on this link.

Free ebooks - Project Gutenberg, top 100 download lists.

I like the text versions, they open into TextEdit and I can use the 'Read All' command Control-Option-a, to read through them. I press Control by itself to pause or resume speaking. For a home-made bookmark I enter "****" on a line of it's own. Then use VO-f to start from there next time. I delete my special mark before continuing, then enter it again when needed.

Did I mention that I may have digital hoarder tendencies? I did not come anywhere near using all the media I had accumulated. We used the music library several times and still do, it's very nice to have a shuffled list of hundreds of songs to help break up the day.

I listened to about twenty of the podcasts, maybe I'll get to the others before they are obsolete. Maybe not.

I've read one of the novels and started another. Twenty-three to go. :-)

Oh well, I may have gone a bit overboard, but I found several additional ways to access the online world - offline. I guess in the long run, doing without internet wasn't as bad as I had imagined. With the business of moving into a new residence, adapting to a new environment and several ongoing projects on the digital burners, I barely had time to notice that there was no internet.

Life has a way of keeping things interesting. At our previous address, I had good internet but no cell service. Then we move. For two weeks, we have decent cell service but no internet. Never a dull moment! :-)

I know, it's true. All of our cool digital stuff that we work with, play with and enjoy, is all about "Living." Live well!

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Submitted by Eileen😷 on Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I always look forward to your posts. Thanks for another fun read.

Submitted by Ekaj on Tuesday, July 25, 2017

This is another great post. This actually sort of mirrors my experience first getting online. Not exactly but sort of. I was still living with my parents at the time, and there were some technical issues. I don't remember the specifics now since this was back in the mid-80's or something like that. What I do remember though, is that I was incredibly jealous of the rest of my family, most of whom had working Internet access and were using it nonstop. I also remember that the guy who was supposed to help get me online was rather slow in doing so due to family issues, but he knew what he was doing I guess. Suffice it to say, I don't know what I'd do without the Internet. It has made such a difference in my life, and the lives of countless others. Furthermore, all this cool adaptive technology has truly been a lifesaver. I could probably spend like all day and night talking about everything I've done online to date, but I don't have that kinda time right now. But what I will say is that Apple has really done a good job in terms of accessibility. Btw, thanks for the podcast links. I'm familiar with some of these, and have actually heard them. NPR is great, and I'll definitely check out the TED Radio Hour.

Submitted by Nicholas on Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hello Eileen,
You are very welcome! :-) Thank you for the great comment. I am glad you enjoy the posts. It is always good to hear though. :-)

Submitted by Nicholas on Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hello Ekaj,
Thanks for your great comments. I know what you mean, I remember the first public internet and my old 14k modem. Then get the ip address from the local computer store for a bulletin board system (BBS) that wasn't a long distance call. Ooo, 3k every couple of seconds, wow! Now a days I wouldn't be near as productive with out high speed.
Glad you enjoyed the post!

Submitted by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯 on Tuesday, July 25, 2017


We live out in the country and we just got wi-fi a few years ago out here.

Before that, we had dial-up. I can still mimic and remember the sounds of it. But then we took a road trip and came back home to find that Mother Nature had blew out our phone so we no longer had internet. Or really a phone for that matter because it blew the actual cordless phone too. And we didn't have internet for years after. Well, when I was in school, they just started putting wi-fi out here. And we live in the country and we cannot get cable out here because we live so far out. And we got our 1st wifi router! I loved it! I could finally get books from Bookshare whenever I wanted over the summer. Whereas before, I'd have my aide download books, and that'd have to get me through the summer.

Fast forward to a couple years ago. It was winter and creatures were trying to find a place to nest and stay warm. One of the places they believed was a good nesting spot, was... our phone boxes. It's great if you're a fury critter and you live outside, but not for a human whose phone boxes give you connectivity. Fury critters (mice) are attracted to the humming that emenates from the boxes so they crawl on in, and chew the rubber off the wiring inside. This has hafpened a few times. Well, I went to school that morning and had internet at home. Came home and had no internet! We spent a week or 2 at least without internet. That was very bad because I emailed all assignments to teachers homework and schoolwork. In short, I had to pass the memo on that the mice ate my homework. lol I'd check email every morning and afternoon before I went home. Luckily, we had state testing that week and as a result, I had extra time to check and get caught up on email and take care of some other things that I could do on the school network. I and my teachers were very happy when I got back online. Because everyone's inbox's were bombarded with emails from the night before with homework and that morning! Needless to say, we've had at least one modem blow from a thunderstorm.

You and I are so alike in the sense we try and download as many books, podcasts, etc that we can if we're not going to have access for x amount of time.

Submitted by Nicholas on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hello Dawn,
Thank you so much for sharing your adventure! It was no fun to live through I'm sure, but it sure makes a great story. The mice ate my homework. Love it! :-)
I have lived in 'country' type settings most of my life also. We've had problems with chipmunks and squirrels living under the cabin for the winter and chewing through our wires as well. I can relate.
Thank you again for sharing this wonderful comment. Really nice! :-)

Submitted by Will929 on Saturday, July 29, 2017

I live out in the country, and because of this didn't get Wifi until I was in the 10th grade of high school or so. We used to have Dial Up, and I'm telling you, it's a horrible experience. When we got wireless I was so happy, however it's still not the greatest. It's really slow, and streaming is not something I can do at home, so every time I'm out at my best friend's house, or over to my sisters (they have fast connections unlike us), I make a point to try to download as many things as I can that I can take home and enjoy. Nice blog post by the way.

Submitted by Nicholas on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hello Will929,

Thank you for the comment! I too remember dial-up all to well. Downloading to consume later seems to be making a come back lately, Netflix is allowing it for certain content as well. I am noticing more podcast sites allowing for it too.
I remember back in the day, we had to download stuff for hours, in the snow. Uphill, both ways. :-)
Ah for the good ole days. Thanks again for the comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Monday, July 31, 2017

.... and colleges. I work at a college, and I tell my low-income students who don't have internet at home to invest in an external drive. The ones that are less portable are much cheaper. They can use our fast internet to grab both entertainment and study resources and then access them offline at home. When I was unemployed, my hard drive and laptop spent a lot of quality time at the library downloading tutorials, podcasts, movies and books. I didn't pay for the internet then, but of course I do now because I have a secure job. However when my internet at home goes down, I know how to collect what I need using the free internet connection both at work and in the public library nearby.

Submitted by Nicholas on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hello Deborah,

Thank you for sharing this very good advice! I also use external drives, they are handy for large media files/collections. I have not been mobile much in the past, but I always hear of people having good experiences with wifi at the libraries.
Thank you for the reminder and for sharing your time. :-)

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Monday, August 28, 2017

I have a 3.5 tb external hard drive and a 9.99 gb folder full of Harry potter fan fiction. All this stuff, fan fiction, audiobooks, programs, and more, is backed up to dropbox but when ever the internet goes down; I am able to use my external hard drive to read, listen and play games on my laptop. I'm kind of a horder when it comes to stuff but hey! at least I'll have things to do if the internet goes down.

Submitted by Ekaj on Monday, August 28, 2017

Just last year I purchased a 1 terabyte MyPassport hard drive from Best Buy. It is a Western Digital drive and works very well. A tutor helped me transfer my entire iTunes library from Mac to drive, and that is also where I do my backups in Time Machine. I have not yet done anything else with the drive but I think that is still to come. My final comment here is that I found Best Buy's site to be very accessible with VoiceOver, including the customer-satisfaction survey which I received shortly after my drive arrived.