So far, no one has made a horror movie called “Blue Screen… of Death” or “The Buffering”; nor has a bitter-sweet coming-of-age drama come out entitled “Intermittent Loss of Wi-Fi Connection”. But surely it’s only a matter of time. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with yourself when your phone signal disappears or you give up the struggle to sign into Eduroam. Many of the tool and services we’d discussed are only online, too. So what can we talk about this week?
First of all, imagine you’re sitting at your computer, and the internet disappears. Disaster!
If you’re using Google Chrome, you screen will look like this:
A little extra treat from Google is that you can turn this irritating dino-critter into a little game, simple by pressing space. Steer your thunder-lizard to safety by having him jump over dangerous-looking cacti and other obstacles. A simple way to kill a lot of time until your internet provider gets you back on line.
More radically, you may wish to consider stepping away from your desk altogether.
Despite the patent superiority of web-connected modern life over the dark old days of the caveman, or the 1980s, they are still some surprisingly useful tools out there that you can access.
“Or maybe there’s a desk shortage and you should let other people have a go anyway.”
We’ve made some classic suggestions below. Have a go at one of these, or tweak it to fit your own preferences. Why not reflect on it on your blog (once normal service has resumed)?
- Take a Walk. According to the NHS, walking is ‘simple, free, and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier’. Clearly there are knock-on advantages for your research, but you might also enjoy getting some fresh air or seeing the sights. If you’re on campus, a stroll up to the cathedral can freshen up the mind and give you some great views.
- Play a Game. These days, board games are no longer the preserve of wet caravan holidays or tense family Christmases. You can find innovative and challenging new games about everything from pandemics to pirates, werewolves to wordplay. Most of them involve more than one player, so you can enjoy the downtime together. Just remember to agree on the ‘Free Parking’ rules ahead of time. The RDP team at Surrey have a cupboard full of games you can borrow, and run Lunch & Board Game events every second Wednesday.
- Write a Letter. Yes, it still works, and not just at Christmas! Why not pick up a pen and surprise yourself. Maybe an elderly relative would like to hear about your latest research, or a friend could be cheered up with a no-real-reason letter about what you’ve been up to. It can be hard looking at the blank page, but there are some recognised benefits to getting on with the writing. Apart from the fact that you’re likely to get a letter in return, the value of the communication is perceived to be greater than by email or text. You might find it clears away some of the mental cobwebs, too, and helps you approach your research with new eyes.
- Bake a Cake. A classic and effective way to get a sense of accomplishment and cheer up some other people around you. A home-made cake is rarely wasted. Even if you’ve never baked before, be brave! At worst you’ll have a funny story to tell about a messy kitchen and a cracked tooth. Why not get inventive with your flavours, or aim for that dream creation, the cake that is delicious but also healthy? You’re also welcome to leave your recipe recommendations in the comments to this blog…
But don’t forget to let them know who made it…
- Use the Time to Plan. This might be the ideal time to sit back and reflect. But, for once, we’re not recommending you make yourself a GANTT chart or a Mind Map; we’re not even asking you for SMART goals. Instead, make the most of the fact that it is April Fools Day and devise some silly joke or prank you’re going to pull. We’d love to hear your ideas…