(photo credit: )
The stubbed toe. The smashed thumb. The splinter that just wouldn't go away. Excuse me while I wax nostalgic for Succot celebrations past.
Of course, we all love Succot - the decorations, the back-to-nature eating/sleeping outdoors thing. And don't forget the priceless smiles on the kids' faces when they walk into the fully loaded structure on the first night of the holiday. Why oh why must Succot come but once a year?
Because someone has to build the succa in order for the party to start - a nearly impossible task for unhandy folks like me even once a year.
It's a good thing that Succot is just seven days - any longer and my succa might just fall atop the heads of those dwelling within. Just in case, I always make sure to invite friends who are personal injury attorneys for the first days of the holiday, when I'm reasonably sure my structure will remain in place, rather than at the end of the week.
Well, this year I decided I'd outsmart that crowd; I checked the Internet, and managed to dig up some excellent construction plans (http://www.chelm.org/jewish/chags/sukkot/build.html), that took me through my building adventure step by step, until I had a beautiful, lawsuit proof succa! Only one problem, though: I had to keep moving my laptop into range of a wireless network, which I "borrowed" from a nearby home as I clicked back and forth on plans and pictures. Very time consuming! How much easier would it have been to have access to all the pages I needed offline - i.e., working directly from my laptop?
There are, of course, several programs I could have used to do this, of a type called Web site capture programs. These programs will download full copies of Web sites - all the pages on a site, including text, pictures, and even links to a specified "depth" (a two link depth, for example, would garner links from the main page to another site or to a linked page on the site, plus one link on from those pages). In theory, that sounded like a good option. But I've never had luck with these capture programs, with most of them either failing to live up to their promised functions, or otherwise being way too complicated to set up.
But fortunately, I was able to find a capture program that did the job quickly, easily and elegantly: Webaroo (http://www.webaroo.com). Webaroo is a free Web site download program, it's true - but it's much more too.
First of all, there's the ease of use thing; Webaroo makes downloading whole sites and links (up to five deep) as simple as pie. Basically, you just install it, type in a URL, specify the number of links you want, and the program does the rest.
It's intuitive, too; whereas other site downloading programs have their own program interfaces, Webaroo works from within your Web browser, as a tab or a separate window. Downloaded sites can include almost anything embedded on a Web page - slideshows, video, etc. (You can exclude any of these items as well). Webaroo will automatically copy your bookmarks or favorites to its update list; you can download them with a click. And most importantly, Webaroo provides a browser based search box to find specific information on your downloaded site; it's like having an online Google search offline. What about when a downloaded site is updated or changed? No problem - you can schedule updates to sites for whenever you want, or have them download automatically at intervals when you will be connected to the Internet.
But forget individual Web sites. How would you like to have a full online dictionary/thesaurus of the English language on your laptop - while you're offline? How about automatic daily updating of the latest news about the Middle East? What about a full copy of the online Wikipedia - 4 and a half gigs of information about anything and everything automatically delivered to your computer and updated daily? Webaroo can do that!
The program's Web Packs are preassembled with information on all manner of subjects, such as news headlines from Europe or the US, news about your favorite teams (baseball and football, American and European too), city guides for tourist and business spots around the world, and the aforementioned Wikipedia (the whole thing, or individual chunks, such as Wikipedia's Judaism related entries). And, you can load your Webaroo content onto a Microsoft Windows CE smart device (PDA or cell phone).
With Webaroo, building a succa in the backyard - or in the middle of nowhere, far away from the neighbor boy's wireless network, will never be a problem again. Just to be sure I'm covered, though, along with the succa setup site, I downloaded a site dedicated to first aid treatments for first aid injuries (http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/injury.html). Webaroo can make sure I'm prepared for my succa building jaunt, but it can't stop me from being a klutz!