Worldwide users of Google Docs and Spreadsheets experienced almost an hour-long outage yesterday, further underscoring the need for quick backup plans when dealing with cloud-based applications (see Cloud computing's dark side examined).
While most users were annoyed to say the least, and some felt Google's "Try again in 30 seconds" message was cruel, the biggest antidote to such an outage actually comes from Google itself. By downloading a copy of Google Gears, Google Apps users can work--albeit with limited functionality--locally during an outage. For a good explanation of how that works, view jkOnTheRun's blog post here. As he says, Gears allows users to edit and save changes to documents, as well as view spreadsheets and presentations, all while disconnected from the cloud. Google also recently added PDF support. For more information or to download Gears, go here.