The Night’s Watch: How to stay entertained without electricity


The night is dark and full of terrors when Eskom turns the lights out, but you can still keep yourself busy with a little planning. Stuff watched the wall so you don’t have to.

Ready Player One

No matter what you’re planning to do when the power’s gone, it doesn’t make sense to sort it out after the fact. Snag Eskom Se Push (Free, Android, iOS) or another load-shedding tracker so you know when the blackout’s coming.

Then, when you’re on schedule, make sure all your devices are fully charged, your downloads are done, and all updates are installed before the darkness descends on you and yours. It never hurts to be overly prepared.

Take your tablets

Portrait of a happy mother and son playing on a digital tablet in bed and smiling under the covers

Grab yourself a tablet or smartphone, fire up Netflix and pop on over to the Available To Download option. Here you’ll find everything that can be viewed offline.

If Netflix made it, it’s here. There’s a wide selection of other bingeable content but not everything is licensed for offline viewing. You may have to watch some stuff when the WiFi’s working as it should. The horror…

Platform diving

You can download Netflix on a range of platforms – basically everything, from early Android devices (running Android 4.4.2), iOS devices (running iOS 9.0 or later), and even Amazon Fire devices (from Fire OS 4.0) if you’re the type to import your tablets.

Laptops are also an option – but you’ll need Windows 10 version 1607 or later, as well as the latest version of the Windows 10 Netflix app.

Get Smart

If you’re watching a series, make sure that your Netflix app has Smart Downloads enabled. It won’t matter when you’re not connected to WiFi but if you’ve completed an episode, Netflix will delete
it and download the next one in the series.

You may plough through everything you downloaded during a shedding episode but Netflix will sort you out for the next time without any further intervention.

Offline upskill: Podcasts are an amazing way to pass the time. You can use Spotify to access your faves but Google’s free Podcasts app (Free/Android and Web) is an excellent choice. If you’re a traditionalist download Stitcher (Free/iOS, Android).

Going down: In Google Podcasts, you just choose a podcast, select an episode and then tap on the arrow. Download a few more episodes and you’re set to shed. You’ll only need to pick one episode of Joe Rogan’s hugely popular but rather long-winded podcast.

Going off: If you find a playlist you like, you can download it for later use. And don’t worry about artists getting their dues – when your device goes online, the 386 times you played Achy Breaky Heart (Grime Rap Mix) will be correctly credited to its creator.

Make a plan: Spotify’s playlist function will start suggesting tracks as you add to your custom playlists. It’s the work of a few minutes to create Songs To Sit In The Dark To, and then a few more to download it so you can actually access it.

Nice one Ninty: Nintendo’s Switch console was a delight when it was first revealed and it’s even more so now. A powerful handheld gaming machine packed with quality games is the perfect way to spend the newly endarkened nights.

Feeling Indie: Check out some of the smaller games on Nintendo’s online store, especially on the weekends. That’s when sales tend to happen and there are some real gems available for almost nothing. Bastion and Transistor first.

Storage wars: Supplement the Switch’s storage with a microSD card. Crank it up to 128GB and be aware it still won’t be enough. But if you’re in the habit of buying online, there will always be something to play.

Stay on top: You’ll want to pair a power bank with any of these offline options. Watching video or streaming music, even without a functional internet connection, chews batteries quicker than if you’re browsing the internet. Even hungrier? That’d be gaming, son.

Full capacity: Opt for a power bank in the 15,000mAh to 20,000mAh range – if there’s more than one device in play then that’ll let you top up all of them. Also handy in case Eskom throws a hissy and doesn’t turn your power back on right away.


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