Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Tech BOB

Of course I have a BOB (Bug Out Bag) which has been fully detailed in a number of posts, however I also have a separate bag, my Tech BOB, which I always have at the ready as well. While my BOB stands by until the time comes to evacuate post haste, my Tech BOB (more accurately Tech Bag) is used nearly every time I leave the house. Here is all of the technology I need, whether I am heading to the office, meeting clients at a coffee shop, bugging out, or just running errands and may have a bit of down time to get some work done. In other words, I never leave home without these items:
  • A netbook. Thank goodness computers have continued to shrink in size and increase in power. I have carried a laptop since about the time they were invented (back when they weighed as much as a sack of flour) and am more than thankful that a very small, lightweight netbook now can do the same things, and run the same software, that my full sized laptop (which I use as a desktop) can. I don't go anywhere without my netbook which has the same software as my main work computer and has the added bonus of being under a pound or so. Hooray for technology.

  • A cell phone. I carry a basic Nokia cell phone which can take grainy pictures and play MP3 music on it as well as receive FM radio. Yes people have been after me to get an iPhone or iTouch but this set up works fine since I rarely ever use my phone for entertainment purposes. My cell phone also allows me to access the internet (slowly!), do email, send a Twitter tweet, and pull up my contacts list.

  • A digital camera. I carry a Canon Powershot camera since I often take pictures in the course of my work. The camera is small, produces clear, clean pictures, and is simple to use.

  • A webcam. Now that digital camcorders have also shrunk considerably in size, I carry a Sony "webbie" camcorder. While I take many more photos than videos, the small size and usefulness of this item makes me create a space in my bag for it.

  • Accessories. Along with these items, I carry a handful of memory cards, three or four thumb drives (one has my backed up files on it, one I use for transferring files, and two I use to put files/photos/etc on to give to other people), and the requisite power cords.

  • Software. There are now some good, free software apps available (Open Office for example), however I have used MS Office Pro since it first came on the market so I stick with this known quantity. Other software I use includes: AVG anti-virus, Ad Aware ad blocker, Chikka to text people in Southeast Asia, Adobe to read PDFs, OmniFormat to create PDFs, WinZip to unzip files, Skype to make calls all over the world and do video conferencing, and Expression Web for when I want to take a stab at designing websites.

  • Things I don't have: a separate MP3 player since I very rarely listen to music and the 4meg card in my phone is more than adequate for my sparse collection of music; e-book reader since I am old fashioned and like to hold an actual book while I am reading (I am sure I will be dragged into the 21st century eventually but for now I will read e books on my netbook if necessary), any kind of portable gaming system (I think the last video game I played was the Atari game that you hooked up to your TV...yes it has been that long).

  • Things that I occasionally bring along: if I will be traveling, I toss my GPS into the bag, this is invaluable when traveling around a new city. I also carry an AC car power converter if I will be on the road a great deal so that I can charge my electronics while I am driving.

To contain all of these items, I use a small Timbuk2 bag which is generic enough (a Targus bag tells the world you are carrying electronic items), and tough enough (way more ruggedized than any other bag I have used) to safely and comfortably haul all of these items everywhere I go. It looks professional enough for a business meeting, is excellent to use as the smaller of your two carry on bags when traveling, and can be slung over your back and out of your way when riding a bike.

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