David J. Danto
Principal Consultant, Collaboration/ AV / Multimedia / Video / UC
Director of Emerging Technology†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance††
The Travelerís Toolbox Ė Part 2
ďWhat do you have in this thing?Ē is what colleagues often ask me when they attempt to lift up my flight carry-on bag (my ďpersonal itemĒ as it were.)† A few weeks ago I published a blog that listed a number of devices and tools that I keep with me when I travel.† I heard from many of you with comments and suggestions.† So, as promised, here are more of the items that Iíve found indispensable on the road.† (Again, Iíll provide links to each product.)
How smart is your phone?† As a real ďtechieĒ I have used what is now called a smart phone for nearly 20 years.† (Yes, theyíve been around that long Ė with things like WAP enabled browsing and camera accessories that had to be external.)† Nowadays I use an iPhone 5 for my communications.† Is it the best or smartest device available Ė no Ė but as opposed to all those years of using a weird or unique device I can now get a spare charger or case at any convenience store in any city I happen to be in.† †One major downside of the iPhone though is it has very poor battery life.† It usually doesnít last the day for a heavy user.† I have found the best accessory to resolve this is a case with an additional battery built in.† After trying many, Iíve found the best one to be this one made by Lenmar.† It more than doubles the life of my iPhone, and in addition, it allows you to charge and sync the phone while the case is still on (which is a critical difference as many cases donít let you pass-through the data.)† It also lets you use a standard micro USB connector for charging / docking instead of the odd and expensive Apple Lightning connector Ė and finally that micro USB is built well - as opposed to many of the available battery cases where it breaks or stops working in a few months.
As a consultant that helps architect complex Unified Communications and Visual Collaboration systems I usually have to have a fully functioning notebook PC with me when I visit clients.† I certainly donít travel out of state without one.† But when I donít want to have to unpackÖand boot-upÖand find power I prefer to use something smaller to be productive.† I have two alternatives.† The first is an iPad.† It is a terrible device for composing PowerPoint presentations or drafting designs, but when all I have to do is read and respond to emails, browse the web and take notes it is fantastic.† Forget typing on the screen though Ė Apple has never got the key spacing correct so sentencesbhavebBsorNsbinsteadnofnspacesballnthebtime. To solve that problem and make the tablet a fantastic device for taking notes I use one of these Logitech combo ultra-slim cover and keyboards.† It replaces lousy covers, has a slot that the iPad can stand up in, and lets me touch-type almost without looking.† Itís an absolute necessity if you want to make the iPad a productive tool in meetings.
Sometimes though I do need to compose PowerPoint presentations or draft designs, and still donít want to have to unpack or drag around my full PC Ė like when I know Iím going to be mobile for almost the whole day; or when Iím going to be on an airplane sitting in coach for five hours and may not even have the room to open my notebook.† What I carry for these situations is a combination tablet / netbook that runs a full Windows operating system.† The Asus Transformer Book T100 is the device I chose.† Itís similar to the Microsoft Surface device, but better in a number of ways.† To begin with itís far less expensive.† It also comes with a hard, real keyboard cover that doubles as a dock Ė making the tablet take-on the form of a small PC and adding a full USB port for accessories.† Truthfully, I find the entire Windows 8 operating system to be a huge failure in too many ways to document here (and have decided to skip it, with Windows 7 on most of my devices.)† Unfortunately, because it uses Windows 8 and because this is a tablet masquerading as a PC It usually needs to be booted / rebooted a couple of times for everything to wake-up right.† When it does though itís a very powerful little device.† On one recent flight from EWR to SFO I completed two long PowerPoint presentations with no compromises in how I put them together Ė using screen caps, cut and paste, etc.† For a few hundred bucks I highly recommend adding this little gem to your toolbox.†
An experienced traveler knows that the small storage on both of those devices limits their usefulness.† I address this with other accessories.† †For the iPad I carry a Kingston Wi-Drive.† It loads like a USB disk from any PC.† To access it from the iPad you install a free Kingston program from the appstore and connect to it like a Wi-Fi hotspot. ††If I donít need to work on my flight I have a library of movies to access while other travelers are stuck with what theyíve been able to fit on a tablet.† While the Wi-Drive can also be used just as a USB disk, I also carry a 2TB My Passport Ultra from WD to maintain my Mr. Overkill status.† Before I go on any trip I make sure my critical document folders from my home network and main PC are all synced with this little guy.† Do you know that awful feeling you get when youíre on a trip and you need a document or presentation that you donít have with you?† I donít.† I always have everything with me (and sync it back up when I get back home.† I use a great little shareware app called FolderMatch which has never let me down.) †
To listen to those movies I mentioned above Ė or anything else on a flight Ė I use good quality active noise cancellation headphones.† I must admit I chuckle when I watch fellow travelers unpack their ridiculously expensive Bose Quiet-Comfort headphones from their ridiculously large custom cases.† Who has the room for a case that big in a well-equipped carry-on bag (not to mention what the over the head band can do to your hair after six hours.)† Instead, I use Sonyís in-ear noise reduction headsets.† My current model is the MDR-NC300D.† Sony updates their in-ear version every couple of years, and new models are not always as good as old ones (for features, bass response, etc.)† The NC300 is a good one and still available from a few sources.
People have asked me how much it costs to connect all of my devices to the internet when I travel.† I do pay for an unlimited data plan on my iPhone (grandfathered from the days when AT&T still offered one) but I donít pay for data on any of my other devices.† Instead, when there isnít a reliable public/hotel/client Wi-Fi hotspot to use I pull out my Sprint MiFi mobile hotspot.† Now this isnít a perfect device by any stretch of the imagination Ė battery life isnít great, connections arenít usually very fast, and it runs hot.† However paying one monthly fee of about $50 is much better than paying for data service on all my other devices.† It also serves as a back-up if a hotelís Wi-Fi is flaky or a clientís is unavailable.† Itís probably not important which telco carrier you get your mobile hotspot from, but do select a different provider than the one you use for your mobile phone.† The diversity helps ensure you have some service everywhere.† †††
To tie up some loose-ends from the last list, here are a couple if items I mentioned but didnít detail.† If you wear eyeglasses like I do then get one of these kits.† It lets you forget about finding the right screw and perform a quick fix.† At less than $5 itís more than a lifesaver the once in a decade I need it.† If you need to travel with lots of electronics, hereís a great, compact multi-outlet strip that is perfect for travel (although to be honest, I use versions of it that manufacturers like Lenovo or Cisco have given away for free at industry conferences.)† †††
Please let me know if you find these tips useful and/or if you have any of your own.† Iíll keep putting them together for future blogs.
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This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. David has over three decades of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He now works with Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCAís Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at David.Danto@Dimensiondata.com or DDanto@imcca.org and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at Danto.info.† Please reach-out to David if you would like to discuss how he can help your organization solve problems or develop a future-proof collaboration strategy.
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