On The Road: Gadget Patrol, Lessons Learned

I've done several kinds of travel -- primarily the personal type where you travel for months out of a backpack, and traveling to a specific place for a time period for business -- either training or to fix a problem at a client.

This, however, is a first for me -- traveling for business to a number of different places. I'm having to haul a fairly large amount of gear with me, and I wanted to write down my thoughts while they're fresh. This is not a general analysis of geeky travel stuff -- just a review of what I brought.

  • Swiss Gear Maxxum from Wenger: I really like it. I weighed it before heading for the airport and the pack and gear rang up at 30 pounds. It handles that weight with aplomb. I had to have a fairly heavy external hard drive shipped to me, and with that in the bag as well, it kind of crosses the line to "elephant on the back." Still, at smaller loads, it's extremely comfortable. It's really more of an urban thing than a hiking backpack - it's got so many pockets and dividers and other stuff that the damn thing weighs four pounds empty. Still, when it's full of laptops and hubs and electronic gear, you appreciate all those dividers. (It may be discontinued -- I couldn't find it on Wenger's site.)
  • Speck Toughskin for Video iPod: Love it. Has already protected my iPod from a number of bumps and drops. (I'm willing to forgive it not QUITE fitting exactly around the screen.)
  • Kensington Pico FM Transmitter: I'm not as crazy about the Pico. I borrowed K's for this trip because it's much smaller than my Monster RadioPlay 300. It's hard to be sure, since I don't have both with me -- but the Pico works MUCH more poorly in my rental car than my Monster does in my own car. (Too much static.) Plus, it is NOT compatible with the Toughskin -- doesn't fit. I ended up listening to the iPod with my earbuds -- only one of them at a time -- while driving.
  • Philips SHN2500: I've grown to dislike my Apple earbuds, (not because of sound quality, but because of comfort) and I wanted something noise canceling for the flight -- so I picked up these babies. Two thumbs DOWN. If I had four thumbs, it would get four thumbs down. The "noise reduction" I paid for seems to consist of adding white noise to the signal. No apparent reduction in outside noise at all -- and with them unplugged from the iPod and noise canceling turned on, you hear a strong hiss. With audio playing, you can still hear the hiss. With the noise canceling turned off, they're acceptable earbuds -- significantly more comfortable than the Apple ones.

Other travel-related lessons learned:

  • I need to learn how to pack withOUT getting my clothes all wrinkled. It was a lot easier when I was riding buses around and only carried one change of clothes with me. Since this is business, I need to look respectable - but as the trip progresses, I look increasingly homeless. If this goes another two weeks, I predict people will start giving me handouts.
  • Taking two laptops was stupid. No, that's not right. It was STUPID. (On the other hand, taking a full-size keyboard and mouse was brilliant. The keyboard, by the way, is the excellent Macally iKey. Say what you will about Microsoft's software, but their hardware is generally excellent. That's certainly true about the InteliMouse Explorer.)
  • Don't take so many books. It turns out I have considerably less energy in the evenings than I thought I would -- I tend to talk to K for a while, and then pass out.