Surviving a conference without your laptop
Travel these days for me means this:
- I pack all my stuff, including laptop (for serious work), iPad (for non-serious work, optional), Kindle (for reading) in my somewhat-bulging Belkin travel bag (an old model probably closest to the Larchmont Messenger out of their current range).
- I go to the airport and hit security.
- I take everything out of my bag for scanning, put it back in, spend prescious mental RAM + ego keeping track of everything.
- I get to where I’m going and then spend the rest of the trip making sure I don’t lose any of my devices.
- I pack to leave, and triple-check everywhere to make sure I haven’t left anything behind.
- Going through security, I once again have to dismantle my stuff to have everything scanned.
- I have the Kindle app on my iPad, I can read everything on it
- I won’t need to crunch numbers, I’d just need to record talks
- I could always take a stylus for if I wanted to do something fancier
- While I dislike typing a lot on my iPad, having the keyboard would speed my typing up immensely
It went surprisingly - incredibly - well. Here’s what I ended up using:
- DayOne for all my note-taking during seminars. The chronological ordering meant I didn’t even need to bother with titling my notes, and I just made sure I put
#SAS2012in my note somewhere, and figured the new tagging features would sort it all out2.
- Notesy for the brief period where I was afraid DayOne would bomb on me due to syncing issues.
- Dropbox for all syncing requirements. This included my DayOne database (photos I took on my iPhone went into DayOne as a kind of poor-man’s backup), documentation for accommodation and flights, directions, etc. Marking files as favourites was a real life-saver here - it’s great having a quick reference point for all the stuff you know you’ll be needing.
- GoodReader for maps. I knew I’d be out of cellular data coverage, so before I went I print-to-PDFed travel directions between all the important landmarks I’d be visiting. Once they were synced in GoodReader I could call any of them up incredibly easily. I also put a couple of text files in here so I knew when I could catch trains to get to the airport in time on departure, etc.
- Kindle for reading at night. I ended up grabbing The Word for World is Forest while I was there, as I ended up chewing through The Last Policeman faster than I expected.
That kept me going for the whole week.
Did I miss my computer? Maybe once over the whole week, when I found an article about Slate for OS X and my fingers itched to spend an evening on completely productivity-free tinkering. But overall, I was impressed with how well the iPad (plus a few apps) stood up to sole use over the course of the event. It’s good enough that in future, I think this might be my default load-out for light travel.