In his email signature, Glenn Fleishman calls himself an unsolicited pundit — and he's not lying. He'll send you a five page screed on the latest Wi-Fi news, dropping unexpected science out of the ether, and every single time you'll come away smarter than you started. Fortunately, he doesn't limit his insight to email, instead writing for a variety of outlets including the Seattle Times and his own technology weblog, Wi-Fi Networking News. When we solicited him about his gadget bag, Glenn graciously provided in spades, even in the eve of the birth of his son. Thanks Glenn, and congratulations to you and your wife! After the first cut, may your son's life always be wireless.
Wireless. Sure. What a dream. I make most of my living writing about wireless technology, primarily Wi-Fi. So why is my traveling bag full of wires? Is it because Bluetooth turned out to be weaker and more confusing than planned? Is it because I have too much equipment that doesn't use standards? These are the questions I ask when I look at my regular traveling kit, and I have no good answers, just more wires.
I'm personally waiting for Nicola Tesla's wireless power to make an appearance. Or at least find Bluetooth and Wi-Fi at low power in everything I use: hard drives, iPods, headphones, and even Compact Flash drives.
The overview: This is a typical view (click photo for a larger version) of my attempts to get ready for a trip. I have a local bag (a generic padded computer case) at upper left, and a High Sierra "A.T. Gear Deluxe Wheeled Computer Case" that I bought from eBags.com for the road. I transfer items back and forth as needed, always being careful to leave at least one critical item behind that I don't discover until I'm at my destination.
The High Sierra case saves my back and shoulders. I searched high and low for a rolling case that was rigid enough to protect equipment, small enough to fit under the smallest middle seat of a plane or overhead bin, and that had an extendable handle. At trade shows and conferences, I wheel this puppy around and don't wind up with pulled muscles or even bruises as I formerly did. In combination with a rolling suitcase that I check, I can be completely wheeled as I travel.
My CPAP is not shown. I was diagnosed two years ago with sleep apnea, a condition in which you repeatedly stop breathing because of a collapse of soft tissue during sleep. It turned out that my snoring was because I stopped breathing as much as 30 to 40 times per hour. Sleep apnea is a serious, largely undiagnosed problem that occurs in people of all weights from slender to massively obese and is only sometimes indicated by snoring. It can lead to early heart attacks, as happened to one friend of mine, and will eventually degrade your overall health leading typically to early death. Surgery and "oral appliances" can sometimes help, but only with mild cases and the apnea typically returns eventually.
The CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) device weighs a few pounds: it's essentially a compressor with an extra humidifier unit and a nasal mask. I may look funny wearing it, but I've probably added 20 years to my life as a result. I have to use the CPAP every night to get a good night's sleep, but I sleep like the blessed instead the damned now.
As part of this public-service aside, if you know anyone or have a partner who is irritable during the day from lack of sleep, requires frequent naps, and snores or is restless all night, have them visit a sleep clinic. The clinic can send them home with an oxymeter-a device that measures the oxygenation of blood through an LED taped to your finger-which can help reveal whether apnea is a potential cause of these symptoms.
The stenographer's pad is still an essential item in my arsenal, even with the ability to record audio. Often, the notes I make help me as touchstones to find the part in a long discussion to which I need to refer back.
An Apple PowerBook 15-inch aluminum (Sept. 03 series) has been back to Apple once to fix the white spots and creaky hinge problem, but it's otherwise been a great workhorse. Because it has so much built in, it has reduced the number of cables and devices I bring with me.
From upper left to upper right:
• Sony mini-disc recorder, which produces incredibly high-quality sound on small discs that can store hours each. Useful for certain kinds of projects and interviews. I've gradually displaced it with another item in the kit.
• Belkin cigarette lighter charger with iPod sound output plugged into a stereo FM adapter.
• Kensington laptop lock. I have to sometimes walk away from my computer: Wi-Fi and liquids go hand in hand, as all road warriors know.
• The Mac video adapter to use VGA on the road, a critical item for projection at conferences. I've forgotten this one more times than I can remember.
• A 15 Gb third-generation iPod with the Belkin first-generation microphone adapter. This adapter allows you to record mono sound directly into a full-size Dock-containing iPod-up to hundreds of hours. This first-generation adapter has a built-in mike and speaker. The second-generation adapter, conveniently left at my office, has mike in and headphone out jacks, along with a mike gain switch for better results. I use a tiny mike barely the size of a plug to get great sound.
• An airplane power adapter, though I have yet to be seated in an airplane section that has the Empower socket installed.
• NSAIDs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. That is, extra-strength Tylenol (headaches) and ibuprofen (body aches).
• Trader Joe's Dry Roasted Edamame, a source of high-quality soy protein for the conference-goer who is confronted with an endless supply of bagels, cookies, pasta, and danishes. 14 grams of protein in a 1/4 cup serving with very little fat or carb.
• Extra Compact Flash Card.
• Phone cable with duplex adapter.
From lower right to lower left:
• Noise Buster Xtreme headphones. These reduce about 60 to 80 percent of the ambient noise, especially nice on long, loud plane rides. Plug in the iPod, and I can be aurally separated from my environment. But not children kicking my seat.
• The gray lozenge is a 256 Mb USB drive, the utility of which is so self-explanatory these days, I'm sorry I mentioned it.
• To its left is the Chrysalis Development WiFi Seeker, a small Wi-Fi detector that can sense nearby networks. To its lower left is the blockier, old-school WiFi Detector from Smart ID, which was my previous fave, and needs to leave my regular kit. (It detects all 2.4 GHz radio waves; the WiFi Seeker shows just Wi-Fi networks.)
• Retractable Ethernet cable. Forget the long, ungainly stuff. This item is the size of a box of playing cards and contains several feet of Ethernet goodness.
• A quarter-inch to component audio adapter: never know when you have to broadcast some sound.
• In the far lower left, is my Sony Ericsson T616 cell phone, the best cell phone I've ever used. The interface is still as wonky as previous versions, but it's Bluetooth capabilities and improved voice and antenna quality make it a potent weapon. Three of my officemates have the same phone.
• Below and around the T616 are a USB cable with a charger tip, and a car adapter for this phone model.
Not pictured: Of course, some cables are missing. The iPod dock-to-FireWire cable isn't shown, nor the USB cable to connect my digital camera to a computer for transferring photos.
The camera used to take this picture is a Canon S1 IS, a 3-megapixel device that has a 10x optical zoom, interchangeable lenses, and uses four AA batteries. Using 2200 milliamphere hour (mAh) batteries recently, I took 500 photos and movies over the course of a month before swapping out another set and recharging. The camera does 640 by 480, 30 frame per second mono-audio video up to the size of the memory card on top of its anti-jitter-motor photos.
Finally, I always carry a 12-foot extension cord with multiple plugs on the end, and the alternative two-prong adapter for my Apple power supply. You never know how many friends you have until you have extra outlets.
Read - Wi-Fi Networking News [WiFiNetNews]
What's In Your Gadget Bag, Xeni? [Gizmodo]
Battlefield Reporting: What's In Your Gadget Bag, Peter Maass? [Gizmodo]
What's In Your Gadget Bag, Anil? [Gizmodo]