The one gadget you don't carry, will be the one gadget you are going to need.

What can I say : i’m a digital pack rat. I seldom, well actually NEVER leave the house without some (or multiple) snippets of technology strapped to my person. This can vary from a fully fledged laptopbag with a ” full on ” notebook, to the absolute minimum of my cellphone, a Samsung Galaxy S in my back pocket. Every time we go out the door, I frantically scrounge around for my tech-appendages while pondering the ultimate question : Am I not forgetting anything ?

Because my cyber friends, you can rest assured : There is a solemn wisdom which has been proven over tine : The one gadget you DON’T carry , is the one gadget you WILL need. Complaints from my better half resounding ‘Are you SURE you need all that with you ? Do you HAVE to carry THAT around ? ” only form a slight majority to the statement ” you packed ALL THAT and you DON’T have X with you ? ”  It is the embodiment of the “gadget paradigm”.

Choosing the correct gadget before you leave is of course a delicate task. Many things need to be taken in to consideration , like for example WHERE are we going ( Visiting the in laws vs walking in the fields) how LONG are we going to be gone ? What CAN i carry around ? Is it SAFE to carry around my Macbook Pro between scores of over-glucose’d toddlers armed with crayons and giant magnets ?

The outcome of such an internal debate can swing both ways. On occasions I have become this over zealous tech-bag-lady, shlepping around ipads, cellphones, camera’s and enough gear to run a load balancing data center for Google, should the need arrive. In other cases I went for a discrete low-tech but horribly “underpowered” setup that left me unable to digitally function. This with the sad result that I was forced to read a crummy magazine in the doctors office instead of playing angry birds.

Luckily the evolution of more portable, yet more powerful devices like the Netbook and the Ipad, meant that the “techno-shlepper” inside me could at least pop some gear into a bag that did not scream “I’m a laptop bag : MUG ME” whenever i walked down the street. The social adoption of “the manbag” meant that my EEEpc netbook could be “whipped out” at any occasion, without arousing suspicion that i was a closet geek instead of a ” sharp dressed young man “. However : Compact devices implement “compact bags” And the latter are the protagonists of “little space to carry extra’s”

Thus the danger of ” not packing the one gadget you need ” rears its ugly head again. The solution ? Think smart !  I will elaborate.

Asses the situation. Before going out the door : Try to asses what technological mayhem might come your way. Are you going on a business trip where you need to survive 5 boring nights in a hotel room without porn ( I meant “roomservice”) or are you going on a romantic picknick with your girlfriend. Where the first situation might warrant the 17 inch laptop you’re cramming into your backpack, the latter situation is perhaps not an ideal place to ” whip it out ” and start compiling kernels.  ( An Ipad or a netbook would be the appropriate choice here)

Asses connectivity.  Lets say you DO pack the portable equivalent of your own Cray-supercomputer only to find that you lack a 2 foot Ethernet cable when arriving at your mobile destination ! That BUURRNS ! Without any doubt your internet depraved brains will have you convulsing with frustration in no time. So always make sure that you asses what kind of connectivity you NEED and what kind of connectivity you might find while venturing out. A 3g Dongle (or tethered smartphone) is good for those ‘out and about’ scenario’s, but sometimes 20 feet of Ethernet cable and a small 5 ports switch swung into the boot of your car might also save you on more then one occasion. Again : Don’t “over-pack” but make sure you don’t forget that small piece of Cable (or wifi adapter) that could mean the difference between watching streaming video or playing solitaire offline.

Asses the hazards. The one thing you don’t want to do is to slap down a 17 inch laptop on a coffee table during a toddler party. The chance that the strategically placed cups filled with lethal sodapop and the uncontrolled movements of the little hobbits could result in catastrophe is very real. Always take into account the ‘dangers’ for you and your gear before venturing out. From damp laptopbags due to heavy rain to “possible theft of beloved gadget” due to the inability to store your gear safely while on location .. its always a risk. If the risk of damaging or loosing your gear outweighs the absolute need to take them along .. leave them at home. Better to miss your Macbook air while it sits safely at home, then to have it in the hands of a laptop-thief. Also make sure you always pack your gear in a good, fitting bag (or carry case) with plenty of padding and protection. And make it discrete. Big laptop bags marked “DELL” are a simple target for thieves or muggers. Carry your gear in discrete style.  ( and strapping your phone to your belt is soooo 90’s).

Having those pointers in the back of your head will make you consciously asses the gear you’ll pack on your next outage. Be however very aware that you still might end up forgetting that one piece of kit you really need. But in those cases you are allowed to slip into “analogue mode” and “read a book” or even “talk to other people” for a change. We won’t hold it against you … 🙂 This time …

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