Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What-I-Carry-Wednesday: A Minimalist Mobile Office

One of the great parts about my job is that I can work from nearly anywhere. As you can imagine, this means I take my mobile office needs quite seriously. My ideal setup is:

  • Lightweight and easy to take along. I like to be available to help customers no matter where I am, which means that I'll often bring along my setup even if I'm not planning to do any work. Smaller is better.
  • Should be capable of doing heavy duty work. Sure, my G2's ssh terminal app could be considered a mobile office in and of itself, but I need a setup that can allow me to get serious programming done.
  • Should be worry free and easy to replace. The last thing I want to do is lose a major asset if a laptop gets dropped or left somewhere.
  • Be a gateway to the cloud. I've got various remote servers I can and do work off of, and all my documents live in Google Docs. Bottom line: as long as I've got a web connection, I'm good to go.

The second point is especially important, and I keep myself honest by using my mobile setup as my computer of choice over the weekend. While I wouldn't want to use this compact setup exclusively, it's good to know that it works for getting real work done.

OK, enough talk, here's what's in my kit:

  • Samsung N150 - it's lightweight, has great battery power and is dirt cheap to replace. With the RAM upgrade, hosts Chrome well and servers as an excellent cloud platform.
  • Etymotic Research headphones - headphones are absolutely key. With a little chill music playing, even the noisiest of environments can become a good workplace. From airplanes, bars, casinos, you name it - they can all be excellent places to work once the noise has been masked. I'm hardly an audiophile, but I've enjoyed Etymotic Researche's headphones enough to buy a second pair. I find them compact and comfortable. Tip: these days I plug the headphones into my cell phone and listen to Pandora there, rather than on my laptop. That takes a little load off the netbook, which is always a good thing..
  • USB cable - let's me charge my cell phone off my netbook. The N100 has a charging friendly USB port, so you can use it to charge a device even when the laptop is off.
  • USB wall adapter - let's me plug cell phone right into a wall without bothering to schelp out the laptop.
  • USB car adapter - haven't tried this yet, so I'm not sure how long it will remain in my little bag of goodies. However, whenever I travel my G2 totally gets run down and being able to charge it in the car should be a big win.
  • 3 prong to 2 prong adapter - The N100's AC adapter is small (and d'oh, not pictured above!), but it requires a 3 prong outlet. So far, this hasn't been a problem, but I've been carrying this orange 2 prong adapter to avoid a gotcha.
  • Audio splitter - this little gem allows two people (the wife and myself, typically) to be listening to the same laptop. Perfect for watching a movie on the plane, or in the hotel room with a sleeping baby. While not really an office essential, it's definitely an essential.
  • T-mobile USB Stick - this little do-dad gets me internet access anywhere I get cell signal (we're talking T-mobile here, so that's not exactly everywhere). It's been more than a lifesaver. On our most recent trip, I found cellular more reliable than the hotel's WiFi. In theory I could tether my G2 to my laptop, and avoid the extra piece of hardware. However, I frequently need to use my phone and laptop at the same time, so having multiple devices seems to work well.

Not shown: the AC adapter for the laptop.

The above may not be much, but for a programming, blogging and general web surfing system goes, it works.


  1. Don't ask me what kind of compulsion it is, but I seriously love reading these kind of posts. I'd follow a "What I Carry" blog that does nothing but ask people what they carry. :-)

  2. Thanks Luther -

    It sure is fun, isn't it? I know I've learned quite a bit from reading other posts like this.

    To feed your addiction, you definitely want to follow:


    And I'm sure there are many others.

  3. Oh, oh, oh. That Everyday Carry site is like crack for me. I've been pricing things on eBay and Amazon this evening. Thanks for pointing them out to me, although I halfway wish you hadn't.

  4. Luther -

    If you thought everday-carry was bad -- definitely don't check out -- you can kiss all your disposable income goodbye.