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See What’s in My Non-#WWDC Bag

Posted in Access and Disability, New Media and Tech, Podcasting, and Random Personal Nonsense

My work bag and its contents.

I won’t be at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, or WWDC, this week like all the cool Mac kids. I make part of my living doing something other than reporting about Apple, so this is my lot. I’m not complaining, but it’s times like this when I am forcibly reminded how different my day, and often my relationship with technology, is from those developers, writers and podcasters whose bag packing lists I see online. Yes, I said bag packing lists. If you’re not familiar with this subgenre of tech journalism, you can see examples here, here and here. Anyway, the thing I notice about these bags is that they’re filled with the “right” tech, the newest tech, the presumably coolest tech. Even the bags are fancy! Real life, in my experience, is different. In fact, stretching the undoubted surplus of stuff I already have, is as much a source of pride as having the absolute newest would be. Look what I can do with all this old stuff!

Like my WWDC-covering friends, I do have a gear bag. It’s full of gadgets and tools I take to work with me, and things I need if I’ll be stopping for coffee, or podcasting on the way home. Let’s see what’s in there.

The Bag Itself

My workaday bag is a canvas thing I got from BarSmarts when I took their online course in spirits, cocktails, and bartending. It came with a very nice bar kit inside. Now it’s a combination purse and tech bag. After more than a year of daily use, it’s getting ragged, and I don’t like to carry a laptop in it If I’m walking my usual half-mile home from the bust stop, because there’s little padding. On the upside, it’s blessedly lightweight, and just the kind of jaunty, unpretentious thing I like.

To write this post, I removed my iPad (of which more later) from a like-new Dell laptop bag. It was on a table of swag at the radio station where I work today. (I picked up a shirt and some cups, too.) It’s lightweight, has lots of pockets, and swallows a 13-inch laptop easily. We’ll see if it takes over from the BarSmarts bag, or for the excellent Targus bag for which I paid $4 at a garage sale a couple of years ago. I love that bag, too.

The Apple Things and Their Sidekicks

  • Apple 13-inch late 2013 MacBook Pro: it’s just about the best computer I’ve ever owned, and I’ll make it last until Apple releases a better one. Ports, SD card slot, and speed that suffices for my needs. The 2015 model I’m assigned at work is like it’s identical twin on speed.

  • Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro: They don’t make this one anymore either. I bought it from my friend Allison Hartley when she wanted a new 10.5-inch Pro. Mine is just the right size physically, and there’s 256 Gb of storage, making it friendly for saving podcast recordings and watching movies. It’s the device I take to work meetings for notetaking and continuous communication via Slack with those who aren’t at the meeting. The Logitech keyboard case it came with actually fits on an airplane tray table.

  • Apple IPhone 8: Hey, they still make this! The day it arrived, it was the third best iPhone available. Proof that I’m not a total cheapskate – I splurged on a fancy leather wallet case from Sena and had my initials engraved on it. See? Conspicuous consumption! The case holds cards (ID and credit) and a $20 bill I stash there for emergencies.

  • Apple AirPods: These are wonderful, splendid things, and they even work decently on a plane. But mostly, I walk around my office with them in, so people don’t know whether I’m listening to them, or to a podcast.

  • Logitech Bluetooth mouse: I don’t use trackpads. I dislike them with a fiery intensity. To a great extent, this has to do with the fact that a trackpad is located in the wrong place for me to use it comfortably while cuddled up next to the laptop screen. Now, an external Magic Trackpad, that would be brilliant, and someday, I might get one.

Connecty Chargey Things

  • Retractable lightning cables: These are occasionally unreliable, and yet, I keep buying them. Still cheaper than what Apple provides, and shrinkable!

  • Innergie PocketCell battery: This little security blanket fits anywhere, and goes everywhere with me. I get twitchy if I’m not sure of a way to charge my phone at will. I secretly think gear bag documenters do so to get validation, or to show off for our friends. One time, I whipped the little Innergie out at dinner with Podfeet’s own Allison and Steve Sheridan and found that Allison carries one of these, too. I think we put our batteries on Instagram. As you do.

Podcasting and Radio Kit (temporary)

For the podcast after the WWDC keynote, I’ve got an Audio Technica ATR-2100 mic, a Tascam DR-100mkII digital recorder. and both mini-USB and XLR cables. If I haven’t left the station by showtime, I can post up in an unused conference room, connect the mic to the recorder, and dial into our podcast via Skype on my phone. I’m taking on more radio producing lately, and I’m thinking of switching out the ATR-2100 for my Rode NTG-3 shotgun mic, and keeping the audio gear in my bag on the regular, so I’ll be ready for anything.

Sight Helpers and other Ordinary Objects

It might surprise you, but it feels weird to me to admit carrying most of the following objects. I’m not ashamed of any of them, but it’s also not my style to admit I might need a specialized device to help me do what most take for granted.

  • White cane: It folds up, and unfolds at times when I feel insecure about my surroundings. Imagine that you are me, and you are walking happily down a familiar block in San Jose on your way to Dub Dub. Then you see and hear the sounds of construction. Perhaps you have the sense that there’s an enormous hole in the ground – somethwere around. Or maybe it’s an even more enormous earth moving machine –somewhere. Out comes friend cane to sweep the perimeter, searching for bumps, divets, or giant mounds of earth. In theory, it also alerts any passing builders of the next great parking garage that I am missing certain information about my surroundings, and that they should maybe not run me down. Most important of all, the cane, when unfolded, facilitates my ability to walk really, really fast.

  • Zeiss monocular: It’s a little telescope to you, necessary for reading signs and traffic signals. It has a case, and a strap for wearing around the neck. It’s expensive enough to impress people whose tech is all current-model, but old enough to be dull as dirt. One Macworld Expo, I did have to buy one in an emergency after I’d lost the old one. I traveled San Francisco without magnification until I found a store that had a new one. But that’s another story.

  • Eschenbach 10x foldable magnifier: What the monocular does for signs, this little guy does for smallish print of all kinds. And it collapses, just like my retractable cable, to save space. Handy in any situation where someone forces a piece of paper into my hand and says “read it!”

  • Reading glasses: I hardly ever use these, but I paid several hundred dollars for them, so why not?

  • Vuarnet sunglasses: These Vuarnets have PX5000 lenses, which I know because when I used to lose sunglasses, I needed to know how to reorder ones that were dark enough. Now the trouble is finding just the frames I like, with some side protection to keep the light out. Or don’t lose them, which is the easier course.

  • Hat: It’s summer, so the hat is purple. It’s a fashion thing, I guess but mainly it’s to keep the light out of my eyes when I’m traveling outdoors.

  • Noisy keyring: This ring of randomness has my house keys, and a spare fob for my husband’s car. I think I can unlock three bike locks we own, and a few we don’t.

  • Pen or pens: Because it is occasionally necessary to make primitive scratches upon paper.

  • Business cards: Let’s see, there are the radio ones, the ones that advertise my book, and the ones that announce I am available to write or podcast at the drop of a hat (whatever color you have.)

  • Comb: For the usual reason.

  • A wallet: My phone case is actually my wallet these days, but this one has…gasp…cash in it. I always feel as though I should have some cash on my person. The trouble is, this wallet my husband gave me 15 or more years ago is kind of enormous. And still, I carry it.

Perhaps I’ll write another post when I’m next invited to a conference. The things I carry on longer trips are no less “of a certain age” than the things in my day bag. And they suit me just fine.

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