Hi there! It’s been a while, I know. Life has been pretty crazy the last few months. Don’t worry, I’m still here.
Fun fact: I applied to Google I/O this year and actually got in. So, of course, I am going (woo!) and bringing along a slightly different kit than I normally do to a conference. I’m here to take notes (and meet people) so my setup is a bit different than in years past. Some of my notes might even make it to this blog (I’ll probably post an event recap at the very least). After years of traveling and attending conferences, I think I have a kit that is pretty dialed in.
Bag: Timbuk2 Custom Backpack (model no longer sold)
This reliable bag was actually a gift from Timbuk2 (Giftcard from a User Research Study) that I got while living in the Bay Area. While it looks stock, I did choose custom panels (bright red) and a reflective center panel (because why not) when I had it made. It’s traveled across the country several times, which is a common theme for my Timbuk2 bags. It has a dedicated laptop pocket, two water bottle pockets, an interior organizer, and a built in bottle opener. I’ve used this bag so much the stitching was starting to fray on a shoulder strap- Timbuk2 fixed it free of charge. This bag allows me to cram a bunch of stuff in it while carrying it comfortably.
Writing Device: iPad Pro (9.7) with Keyboard and Apple Pencil
This is one of the big departures from my past kits. I’ve typically usually brought a laptop or Chromebook to take notes/blog at conferences but power is always an issue. It can be a hassle to find a plug and even if you do, you are stuck there while your device recharges. Apple finally released an iPad model with a physically connected keyboard (generally bluetooth keyboards to iPad is a lag fest) that works flawlessly. Not only is this a very compact setup, but I can also recharge from a battery pack on the go (I’m carrying 4 of them this year) so I don’t need to be tied down to an outlet. Additionally, I can handwrite or doodle using the Apple Pencil, which is (unsurprisingly) the best stylus I’ve ever used on an iPad. This inherent flexibility really gives a lot of options when it comes to notetaking. Live blogging is probably too difficult to really deal with but we will see this week. (Yes, I know you can draw on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 but you cannot charge on the go).
Phone: Apple iPhone 7 Plus
My daily driver is an iPhone (gasp) and I’m going to a Google conference. Oh boy. In all seriousness, I went back to iPhone from Android almost two years ago when I got an Apple Watch Series 0 as a gift. Before I went back, I was hunting for a phone that had a great and reliable camera but never found it on Android. Anyways, I never left the Apple ecosystem so coming back wasn’t difficult.
Other Phone: Samsung Galaxy S7
Surprise! I’m also bringing an Android phone to a Google conference. As part of my job (plus I’m a huge nerd) I want to be fluent in both major phone operating systems. Thanks to a great deal at T-Mobile, I was able to snag an S7 at a great price. This allows me to have a true “work phone” while also letting me test apps and UI side by side.
Cameras: Phones and Ricoh Theta S
Another huge change from my typical conference kit is I am leaving my DSLR at home. Size and weight is the main reason, followed shortly by most of the stuff I will be taking pictures of will be on slides that probably (?) will be shared. Both the iPhone and the S7 have very solid cameras which will help me document the talks. I’m also bringing my trusty Theta S on my Benro Monopod to capture some fun shots (and maybe even a session) in 360 degrees.
Head Mounted Camera: Snapchat Spectacles
The last fairly big change is the fact my Google Glass has basically become a museum piece. The camera sensor in it is going bad and combined with the lack of app support on both platforms, it’s been a struggle to use effectively. When I heard that I could order Snapchat’s Spectacles online, which is the closest thing to a replacement (kinda) right now, I jumped at the chance. It’s a very slick hardware setup and fairly easy to import 10 second clips via the Snapchat app. It’s not a “main” way of documenting stuff, but the POV video is a ton of fun!
Wearables: Fitbit Charge 2 and Apple Watch Series 0
Gotta get those steps! I’m rocking the updated version of the Charge for steps in my Fitbit world. On the other wrist is my Series 0 Apple Watch, which has effectively sidelined all of my mechanical watches for over the last year. Besides tracking activity to Apple’s activity app, I can get important notifications discreetly.
Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 35
This headphones are life changing. One of my new favorite pairs of headphones, these are an enhanced version of the QC25 with built in Bluetooth. They are completely wireless (unless you want to plug them in) and offer best in class noise cancellation. While sometimes you can argue the Bose brand name is just that, a brand name – these are different. They REALLY work well on the ANC front and sound nice and clean. Cannot recommend them enough. However, since I will be at a conference running around, I’m not sure if I will wear these during the day as they can be isolating (on purpose).
Earbuds: Apple AirPods
I wasn’t planning on buying these. I took my MBP in for service one day and these caught my eye on the way out of the store (yes, they were in stock). It was a total impulse buy as my Jaybird X2 have been giving me cartilage cramps after very short periods (I have weird ears). EarPods have always fit in my ears without issue, these are no different. The bluetooth on these is notably different from all other bluetooth headphones I’ve used with an iPhone- I can tell the difference the W1 chip makes. This trip will be the first time I use them for an extended period of time (due to me sidelining the QC35) so I look forward to seeing how they perform.
Gaming Device: Nintendo Switch
Well, I need to kill time in line (potentially) somehow, right? This console level system is portable, has two controllers by default, and I can play someone in Mario Kart 8 in line. I’m pretty stoked to see how this system performs on the road as I recently got it and haven’t had a ton of time to mess around with it. After slapping on an Anker screenguard, I did my research on a battery pack. The consensus was this model from Ravpower (which nicely comes with a few cables including USB-C to USB-C). This week I get to see how this battery pack holds up to the Switch’s power draining ways. Plus, I’m a gamer at heart so bringing some sort of gaming device was always in the cards.
Reading Device: Kindle Oasis
While I’m not quite sure of the shuttle situation yet, if I am in a place with no one to talk to, I did bring along my new Kindle. This is an upgraded from a 3rd generation Paperwhite, so I get a DPI boost as well as more LEDs for backlighting. The integrated battery cover is a really nice bonus. It’s truly featherweight in the hand – you almost need the cover so you don’t feel like you are going to bend/break it! A Kindle has been my go-to device for traveling for years now as you can always read a book no matter where you are.