IT Pros: What's In Your Bag? - InformationWeek

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6/18/2015
10:32 AM
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IT Pros: What's In Your Bag?

We'd love to see what you carry with you to get your job done -- and have you join the conversation about what works and what doesn't for mobile IT pros.

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We all carry them. They're the backpacks, messenger bags, and attaché cases into which we stuff the tools of our daily work lives.

IT professionals share all sorts of tips and tricks, but we rarely get into long conversations about the contents of our bags.

Some of this silence is due to thinking that no one cares about our bags. We think that's wrong. Some of the silence is due to thinking that our bags are personal -- that little enclosed space that is fully ours in an environment that includes things like cubicles, shared desks, and office hoteling. We think that's understandable and unfortunate.

It's unfortunate because many of us are forever searching for "The Perfect Bag," a magical container that will help us keep our stuff safe, organized, and available while also causing as little physical pain and fashion-based humiliation as possible. And that's why we're asking for the community's help.

We'd like to know about your daily IT professional bag. What kind of bag is it? And what do you put into it? We'd like to know -- and we'd like to show the rest of the InformationWeek community how their peers are making bags work. Let's show you a couple of examples of what we're talking about, taken from InformationWeek staffers ...

Editor's Bag (Take 1)
The first bag comes from Scott Ferguson, InformationWeek's director of audience development. Scott says:
'So the main item is the Lenovo ThinkPad T430, running Windows 7, which is my primary work laptop.
'There's also an iPhone 4S, which is for work and is primarily used as an email device and phone.
'I also carry a Samsung Galaxy S5, running Android 5.0 as a personal smartphone. There's a Kindle Paperwhite for reading books, and the umbrella, gum, and Advil for more practical purposes.
'The bag is from Columbia and serves both business and personal uses.'

(Image: Dave Harding for InformationWeek)

Editor's Bag (Take 1)

The first bag comes from Scott Ferguson, InformationWeek's director of audience development. Scott says:

"So the main item is the Lenovo ThinkPad T430, running Windows 7, which is my primary work laptop.

"There's also an iPhone 4S, which is for work and is primarily used as an email device and phone.

"I also carry a Samsung Galaxy S5, running Android 5.0 as a personal smartphone. There's a Kindle Paperwhite for reading books, and the umbrella, gum, and Advil for more practical purposes.

"The bag is from Columbia and serves both business and personal uses."

(Image: Dave Harding for InformationWeek)

And since I don't want to ask anyone to do something I wouldn't do ...

Editor's Bag, Take 2
This bag belongs to me, Curt Franklin, InformationWeek's executive editor for technical content. Even though I work from a home office, I'm on the road often, and I enjoy working from a local coffee shop even when I'm home.
My bag is an Osprey Stratos 36: It's big, but it carries whatever I put it in quite comfortably.
Below the bag, moving clockwise …
There's a Targus cooling laptop riser.
My 15' MacBook Pro Retina.
Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad.
A small blue cloth bag, made by a friend, that holds stevia packets, condiments, and bags of my favorite teas.
Sennheiser MB Pro 2 headset.
A small neoprene case that holds cables and wall warts.
An Anker 18,000 mAH battery for recharging phone and tablet.
An electrical tri-tap (so I can be a good citizen in the coffee shop or airport concourse).
A Nikon CoolPix P330 (because it takes camera RAW images that I can easily fix in post, as well as decent HD video).
An iPod Touch.
The power brick for my MacBook (in the round case).
Two carabiners (because you never know when one will come in handy).
A composition notebook.
An iPad in a case that looks like a composition notebook.

(Image: Curtis Franklin, Jr., for InformationWeek)

Editor's Bag, Take 2

This bag belongs to me, Curt Franklin, InformationWeek's executive editor for technical content. Even though I work from a home office, I'm on the road often, and I enjoy working from a local coffee shop even when I'm home.

My bag is an Osprey Stratos 36: It's big, but it carries whatever I put it in quite comfortably.

Below the bag, moving clockwise …

There's a Targus cooling laptop riser.

My 15" MacBook Pro Retina.

Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad.

A small blue cloth bag, made by a friend, that holds stevia packets, condiments, and bags of my favorite teas.

Sennheiser MB Pro 2 headset.

A small neoprene case that holds cables and wall warts.

An Anker 18,000 mAH battery for recharging phone and tablet.

An electrical tri-tap (so I can be a good citizen in the coffee shop or airport concourse).

A Nikon CoolPix P330 (because it takes camera RAW images that I can easily fix in post, as well as decent HD video).

An iPod Touch.

The power brick for my MacBook (in the round case).

Two carabiners (because you never know when one will come in handy).

A composition notebook.

An iPad in a case that looks like a composition notebook.

(Image: Curtis Franklin, Jr., for InformationWeek)

So how can you join us in sharing your daily bag with the rest of the InformationWeek community? There are a couple of ways: You can post a photo to Instagram with the hashtag #iwk_it_bag or head to Flickr and post a photo in the InformationWeek IT Pro Daily Bag group. In either case, we'd love to see what you carry with you to get your job done -- and have you join the conversation about what works, and what doesn't, for mobile IT pros.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/26/2015 | 11:36:57 AM
Re: Tech bag contents
Curt, 

Yes, I know exactly what you mean. For years I carried heavy bags, and heavy laptops. Getting my first iPad was the best investment I could do pro my back, shoulders, and neck, all of which lived in continuous tension. 

I found the iPad Air 2 came already with good upgrades from the iPad Air, including wight; every gram counts for me at this point. Multitasking with the iPad Air 3 is, indeed, what is going to make working with the iPad much better. And, as you say, in combination with the iPhone 6 Plus will be enough for doing what we do, leaving the Mac somehwere on top of a desk.

Now, my next step is to get the New MacBook. :) It's light enough to carry it around, and I love some of the new feautures, especially the trackpad. Another thing I like is that Apple has been adding more features from iOS to OS X. If Apple continues doing this it will be perfect. I like iOS a lot.

-Susan    
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
6/24/2015 | 4:09:39 PM
Re: Unique and bright
@kstaron, I love the idea of a unique bag made from remnants. I'm really enjoying my new Osprey, but watching the funereal procession of black bags come off of an airport carousel can lead me to long for just about any other color.

I often carry a water-proof yellow duffel bag (from my last trip to the UK) for my main checked bag on flights. Of course, if I'm carrying equipment it tends to ride in boring black Pelican cases, so that cancels out a lot of the benefit.

Sigh.
Curt Franklin
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50%
Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
6/24/2015 | 4:06:52 PM
Re: Tech bag contents
@Susan, the multi-tasking feature might be what finally gets me to upgrade my poor, old iPad for a shiny new iPad Air 3. There's an extent to which my MacBook Pro is a "security blanket" -- I know that I can do whatever I need to do when I have it in my bag. I pay for that security with aching shoulders by the end of a long day at a conference, though, and the combination of an iPad Air 3 and my new iPhone 6 Plus might just convince me to leave it in the hotel room.

We'll see...
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2015 | 11:40:30 AM
Unique and bright
When I need to be on the road and work (which is rarely) I have a messenger style laptop bag custom made for my five..wait six year old laptop made with upholstery remnants. I have velcro and elastic straps for my cables and headphones, and a smaller pocket for my phone and ID and such. The good thing for me is that it doesn't look like everyone else's bag and the colors are bright enough I should never ever forget it when I'm out.
Susan Fourtané
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50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/22/2015 | 2:16:34 PM
Re: Tech bag contents
Curt, What a great idea! I am writing this using the external keyboard and my iPhone 6 Plus as a test. For the London Technology Week I used my iPhone for all the pictures, interviews, and video recording, but I also had my iPad Air 2 for doing the writing. I did not think I could use the phone to continue writing while I was charging the iPad. Last year, also as an experiment, I travelled only with my iPad and iPhone to the south of France leaving my MacBookPro at home for the first time. I wrote all the articles for Future Cities taking the pictures with my iPhone, and doing the writing on the iPad. Since then, I have been using the iPad for doing more writing, especially when I am on the road, or set my office in a cafe. The iPad Air 3 is going to be great with the multitasking features. Susan .
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
6/22/2015 | 1:15:50 PM
Re: Tech bag contents
@Susan, thanks for sharing the things that you carry with you on a daily basis. I know that I "carry heavy", but I am an Eagle Scout, so "Be Prepared" is part of my thinking. Right now, I've added my watercolor box and pad (along with some pencils) to my kit since I was out this weekend and try to sketch when I can.

I've also got a much smaller backpack that I carry when I can go with only my iPad and external keyboard. It's lovely when I'm out for the day and know I won't be doing heavy editing or can cover a tradeshow with just the iPad.

On that note, I'm hoping to try a real experiment this Fall: I'm going to try to cover a day at a conference with only the external keyboard and my iPhone 6+. I think I can probably do it, but it will be interesting to see whether it proves out.

I know that I would look much more professional if I converted to a leather shoulder bag but I no longer care: My back now means more to me than the approval of the fashion police and carrying the load across both shoulders makes my back much happier. I'm entering the "old hippie" phase, I suppose: Today, my office wear includes shorts and the Teva sandals that give my feet such interesting tan lines!
Susan Fourtané
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50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/20/2015 | 10:02:42 AM
Tech bag contents
Curt, what a nice idea to share bag contents. I am one of those always looking for the perfect bag to carry all my tech stuff plus personal stuff without adding too much weight. I have always been looking for a sort of nice, stylish bag with compartments. I never found one. I don't carry backpacks anymore. They don't go well with my dresses and shoes. :D What I have done is creating my own compartments so I can keep things like adaptors, chargers, etc, in an organized way. I will post a picture as soon as I take it, so you can better see how I have done it. The bag I carry depends on what devices I am carrying. I have also recently gotten another bag for my iPad. I got it in Barcelana when I was there for MWC this year. So, in total, I have three different bags at the moment I use for carrying what I need when I, as you do, work from my "Daily Office," i.e. cafés, cool buildings like The Gherkin in London, etc. As for contents: MacBook Pro, iPad Air 2, iPhone 6 Plus (I got this to take the pictures, videos, record interviews presentations, etc. that I need for my articles, and it works really well), two, or three UK adaptors (one per device), chargers, cables, etc. my mobile WiFi little modem (to change to local SIM cards for Internet connection for all my devices), a composition notebook, another smaller composition notebook, Post Its, a couple of pens, and sometimes I also carry my own tea (which I thought it was weird until I read you do the same. You never know when you need your tea, don't you? :), earphones, earplugs, and lipgloss. -Susan
Curt Franklin
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50%
Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
6/19/2015 | 11:10:01 AM
Re: My bag and my van
@manassehkatz, your mini-van sounds a lot like my collection of Pelican cases. I have a small fleet of cases that I can load for different jobs and either throw in my truck, send via Fedex, or check ($$$) as extra luggage. I've got small cases labeled with tools and supplies for everything from audio production to video production to remote network setup -- I'm just glad I don't have to carry all of them with me every day!
manassehkatz
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50%
manassehkatz,
User Rank: Strategist
6/19/2015 | 10:24:19 AM
My bag and my van
My actual laptop bag is very simple - Dell laptop with charger, Logitech trackball, single-outlet surge protector, USB flash drive and notes for the customer I'm planning to visit (and/or the last one that I forgot to take out of the bag).

But really I have my whole minivan as my "bag". While I make most of my money off of software, I have enough hardware & cabling to do that typically my van includes:

One box with my most commonly used tools: multiple screwdrivers, wire cutters, wire strippers, needlenose pliers, telephone test set, tone generator/receiver, cable tester, LED flashlights, etc.

Plenty of extra ethernet and USB cables of various types & sizes.

Larger tools: fish tape, drills (both battery powered & wired), ladder (though that often ends up at home so that I have more room for passengers).

At least one box of Cat 5e cable, plus assorted jacks, faceplates, etc.

At least one each of: ethernet switch, mouse, keyboard, router, PCI network card.

And usually a whole bunch of other "stuff" that accumulates over time and gets cleared out at least once a year.

 
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