Unsettled Conference “Kit”

For the past two conference I have attended, BrainShare 2014 and GusDay 2015, I have attended with my iPad as my “large” computing device. For BrainShare it was by necessity (my MacBook Pro wasn’t getting delivered until the Tuesday after I left) and for GusDay it was because of ease-of-carry (and being only a single-day conference, it wasn’t a huge deal).

One fun experiment has been to watch what others bring to these conference for their computing needs. Most people carry a smart phone with them and then it varies from individual to individual from that point forward. Some might have just a notebook and pen while others have a large laptop case with wheels, two laptops, and tablet … and a mini bar?

Both ends of that spectrum sound a little bit excessive to me but I still haven’t settled on my own “bag of tricks” when it comes to attending conferences.

I have a feeling this is partly because of my general “unsettled-ness” toward technology in general. If I am not trying to live off of an iPad away from work, I’m attempting to live within the confines of Linux or going all-in with Apple everywhere. Maybe I’m setting up a new file server at home to handle things or I’ve just thrown the towel in and setup a Time Capsule to handle backups.

Needless to say, this doesn’t make my decisions any easier when I have my brain actively fighting against me.

Couple that with the amount of time I spend every week with server operating systems and I get the feeling I should be switching to openSUSE so that I can get as close to “real” as possible even when I’m away from work. My brain is a mess when it comes to this.

Did I mention that I would like to get back into Ruby again along with learning Swift and iOS development? Well that doesn’t make any sense!

What I have decided is that I need to travel with a laptop with consistent VPN access. My iPad can get me by in a pinch, but when I need to dig into something even semi-technical, I need to be able to have a keyboard in front of me. I got caught in Salt Lake City needing to troubleshoot some file system corruption with only my iPad. While I was able to do it, I would have been able to do it faster (and better) with my laptop instead.

Yes, I sacrifice size in this instance, but it is worth the trade-off for the work that I do.

So, even though this will continue to be unsettled for a very long time, I have moved my 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display up into my “pack” the next time I go to a conference. There it will sit with my iPhone as the only two devices that I will need to bring with me to any conference. The iPad has moved into the nice to have category and will be brought along when it is warranted and I have space for it.

The wildcard in all of this is ebooks. The iPad is almost the perfect size for reading technical books and documentation. The Kindle and iPhone 6 are too small and a full laptop is awkward.

Maybe the iPad Air 2 is the answer for this, being smaller and lighter. It’s possible, but an expensive possible.

I don’t know … and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.