Backpack For several years now I've used a Targus backpack to haul around my portable office. A good bag, one that you can trust and has space for what you want to carry is absolutely key. For me, as you will see below, this means I want a lot of space, with large cavernous storage areas. I find my use of other bags (see the next section) helps organize these large spaces without the waste of the designers trying to guess what I want to carry and what shape it will be. For instance, even my favorite CityGear Chicago bag comes with a cell-phone pouch, how useless is this? Cells change shape so often I swear we'll have a boomerang shaped one yet. Let me worry about organization, the backpack is about portability and accessibility. Some small amount of small pockets are great for high access items like pens, pencils, etc but I'll organize the rest, thanks. Small Bags Ziploc Bags I love me some Zip-Lock Bags, these little creations are absolutely fantastic for organizing the internals of your backpack. Now, don't go overboard and turn into Monk or something, but these bags are great for organizing. I've had best luck with the Freezer bag variety because the plastic is tougher. Also, here's a hint : Punch small holes with a pencil in the sides of your bag. This will let things pack small easier as air can escape, and we're not looking to hold liquids in these anyway. Other Bags There are endless other bags you might be able to use. Go to your favorite online mega-retailer and search on Zipper Pouch or Zipper Bag and you'll find them. I prefer bags which are more than two sides gusseted together so that I can fit larger items into them. At Tech-Ed 2007 I was given a couple of these wonderful bags (pictured right) which originally were printed with a Windows Mobile logo which has mostly peeled off the non-pictured side. These slightly padded bags have been carrying my portable hard disks and video camera ever since, and I'd love to have more of them (4-6 more would do if anyone has a stack of these in their office, email me).
Phones AT&T Tilt I've carried an AT&T Tilt for nearly a year now as my primary personal phone. I truly love this phone, Windows Mobile 6, GPS, WiFi, full keyboard, 3 mega-pixel camera, and high speed networking is fabulous. I've been with AT&T for several years now. I was an AT&T Wireless customer, then I was a Cingular customer, now I'm an AT&T customer again so I've got a really good deal on a tethering plan for this unit as well which makes it Option 3 in my always connected plan. T-Mobile Dash I've just begun to carry a T-Mobile Dash as my work phone. It is replacing the 8700g (below) which I've carried for the last 2 years. While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the Tilt, it is running Windows Mobile, and so I can keep my mobile helpers on it as well. Blackberry 8700g My Blackberry that I've carried for many years is great for all the reasons that BBerries are great, and horrible for several other reasons. First and foremost, the thing refuses to power of nearly any scheme other than a true Blackberry charger. In my opinion, if I can't charge you off of a USB connection without special software installed, I'm not interested and that was the deal breaker for this otherwise great phone. Sprint Wireless Card I carry a Sprint Wireless Card as my primary mobile connectivity option (Option 2) in my backpack. I have nothing but gushing things to say about Sprint's network. As you can see from above, I commonly have had a chance to work with every network except Verizon for data, and Sprint is far and away the king. This wonderful ExpressCard slot item just works, and that is what I want from my technology. Wireless Router So about now someone has to be asking ... seriously? You carry a router? Heck yes! My Linksys Compact Wireless Router has solved a ton of problems for me in the past, and takes up so little space I often forget I've got it until I get desperate. When I land at a hotel room for a conference, I'll pay for internet for my room and then share it out via this little baby. It has also saved the day when visiting clients without wireless capability (NOTE : Ask about this folks, often they don't have it for good reason) or when I'm on personal trips to family. It has also saved the day at the first We Are Microsoft event when we overloaded the wireless capabilities of the sites router. I plugged in and took Team Sogeti and several other teams onto this unit to clear up some spots. Get one, you won't regret it. Network Cable Eons ago, when .NET was young and I was trying to learn it, I attended a ton of MSDN events. Inevitably you got a little bag of swag, and in one of those bags I got this little gem, a self-winding network cable. It lives in my backpack, comes out when the client doesn't have wireless and has saved the day many times.
So I assume many of those who read my blog are aware of Dallas TechFest and either attended, or thought about attending, last year. We're starting planning for this coming year, and so its time to find out what you, our patrons, would like to see more of at Dallas TechFest 2009? What went great? What needed more attention? What was a waste of time? Leave me a comment, and tell me what you would like to see.