Essential tech: What keeps one ZDNet writer on the road?

Essential tech: What keeps one ZDNet writer on the road?

Summary: Writing isn't just sitting at a desk waiting for the news to happen. It often requires a prepared bag of kit for travel to report at the source. Here's what Zack Whittaker keeps in his on-the-go bag.


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  • Microsoft Office 365 (BlackBerry Enterprise Server)

    The crown jewels of any reporter: access to secure, reliable email.

    Trouble is, while Google Apps has a steadier uptime and more reliable service overall, it has yet to support hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) unlike Microsoft's hosted Office 365 solution. BES keeps all emails secure, encrypted and almost immune from interception and decoding. When dealing with particularly sensitive topics, it adds an additional peace of mind in protecting the identity of sources.

  • Skype

    It's painful having a U.K. phone number when working for an U.S. company. Not only do some people still struggle at the hurdle of working out how to enter a U.K. phone number into a U.S. phone (even I struggle on landlines at times) it also costs a lot for others to ring and sometimes costs me to receive.

    The solution? A cloud-based phone exchange. Skype nails it perfectly.

    I have two public phone numbers: a London, U.K.-based phone number (+44 208) and a New York, U.S.-based phone number (+1 646) that allows anyone in the world to pick and choose an appropriate number to call me on. For the first five seconds, if I'm at one of my computers then I can pick up. If not, it forwards to my mobile number. Even when I am abroad, my friends can ring a local-rate number no matter which side of the Atlantic they're on and still get in touch. As for the cost? It's a lot cheaper than ringing me directly on my mobile -- and it's all goes on business expenses. 

  • Reeder

    From wire reports, RSS feeds, and Twitter feeds, all the news sites that I keep in tune with are all brought into one simple and easy-to-read pane on my screen. It uses a fraction of the data than other conventional RSS aggregators, and uses Readability which translates lengthy news articles into text that is extremely comfortable to read.

    It costs less than $5 -- but is not available on Windows, which for me isn't so much of a problem -- and connects to Google Reader, allowing you to import all of your feeds from the cloud. And when working with breaking news, it's only a couple of clicks away from tweeting or emailing news fresh off the wire: not only useful for the end-reader, but also crucial for getting snippets of news to editors for internal distribution to other writers. 

Topics: Smartphones, Apple, United Kingdom, BlackBerry, Outsourcing, Networking, Mobility, Laptops, Apps, PCs

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  • May I have your pounds

    Please? You look like you don't want them having them scatted around like that.
  • I believe your MacBook Air model qualifies but I could be mistaken, however

    now that Mountain Lion is available - and one of the enhancements to ML is AirPlay - I was wondering two things.

    1. Have you updated to ML?
    2. If you have, and IF that model is compatible with MacBook Air video transmissions to an HDTV set via AirPlay .. will you include that little "hockey puck" of an Apple hobby device called Apple TV in your travel bag, Zack?

    The reason I ask is it might come in handy to show a group of people "something" that is on your computer on a handy large screen HDTV set. With AirPlay and a WiFi source, that would be possible if you had that little "hockey puck" along with you.

    BTW, if you needed a local WiFi signal and a mobile file storage device "all in one", than the Seagate GoFlex Satellite mobile HD (500 GB) + WiFi transmitter is a device that I would recommend highly.

    You never know when you might have time to relax and watch a digital movie or two stored on that device or listen to a musical song from a VERY large mobile song library residing on that Seagate unit.

    Just a suggestion, Road Warrior.
    • PS - OS X 10.8 ML has a feature called "Power Nap".

      Power Nap should work on your MBA, Zack, because of it's SSD. Power Nap should give you some extra minutes of battery power per charge.
  • Website

    First you should have the next button both at the top and bottom of each page so we don't have to scroll up OR you could just put it all on a single page - God forbid we should not have to wait for all the ad's to load every time we go to the next item.

    just pretend the user is trying to get some content out of the piece.
  • Nameless pieces of kit

    "It uses a fraction of the data than other conventional RSS aggregators...It costs less than $'s only a couple of clicks away..." Wonderful! Mind telling us what "it" is? I tried opening the image in a new window to see its file name, but Googling for "q-reeder" didn't help me at all.
    • Seriously

      C'mon, I'm serious. I want to know what the program you intended to recommend in Image 20 is.
  • gee

    How to go on a trip for dummies book coming to a book store near you.
  • Nameless piece of kit

    What JohnQCooper said. :-)
  • Nameless piece of kit

    • Apologies, all: Let me explain

      Behind the scenes, we have a "Subtitle" box and a "Copy" box. I entered the name of the program -- which is called "Reeder" (for Mac, iOS) by the way -- but obviously it didn't show up. Sorry, all!