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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  • Apple USB Ethernet Adapter

    Hotel rooms rarely offer Wi-Fi. You're often left with a pokey Ethernet port and often a free cable on the desk in your room and expect to reach barely dial-up speeds as you attempt, often in vain, to file your copy.

    But the drawback to a MacBook Air is the lack of Ethernet support. You have to own a USB adapter or pay the steep price of uploading your work via a tethered phone. Your hotel room is your office away from the bureau, and when you're working on a shoestring budget you have to work with what you can. This little adapter goes with me everywhere -- just in case. 

  • BlackBerry Bold 9790

    My iPhone escapades on a February trip to New York and San Francisco was far from a fruitful endeavor; I ended up spending more than four-times on the cost of data (along with the cost of the iPhone itself) which left me almost $2,000 down in the space of a fortnight.

    Email is my primary motivation for keeping my BlackBerry, with data compression and a physical keyboard second and third. It churns through only a fraction of my monthly data tariff, and the mini-keyboard means my MacBook, which would normally be used to write emails, can stay in my bag conserving power. Above all else, phones are for talking with: I've never known call quality to be so good. Many callers thought I was permanently in a tunnel or a bathroom with the amount of echo my iPhone kicked off when I had it.

    Plus (see later) for encrypted emails, a BlackBerry is a must. You never know which government's are looking in, and when dealing with occasional matters of political importance, it's better to be safe (and paranoid) than not.

  • Micro-USB cable

    Sometimes the most important piece of kit doesn't have a screen, light up, play music, or connect to the Web. It's the bits in-between devices that keep everything ticking over. Without this tiny cable I wouldn't be able to connect my devices together.

    That's it. It doesn't need a song and dance about it because that's all it does -- but I would be lost without it. 

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!