My Electronics On The Road

Some people have e-mailed me asking just what I bring with me on the road when traveling.  

I bring a LOT of stuff.  In this post, We’ll talk electronics.  I love gadgets and I don’t like to leave them home.  I’ll attempt to not only list what I have with me, but try to justify why I bring all this crap with me.  There is a lot of stuff.  Some I keep in my workbox, some in an airline case I keep in my workbox and carry to the hotel in each city, and some I keep in my luggage or carry-on.  

  • I always have my MacBook Pro.  It’s a couple years old, but still runs like a charm.  It’s beat up, scratched, and keeps getting full.  I keep upgrading the hard drive, and keep taking more pictures, more video, and saving more stuff.  It currently has 3Gb of RAM, and a 250Gb hard drive.

  • A Nikon D90 DSLR with a couple lenses.  I take pictures.  Lots of them.

  • A 500Gb Western Digital MyBook** 3.5** External Hard Drive**.  It uses USB 2.0, and there’s nothing on this drive except a Time Machine backup.  I keep this drive in my workbox, and plug it in every night during the show to do it’s thing.

  • A 320Gb Maxtor 2.5 Portable Hard Drive that is two partitions, one for an Aperture Vault, and another is my iTunes backup.  My iTunes library is over 100Gb, so I don’t want to lose it.  I use **ChronoSync to do the backups, and this keeps all my album art, ratings, and tags intact.  Just copying the music to an external drive loses all the meta-data.  I highly recommend ChronoSync!

  • A 320Gb Western Digital 2.5 Portable Hard Drive**, again in two partitions.  This drive is another copy of my Aperture Vault, and a drive full of DVD’s I’ve ripped to MP4 files using HandBrake.  I have about 100 movies on the drive.  It saves me weight and space in my luggage, and I keep the original DVD’s safe at home.  (I also use ChronoSync to keep my portable movie drive synched with a desktop firewire drive at home.  Can you tell I’m a little anal about backing things up?)

  • A 250Gb Western Digital 2.5 Portable Hard Drive**.  Another one, you ask?  Yes.  This one is a weekly backup.  I clone my MacBook Pro hard drive once a week onto this drive using Carbon Copy Cloner.  This way, if something goes horribly wrong with my laptop’s drive, I can simply pop out the internal drive, and slide the external out of it’s case and into my Mac.  Instant recovery.  And the Time Machine daily backup should restore anything I’ve changed since the last clone.

  • An iPod Universal Dock with remote.  Simple. Charges, syncs, and plays music and video.  Apple remote works from across the room.  No Brainer.

  • A cheap CyberHome DVD recorder.  This is a lifesaver in the hotels.  It’s small (about the size of a chunky laptop) and has a built in TV tuner, built in RF Modulator, and RCA ins and outs.  My typical setup is to remove the cable from the back of the hotel TV and put it into the DVD recorder.  Out of the recorder into the TV.  I can run my iPod dock through the inputs, and see it on the TV.  I can also cheat the system a little.  It’s not widely known that the tuners in the TVs in hotels are the filters to keep out the pay-per-view movies.  If you bypass the TV’s tuner by using the DVD recorder’s tuner, you see ALL the channels.  And a bonus is, you can record whatever you want onto DVD-RW’s and watch it later.

  • A Logitech iPhone Alarm Clock.  Unplug the hotel’s clock immediately.  Plug this in to charge and play music, podcasts, and audiobooks in the room.

  • A Westinghouse 19 HDTV**, in my workbox.  I use it as a second monitor, a PS3 monitor, and a TV.

  • A Playstation 3.  I keep this in my workbox for my downtime.  A typical schedule is to arrive at the theatre at 6:30 PM to do presets, then sit around till 8 when the show starts.  There’s potentially a lot of downtime in my day.  Here’s why I bring the PS3:  First, it’s a great media server.  I can stream from my Mac, or all those external hard drives thru the PS3 and see movies and hear music thru the TV.   Second, Blu-Ray support.  I don’t have many Blu-Ray movies, but I rent them occasionally. And third, it’s obviously a great gaming machine.  Keeps me busy for that hour of nothing between preset and show.  Oh, and I have a couple Guitar Hero guitars in there for good measure.

  • A 16Gb iPhone 3G.  Daily use phone.  Standard fare white iPhone.

  • An old 8Gb iPhone EDGE.  This one is jailbroken and unlocked.  It’s mostly a movie machine for the planes so I don’t drain battery on my real phone.  I also installed PDANet on it, which allows me to use it as a wireless modem to my MacBook Pro when there’s no internet available.  Pop sim card out of real phone, into hacked phone.  Get online.  Switch sim cards back.  Unlimited data (slow, but steady) at the ready.

  • A 3rd generation 8Gb iPod Nano.  This little red guy is all about audio books.  I keep it full of spoken word only.  

  • A 4th generation 16Gb iPod Nano.  This green beauty is my gym machine.  Tons of music, and Nike+ Run keeps me motivated.  And I LOVE the Genius playlists.

  • A Oprah-sized pantload of memory cards, USB thumb drives, and card readers.

  • But, my new favorite on-the-road gadget is very utilitarian and kinda boring.  It’s the Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB.  This is one of those “it’s about time this thing is a thing” things.  It offers 3 surge protected outlets, and 2 USB charging outlets.  Brilliant.

  • It’s tough traveling with all this gear.  Remember, all this stuff takes power blocks, data cables, and sometimes cases.  It’s a lot to trek across the county, but I love this stuff, and it keeps me occupied out here on the off chance I get bored.  A lot of it is redundant, but I take too many pictures and videos to lose them to some idiot at the TSA or misguided airline employee.  Everything has 2 backups, and the backups never travel together.

  • While on the subject, take some time to devise a backup strategy of your own.  It’s not glamorous or fun, but you’ll be happy you have a backup when (yes, WHEN, not IF) you need it.

Next time, I’ll show you my workbox, and talk about some of that fun stuff.