Feb 15, 2010
Many people ask how I spend most of my year on the road, and what I bring along. The how is a different story. It’s tough, leaving friends in New York for long periods, and leaving my home that I love. But, work is work, and you gotta go where the work takes you!
As far as the “What do you bring” question, the picture above is of my current setup in my standard corporate apartment in beautiful Burbank, CA. I’m currently working on Don’t Sweat It for HGTV, for which I am the co-host on camera and the construction supervisor off-camera. That means I do most of the project planning, a lot of the shopping, and write the basic instructions that get posted on HGTV.com. Let’s go through the rundown…; (full disclosure: many of the links below are Amazon Affiliate links. If you buy anything from these links, I’ll get a kickback, er… commission.)
- iPhone Dock. Never leave home without at least 3 chargers for the non-replaceable-battery iPhone. And it sync’s. Have a charger for the desk, the car, and the bedside. (Not pictured is my Logitech Pure-Fi alarm clock)
- Construction Master 5. This handy little calculator does pesky things like fraction math and figures the angle of ascent on a 4.5-12 roof pitch and how many 7-3/4″ steps it takes to go up 11′-4″.
- Seagate Hard Drives. I travel with at least two. The current setup is an 880 GB Time Machine Drive, a 500GB clone (Carbon Copy Cloner has saved my ass more than once), a 500 GB drive full of movies, and a 250 GB drive hooked up as an EyeTV archive. For the record, I also use Carbonite as an offsite backup. I have a little paranoia about losing data…
- NeatWorks Scanner. I try to do away with a lot of clutter, and receipts are clutter. I scan them weekly, and the amazing NeatWorks software OCR’s them, and lets me categorize them. I have categories set up for all my tax categories, electronics, pet, and more. It’s like iTunes for boring stuff.
- 13″ MacBook Pro. I have a few Macs, but this one is the workhorse. My 20″ iMac sits at home alone most of the time, since I’m on the road a bunch. My MacBook Pro 15″ has a bad battery and a bum SuperDrive, so it sits under my TV as an EyeTV and Plex / Boxee machine. But this little monster can keep up with everything I throw at it. And it’s super-portable.
- Hannspree 23″ monitor. I usually don’t carry around a big extra monitor, but I knew I was going to be in LA for 3 months, so I thought it was worth it. My workflow involves 50+ emails a day, OmniFocus, iCal, OmniPlan, iWork, VectorWorks, DropBox, MobileMe, and a custom Filemaker 10 application that I built. Fitting all that on a 13″ screen is tough. The small expense of an external monitor makes me more productive and much happier.
- Apple Keyboard. I love that it feels like my MacBook. I hate that it requires a USB connection. When will Apple come out with a wireless keyboard with a number pad? I need my number pad!!
- Apple Magic Mouse. Some hate this thing, but I love it. I have huge hands that never sit on a mouse, so the low profile doesn’t bother me. I love the feel, and the multi-touch top is genius. It’s made even better with Magic Prefs.
- NetFlix. To be honest, I go through very few actual discs a year. I use the hell out of the streaming, though. It’s brilliant, and there are few other ways to watch season one of The A Team.
- Standing Desk. I’m a stander. I like moving about when I work, so no chair for me. If the hotel or apartment doesn’t offer a standing desk, I’ll run the the hardware store and make one. In this case, the dining room table has some old deck handrail pickets zip-tied on to the legs. This makes the desk a perfect height for me. It may be a little ghetto, but it works.
- Accordion File. I try to be as paperless as possible, but making TV and planning construction projects both require a lot of paperwork. This little file gives me plenty of slots for all the episodes, plus administrative stuff. And no wasted paper on manila folders! Plus, it has a convenient carry handle.
- Pencil Cup. This one is made from a disposable coffee cup I rinsed out. I’ll feel less bad about throwing it away when I leave LA. 13. Mophie JuicePack Air. Long days on set can kill an iPhone. This brings it back to life.
- Amazon Kindle. Just plain rocks. I have about 40 books, The Economist, and the New York Times delivered daily to my Kindle. I will love it unconditionally. Until my iPad is delivered.
- Landline Phone. This came with the apartment. It becomes infinitely more useful in conjunction with Google Voice.
- Fuji WP-Z. This little camera is great. It’s an easy to use 10 MP waterproof (and, therefore, dustproof) point-and-shoot. The dustproof part is really handy when you build stuff for a living.
- Motorola Rockr S9-HD. These headphones sound great, work with my iPhone as headphones and headset, and recharge over mini-USB. They are fantastic when hiking, working out, or just cleaning house. They get used daily.
- CallPod. This thing is easily the best thing that’s happened to traveling gadget nerds in a long time. It’s a 6-way charger that has hundreds of adapters to choose from. My CallPod charges my iPhone, JuicePack, Kindle, MotoRockrs, Jabra headset, Kodak Zi8, and still has an extra opening for any standard USB charger. And the Pod itself gets power from either a wall wart or mini-USB. This thing saves me carrying 11 different chargers.
19. Kodak Zi8. I lost my Flip Mino HD, so I decided to try something else. The Kodak has comparable picture quality, but adds an external mic input, a removable SD card, and an option to charge over USB or through the adapter (which I have for the CallPod). It’s a little bigger than the Mino, but it’s so much more useful.
- Just a small folding table. I like to spread out when I work.
I hope this answers some questions about how I work on the road. I know it seems like overkill to some, but I’ve built a pretty efficient workflow and travel scheme using these tools, and it works for me. How do you travel for work? Feel free to comment below!