Packing review: Things I used and didn’t use on my trip

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I was in California for two weeks: three days at a conference, a 5-day impromptu road trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, and a few days of hanging out at my sister’s or in San Francisco.

What worked well

Typing lots of notes from the organizers’ session: I used Google Docs to quickly type in and share my notes from the Quantified Self 2012 organizers’ meeting. Quite a few people came up to me and thanked me for the notes, including people who came in late. We didn’t have a projector, so I put the URL by the nametags instead.

Sketchnoting the plenary sessions on Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my tablet PC: I took practically all of my sketchnotes on my Lenovo X220 Tablet PC. The extended battery meant that I never had to worry about finding a power outlet, which was great because I liked sitting in the front row. (You meet lots of interesting people there!)

The plenary sessions were fun to sketchnote, and it was great to be able to publish them straight to the conference blog (opening day 1, opening day 2, Ignite talks, closing) using my laptop. For the most part, the hour-long talks fit neatly on a single page. Awesome!

Vibram Five-finger toe shoes: Excellent for lots of walking during the conference and in Disneyland. No blisters or sore feet, and I didn’t have to wait for socks to dry.

Columbia zip-off pants: I turned these into shorts for Disneyland, which was great because there was a ton of running around in hot weather.

Anker external battery: Great for extending my phone’s battery life. I didn’t run out of juice during the trip.

A whiteboard marker: The breakout sessions were in rooms with wall-size whiteboards, but one of the rooms I was in didn’t have a whiteboard marker. Fortunately, I’d bought one for my kit. =)

What could be better

Taking text notes at the breakout: The conversation was going much too quickly to sketchnote. I could’ve followed Mark Carranza’s lead and taken text notes instead, which would have let me capture more organized information. (That Zoom recorder he uses might be interesting to try, too!)

Travel socks instead of cotton socks: Cotton socks take a long time to dry and are stiff after being hand-washed. I should have brought my Tilley travel socks to pair with my sneakers instead, as those dry overnight.

Didn’t use my tablet at the conference, but I brought it on the road trip: I bought the TF700 thinking I’d use it at conferences thanks to its longer battery life, but the Lenovo X220T lasted as long as I needed it to and I prefer drawing on the X220T’s screen. I like using the tablet at meetups around town, though, because that way I don’t have to bring my laptop. Sketchnotes on my X220T feel more polished because I have better drawing tools, but if I get used to using the tablet (maybe sketchnoting webinars?) or tweak my tablet style, then I might use it more often.

The tablet came in handy on the road trip, though. My sister gave me a small bag to pack things in, and the slim tablet fit with my clothes much better than the laptop would have.

Didn’t use the tablet dock at all: I thought I’d use this to give myself more battery life during the conference, but I ended up just using my tablet PC instead.

Didn’t meet up with many people: It was difficult to coordinate small get-togethers. I made it out to see a small bunch of Emacs people (who are awesome!), but that was about it. Part of this was because plans were up in the air. Maybe next trip, I’ll pick one or two days and focus on meeting people then.

Good trip!

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