By Oon Yeoh
Sometimes I do work from home. Other times I do work at my employer’s office. But lots of times, because of the nature of my work where I have to meet lots of people, I do my work at coffee shops, restaurants and just about anywhere. There have been more than a few occasions when I’ve had to park my car somewhere to do some urgent editing work.
I’m a telecommuter. I do a lot of work on the run and so my bag is literally my office. Of course nobody wants to lug around a big and heavy backpack. You want to move around with as little gear as possible. It took me some time but I have figured out what’s the bare minimum you’ll need to carry around to be able to do the kind of work you’d normally do in an office.
You’ll need a backpack with loads of compartmentalised storage space. I’ve tried out so many but the one I like best is a Swiss Army-branded computer backpack that has more compartments, side pockets and hidden pockets than anything in the market. I’ve not seen it in any Malaysian store – I bought mine at an overseas airport – but it’s available via Amazon.com.
There are many laptops out there. The one I’m currently using is a Dell Ultrabook fitted with an Intel i7 processor and a fully solid state drive. I find it ideal as the computer is light yet powerful. And it powers up very quickly. Most important of all, the battery life is quite long.
As a media person, I’m always ready to shoot a video, take a picture or record an audio clip. You can do all this with your phone. So, I use the biggest phone out there, the Samsung Galaxy Note. I do a lot of things with it. I used to carry a camera and a digital audio recorder but these days I find that I can do it all on my phone which fits nicely in one of the backpack’s side pockets.
I also carry around a Bluetooth keyboard which I connect to my Note phone when I have to have an extended chat with someone via WhatsApp. I find it very difficult to type quickly and accurate on a virtual keyboard. So, the Bluetooth keyboard is actually a necessity for long chatting sessions.
Mobile Internet access is crucial for my line of work. Again, there are many options for this. You could buy a 3G dongle from one of the telcos but my preferred option is a YTL YES Huddle. I like it for two reasons. Firstly, coverage is quite good and the connection is quite stable. I can get Internet access in most places around Klang Valley. Secondly, it creates an instant Wi-Fi hotspot so I can have Internet access to both my laptop and my phone at the same time. Note: Its coverage area is not as broad as most telco’s 3G networks but its speed is faster and its download quota is higher for the same price point.
Storage is important because sometimes when I meet people I need to copy big files from them. I used to carry around a portable hard drive but these days thumbdrives have such high capacity, I really don’t need a hard drive anymore. My thumb drive, for example, is 32Gb, which is more than sufficient for my road warrior needs. After all, I don’t store things permanently on it. It’s only used to transfer files.
Time was when you had to carry a huge amount of gear in order to do heavy duty work but I’m living proof that you don’t actually have to lug a huge load around anymore. My backpack is big in size but it’s not that heavy. And with what I’ve got in there, I am as efficient on the go as I am when I’m in an office full of equipment.
Oon Yeoh is a new media consultant. He has written books on emerging technologies, entrepreneurship and social media.