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Archive | June 2, 2010

Organization: Digital Totes

Remember when I said that scrapbooking wasn’t really tote-able anymore? Oops, I meant paper scrapbooking wasn’t really tote-able anymore. But there’s another kind of scrapbooking that is still completely portable for a large portion of its practitioners: digital scrapbooking. And I’ve got the bags to prove it.

If you’ve got a laptop, you’ve got portable digital scrapbooking. The question is, how do you haul it with you? And what accessories do you need to take along? I’ll tell you what I use to haul my digital creative tools.

First, let’s talk about the all-important tote. I have several for my MacBook. (I actually own more camera and computer bags than I own shoes. Seriously.) Which bag I use depends on the situation.

My workhorse bag is by geek favorite Timbuk2. The San Francisco-based company makes premium bags that are functional and durable. Mine is a discontinued model called the Hacker, a vertical messenger bag which features tuck-away backpack straps as well as a messenger-style shoulder strap. It is very similar to the Blogger bag (the major difference was the backpack straps) that the company still offers, although the Hacker doesn’t have the TSA-compliant feature that version 2 of the Blogger has. The Blogger is available in several different colors. List price for it is $110 but it’s available for as little as $88 on Amazon.com depending on the color.

This bag has some features that I really like. It is very weatherproof (ever seen what a summer rain storm looks like in Florida?) when it is wet outside. There are lots of small pockets to corral my various small items like card readers and earbuds. And the laptop compartment is incredibly well cushioned and lined in lush, sturdy corduroy to protect my machine.

(Note for trade show attendees: I also have Timbuk2’s Hidden Tote, a zip-away tote that is made from fabric created from recycled plastic bottles. It is fabulous for throwing in my trade show roller bag and using for carrying the overflow of catalogs and handouts that I pick up over the course of the day.)

As much as I love my Hacker, however, it isn’t the perfect bag to take everywhere with me. When I fly, I am usually carrying both my dSLR camera and my laptop. There are advantages to being able to keep them with me in the same bag, so I have another bag  for my laptop when I fly: the Kata KT DR-467.

This bag is great because it keeps all my gear together but still fits under most airline seats, and gives me a little extra room for in-flight comforts. (When I don’t have my laptop with me, I frequently use this bag for hauling my camera gear on theme park day trips. The empty laptop compartment can hold souvenirs such as t-shirts or spare supplies for my daughter. It also comes with a foul weather cover in case we get caught outside in a shower.) The updated version of the bag (the Kata DR-467i Digital Rucksack) has a feature I really like – a tripod attachment – and sells for $89.90 on Amazon.

And of course, if you’ve ever seen me at CHA you know I also have a rolling bag for my laptop as well. Currently I’m using a Swiss Gear one that is styled like a catalog case. It would make a great companion if I wanted to attend a crop hybrid-style, with some digital and some paper gear.

All of these bags are functional, but they look, well, functional. So for the rare occasion when looks really do count, I have a leather bag that I picked up at an outlet that isn’t very practical but carries my laptop and lets me look good doing it. Sometimes we must suffer for fashion, right?

What goes in these bags is surprisingly minimal, at least as it relates to my creative pursuits. I have a Belkin Mini Surge Protector Dual USB Charger, a Sandisk MobileMate SD Plus USB Card Reader, and my power cord. I don’t carry a mouse, or other external devices. Occasionally I carry a Western Digital My Passport external hard drive for back-up purposes. I know some serious users will carry a small tablet device (you can even buy a case for some of the smaller Wacom ones). But for me I just stick to a trackpad when I  am on the go (and most of the time at home too). It keeps things simpler.

Using this system of bags keeps me pretty well equipped to be creative digitally anytime, any place!

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