What’s In Your Bag is a common series on technology sites and blogs where writers open their bags and their hearts to show their favorite gadgets, tools, and necessities. With that in mind, I’d like to share what I typically carry in my bag on a daily basis or on a trip. I wrote up what I was using in June of 2014, and it’s pretty amazing how much has changed in three and a half years.
Though I did get an upgraded version of the Audible branded Timbuk2 messenger bag when we updated our logo in 2015 or so, I found the bag a bit bulky for everyday use. Instead, I use this incredible leather satchel bag my wife got me. It’s small and light, but has plenty of room for all of my daily needs. It has a padded pocked for my laptop and a surprising amount of storage considering the size. The only issue is fitting everything inside when I travel. With the buckle straps, which are sometimes a bit much on a daily basis, actually allow me to expand it to fit more than I normally would take. I got more compliments on this bag in the first week than I ever did with my backpack or messenger bag. Unfortunately I don’t know the brand because my wife got it from Etsy. The nice buckles on the side hold my work badge and a nifty little TMNT keychain I won for coming in second at TMNT trivia at work. I blame too many questions on the new series for not coming in first.
MacBook Pro 13-inch (2017 version)
My previous MacBook Pro was starting to feel a tad long in the tooth, and with more meetings in my daily agenda, it was feeling heavy and thick. When my warranty expired earlier this year, I took the opportunity to upgrade to the latest version of the MacBook Pro. It’s far thinner, lighter, and faster than the old version. The lack of any ports except for a headphone jack and two measly USB-C ports mean I live a crazy dongle lifestyle at work, but so far I haven’t had a major issue at home or while traveling. Plus, when paired with my new phone, I only need to bring a single USB-C charger to keep both up to speed. Other complain about the lack of travel on the keys, but after a week I started to actually prefer them. I feel like I can type twice as fast as on our home MAcBook Air, and my fingers don’t get as tired.
I upped my sticker game as well. Before turning in the old Mac, I had a tremendous collection of stickers. I kept the new computer pristine for a few months, but started to miss the feel a customized laptop gave me, plus I picked up a ton of stickers at AWS re:Invent, and needed to put them to use. My Audible ones represent my team, teams I often work closely with, and some of the things I’m passionate about including volunteering for and helping to organize Girls Who Code, a day of showing students that a life in tech is possible for women, as well as one from our Take Your Kids to Work day, where I helped teach kids how to program Alexa. The remainder are for teams at Amazon I’ve worked closely with, a Netflix Chaos Monkey one since I’m all into Chaos Engineering now, and a GitHub Oktoberfest one, fitting for my love of beer and homebrewing. I still need to fill the rest out.
Google Pixel 2 XL
This year, I switched back from iOS to Android, moving to the Google Pixel 2 XL. I had been an Android person since the original Droid, but switched after about 6 Android phones to iOS in 2015 when I got sick of worse app support, worse cameras, and crashes. I also wanted better work email and calendar integration. Two years with iOS on the iPhone 6, 6s, and 7, I realized all of these gripes were true of iOS as well. I switched back to Android this fall and remembered how much better the notifications are. Oddly, in two years, the apps got much better, the camera incredibly better, and the work support too. All seem even better than the iPhone now. Sure the iPhone X looks cool, but I’m very happy with my Pixel. I’ve taken some of the best pictures of any camera I’ve had, including actual cameras on it. I even got used to the large size which originally felt massive. Now everything else seems tiny. I had been secretly jealous of my wife’s original Pixel’s camera for a year, and no longer have to be.
The camera on this phone is good enough it’s completely replaced any dedicated camera I have. I got rid of the Panasonic because of the bulk for traveling, and replaced it with a Canon point and shoot which I really liked. Since I got the Pixel, it hasn’t come out of the drawer.
Bose Quiet Comfort 2
I’m still rocking the same Bose headphones as 2014, at least for flights. I don’t use the noise canceling headphones at work because people kept surprising me. They’re perfect for flights and my ears never seem to get sore from them. At work, I use a pair of Master & Dynamic MH40s I won at a hackathon, though they get a bit uncomfortable after a few hours. I want to upgrade to a wireless pair since my new phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, but can’t justify the price, so use the terrible dongle instead. Such is life in 2017.
I mentioned this odd little plastic device in my favorite running devices. but I also like it for work. After a rocky first week of use, I have mostly left it alone and the experience has been better. Essentially, this little cube is an iPod Shuffle for Spotify, allowing me to bring along my favorite playlists without having to tote my phone or internet connection. I like ti for planes too so I can keep my phone charged. It’s a bit of a hassle to add new music, but the convenience is great.
Soundpeats Bluetooth Headphones
I think almost everyone has a pair of these cheap headphones from Amazon, the best sellers in the category. When they’re on sale, and it happens often, they can be had for less than $20. That makes them fairly dispensable. I’ve even got two pairs because I thought I had lost the first pair. They’re perfect for running, but I tend to carry them around due to the size and convenience too. They take up no room and I won’t freak out if I lose them like I would the Bose. They’re connection is a little flaky at times, but I’ve never had them completely cut out or die, even during long runs. Plus, no dongle.
With all of the electronics I carry around, I need to make sure I have an ample supply of power at all times.
EasyAcc PowerBank 10,000 mAh Battery
This brick of a power supply isn’t discrete, but at a little less than the size of my phone, it packs a lot of punch. I can charge my phone about 5 times with it, or get my laptop to just about full power. The Pixel lasts far longer than my iPhone ever did, and I rarely even need a top up at the end of the day, but I carry this on days when I know I’ll be out later than normal, or just to calm my anxiety about running out of power.
Audible USB charger
On days when I need a smaller but more convenient source of power, I bring along this small charger I got at work. It only charges my phone once, and not even all the way, but it’s enough to get me through a day and night of heavy use so I’m not worried about running out of power and being unreachable. It doesn’t do much of anything for my laptop though.
Ridiculous 6ft Braided USB to USB-C cable
I ordered this massive cable without checking the length on Amazon after getting my phone because I needed a cable to charge my phone with the aforementioned battery packs as well as the car. It also works for planes and hotels where they often have just USB ports for charging. Nothing has made me feel sillier than unraveling this thing around my entire seat on a tiny airplane though.
I made up that name, but it seems apt. I picked up this cable thingy at re:Invent, along with about 5 others from different booths. It provides a nice USB, USB-C, Lightning, and Micro USB converter, allowing me to power up a variety of devices without the bulk of the 6ft cable. I now use this instead with the batteries.
Lund Business Card Case
I picked up this business card case in the Swedish city of Lund, our namesake, because there weren’t a ton of options in the city’s gift shop that branded our name. They’re missing a prime merchandising opportunity. I never used it much until recently. Traveling these days, especially for work with talkative Lyft drivers, I find myself giving out my card often. Even so, I think I have about 475 of 500 cards left in the box.
Audible Moleskine Notebook
I typically use Evernote for taking notes at work, but after getting this luxurious notebook at work, I rediscovered the joys of writing notes. I do tend to remember them better, though it’s harder to find old notes. It took me four years to finish an even smaller notebook, so I might be using this one for a while. I love getting weird looks when I bust it out to take notes in a meeting.
The Bear and the Nightingale
I’m normally a Kindle reader, and I still use mine heavily, but lately I’ve been getting more books from our local library. I started this light historical fantasy book only a couple of weeks ago, and have been going through it voraciously. It reminds me of The Genii and the Golem, mixing historical fiction and fantasy, but restraining both enough to be accessible. The hardcover makes it a bit of a pain to tote around though, so on my recent flight I brought my Kindle instead. It’s the same Kindle from 2014, and while I really want the new Oasis, I can’t justify the price, My Kindle Paperwhite is perfect for what it is. Nearly four years old, the battery still lasts quarters, not even months.
My bag has obviously changed quite a bit over the last three and a half years. While some items are the same like my Kindle, headphones, and sunglasses, technology has come a long way over quiet iterations. My laptop, phone, and chargers are sleek and futuristic compared to their 2014 counterparts. Even my bag has slimmed down considerably. In general, I’ve lightened up and combined items where possible. My back is pretty thankful for the change.