My portable office

Every week I spend several days at coworking. I have been known to work in coffee shops, too, and I rarely travel without my laptop. It’s important to be comfortable wherever I happen to be working. Over the years I have collected a few small items that turn my laptop into a portable office.

The first thing I pack is my Griffin Elevator laptop stand. This elevates the display so I don’t hunch quite as much compared to using the laptop directly on the table. It also places a large empty space next to the bottom of the laptop, helping it stay cool with less fan noise.

Griffin Elevator in backpack

The stand is made of three light-weight parts that fit in the front pocket of my backpack. The aluminum legs act as rigid compartments for other gear, like my power supply and mouse. Since I plug in at home most nights after coworking, I keep a second power supply at my desk to save time.

Logitech VX Revolution laptop mouse

My favorite mouse is the Logitech VX Revolution laptop mouse, which I also use at home. I bought many mice before this one, and I haven’t tried a new one since.

Apple USB Keyboard

I also carry an Apple USB Keyboard. It’s thin, durable, and reliable, and it goes everywhere with me. I chose USB instead of wireless because I like having a numeric keypad. It also has two USB ports. This lets me install the mouse dongle just inches from the mouse so I never have RF interference issues.

Wacom Bamboo Fun Medium pen tablet

When my wrist hurts from repetitive strain, I also pack a Wacom Bamboo Fun pen tablet. It’s not as good as a mouse for most things, but it’s a capable and comfortable alternative for those bad wrist days. The Bamboo tablet is both inexpensive and slim, making it a fine travel companion.

My bag? It’s a Timbuk2 Hacker Daypack in ballistic nylon. I carry two laptops (a 15-inch Mac and a 9-inch netbook) everywhere in this bag, and I still have room for other gadgets and accessories. All I need is a table, a chair, and maybe a 24-inch monitor.

5 thoughts on “My portable office

  1. Wow, I can’t imagine unpacking all that in a coffeeshop. Maybe Epoch’s more geek-oriented than Irie Bean. I just have my laptop and my lefty laser mouse, in a regular timbuk2 laptop bag.

    An elevator stand would be an excellent addition to my study, methinks.

  2. I only used the stand at Epoch one time. It was at the bar. I was able to work for hours without interruption. At Irie Bean I’ve never unpacked more than the laptop. So it depends on the setting. Epoch is big enough that you can wall yourself in; at Irie Bean I’ve never been able to ignore an interesting conversation.

  3. I use the Logitech MX Revolution because of the bigger size (more comfortable) and all the extra buttons, which I have wired to Exposé and “Show Desktop” and Cmd-W, among other things. I adore it. I actually have a second one still in original packaging, in case Logitech decides to stop making it.

    I use the wireless Apple keyboard, because I have too many wires as it is, and I don’t really need a numeric keypad. My backpack is the Brenthaven Pro 15/17 which comfortably fits my 17″ MacBook Pro.

    I don’t really work out of home unless I’m traveling, so I don’t have a stand or a second power supply, but I’ve considered them. I’m actually looking to downgrade my portable for a lighter/smaller travel-only machine, since most of my work is done at home.

  4. I love the Logitech MX Revolution mouse, too, and have been using it or its predecessors for several years. I use the Bluetooth model with the USB adapter (new laptop lacks Bluetooth – narrow thinking HP!) which terrifies me because I am so careful about where I put it for fear I will lose it. Trying to figure out how to glue a keyring to the sucker and chain it to my laptop some how. 😀 It’s proprietary, so expensive to replace and hard to replace.

    What I have to have in my portable office includes a MonsterPower 4 outlet extension cord that turns any electrical outlet into four more ways to plug into electricity.

    I also used to carry the funky Pringle’s can WIFI antenna called the “Canntenna” by Wireless Gardens. Now I have a Hawkins H-Gain USB Wireless G Dish Adapter that I haul around. It’s awkward to pack safely, but when heading out to unknown WIFI access areas and cell-phone-less zones, it’s been a lifesaver.

    Buying a new laptop this past spring lightened my load by 15 pounds between the laptop and the power brick. Next year I hope to lighten it even more as the world becomes more Internet friendly. Every year my traveling office gets smaller and lighter.

    Just praying for a future with no more black snakes in the jungle under my feet. Promise me wireless power is coming sooner rather than later? Please!

  5. Wow and i thought that i was carrying a lot around with my Laptop, power supply, and mobile broadband modem, and was really picky on whether i should get a mouse or not.

    I tend to spend quite a lot of time working in coffee shops and other places, so i did end up deciding for a mouse, as i often really miss the proper mouse when working with excel and such. Luckily my laptop has bluetooth, so have gone for a dongle less option.

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