Traveling Light and Cutting the Cord

In preparation for our Thanksgiving trip to Disneyland this year, I’m trying to travel light in the technology arena. Because I’m the go-to guy if anything goes wrong on (okay, I’m the only guy), I must have a computer with me no matter where I’m going. Cutting the size of that computer down has always been a goal I’ve met with varied success. I used a Tablet PC from Fujitsu for awhile and found it handy, but ultimately had to return it to Fujitsu. I liked the idea of the ASUS EEE PC when it launched, but ultimately realized I need at least the 1024×600 screen resolution I had with the Fujitsu. HP presented me with the solution in their new HP Mini 1000 line, which comes in either a 10.2 or 8.9-inch screen size. I opted for the 8.9 since the resolution is the same and in theory a smaller screen should use less battery. After 70 minutes of round trip time on the ferry tonight, I’m reasonably convinced the HP Mini will work. I answered some emails, responded to instant messages, edited a couple photos, and uploaded a handful of files, which covers the bare necessities of what I might need to do. With easy connectivity via my Verizon EV-DO card, I’ve cut my backpack travel weight by at least 3 pounds. Makes me wonder if I really need a 15-inch laptop at all, since most of my video editing is done on a desktop system.
The biggest frustration I find in adding a new computer to the mix is managing all the stuff I need to have available. In some ways, this week’s newsletter is dedicated to that problem, because uploading files to a central storage location like makes sure I can always find the files I need no matter what computer I’m interfacing with. Picnik comes through in a pinch for most of the photo editing I might do. And I could presumably do a fair amount of video editing with Yahoo’s Jumpcut service. Not to mention document and spreadsheet management with either Google Documents or Zoho. Still there are things I find convenient to have that all take time to install. Roboform is one thing I won’t be without. I need SnagIt for screen captures. I use Google Talk almost daily, although that’s one I can access from Gmail if I need to. And getting all the software updates installed on a new computer can take an hour or two, depending on what software you need. I’d use PCMover for something like this, but I’m not really moving PCs.
Do you have a ritual you go through to setup a new computer? How about when you travel? Are there things you sync with your laptop before you leave? Or do you keep files somewhere out on a network where they are always accessible? Share your thoughts.


  1. Hi Jake,
    I’ve founf that “FxFoto” does everything that I need for edit and wstore photos………..give it a try, I’m sure you will like it…..

  2. After years of resistng, I’ve finally given up and have made a file listing all the Contol Panels Settings, msconfig changes, registry hacks and such I do at the start of evey new computer to make it fit me personally. I had to do this because there got to be so much I alwas forgot part of the ritual, trhen got frustrated when the computer behaved “normally” rather than the way it was supposed to. Now I go through the checklist quickly and efficiently and am set up. I revise the file as I learn more, which hopefully will never end.

  3. Portable applications and a USB key. I do contract work on various clients’ computers but have “my” way of doing certain things (e.g. file management, text file editing). Being able to move freely among the computers with my Roboform2Go data, to-do lists, etc. helps me be more efficient. File encryption provides peace of mind. The only sacrifice is application load time from the USB device, but that’s what coffee breaks are for.
    Craig Prichard
    Technical Communicator

  4. My home desktop PC started acting up a few months ago and has become less & less reliable, so I’ve taken to using our notebook PC primarily and my desktop PC at work. I use Google Docs, Notebook, etc. to handle much of those types of needs, so they’re available from anywhere.
    The single biggest issue I’ve had is how to (dynamically) manage my Favorites and Bookmarks. I use IE 7 & Firefox on the notebook & work desktop PCs, but also have been trying out (and like) Chrome on my ailing home desktop from time to time. And I use Firefox Portable on a thumbdrive on various other PCs. I haven’t found a clean way to keep my Bookmarks out in the cloud yet. I’ve been trying Foxmarks, which is pretty good, but doesnt seem to play well with FF portable. And it doesn’t support Chrome yet.

  5. I have setup my travelling notebook almost the same as my desktop.
    Before I leave on a trip my D/T is backet up to an NAS which uses Raid (netgear Duo) AND I synchronize my laptop’s data files using Karen’s Replicator (free). The D/T is powered off before I leave but my modem, router, and NAS are running and power supplied using a UPS.
    The NAS is accessable while traveling to access any files not on my laptop or showing a synchronize error like email dates not being correct. NAS accessability is insured by using DynDNS (free) to monitor for IP changes.
    Upon return home I use Replicator to sync the laptop data back to the D/T.

  6. This ‘transfer’ issue has haunted me for years! I usually change out laptops every 6 months or so… for the last 20 years… so I’ve spent many many days immersed in this process.
    In August I finally purchased a MacBookAir. It took about the same amount of time to ‘move’ from a PC to a Mac… but then when I chose to upgrade to the new Macbook… it took only minutes! It was by far the easiest move from a machine EVER!
    This process designed by Apple was sooooo easy – I started it up, went to bed, and in the morning I had two identical machines. Everything transferred. Not only my data files, but all my applications, settings, customizations, as well as music, videos and all my misc. stuff.
    With Mobile Me I’m also able to easily have all my Contacts, Calendars, and settings with me on my iPhone without any ‘sync’ process… all changes on the laptop just ‘show up’ on my iPhone.
    My computing life has never been better. I can wholeheartedly recommend anyone to move to a Macintosh!

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