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Setting Up A Desk 5,000 Miles Away

I can now count three distinct times that I've moved away from my home city. Each time was a struggle, with choosing what to bring or leave behind the most difficult part of the entire process. However, while the first move took place entirely within the States, the latter two involved international flights that forced me to choose much more wisely as to what I wanted to travel with me.

While packing for my first international move, I'd decided that I wanted to keep things "light." I was only going to be in Europe for one academic year and figured that any and all potentially superfluous items should be left in my parents' house. The end result was that I made the journey with a single checked bag for both my outgoing and return flights. In the eyes of my friends, my traveling style was the epitome of light travel. However it never struck me that my self-induced packing guideline only applied to clothing items; I somehow managed to bring not one but two computers with me to Germany. All in all, I'd brought the following tech with me:

  • HP DV6 Pavilion
  • Sony Vaio UX
  • Amazon Kindle 3 WiFi + 3G
  • Apple iPhone 4
  • Nikon D40
When I found myself packing my things again in July prior to embarking for my internship in Hamburg, I thought I'd managed to do a much better job. I'd long since sold the more-or-less gimmick of computer that was the Vaio UX and my HP laptop with it. In fact, within a few months of being back in the States I'd sold all of the things that I'd brought with me to study abroad, and in their stead now sat newer devices that I decided to pack:
  • Lenovo Edge E420
  • Lenovo IdeaPad K2110
  • Nokia Lumia 710
  • Nikon D7000
You might notice that while this list is shorter than the previous one, if only by one item, it is noticeably shorter. This was something that I noticed as I packed and it caused me to feel quite good about myself. But as I was lugging my bag towards the check-in counter at the airport, it quickly dawned on me that the increased weight, compared to their predecessors, of the new tablet and camera quickly cancelled out any gains to be had by travelling with one less device. However, were I to do it again, the only change I'd make to that second lineup would be the removal of the tablet. Apart from daily use as a (superb) alarm clock, it never quite saw a whole lot of use until my month-long stay in a hostel.

Looking to the future, I think Windows 8 might have solved many of my travel woes. A device such as the Microsoft Surface Pro or similar paired with a keyboard and mouse would allow me to lighten up my bag considerably. I've actually been toying with the idea recently of retiring my ThinkPad and switching full time to a tablet setup. Not that I have anything against featherweight Ultrabooks, but there's something to be said for how using a tablet around other people manages to avoid any awkward intrusions into the social atmosphere that a clamshell device would be create.

But, just for the sake of it, I'm going to imagine what I'd take with me, were I to leave the country tomorrow and not return for at least a few months. Much the same as my friend Victoria did just last week. Since having returned to my home city, I've been reunited with my closet full of gadgets, bought and sold a couple of phones and had some time to reflect on my device usage the during my six months abroad. Assuming I were to return to one of my previous locales again, this is probably what I'd bring with me:
  • Samsung Series 7 Slate (running Windows 8)
  • Amazon Kindle 2 International 3G
  • LG Google Nexus 4
  • Nikon D7000
To complement that Samsung Slate device I'd also stash away my Apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and plan on building a stand out of cardboard once I get a chance to do so in order to have a fully usable Photoshop station for when the need eventually arose. Of course, it might also be possible to cut a computer out of the picture entirely... food for thought.