What’s in my bag? (Jan 2019)

About this time in 2018, inspired by WordPress chap Matt Mullenweg’s annual run-through of his bag’s contents, I gave you good people a tour of my “holdall”. Because I can (and partly so I can see how much has changed, or not): here’s what I carry around with me much of the time, as of January 2018…

  1. American Tourister “At Work” laptop rucksack. I picked this up from our nearest TK Maxx outlet, and think I got quite the bargain. Has a pretty good space-allocation, whilst not looking too much as if I’m going on an expedition (though the weight occasionally feels that way!). I like how this rucksack has a “pouch” on either side, for drinks containers—hold that thought a moment…
    • What of the Osprey bag that was the “star” of last year’s round-up? I still use it, mainly for those moments when I need a bag which looks less “student-y”, and/or when a bulging and heavy rucksack would make me look suspicious (and give me a backache)!
  2. Tefal 0.36l travel mug. Another “outlet” purchase, and quite a handy one, as it keeps drinks at their original temperature for hours. Also cuts down on takeaway-cup waste, and certain UK coffee chains give you a discount if you use a reusable cup like this one.
  3. BRITA fill&go Active 0.6l water bottle. I haven’t used this as much as I thought I would, but I like keeping it with the bag. The water-filter is a nice-to-have, though it needs weekly soaking and monthly replacement, and sadly the filter discs aren’t the cheapest.
  4. ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA. Same as last year: my “core” computer whilst on the move. Handles both “native” Chrome and Android apps, though I understand the C100PA won’t get Linux app support (probably due to its ARM processor). However, I’ll probably stick with this 2015-launched Chromebook until it croaks, I lose it, or Google end-of-lifes support for it (some time around 2020, if they’re consistent). Might even install Arch Linux ARM then…
  5. Apple iPhone 8. Does lots of stuff.
  6. Raspberry Pi Zero W. No, not “zero” (the one I wrote about in 2018, with a USB ZeroStem installed); that developed a software issue, and I couldn’t get into the 3D-printed case to remove the MicroSD card. This is a new device, which I’ve host-named “mass” (in keeping with the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki-related hostname convention in our household), and given a Pibow Zero W case. I use this for running tasks and applications which the Chromebook can’t do (or, not as well).
  7. Kindle Keyboard (2011 model). I’ve started using this again after a period where I wasn’t quite sure where it was in our house (!). For simply reading, I prefer the Kindle to my phone or tablet, and it has a functional web-browser in the event that I need one.
  8. BOSE SoundSport Free Bluetooth earphones. I’ve tried a few BT headphones over the last couple of years. The MPow H8 cans that I mentioned in my 2018 bag line-up, never quite worked the same again after I left them outside during a lawn-mowing session, and there was a heavy rain-shower shortly afterwards—but I’ve always bought relatively cheap ones from Amazon. The H8 replacements—MPow H7—aren’t that bad—but imagine my surprise (nay, delight) when my wife gave me these BOSE earbuds for Christmas 2018. They deserve a review to themselves, but TL;DR: I love ’em.
  9. HooToo TripMate Mini wireless travel router. Now discontinued (although other HooToo TripMate travel routers are available), this matchbox-sized device helps link my assorted machines together (and sometimes, my family’s) when I’m out of the house. It shares wired and wireless Internet connections and connected storage devices (USB and MicroSD—the only TripMate, to my knowledge, which handles both types at once), and I hope the Mini lives long and prospers, as I’m not sure what I’d replace it with!
  10. Xiaomi Mi Band 3 wearable fitness tracker. I’ve thought I’d like something like a Fitbit (or a smartwatch) for some time, but I just didn’t feel I could justify the expense. Long story short: I read some very promising reviews of the Mi Band 3 (basically: “it’s not perfect, but for this price it’s a bargain”), so I went for it for Christmas 2018. Useful as a “watch with benefits”, and the step-counting, heart-rate monitoring and sleep-tracking aren’t too far “off” either. I ordered a metal “watch”-band for it, which I generally prefer to the vinyl one which came with the tracker.
  11. EasyAcc 20000mAh USB power bank. I bought this in 2016 for a family trip to Seoul, as I knew we’d all have our devices, but not whether we’d always be close to a charging source. This titan power-bank packs four USB slots, and claims to be able to charge an iPhone ten times over (haven’t tried this, but the charge was always enough for all of us). A welcome feature, is two 2A input ports, meaning that if you have a suitable charger, the 20000mAh battery can be recharged from near-empty in under six hours.
  12. Ballpoint pen and stylus for capacitive touchscreens.
  13. SAMAR Bluetooth handheld smartphone monopod. Well, if you have to own a “selfie-stick”: I’d make it one which doesn’t “need” a separate BT “shutter button”.
  14. Toshiba Canvio Basics 500GB USB3 hard drive (2016 version). Compact and reliable storage “workhorse”, formatted with exFAT for use across multiple devices. Usually kept in this cable-organiser (see below).
  15. Card-reader from my bank. Because You-Know-Who’s Law dictates you’ll need to do a bank-transfer to a new payee, exactly when you don’t have the required card-reader to set up the transfer.
  16. Toothbrush and hairbrush from a trip I took during 2018.
  17. Cheap A.N.Other-brand cable organiser from Amazon. Same one as seen in my January 2018 bag round-up; I’m pleasantly surprised at how it has survived a year of near-daily use, especially with everything I stuff into it. Contains a hefty range of assorted cables (USB, HDMI-to-HDMI-mini, Ethernet), as well as a compact 3-port USB3 hub with integrated Gigabit Ethernet (handy for the Chromebook, which lacks the latter) and my USB3 hard drive.
  18. Small sealable plastic bag, with various adapters (USB OTG; USB-Lightning “camera” adapter; audio-Lightning; HDMI-VGA; HDMI and USB “couplers”; USB data-blocker). Because you never know when you might need one of them.
  19. A couple of cables I couldn’t squash into either of the above bags—for one, the HDMI-to-micro-HDMI lead for my Chromebook.
  20. Paracetamol. Because you never know when… you get the idea 🙂
  21. Tube of gochujang (Korean hot red pepper paste), from a Korean Air flight. They often give you one of these with an in-flight meal, but the tubes are way more generous than they need to be, and I like gochujang
  22. Spare contact-lenses. I do not want to be caught “on the hop” without spares.

Not in the photo:

Honourable mentions…

…or in other words, the items I don’t always carry with me, but which I’ll stick in the bag if I think I may need them!

  • JamStik+ Bluetooth/USB MIDI controller. No, I’m not going to call it a “digital guitar”—it’s a MIDI controller designed to feel more familiar to guitarists, and expecting it to respond like a guitar, is a recipe for frustration—but I find it easier for playing musical parts into Garageband on my iPhone, than a keyboard would. Just fits into the rucksack, as long as I move other items around a bit…
  • Allocacoc PowerCube USB (4 x Type G, BS 1363 (UK)-socket) model). A bit chunky to merit permanent residence in the bag, but this four-way UK socket adapter (with two 2A USB slots) has proven most useful on trips abroad, not least because you can just plug in the appropriate IEC 3-pin (“kettle”) lead for the country you’re visiting. It doesn’t do voltage conversion—you should check whether the item you want to power, is dual-voltage—but that aside, the ‘Cube takes up less space than a “strip-plug”.

Any questions? Please leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to help.

Happy New Year!

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