I am lucky enough to live in Austin and experience the excitement of SXSW right in my back yard. It’s an exciting time as people from all over the world converge in our great city to bring to the forefront some of the most innovative ideas and projects. There’s creativity, passion, collaboration, experimentation – all the ingredients that make for some exciting discoveries and friendships. And that’s the case whether you officially attend the conference or not! The city is overflowing with a variety of meet-ups, demos, premieres and other unofficial events that allow everyone to participate – badge or not.
The only negative thing I can think of about SXSW is that it does bring on a resurgence of my sciatica. Seriously. I barely just left my 20s but seriously. Are you with me? Is the constant lugging around of conference/festival gear taking its toll on you too?
Well I am here to tell you that this is not an insurmountable challenge! Over the years I’ve pared down my “conference mobile office” to include only the most necessary tech essentials to keep myself streamlined and unencumbered, yet productive. Take the leap and join me in ditching the laptop and rocking SXSW and other great conferences with just these key (and tiny!) items.
1. ipad Mini + iPhone: These two devices are the base of all my operations. Outfitted with all the apps I regularly use, I make sure to offload files and create as much space as I can before kicking-off any conference. After the initial simplifying/updating, I’ll make sure to offload and backup all my multimedia from my iphone every 2nd or 3rd day to keep things organized (the last thing I need is to pay for even MORE unnecessary cloud storage just for a couple of weeks of binge-photo-and-video-taking a year).
2. Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard for ipad: Pretty great to be able to snap this thing on and off the ipad and maneuver it in interesting positions when I’m dealing with limited or challenging space during cramped panels. It’s the thing that finally let me let go of the idea that I HAD to have my laptop on me at all times. I can even do some light front-end development on it with the right apps! Don’t forget to turn off the Bluetooth keyboard when it’s not in use to conserve more energy.
3. Jambox: I’m a big user of the Jambox for emergency conference calls in-between panel sessions (work still has to get done right?). I can duck into a corner or more likely, queue up a call on my phone at a busy SXSW lounge and hold a meeting right there on the spot. The Jambox has a built in microphone and great sound, and is teensy enough to fit in your pocket. It’s also of course, great for its intended purpose – an after-hours impromptu SXSW food trailer dance party.
4. External Battery Pack: I’ve tried different types of device-specific battery packs over the years and I hate the desperate “outlet hunt” inside convention centers. It shouldn’t be difficult to make it one full day without charging your mobile devices. This PowerGen 12000mAh External Battery Pack with 3-USB output lets me charge up to 3 devices simultaneously so I can juice up my phone and ipad at once AND give a much-needed assist to a fellow conference-goer.
5. Pencil by 53: I’m not one of those people that needs to hold a physical book to read it. I’m really happy with my Kindle app. I also don’t make to do lists on paper, preferring to use the Wunderlist app across all my devices. If Apple didn’t release a new iphone seemingly every other month, I’d probably surgically graft my phone into my palm. But sometimes you just need to be able to sketch stuff out or take some non0linear notes, and for that, the Pencil by 53, along with their app Paper, is my new go-to solution.
Are you off to a conference this Spring? Let us know in the comments below where you’re off to and what gadgets you’ll have in your conference kit!
Dee is a fun-loving instructor with diverse tech experience across Fortune 500 companies, early-stage start-ups, government agencies & non-profits. Dee works at mobile product design studio Funsize, in Austin Texas where she lives with her husband, 2 border collie mixes, & 2 cats.