What I Use: San Francisco/Build 2016

Posted on March 28, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Microsoft-Band, Mobile, Paul, Podcasts, Windows 10, Windows Phones, Windows Weekly with 0 Comments

What I Use: San Francisco/Build 2016

San Francisco, August 2011

It’s been a while since I wrote about my business travel setup, so here’s a quick peek at the technology I’m bringing on the road this week as I travel to San Francisco for Build 2016.

Over the years, I’ve worked hard to overcome my inner compulsiveness. I no longer travel with multiple PCs, big camera rigs, and physical media-based backups “just in case.” Here’s what I’m bringing to San Francisco this week.


I travel as lightly as possible, carry on all of my bags on the plane, and get up and running when I arrive as quickly as possible. Despite a quality control problem with a Rick Steves bag over the past year, I’ve stuck with their gear, and was impressed by the customer service experience that resulted in a replacement. In fact, I recently purchased another Rick Steve rolling case.

Anyway, I’m carrying on two Rick Steves bags for this trip, the VelocĂ© Shoulder Bag (which was the bag I had quality issues with), which I use as a laptop bag, and the new Ravenna Rolling Case. The Ravenna is a bit bigger and heavier than the Rolling Carry-On I usually use, but this is a five-day trip, so I need the extra space. (And the Ravenna still fits quite nicely in any US-based plane overhead bin.)


Note: Coincidentally, Rick Steves is having a 20 percent off sale on bags this week. (I am fan and customer only, and don’t benefit from recommending these products.)

Most of my daily-use tech goes in the laptop bag, but I always bring along an additional gadget bag that I stuff with my toiletries in the luggage.


What I put in there varies according to the needs of the trip, but this time it includes a USB-based hub and Ethernet adapter, microphone, and headphones, since we’re recording Windows Weekly during Build, a Belkin 3-port/USB mini-power strip, some device charging cables, a flat/coiled Ethernet cable, and the like. (Plus a sleep mask and ear plugs, because you can never trust a hotel.)


The laptop bag holds the PC (below) and its charging cable, my Bose in-ear noise canceling headphones (a travel requirement), a Microsoft Sculpt ergonomic mouse (which I love but probably won’t need), my phones (see below), and a few extra contact lens. This my seem kind of goofy, but I also carry a small JetBlue blanket that you can buy on any flight and pad it up so I can actually use the arm rest on the plane without accidentally hitting the TV control buttons. My daughter makes fun of me for this, but it sort of reminds me of the towel gag from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.


I have any number of great choices for this type of trip, and a few machines—the recently-vindicated Surface Book and the 15-inch HP Spectre x360 key among them—provide a wonderful combination of large screen and great portability. But I’ve got PCs to review, too, so I am bringing Lenovo’s stunning ThinkPad X1 Yoga, a transforming PC that’s so good I could see making it my daily driver.

Who's a beautiful PC? You are! You are!

Who’s a beautiful PC? You are! You are!

The X1 Yoga is so thin, light and beautiful that I have a hard time believing I’ll have anything other than a stellar experience traveling with it. But I’ll keep my eye on the battery life, of course, to see how it really performs in the real world.


I’m traveling with three phones, not because I need them but because I write about this technology and I want to be able to install any new or updated apps that may appear while I’m away. That’s the iPhone 6S Plus (iOS), Nexus 6P(Android) and Lumia 950 (Windows 10 Mobile). Carrying a few extra phones doesn’t contribute much to the weight or heft of a bag, so whatever.

And … that’s it. Four days worth of clothes in the bag, and a week of 60 degree temperatures, some catching up time with friends, and a Microsoft conference. What could go wrong?


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