While I like my laptop, I've gotten very tired of lugging it around
conferences, and my mobile devices get better battery life and pick
up WiFi signal better than my laptop anyway. So I've decided to go
to TechKnowledgealmost laptop-free. (As it turns out, since I'm presenting a
Creation Station and probably doing client work during the week,
I'm going to have to bring my laptop, but I'm definitely going to
minimize taking it to the event itself.)
Here's how I'm preparing.
I have an
iPad case that I love; it looks slick, protects the device
well, has Smart Cover functionality, and allows me to stand it up
at a variety of angles for reading and notetaking. Just for this
effort, I've bought an Apple Bluetooth keyboard as well, because
there's no way I can last a week only typing on iOS. They cost $69
at the Apple
Store, but I got mine from Other World
Computing for $49 (brand new, but without a box or
instructions). Setup instructions are here.
I don't have a stylus that I'm particularly fond of yet, especially
for sketching, but I'm looking to try some out beforehand and
possibly at the conference itself. In particular, I know that both
AluPen and the
Cosmonaut will be in attendance with friends of mine, and I
welcome other recommendations, too!
This isn't a consideration for me this time, but if you're
presenting a session with just a slideshow, you can do that
laptop-free too... you just need Keynote
and the proper connector. I've been told that the VGA
adapter is the one you'll need for this conference.
You've probably traveled enough with your mobile devices already to
know what you like in travel and entertainment apps, so I'm going
to skip to a few categories that I've found very useful for
The official TK12 conference app. It's not on the app stores
yet, but there will be a conference app and you'll definitely want
it to help you plan your conference experience.
Business card scanner/importer. These can be a huge
timesaver as well as a safety net to keep you from losing valuable
contacts in your travels. There are lots of these out there. I
tried three free/trial ones for the iPhone:
ScanBizCards Lite, and
WorldCard Mobile Lite.
For this trial, I took a not-so-great picture of a business card
from one of my favorite places to visit in Portland -- complete
with non-English words -- and used it for all three apps.
(Tip: If you don't want to go through the whole process of
importing and checking contact info, snap quick pictures of your
collected cards so that you don't lose the information even if you
lose the cards. You can process them on your flight home.)
CamCard came out on top with the most accurate reading and the best
user interface, and it was the only one of the three with no
limits on how many cards could be read and stored. The $7
paid version removes advertisements and adds some more advanced
tetaking apps. There are several apps
that have a specific functionality that's very cool to me: the
ability to record audio while you're taking notes and play back
your notetaking with the audio -- even skip to the part of the
audio that you were recording when you tap a certain note that
you've taken. The two I've been tinkering around with are
CaptureNotes 2 and
AudioNote, both of which work well. CaptureNotes is much more
full-featured in general, which is good, but if I don't take the
time to become really fluid in it soon, I'll probably stick to
AudioNote for its simplicity.
Sketching apps. I tend to like Adobe
Ideas and Penultimate,
but like many categories of app, the best one is the one you like
and know how to use. Load up your device with a few free ones,
figure out what you like and don't, and you'll be able to turn a
more educated eye toward the reviews and screenshots on your
device's app store.
QR scanner. I see plenty of QR codes on business cards and
vendor booths these days so I would recommend having one, but I've
never looked hard to find differentiating factors between them. I
QR Reader for iPhone and it works fine.
Anything else for networking. There are lots of programs
that let you easily share your contact information with others...
to name two. Most of them rely on both parties having the same app,
so it's smart to have a variety of apps and get them set up ahead
of time. And there will be
parts of the conference that rely on Twitter, so try it if you
haven't yet and get an app that you like for your phone or tablet.
Again, there are tons of them; just find one that works well for
The more effort I've put into this, the more I've been curious what
other gear and equipment people recommend. If you have favorites,
feel free to comment, disagree, and discuss... I'm looking forward
to learning from you!
Judy Unrein designs learning solutions at Artisan E-Learning, blogs at E-Learning Uncovered and onehundredfortywords, and tweets at @jkunrein.