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What to carry

Use all your gadgets

If you’re like most modern business travelers, your carry-on holds your laptop and a cell phone, a smart-phone, or a PDA. So why burn up your laptop’s battery charge when you can use one of the smaller devices to do some useful work—managing contacts and calendars, maintaining to-do lists, or making notes for a presentation? With these mundane chores assigned to your lesser gadgets, you can save your PowerBook’s battery for more-important tasks (such as watching the first season of Arrested Development on DVD).— Christopher Breen

Date your batteries

Frequent flyers know that you need a second laptop battery on cross-country flights. But batteries lose capacity as they age, so it’s all too easy to swap in what you think is a fresh, new battery and then discover (at the worst possible time) that it’s really old and weak. The cure? Label your batteries with a purchase date. And if you have an iBook or a 12-inch PowerBook, remember to shut it down (or make sure it’s plugged into an AC power source) before you change batteries; unlike the larger PowerBooks, those Macs can’t withstand having their batteries removed for even an instant.— Adam C. Engst

Plug in on the plane

There’s an alternative to lugging along a second battery on long flights—booking a seat with an AC outlet. Such powered seats are turning up more frequently on newer planes, particularly in first and business class. But how can you tell whether your seat will be powered? Before you select a seat, find out what sort of plane you’ll be on, and then check SeatGuru. It provides layouts of all the planes flown by the major airlines, showing which seats are powered (as well as which ones have limited legroom, and so on).— Iain Drummond **

Back up your slides

You’re on your way to a make-or-break presentation, but somehow (clumsy security, clumsy cabbie, or clumsy you) the PowerBook holding all your slides and notes gets irreparably damaged. But if you’re smart, you can use the backup copy of your presentation that you put on your digital camera or iPod photo. How? First, you need to convert your slides into JPEG image files that your iPod or camera can work with. (There are a few ways to do this: PowerPoint can save directly to JPEG; Keynote 2 has an Export command that lets you save slides as JPEGs.) If you’re using an iPod photo, your next step is to upload the images with iTunes. (Note that iPod photo users can make this process a bit easier by using the iPresent It utility, which will create slide shows from either Keynote or PowerPoint files and automatically set iTunes up to sync them.) If you’re using a digital camera, name the files using your camera’s usual file-name conventions and numbers that have already been used (IMG6523.jpg, for example). Next, use a USB media reader to copy the slides to your camera’s media card via the Finder, put the card in the camera, and verify that you can view your images on the internal LCD screen. Finally, make sure to pack the cable that connects your camera or iPod photo to a television; most projectors should have the necessary composite video inputs.— Adam C. Engst

Pack a short cord

Want to be voted Most Popular at your next conference? Bring along a very short (6- to 12-inch) extension cord. Here’s how it works: You’re in a session, and all the attendees want to plug their hulking power bricks into the one available power strip. But you just plug your power brick into your short extension cord and then plug the cord into the plug strip. That leaves more room for others.— Dori Smith

Carry just the cables you need

When you’re packing your carry-on for a trip, put in only the cables you’ll need on the plane. Put the rest in a plastic bag inside your checked luggage. That way, you won’t have to pull out a rat’s nest of cables when emptying your bags at the security checkpoint.— Mark Davis **

Play iTunes on TV

Want to play some music in your hotel room? You don’t have to settle for the dinky speakers on your PowerBook or lug along a dedicated pair. Instead, just pack a minijack-to-RCA adapter. At the hotel, plug the minijack into your laptop’s or iPod’s headphones port, and plug the other end into the RCA jacks on the front of the TV. Most modern TV speakers sound pretty good.— Dave Everitt **

Get a USB phone charger

Lose some unnecessary tonnage by investing in a USB charger for your cell phone. Instead of relying on a heavy power brick, you can recharge your cell phone and PDA by plugging them into your PowerBook’s USB ports. A number of companies, including Keyspan and Zip-Linq, sell them, for a variety of cell phones and PDAs (their prices range from $10 to $25).— Adam C. Engst

What’s in your carry-on?

Adam C. Engst
I’m on the road an average of three days a month; I have 125,000 frequent-flyer miles. I’m currently using the Kensington SaddleBag: I like the option of using it as a backpack, and I love the little pocket for airline boarding passes.

What’s inside:

• 12-inch PowerBook
• PowerBook power cord (the long one)
• Extra PowerBook battery
• Canon PowerShot S400
• Motorola 120C cell phone (with the antenna broken off so it fits in my pocket)
• Jabra earphones
• Little bag containing iPod earbuds, Koss earphones, an iPod remote-control cable, and a pair of adapters (one for double-headed airline jacks and another that lets two people listen to the same iPod)
• Two blank CD-Rs
• DiskWarrior boot CD
• Kensington FlyLight USB LED light
• Kensington security lock (I’ve never actually used it—instead, I just never let my bag out of reach—but it’s a good thing to have on hand)
• Cables (camera to USB, camera to TV, FireWire, Ethernet, and RJ-11)
• Adapters: mini-DVI to DVI, and mini-DVI to VGA (for connecting to projectors and other monitors)
• Handeze gloves (In case I need to do a lot of typing while traveling)
• Antibacterial hand gel (essential at any conference where you’ll shake hands with lots of people and then touch food)
• Fairly large plastic bag (to act as backup rain protection)

Don’t take chances with your PowerPoint or Keynote presentations: create backup copies of your slides and put them on your iPod or digital camera just in case.
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