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Prepping to Go Mobile in St. Louis



DSC_0185 Next Saturday, my wife and I will be taking our daughter, Maggie, to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for some medical tests.

I’m already in the midst of planning what I’m taking with me, how I’ll get work done while away, and the best devices for the job. I’ve also got a ton of regular work to do between now and next Saturday. Man, it never ends!

One of the challenges with this trip is Internet connectivity.  Because of the type of tests being done, we’re not allowed to have cell phones or wwan Internet connectivity in the hospital room. However, I have been known to break that rule on occasion, and ask for forgiveness later :-). Any cell conversations or wwan Internet access has to be conducted elsewhere in the hospital. In addition, EV-DO coverage in our hotel has typically been very spotty. So, it is a constant connectivity battle communicating with friends and loved ones, staying on top of work, and being available to take care of the occasional emergency from work.

Here is what I’m taking with me and why:

  • TC1100 Tablet PC – I want a no-hassle way of taking general notes while the doctors are talking with us, journaling, etc. I’ve installed Vista on the TC1100 and will be using InkSeine for my note-taking and journaling
  • Moleskine – In the event a situation doesn’t allow for a slate Tablet PC or I’ve run out of battery, I always carry a regular paper-based notebook with me. Oftentimes, I’ll use the Moleskine when I want to escape from technology. Sometimes, paper is best.
  • MacBook – I’ve got a black MacBook with Vista running through VMWare’s Fusion. This is my current powerhouse for getting work done. I could take the X61 with me, but on this trip I’m leaning to the MacBook due to its flexibility in running multiple OS’s and the wide range of program selection. In addition, the MacBook has a built-in webcam so I can record some video of Maggie and upload it for her brother and sisters to watch from back home.
  • Canon SD600 camera – when Maggie was in the hospital several years ago, I took my Nikon D70. It was too big to be hauling around the hospital, waiting rooms, etc. For this trip, I’m aiming for light-weight and good quality. I’ll also be using my iPhone for picture taking.
  • Novatel USB727 air card – Since I’ll be bringing two computers with me, the flexibility of a USB based EV-DO is important, assuming I can get good coverage in our hotel room. I want to avoid paying our hotel for internet access at $10 – $20 per day.
  • HP 310 Travel Companion – Because we’re driving to and around St. Louis, I’ll be relying a great deal on a GPS solution. I don’t have a good sense of direction, so GPS and standard maps are a mainstay for me. HP will be sending me a replacement eval 310 since the one I received prior to CES had problems from the beginning. After working with HP, who have been totally awesome in helping me work through this, we’ve determined that I likely had a bad unit. The 310 will be put to good use during this trip for sure.
  • iPhone – I’ve gone back and forth between the iPhone and the HTC Tilt. Both are good phones. However, since I’m primarily using a MacBook right now ( coupled with a TC1100 ), the most seamless and trouble-free syncing solution is with an iPhone. In addition, taking pictures and casual web browsing is much better on the iPhone than on a Windows Mobile phone. I’m expecting AT&T coverage to quite spotty between here and St. Louis, with Kansas providing the biggest challenge. Still, with the iPhone coupled with IMAP enabled Gmail, I should be able to stay on top of email while on the road, refilling at gas stations, and stocking up on fast-food.
  • Amazon Kindle – there is a lot of down time while these tests are going on, especially during all of the video monitoring. To keep from bringing so many regular books, Kathi and I will be doing most of our reading on the Kindle. That said, I’m sure Kathi will be bringing her fair share of regular books, too.
  • Maggie is bringing her Zune to listen to music and watch movies on. The driving time is about 13 hours, so we’ll be keeping the Zune charged through an auto power adapter.
  • In the car, Kathi and I will be listening to our music on our Zune, which will be plugged in to the stereo through a standard male to male cable. It is mounted in our van using a ProClip mount.
  • And of course, all the darn adapters and power cables to keep the above charged and working. Fortunately, most of the smaller gadgets charge through USB, so I can either charge them using my computer or by using a standard USB power adapter.
  • and Zoho? – this trip is showing me the value in keeping documents locally accessible, especially when I need to be able instantly search my notes. With the unpredictable availability of internet access, I need a dependable way to get to my stuff, especially my notebook. So, I won’t be relying on or Zoho during this trip. Using the cloud for storage and document generation is a good solution if you can depend on your connectivity. Once that confidence begins to shed, though, the good-ole standby begins to shine: local storage and client-based apps. Web-based services Office Live look like a good in between solution – access and viewing of documents online, editing offline, and automatic syncing. Look for some coverage on Office Live from Sierra and I over the next 3 – 4 weeks.
  • If you are pretty sharp, you’ll notice one item missing from my standard kit: The OQO Model 02. Several weeks ago, I let Sierra borrow my Model 02. Big mistake. She has since fallen in love with it. I knew my chances of getting it back where slim to none; so when she offered to buy it from me, I jumped at the opportunity – better to get a little money out of the deal than never get the unit back at all! I’ll likely pick up another one on when OQO releases the next version.

For those of you who are interested, you can following our trip from my personal blog, I’ll mostly be posting stuff there that we are doing on a day to day basis, how Maggie is doing, test results, pictures, video captured in the hospital room, etc. I’ll also be twittering, which you can follow here.  Warner, Sierra, Matt, and Terry are going to keep things running on the GBM front while I’m prepping for my trip and also away.


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