Thought Leadership

Traveling light

By Colin Walls

For just about all of my working life, I have needed to travel. That is OK, but i do get tired of carrying stuff and I have gradually honed the art of traveling light. I cannot get away from the obvious necessities – clothing and toiletries – just keep those down to a minimum. Many years ago, there was little else to carry, except possibly for a file of overhead projector slides. But, in recent years, there has always been the inevitable laptop …

Until now, perhaps. Although laptops have got lighter, the endless thirst for more power means the loss of weight has not been spectacular. And let’s not talk about power consumption! A while ago I thought that I would try a netbook, which is really just a compact, lightweight, low performance laptop, and see whether it would be sufficient for my needs when I am on the road. The answer was yes. When traveling, all I need to do is deal with email, a bit of Internet access, some writing, a little lightweight presentation editing and delivery of presentations. The netbook was just fine for all these tasks. So, I was in good shape with a 2lb (1Kg) laptop which would deliver 8-9 hours use on a charge. I could even consider leaving the charger at home! And then I got an iPad.

Initially, the iPad increased my payload – one more thing to carry. But I gradually realised that it ought to be able to address all my mobile computing needs. I just needed to be brave enough to leave the netbook at home. I have just been on a short business trip when I did do that. It went well. I took some precautions. My presentation were supposed to be ready on a machine at the venue. I took a copy on a USB stick just in case (which turned out to be a good precaution!). I also stored a copy online, so that I could get them from any Internet-connected computer. And I always had the last option: deliver the presentations from my iPad. I have not done that yet, but I am confident that it will work fine.

My ultimate goal would be to travel with no bag at all, not even a modest backpack like I used this time. I think I will probably retire before I reach that state of Nirvana.



0 thoughts about “Traveling light
  • Hey Colin, I agree that the iPad is the idea traveling companion for keeping in touch with the home office and customers on the road. I also find it to be the ideal means of interacting with small groups of three to four people.

    It’s also less intrusive at meetings, without the the distracting clikety-clack of the keyboard.

    That said, the touch keyboard is the achilles heel of the iPad. I hold out great hope for voice input with future models. The original iPad, when used with a good headset, does quite well with an app like Dragon Naturally Speaking. I understand Apple is working on this aspect of the product.

    Best Regards,


    • Jim: I have never had much success with voice recognition software – maybe expecting it to work like on Star Trek is asking too much. πŸ™‚ I find the iPad’s touch keyboard OK, but only in landscape – keys are too small in portrait. When I say OK, I mean I am fine with entering a few hundred words, but for more I do need a real keyboard. I guess I’d pick up a small Bluetooth keyboard if I though I’d use it enough.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at