Working Tools – 7. Briefcase

I co-host a podcast, 1857. On episode 51, we inadvertently touched on one my neuroses. Bags. Backpacks, messengers, briefcases, holdalls and everything in between. I am constantly on the hunt for the perfect bag (or bags). Interest was huge! People coming back with questions, advice and suggestions. Many wanted to know what I plumped for – so here we are. For everyone’s sanity, I’ll limit this post to my work bag, nobody is interested in how I pack my shirts. Mostly, I work from my home office, which is directly below my living room. From time to time, I attend meetings, either here in Cyprus, or elsewhere. This might be in my guise as a compliance consultant, the notebook guy or possibly even both. So I need a bag that will sit comfortably with both of those personae. One that can come to a pen show or to a boardroom.

I love Messenger bags and backpacks. However – I don’t like either with a suit. I know that many suits use these types of bag daily, but I find that the bags do not sit right with the jacket. I don’t see the point of making an effort to look smart, then destroying that look with the bag. A specific and personal opinion, I know. Therefore, I am left with briefcases / shoulder bags (some of which can be worn across the body too). The specific trip that I am packing for is, 4 nights, 3 days. 1 day leisure, 1 day being the notebook guy at a pen show and 1 day as a compliance professional. I fly out on Friday evening and return home Tuesday.

Contents

This is what I’m taking:

Digital

Digital Tools
For a short trip

iPad Pro 10.5 (2017). Bose Comfort 35 Noise reducing headphones. Anker charger (4 x USB), Kodak battery pack, AirPods, Punkt M01 feature phone, some lightning cables, and an Apple Watch charging cable.

Analogue

Briefcase analogue contents
Paper, pens and pencils

My LT1917 Metallic A5 and pen. 2 Bellroy wallets. One for pocket carry and 1 for additional cards. Smythson business card holder and LT1917 business card holder. Pocket Notebook and Nock Tallulah mini pen case for a few writing instruments.

All of that will slot into my Tumi briefcase that I bought several years ago, in Helsinki, I think.

Briefcase in Black
Corporate Cobra!

Conclusion

The briefcase is made for a laptop around the 13 inch mark. I can squeeze my 15 inch MBP in, if pushed. The dimensions in cm are 42 by 30 by 10 or so. The bag will fit comfortably under an airline seat, which is my preference. I like to be able to get to anything that I might need without doing the whole seat dance thing.

However, the briefcase is quite rigid and as such requires a ‘everything in its place’ approach. Rummaging around in this bag is uncomfortable. It hurts. It does unzip all the way open, making it TSA friendly. Of course, the rest of the world cares not a jot about the TSA, so don’t think you can leave your laptop in it for scanning at Heathrow.

Briefcase opened out
Only useful in the US

The shoulder strap is detachable and adjustable. It can be worn over the shoulder or across the body. It’s very high quality, and I suspect will last forever. The slim profile means that duty free shopping etc is not going to slot in this bag, but will either need to live in its own bag or be slipped into the wheelie with my clothes.

If I was slipping down to a coffee shop to prominently place my notebook and iPad and look the ‘hipster writer’, I’d want a softer, less corporate briefcase, but that is,
a: Because I’m a poseur
b: For another post

Overall, this is a high quality briefcase, well-designed and built. It sits between the minimalist “cool” size and the corporate road warrior “all bases covered” size. Yet still, I find myself drifting to bag websites…

Living the Dream – 7. Mobile phone

Mobile Phone

“It’s time to renew your mobile phone contract.”

Music to my ears. The mobile contract for Mags and I was expiring a couple of months before we are due to leave. Once or twice in the past I have retained contracts made useless by a change of country.

Once, it was important. Changing your phone number was a hassle. I went to great lengths to ensure that that everybody knew how to contact me. Partly this was driven by an inflated sense of self-importance, and partly because it was true. A lot of business was done and organised on the phone.

I have just checked my phone log. Statistics for the last week.

  • 11 calls over 7 days. 1 of which was a missed call
  • 5 were between Mags and I
  • 3 were between my Mum and I
  • 1 was a friend
  • 1 was a company looking to sell me stationery

The majority of my communication these days is not over the phone. It is on e-mail or other electronic channels. Even when communication is by voice, it is often over the internet (VOIP). Were I in Cyprus, I suspect that the three calls with my Mum would have been over the internet. The stationer wouldn’t call me internationally either. As I’ll be working from home, Mags is likely to put her head around the door rather than call me.

By any reasonable measure then, I don’t actually need a mobile phone for phone calls.

Decision

Great. I won’t get one.

Oh, but it is handy to have internet access on the road. Social media is after all the shop window for my businesses. Actually, having an incredible camera in the pocket is pretty cool too. What about emergencies? Good point. Looks like I’m stuck with a mobile phone.

I converted the UK phones to Pay as You Go, mobile phone companies won’t simply extend a contract to a determined date, largely because phone companies are rivalled only by airlines in paucity of service. My intention was to simply let the UK number run until we go, and then simply let people know the new number. There are so many ways to get in touch now, I doubt it would be a problem.

2FA

Then, by chance, I discovered a hidden hassle. Over the last year, I have almost drowned in recommendations to implement additional security online. One element of this is two-factor authentication (2FA). There are lots of websites, that when I log on, send a code to my mobile phone, which I need to enter on the website to gain access.

Ah.

I’m doing my best to remember which sites I have set this up on, and turning off or changing the method. I wonder how many I will not discover until after the UK number no longer works? What joy that will be.