My daily carry in 2023


Wouter’s latest post concerns his daily carry, which he posted like a gentleman:

Brain Baking: What I Carry to Work

Turns out, he and I share a few things. This got me thinking what else I carry, and how so much has changed in the last year. Each of these will likely get their own post at some point.

Photo of my tiny backpack with the components listed below.

Current essentials

I really tried to pare down what I carry this year. The perfect bag for this eluded me until Clara and I saw this impossibly-slim Uniqlo backpack in Ōsaka. It passed the crammed Japanese train test, has a mesh back panel for breathability, and a couple of small pockets. I may have even bought a spare; it’s weird they don’t offer it in stores overseas. The Hankyū luggage tag was from a train shop in Tōkyō.

Wikipedia: Hankyu 9300 series

I downsized from an Intel MacBook Pro to an M1 MacBook Air for my daily work last year, which I swap for an even smaller Japanese Panasonic Let’s Note running FreeBSD on the weekends. Both have such great battery life, I can eschew (gesundheit) a power brick.

The bag’s smaller pouch has a few USB keys, and a USB-C cable for transferring photos off the Ricoh GR III camera I also carry. I’m not really a fan of it after all, so I’ve decided to sell it for something else. A lone refillable Bic Crystal Re’New pen is there for filling out forms. I also carry a spare coffee bag (not pictured) and tea bag like Wouter, because why not? I still carry a $1 coin in case my mobiles die and I need to use a pay phone, though I was 17 when that last happened.

Camera specs don’t tell the whole story

The small medicine bag from the Singapore MRT gift shop includes a cute jar of Tiger Balm, a spare N95 mask in case I get the sniffles, a few Band-Aids, and my migraine medicine. It’s been wonderful having multiple tablets be replaced with just the one with my latest prescription!

Optional extras

These weren’t pictured, but I’ll strategically add these pouches when needed.

The first is a Hatsune Miku travel pouch that has my passport, ticket printouts, a map to our hotel and the nearest Australian embassy or high commission, and where I put my public transit cards, SIM cards, and keys from home. You don’t want to be fumbling for those when you need them.

I also have a data centre trip pouch from Ansett, that defunct Australian airline. This has my ear plugs, access fobs, a coiled Ethernet cable, null modem cable, a few spare cage nuts, a small screwdriver set with swappable heads, USB to RS-232 adaptor, a muesli bar, and a bunch of installers on USB keys I try to keep current. I’ve been challenging myself to make this as small as possible.

Future expansion

Daily carries are evolving beasts, and I’m always trying to find way to pare down. Ironically, these will only add bulk.

I’m giving serious consideration to a Filofax personal binder again. It’s not just wanting to fulfill a childhood fantasy; I’ve started to think electronic PIM tools aren’t working for me. Having a small binder with all my organised notes, and planning my week and #TODO list items with a pen might be useful. You probably already grokked this after reading my previous post about Lotus Organizer.

Speaking of books, I’m reconsidering my stance on e-readers. I tried also using my iPad Mini as a daily reader, but its middling battery and weight lead me to reconsider. I’m thinking probably a mid-sized Kobo with enough resolution and storage for manga as well as books. I tend to have a few books going at the same time, so having one reader is brilliant.

I’m also hoping to eventually replace that Ricoh with a slightly bigger Micro Four Thirds camera and a pancake lens again. My OM-D E-M10 was impossibly small and fun to use, and I’m so relieved Olympus is getting a new lease on life under OM Systems. Like that old laptop, my days of lugging an SLR boat anchor are long gone.

My dream is also to have a single, multi-boot USB key to replace the half dozen I carry around, I just haven’t got around to doing it. Something like Rufus but with multiple images or partitions. Anyone know of a straightforward tool that could be used to do this, say for FreeBSD, Fedora, ESXi, Windows Server, macOS, and the like?

And finally, my laptops need more NetBSD stickers to complement the FreeBSD ones. This wouldn’t add any discernible weight, though it would add discernible awesomeness. 🧡

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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