Sometimes My Office Goes with Me

A year or so ago, I wrote a short article titled "Network Go Bag". During the past year, I've gotten lots of email about that bag and actually quite a few questions about working while traveling in general. Lately I've been traveling again, so I thought I'd put together the "How I Do It" information into a single article. I often write about what I use, so you've probably already heard of some of these things, but nonetheless, here it goes.

Work Area

Usually, if I'm staying at a hotel while traveling, there will be some sort of desk in the room that I can take over as a temporary workstation. The room I'm in this week doesn't actually have a desk, so I had to run to the local department store and buy a table. Figure 1 shows the table I bought. It was $29, and I have no idea how I'm going to fit it into the car to bring home. You can't see the chair in the photo, but it's a folding chair I "borrowed" from a conference room. Metal folding chairs hurt your rear end after a while, so for a cushion, I'm sitting on a bag of dirty clothes. Yes, I travel in style, and I'm super classy.

Figure 1. Yep, that's a party-size bag of saltwater taffy—and about 50 empty wrappers.

The other side of the room has a little nightstand (Figure 2), which was oddly placed nowhere near the bed. That's okay, because I used the table to set up a coffee station. The room also didn't have a coffee pot, so I picked up this single-serve Keurig-compatible coffee pot for $29. It's terrible. Seriously, if I reviewed coffee pots for a living, this would be my example of the worst coffee pot I've ever used. Still, I can't work in a room without coffee, so for the week, I'll just suffer. But I'm leaving this pot here; I don't want it at home. (And yes, I don't eat terribly healthy on the road. Ramen is about it. You can cook only so many things with a subpar, single-serve coffee pot.)

Figure 2. Coffee and ramen—the fancy creamers are for my wife.


Basically, I carry a router, a Wi-Fi extender, network cabling and extension cords. I've been in a situation where I tied my Wi-Fi extender inside a grocery bag with a lithium-ion battery and happily had Wi-Fi access in a cabin outside of range. I was my own superhero.

Once the gasping stops (yes, that's an 11" MacBook Air laptop shown in Figure 1). It's the best laptop I've ever owned, and I'm willing to take the shame for using an Apple product. First, it has the nicest keyboard I've ever used on a laptop. (I can't say the same for the newer MacBook 12" keyboard.) It's tiny, has 8GB of RAM, an i7 processor and a big 512GB SSD. I can run VMware Fusion and host Ubuntu MATE 16.04, and it runs better than it does natively on any other laptop I've owned. Plus, I'd be lying if I said I didn't use MacOS as well. Sometimes when I'm presenting, the only "projector" access is an AppleTV using AirPlay. With the MacOS running, I can share my screen and do all my demos inside VMware. Plus, the aluminum chassis is so thin, I probably could sword fight ninjas with it, should the need ever arise.


Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.