As we wait again for more report from WT on exactly what (if anything) is going on, I’ll throw in my own report on my journey toward using the iPad as my end-all, be-all system for work, play and everything in between.
It’s now been over a month since I’ve been toting around my iPad Pro to work, leaving behind my laptop and most (but not all) the accessories that come with it. I guess I should mention that I’m a longtime sysadmin for a company HQ’ed in Silicon Valley with satellites in both the Bay Area and the Southland, As most of you may know, sysadmins must wear several hats, and in my case I hang mine at around six places in California. A good part of my work require that I float between all the places, requiring me to set up shop when needed, especially when doo doo hits the proverbial fan. I must also be ready to do the same at a nearby Starbucks (or Peets which I prefer) while in transit, because I always seem to get stuck in a place where LTE coverage sucks.
Though I don’t “float” every day, I must be ready to do so every day. In my early days I was also tasked with security and being younger, I thought I’d require some heavy iron, with a bag to match. I’d carry a large messenger bag filled with a 10lb laptop and all kinds of weird accessories, including a CD case and even manuals. When my wife said I look like a hobo, I downsized to a simpler laptop bag with just a Macbook Pro 15", then a 13", then an Air.
After last year when I was able to revive a network and servers with just a jailbroken iPad that was fortunately loaded with enough GNU utilities and some custom security software I wrote, I realized I was still overdressed for my job. It seems all I really need is a decent Unix base and a shell to work from. Since corporate policy frowns upon a jailbroken devices, I began carrying around a Raspberry Pi with a bastardized version of Kali Linux and began dabbling with the idea of losing all my gear in favor of just an iPad. And this prompted me to purchase the 9.7" Pro.
One thing that this experiment made me appreciate (that I didn’t before) was the bag, which if you think about it is the unsung hero of this whole exercise. While my Timbuk2 messenger bag served me well when carrying loads of iron, and would fit right in in a safari trip, because my particular model has room for three laptops, water bottle, USB charger bank, on top of tablets, smartphone, and perhaps all my clothes. Sure, there are smaller versions, but none of them are for aspiring minimalists.
On the other hand, most simple laptop/tablet sleeves I found are too bare, providing no room for anything but the tablet. No pockets for even a charger or cables. When someone on the forum suggested a Waterfield bag from sfbags.com, I immediately went to the site and ordered the Travel Express bag, and for the past few weeks I’ve run it through the ringer. Let me tell you, it’s a keeper as it’s been perfect for my iPad experiment. It’s almost thin as a sleeve, but it’s able to accommodate everything I need. It’s also tough (perhaps tougher than the Timbuk2) for all the things I need to protect, but soft enough in my hands (I got the waxed canvas one which supposedly ages well). I’ve dropped it a few times and even stepped on it while making my travel rounds with nary a mark.
It’s a smart looking bag with a touch of class. I can carry it around with just one hand, tuck it under my arms, or even use a hand strap or shoulder strap if necessary, I guess.
With all the necessities packed inside, it’s about the size and weight of my MBP 13". A tad thicker due to the wireless keyboard. With a Textblade instead, it would be about as thin. There’s actually room for two tablets, which may be important when I’m issued a Surface Pro 4 later this year. As WT likes to tout, the insides are well crafted as well, with two nylon pockets for hard items, and two soft felt pockets for fragile stuff:
What can it fit, and how much? Well, let me show you:
- iPad Pro 9.7 with Moko smart cover
- Apple Pencil + three pens
- Apple Wireless Keyboard
- iPhone 6
- Lightning cable + charger
- Apple earbuds + Jaybird Bluebud X inside the black felt bag
- Two flash drives
- Raspberry Pi in a clear case (not pictured)
And everything all fits in nicely. And believe it or not, this is what I’ve been using every day for the last month or so for work (sysadmin’ing, programming, as well as regular Internet stuff like email, browsing, skype/facetime, writing documents, marking up PDFs, making diagrams for personal and presentation purposes, even to make this post). I’ve not touched my laptop or desktop, neither at work or at home. After hours, the wife and I cozy up and watch Korean/Japanese dramas together or airplay it onto our TV. Or we take turns with it. I dabble in novel writing while she dabbles with first person shooters (don’t really understand her fascination with that).
And that’s about it as far as hardware’s concerned, and it’s exactly what I plan on taking with me in an island hopping trip I plan on taking later this summer (and quite possibly the only thing). If the textblade can arrive by then, it would reduce my load significantly as the most cumbersome part of all this is the keyboard. I should also mention that the beauty of this bag and setup is that I can simply toss it into my messenger bag or something even bigger depending on the trip. But lacking that, as it is, it’s been my daily carry-on for the last month. And it’s worked out great.
Software, of course is another story. Maybe I’ll post another if anyone’s interested.