I’ve become an avid note-taker over the past few years of my career, recording and documenting webinars, conferences, and workshops as fast as I can key. Once I’ve had a chance to smooth out my transcripts, I enjoy sharing them with my colleagues so they can benefit from what I observed and learned. The act of note-taking is also an effective way for me to commit things to memory, which means I’ll walk away from a panel or workshop with a stronger understanding of what was shared.
What I’d like to share with you all today, however, is not the notes I take, but how I take them. I call it my “laptop in miniature” setup.
Being a web developer by trade and a passionate user and advocate for social media, the conferences, events, and workshops I attend all fall into the technology, marketing, and user experience sectors. These events are usually heavily attended and sparse on room. Keynotes usually take place in lecture halls with stadium seating. Panels and roundtable discussions can often be found in cramped rooms with rows upon rows of chairs all packed together. Depending on the venue, there’s few opportunities to pack up all of your belongings and find a comfortable and roomy spot in the next session. Thus, I’ve learned to travel light and have a modest setup for taking notes.
I find laptops uncomfortable to use. The screen is rarely at an optimal angle in tight conference halls and the heat from the air vents makes me feel like a slowly roasting marshmallow. Tablets are awkward for me to type on and a challenge to balance without a hard surface. My solution is my trusty iPhone, a phone case with a kickstand, a portable power source, and Apple’s light and sturdy wireless keyboard.
The case I’m using is made by Aduro (here’s a link to the iPhone 5 version). It has a slim form factor (not at all bulky like the Otterbox armored cases) and the fold-out kickstand allows me to stand the iPhone straight up or on its side. The price is also super-reasonable: Amazon carries them for around $12.
The portable backup battery is my newest acquisition (thanks to the good folks at Swagchimp) and has become a valued member of my technical arsenal. Twitter’s iPhone app is very hungry for battery power, so having the ability to keep at full strength if outlets and power strips are out of reach is invaluable to me.
I can’t sing the praises of Apple’s wireless keyboard enough. It’s modest size, light aluminum frame, and quiet keys are ideal for fast breakdown and setup between sessions. The Bluetooth connection is highly reliable and its consumption of battery life is minimal. It is without hesitation the best $70 I’ve ever spent on technology.
My only non-tech concession is a folded-out, hard-backed notebook to serve as a level surface for the entire setup. That packs up nicely as well and can help for sketching out wireframes and concepts, as needed.