Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Road Warrior Revisited

I've been traveling a bit more lately, which reminded me to update my list of recommended laptop travel accessories.

Although I was happy with the Microsoft Notebook Optical Mouse, the snap-in power off switch never worked very well for me. As a result, it got switched on a few times in my laptop bag, leaving me with a dead mouse when I needed it. So I needed a new notebook mouse. I switched to the Logitech V500:

Logitech V500 Mouse

It's got a neat pop-up panel on the bottom which serves three functions:

  1. it's a power switch
  2. it provides a larger, angled profile for comfort
  3. it serves as a secure storage compartment for the wireless USB receiver

The solid-state scrolling surface (instead of a wheel) takes a little getting used to, but it works well, and there's a satisfying audible click that plays as you "scroll." It takes up less space than any of the Microsoft notebook mice, too.

If you've ever been trapped at a crowded airport with all the power outlets occupied by opportunistic travellers, you'll wish you had brought a mini power strip with you. The Monster Cable Outlets to Go mini power strip looks like it will fit the bill nicely:

Monster Cable Outlets to Go, 4 port version

Too bad it's not available yet. If you can't wait, most hardware stores carry the good old three-port power outlet expander:

cube tap power adapters

I also occasionally need to network multiple PCs on the road. Given the prices of today's routers, there's absolutely no reason to carry something that's merely a switch or hub. Consider the Linksys WRT54GC compact wireless router, which I picked up on eBay for under $40 shipped:

wrt54gc in a person's hand

The newer Wireless-G Travel Router is even smaller, and it plugs directly into the wall, obviating the need for any external power brick.

Linksys Wireless-G Travel Router

However, it only has one client ethernet port, so it's not suitable as a wired switch. That's kind of a bummer.

I still recommend (and use) my external USB wireless antenna, and a retractable cable kit. Oh yeah, and the portable laptop stand can be a lifesaver, too.

What are your essential laptop travel kit items?

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Exchange and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: http://twitter.com/codinghorror