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So it’s time to pack for that three-day business trip. A change or two of clothes and toiletries easily fit into a light carry-on bag. Total weight, 4 to 5 pounds, max. But then there is bag number two. The laptop, the portable printer, the zip drive for the images associated with the case, the PDA, the wireless phone and the beeper, all packed in that nice padded (read heavy) briefcase to protect your delicate electronics. All of a sudden, you have a great deal of sympathy for the Sherpas that carried that Imax camera to the top of Mt. Everest. Final weight of bag number two: 18.5 pounds. Frankly, this has gotten out of hand. There has got to be a way to travel that doesn’t require you to carry the weight of the technology world on your shoulders, back or any other part of your anatomy. The answer, of course, is to stop carrying all that equipment. But that move requires some advance planning. What do you really need for your business trip? Is it the equipment or what the equipment can provide in the way of information resources? Most of the time, it’s the latter. Yes, there are exceptions when you are actually going to need a computer. For example, when you need to be able to view and sort documents and other materials and when a phone (even a wireless), cannot be used, such as in a courtroom. Let’s assume for a moment that you do, indeed, need to carry the computer. Instead of carrying a zip drive, burn the images you need onto CD-R disks. Assuming that you need 2 MB to 250 MB zip disks, one very light weight disk will handle the data. Between cables, the drive itself and the transformer, you have just lost a little over a pound from the briefcase. Hey, it’s a start. New weight: 17.5 pounds. Next, replace your wireless phone and beeper with one that does both. Text messages, including phone numbers, appear on the screen on the phone. When looking for equipment that does both, check that the screen is large enough to actually read your messages. Make sure, too, that someone calling you receives clear instructions on how to leave either a text or voice message. OK, we didn’t lose much weight by dumping the beeper, but it is one less thing to worry about. Sorry, the briefcase still weighs 17.5 pounds. INTERNET CAFES Many hotel chains now provide Internet cafes with excellent equipment, including laser and inkjet printers. We are still assuming that you need the laptop, but maybe it’s time to consider expelling the printer from the briefcase. Generally, the printing costs will be between 50 cents and a dollar or so per page, but this figure can vary widely. On a recent cruise vacation, folks using the computer and printer in the ship’s library were charged nothing for laser printing, while in its Internet caf�, they were charged 50 cents per page for prints from e-mail and the Internet to a color inkjet printer. Considering what back surgery will run you, these costs seem very attractive. Another option: If you are, for example, co-counsel with a local firm, make arrangements to use their printers, especially for larger jobs. And don’t forget resources such as Kinko’s, that have top-notch equipment and are open 24 hours a day. Caveat: The key here is to plan ahead. Know what will be available to you and what it is going to cost. If your hotel doesn’t have the printers you need at a reasonable price, check other local resources within walking distance (carrying your computer). The printer, and its cable and transformer are gone, and so is 5 pounds! New briefcase weight: 12.5 pounds. JETTISON THE COMPUTER? Now comes the hard part. Let’s talk about the computer. Do you really need to haul it around with you wherever you go? The first argument in favor of carrying it is that you need to be able to work on the plane. But what kind of tasks or work are you performing while in flight? If you are simply reviewing documents and making notes, maybe your PDA can substitute. You are thinking right now, “No way!” But what if you had a real keyboard attached to your Visor or PalmPilot? Those accessory keyboards work and actually work fairly well. You will likely want to increase the storage capacity of your PDA, but this option can work for you. Some of the newer PDAs now come with flash or memory sticks allowing you to move between applications and documents. For those of you who play solitaire on the plane, it, too, is available for your PDA. Attaching a modem, wireless or otherwise, will also provide you access to your e-mail. ACCESSING FILES Need access to other files back at the office? Remote synchronization and file access can be done via the Internet. Yes, your office will need to use top-notch firewall protection to keep the unwanted out, but the hardware and software are available today to allow you to access your files from any Internet connection, anywhere. Uploading and downloading large amounts of information, such as images? Be sure your hotel (or ship, cruise line or local Internet caf�) and your firm’s Web and applications server(s) have sufficient bandwidth and high speed Internet connection to allow you access without the need to spend hours in front of the computer. If you need to access images on a CD-R you have burned, consider loading the “read only” viewer often included at little or no cost with the indexing software. Many companies grant unlimited licenses to make copies for just this purpose. Thus, when faced with a computer without the appropriate reader, you have brought it with you and will not need to load it or the images into the other guy’s computer. Fifteen years ago, the thought of traveling with a computer would have been considered crazy. In those days, a “portable” (read: luggable) computer weighed about 30 pounds. Now we all feel we cannot go anywhere without everything but the electronic kitchen sink. It may be time to go back to an earlier model, knowing the technology is waiting for us any time and anywhere. The net here is we have added a half-pound of keyboard and PDA modem and lost the eight-pound computer. Because the PDA, keyboard, modem and wireless phone will all fit in the carry-on with your clothes, we can ditch that heavy briefcase, too. Bottom line: Bag number two isn’t making this trip. Zero pounds. Your shoulders and back will thank you. Attorney Catherine Paunov is owner of Pennington Consulting, a computer and technology firm with offices in Staten Island, N.Y., and St. Petersburg, Fla.

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