3 Things You Need In Your Family Travel Kit

Summary: I travel frequently for business and have perfected my pre-packed kits to make travel simple. Family travel is different. These items keep people happy, make travel easy, and, when packed into a single kit, you can just pick it up and zip out the door.

Last month my family and I went on two trips that resulted in us being gone 5 out of 7 days in 2 different places.  I travel fairly frequently for business, and have my travel routines down. I have a couple of pre-packed kits—one for toiletries, one for technology—that have everything I could possibly need for the presentations and workshops I give on the road.

Traveling with family is different. Everyone needs wifi access which, in some cases, can be $$ per day per device.  Everyone needs chargers for all their (inevitably) different devices. Someone will always leave that one connector they really, really need back at home. Even if you remember everything, carting around all that gear can really weigh you down.

When I got home from our last trip, I decided that I really needed a travel kit that was geared toward family travel, covered all the bases, worked for everyone, yet didn’t take up too much packing space or weigh down my carry-on.

Continue reading “3 Things You Need In Your Family Travel Kit”

Technology that solves the top technical problems for presenters (My Presenter’s Tech Travel Kit)

Summary:  This post details what is in my Presenter’s Tech Travel Kit. As a frequent presenter, I want to be prepared for any situation and I want it to always work. Ultimately, I’m responsible for solving any technical problems for presenters that arise because of the device I choose to travel with. It’s a long post, so take your time. Links are provided for convenience to reference and identify items I actually have.

This month we start a new column on the blog: Liz’s Tech Corner. I’m starting it because, at STC Summit this year I was comparing notes with a couple of people about what was in their Presenter’s Tech Travel Kit.

I present fairly frequently and I started carrying around a bunch of equipment that meant I would never have a problem wherever I was presenting. We’ve all had those moments, right? Where you get ready to present and find out that the internet isn’t working. Or you forgot the Mac adapter. Or the projector is old and only displays part of your screen. You make due, but it’s frustrating, as a presenter to have problems presenting.

The burden is on YOU to anticipate compatibility issues, and not on the organizers to accommodate you without any forewarning ~Presentation Guru

A few years ago, my company donated a new projector to the East Bay STC because I actually had that projector problem. I was trying out a new Android tablet, as a travel-presentation device — I thought, “Why cart a laptop around just for a presentation?” — and even though I had the right adapter with me, the projector was so old that it couldn’t handle the tablet’s resolution.

The point is that you never know what’s going to happen. After that presentation disaster I decided I wasn’t going to get caught in that situation again. I created a Tech Travel Kit. We all have a Travel Kit, but I also wanted a Tech Travel Kit that I could pick up and take with me anywhere. I wanted to always be ready.

Since that day, I haven’t had another presentation disaster. In fact, I’ve saved the day for several other presenters over the last few years because my Tech Travel Kit has the adapter that they forgot to bring.

Until I started packing my kit, I didn’t know the names of all the displays and would constantly call the Micro-HDMI a Mini-HDMI (same for USB). That’s part of why I packed my kit in the first place. I didn’t want to have people or techs out searching for what I needed at the last minute only to have them come back with the wrong thing.

Now I have a kit that matches all my devices and everything is configured for plug-and-play. There is literally almost no work and no trepidation (at least from a technology stand point) when it comes to presenting anywhere any time.

Here it is, a full description of everything in my kit and why it’s there. Continue reading “Technology that solves the top technical problems for presenters (My Presenter’s Tech Travel Kit)”

Technology, People, and Successful Projects

Focus on the people; you’ll find the right technology that matches your situation and you’ll see success.

I was reminded recently of Rebekka Anderson’s presentation at DITA North America a couple of years ago. Her conclusions mirrored what we see every day:  Technology is only 1/3 of the things that you need to consider when looking to solve and implement something like dynamic publishing or DITA successfully. I’ve been at this for over a decade and every time I see someone looking only at the technology, their projects fail.

You need to make sure that you know what it will take from an organizational perspective to implement a solution like this before you start down the path to implementation.

Things like:

  • What are the processes I have in place?
  • What is the culture of the organization?
  • What skill levels of people do I have?
  • What skills do you need to have?
  • Do you have to change processes?
  • Do you need to bring on people?
  • What’s this thing actually going to look like?

You need to look at the organization as a whole, and do deep dives into the groups that intersect with information creation and delivery:

  • Technical Publications
  • Engineering
  • Product Development and Product Lifecycle Management
  • Marketing
  • Web Team
  • Localization partners
  • Packaging
  • Training
  • Support
  • Service centers and maintenance
  • etc.

It’s not just the technology (and the cost of it) that you’re looking at. You’ve got to look at all these different things together. The other costs are there too, lurking, and they can blow a project’s budget beyond all recognition.

Not all products are for all situations. Not all partnerships are the best for both sides. You can’t know anything without fully understanding what your needs and what you want to accomplish from an organizational perspective.

I started by talking about Rebekka Anderson’s presentation. She found that Tools and Technology are only 10% of what it takes to get a project done. Change management and process management are the biggest factors in successful project completion. She’s right.

Get people involved early. Force never succeeds and, in fact, will back fire on you. Hard. As a wise friend told me once, “Customers can hurt you more, but a bad team will hurt you faster.” He was talking about internal sabotage, people who are acting out of fear or can’t see what’s in it for them to work with you, to implement the solution you know has benefits.  You need them on your side. They need to invest in the effort and participation early on has multiple benefits for you: (1) they have skin in the game and (2) they’ll take some of the work off your hands.

Focus on the people; you’ll find the right technology that matches your situation and you’ll see success.