Tag Archives: connectivity

Packing for #altc23

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

This year I am off to the University of Warwick for ALT-C 2023, where I am presenting a retrospective of my work on digital strategies over the last twenty years.

I have written conference packing posts before, I did a post in 2009 and wrote an updated version in 2018. I also a post for last year’s conference in Manchester.

So here are some suggestions on what to pack if you are attending the conference in-person.

Six-Way Gang – I still think a six way gang is an useful thing, instead of fighting people for the power sockets, you can immediately make five friends! Having such an adapter is also useful in the accommodation when you want to charge everything up for the following day and you have limited plug sockets.

Image by ldyshah from Pixabay

With so many devices reliant on USB charging then an USB charging station could be useful, but then I have a laptop that needs a proper plug socket. If you are coming from outside the UK, then a trick I do (going the other way) is to bring an extension gang and then you only need one UK plug adapter.

Power Bank – Though in normal usage your phone might last the day, I have found if you are using your device for photographs, using the Twitter, accessing the conference Discord, checking e-mail, and so on; your battery will be hit hard. A charged power bank can be used for restoring those battery bars on your device.

Coffee – I don’t drink instant coffee and usually that it is what is only available in the university accommodation at Warwick. In the past I have taken a cafetière mug or coffee bags. I have to the amusement of others started taking a coffee machine with me when staying away. Well when I am drinking great coffee, who’s laughing now with your Nescafé  instant stuff! Should point out that I also take some decaffeinated green teabags as well with me.

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

It’s also useful to take the time to see what independent and local coffee places are near to the venue, which can be used instead of queuing for that awful conference coffee. At Warwick there are a few coffee places to choose from.,

Snacks – I also bring a few snacks with me as well, as that solitary small pack of biscuits you usually get is never enough! These days though I have found that the increase in (small) supermarket branches means buying snacks locally is much easier than it use to be. Warwick has an onsite supermarket, Rootes Grocery Store, which has a wide choice of not just snacks, but a range of food and drink items. Just off campus is a Tesco Superstore.

Chargers – Don’t forget your chargers, expensive to replace, difficult to borrow, make sure you pack yours. The other thing about power is investing in a higher powered adapter (or borrowing one from a friend). As Apple says here

Using an Apple 12W or 10W USB power adapter charges some Apple devices and accessories faster than a 5W power adapter.

I find that when charging my iPhone using the adapter that came with my iPad Pro and it charges the phone so much faster, which is an useful thing to know for a conference. This means you can do a quick “supercharge” of your iPhone ready for the next keynote. Also useful to know that the 5W power adapter potentially can charge your iPad Pro, but only if you aren’t using it for eight hours or more….

video recording
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Photography and Video – I use to take a camera to conferences, today I use my phone. If you take a lot of photographs then check you have a lot of storage space on your phone, or at least one way to take the pictures off. I now use iCloud storage for my photographs so that’s one less worry.

Connectivity – I am sure that the WiFi at the conference venue will be fine, however what about in the accommodation, the train… Technological changes means that connectivity is more important that in the last few years. I normally use tethering on my iPhone and make sure I have enough bandwidth to do that. Luckily Warwick has eduroam so that should make life simpler.

Notepad and pens – Though I am happy to take some notes on my phone, laptop, or iPad; there are times when I think I would prefer to handwrite notes, so I always check I have a notepad and pen. Sometimes you can pick these up in the exhibition space, but not at every conference.

Sharpies – Many times I have attended workshops at conferences, and we have been given some flip chart paper out, but the choice of pens is disappointing. It is at this point I get my pencil case of Sharpies out.

I actually bought these back in 2017 for £6 from Tesco. Still going strong.

Paracetamol – Some of those presentations do give you headaches…

In previous incarnations of this post I would talk about bringing an USB stick with your presentation on, the reality is that security considerations means that we’re not allowed to plug in USB sticks to the presentation machines, I had to upload my presentation last week.

What are you going to pack?

A connected conference

What is nice about this JISC Conference is the connectivity. There is free wireless access, this means that you can access the websites mentioned in presentations, the conference blog (to read entries on presentations and workshops you missed), e-mail (so less of a pain when you get back to the office), you can blog and micro blog. You can upload photographs to Flickr and view others’ del.icio.us links from the conference.

Of course laptop batteries never last, but at this conference there are power points to plug your laptop in.

There is a conference blog and a conference wiki.

Makes a conference easier to digest and reflect upon.