It's recently been brought to my attention that though I claim to have found the perfect bag, it's just as important to show how I'm using the bag. Today we'll get a look inside my Cocoon bag to see what's there and how the space is being used. I like to be mobile but also prepared for anything. Let's dive in and see what I've got!
Being on the go, to me, means we're out and doing things. It's important that I have a bag that can keep up with the memories I'm building. The front pouch was designed around the idea that I wanted to be untethered as long as possible to make as much room for adventure as I could, and I want to be able to capture the memories and beauty of whatever I'm doing accurately and at a high level of quality.
One of the challenges of being on the go is not knowing when or where you'll get to put power back into the batteries we rely on. To solve this issue, one of the first things I've included in my pack is a Limefuel 20,000 mAh battery pack with a bring LED on the front which acts like a flashlight. 20,000 mAh is a big battery. If it's charged, I have no problem getting any of my phones through a long weekend without seeing an outlet. I can also charge up my tablet once during the weekend and still have juice left over. The power bank lets me and those I'm with be on the move without needing an outlet every night.
Another way to stay on the go is extra batteries for the camera. I have two batteries which I keep with my camera at all times to make sure I don't miss a shot because I'm missing power.
It is nice to be able to top everything off if I do find a wall outlet. I keep the microUSB charger cable, a USB power brick, and the camera battery charger in the bag to make sure I'm ready to top everything off.
Photography: Olympus and the Micro Four Thirds System
I purchased my first mirrorless camera, the Olympus Pen E-PL2 because I wanted to get into high quality photography but I still valued mobility. After getting some experience with that camera and the Micro 4/3 system I was hooked. I upgraded to the Olympus OMD E-M5. It's a brilliant little camera. The sensor takes DSLR quality photographs while keeping the camera relatively tiny. The system also keeps lenses to a more than manageable size, which means I get to carry all of them all the time, ensuring that I have the right lens for the job in almost every situation. This was the big reason I purchased the Cocoon. It allowed me to keep everything organized, secure, and on me. I have my E-M5 with me always.
I also get to have a pile of lenses along with the body. On the body at all times in the bag is a little 9mm 1:8.0 fisheye body cap. It doesn't add any size and it ensures that when I pack the camera, the sensor is covered but I always have a lens I can shoot through, just in case I only have a few seconds to get a shot.
Another lens is my zoom tube. It's a 80-300mm 35mm equivalent range. It was extremely inexpensive for the quality of pictures it can pull in. If I need to reach out to get a picture, this lens is key.
My everyday, out-and-about lens is the 12-50mm (24-100) EZ ED lens. It's sharp, has a very attractive range, and can also double as a macro lens. It's amazingly useful. From landscapes to portraits to closeups of flowers and just about everything in between. This lens does very well at everything I've thought to throw at it.
The gem I've found in the M4/3 system is the 45mm F1.8 by Olympus. It has lightning fast autofocus, is incredibly sharp, and makes beautiful pictures. If I need to capture the expression on someones face, this is the lens to do that. The fixed focal length makes it a less versatile lens, but what it lacks in applicability it more than makes up for in total quality and beauty.
And where would I be without a tin of backup SD cards and microSD adapters? Always make sure you have spare or extra memory! You won't be sorry. In fact, I've been sorry for not carrying extra cards. Do it. Please. Now.
I never like to be somewhere without access to some way to efficiently do emails or document editing. The back pouch on my bag is almost entirely dedicated to making sure I am never stranded without the ability to get something accomplished on the go quickly so I can move on and get back to the excitement.
I carry two tablets and a keyboard with me at almost all times. I have my Dell Venue 8 Pro with the stylus which I adore and which really was the reason I enjoy Windows so much again. That tab is the real workhorse of the bag. If something serious needs to get done, we're whipping out the Dell and doing whatever I'd be doing on a full sized laptop or desktop. The stylus is key here. Windows 8 & 10 work infinitely better with a mouse or stylus, so to be able to get that usefulness and accuracy without having to bring a full mouse is important.
The other tablet is my Asus Zenpad S 8.0. It's the 32GB version and it is running Android. I have found that there are a lot of apps which I prefer on the Android system over Windows. It's admittedly limited, but if I'm on social media or responding to a personal email, Android is definitely the way to go. Also, with its ultra HD screen and 4 speakers, reading and other entertainment is much better on the Asus than on the Dell
Finally, none of this would be worth bringing if I didn't have the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard. If it weren't for the usability and compatibility of this, I'd have to bring a full laptop with me wherever I went. Which would mean I'd have to bring another charger. It'd also mean I'd have to charge twice as often because I'd have half the devices. Thank you, Microsoft, for making sure I can stay mobile!
Not everything fits the front, organized pouch on the Cocoon, as you will see. I have a couple of things in the back pouch that didn't quite make the cut in the front organizer. The first is a small tripod. The OMD E-M5 has a mind-blowing 5-axis image stabilization system which makes keeping camera blur to a minimum pretty easy, but there are still times I need a tripod. The little Joby tripod is great because it adapts well to whatever surface I put it on, and if I decide I need more height, it will hang from a tree branch or street pole. It's has an enormous range for how seemingly limited it appears at first.
The other important item that didn't make the main pouch is my spare phone - the Lumia 640. I think this phone is hands down the best value smartphone on the market. It's not as sleek as your iPhone. The screen isn't as high resolution as your S6, but it is very quick and the camera is much better than its $80 price tag would suggest. I like to keep this guy around in case i get tossed in a pool or am otherwise rendered phoneless. It's saved me a few times already and there's not a chance I'll be caught without it anytime soon.
It's the stuff you kind of forget about, but I have a microfiber cloth (yes, a Porsche + Blackberry microfiber cloth) and a velcro strap that came with the bag that I keep in case I ever need a velcro/elastic strap.
And there you have it - Everything that goes into my bag. It keeps me organized and ready to go. Thanks for reading - I hope you enjoyed!
I just picked up the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard. The TL:DR on this accessory is that it's exactly what I've been waiting for in a mobile keyboard for a long time. Let's get to it because I have to get to a haircut.
What is it?
This is a battery powered, Bluetooth keyboard that can pair with up to 3 devices. The switch on the upper right hand switches it between Windows, Android, and iOS mode. It has a magnetic cover that doubles as a stand. Microsoft claims it's a two position stand. I'm using an Asus Zenpad S 8.0 with my keyboard right now and unless you don't move the keyboard at all, it's really only a one position stand with my tablet. That being said, it's a very usable single angle.
Great - But how is it?
The keys are great! We're not using a keyboard for a Surface tablet. It's smaller than that - designed for the iPad sized tablets. All things considered, it's a very cozy keyboard. Do my thumbs touch while they're hovering over the spacebar as I type? Yes, but only when I want to reach a letter that's a stretch for a pointer finger. Am I cramped? The keyboard does a great job feeling well spaced. I don't feel as cramped as I have on some 10.1" laptops. And all my buttons are here! They haven't altered the layout or left out keys in order to smash the keyboard into a smaller form factor. I'm writing the post using the keyboard in question and it hasn't been any issue. Key reliability is spot on and I haven't mistaken or missed a key yet!
A Quick note on the OS switch - it's flawless. At least between Windows and Android. That's why this note is quick. Look at the switch, imagine you know what it's supposed to do, and then watch as it does exactly what you expect. Syncing is quick and painless. It's quite user-friendly. I've found that's rare in Bluetooth devices, and Microsoft nailed it.
It is what it is. A keyboard for your tablets or phone. After writing emails and a blog on it, I can say I'm more than satisfied - I'd go as far as downright impressed - with it's usability. It's a definite add to the productivity of my tablets and given the chance, I'd buy this keyboard again. Good work, Microsoft.
Just jotting down some of my most important thoughts.