One of my favourite things about the internet how easy it is to find all sorts of information that you weren’t looking for. This, I find, happens quite often at 9pm on the night before the assignment is due when you just were going to go to the library website to find the date of that book. Next thing you know it’s 11pm and you’ve found lots of fascinating information about ancient Mayan burial rites but still don’t know the publisher of the book. In was in these “stumble sessions” that I found most of the websites that I now read on a daily basis – 43Folders, D*I*Y Planner, LifeHacker, TUAW, MacZOT… – and that’s why I like “stumbling”, you find all sorts of information that you never knew you were looking for until you find it. Because of this, everytime I “stumble” across something interesting I’m going to post it under the heading “stumble”. This is the first of the series.

One recent stumble led me to the concept of a “go bag”. From what I can ascertain, a “go bag” is something that you have on hand at all times which contains all sorts of things which you would need would you have to grab your bag and go. These seem to have become more popular in the States following Hurricane Katrina. Being in a city which is too far away from the sea to get floods, too far south to get hurricanes and too far away from the bush to get bush fires, this is a new idea to me. I also found LifeHacker’s series on go bags which details a couple of different proto-type go bags for different situations and this website which has a few for weddings, funerals and other unusual situtations. This all started me thinking – what would be in my university “go bag”? Personally, I like to pack and re-pack my bag once every week or so (empty it all out and get all the rubbish out and then put all the useful stuff back in) so my bag is pretty time/space specific but recently I’ve been less scrupulous and my bag has been just accumulating more and more stuff. There are a few things that I’d put in my bag if I just had to take the essentials, however:

Pens, pencils, highlighters and other stationary:
I like to keep one “good” red pen and one “good” blue pen floating around in my bag (generally in an easy-to-reach pocket) and then have a pencil case which has backups as well as highlighters, lead pencils and other essentials like a stapler and sticky tape.

I keep my commonly used cards (concession card, student card, ATM card, drivers license) wrapped together with a hair-tie and in my back pocket. For the rest of my stuff I have a wallet with important reciepts, discount cards and all my other cards (medicare, membership etc.)

I have an old mini-disc player case in which I keep these essentials – pain-killers (paracetamol), anti-inflammitories in two strengths (I’ve got runners knee) (ibuprofen), prescription medicines, hair ties, a couple of band-aids and other assorted medical/personal items. This means I can grab it and put it in any bag and I know that should a head-ache, bloody elbow or sore knee strike me I am prepared!

USB key:
I actually carry around two of these. I have a 1GB one which contains my life – all my university stuff as well as a list of commonly used proxies and several portable applications (windows only) and a copy of Firefox for MacOSX. I like to have Firefox, NVU, Gimp and OpenOffice with me always just in case I need to do something urgently and don’t have access to a computer with a decent browser or office suite. I don’t use Macs except at home so Firefox is just there for absolute emergencies. PortableApps is good for portable applications. The second USB key is in my pencil case but is only there for when I forget the other.

Index Cards:
This is a kind of hipsterPDA which I carry around but I just use it as a scratch-pad rather than as an organisational system. Basically it’s just thirty index cards with a hole in the top corner bound together with a ring and then clipped with a bulldog clip. This way I’ve always got blank paper to write on or hand out.


This does contain my life. It’s got monthly calendars, daily to-do lists and all sorts of other important information in it. Could’t leave home without it.

iRiver H320/iPod nano and headphones:
I generally carry the iRiver with me at uni because of it’s features – inbuilt microphone (works for recording lectures even in the very back row of the lecture theatre), line in and line out. I also carry a male to male 3.5cm cord for when I want to record lectures from the computer.

Tissues and gum/mints are generally in my bag but aren’t essential. If I’ve got them handy, though, I’ll chuck them in.

So this is a list of things I need at uni (not including the obvious stuff like my folder and blank paper). Most of this is fairly applicable for most situations.

If anyone’s got any “must-haves” they think I’ve left off then let me know.

Explore posts in the same categories: stumbles, Tips and Tricks

4 Comments on “Stumbles”

  1. How’s that iRiver H320 treating you? Can you write a review on it? I might get it if it’s not too expensive. My 3G iPod + iTalk isn’t the greatest recording device. 😉

  2. I really, really love my iRiver but it’s been discontinued now for a year or so. From what I hear they’re practically impossible to get in the US but in Australia you can still find the 40GB ones around – I don’t know what it’s like where you are. If you want more information check out – it’s a really great fansite with lots of information on all the iRiver players. If you’re interested in a H300 you should also check out Rockbox ( which is an open-source firmware for the player (like iPod Linux) which fixes a lot of the gui issues the iRiver firmware has. Some of the little iRiver players are pretty good to (and most have internal mic’s) my dad’s got a T20 which is really good but I haven’t tried recording anything on it but if it’s anywhere near as good as the H300’s it would be great.

  3. It’d be kind of tough if I switched to another MP3 device, since I’ve been using my iPod & iTunes for three years. If the iRiver recording is really good (across all devices), I think I’d probably just get one of the flash models dedicated for that and the latest generation iPod.

    It’s definitely good to learn about other devices. Thanks man! 🙂

  4. Head over to misticriver – there are heaps and heaps of posts about recording quality. Someone will certainly be able to help you work out what’s best for you.

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