While I have never traveled as much as I did in 2000, my job continues to send me on a few different kinds of trips.
Recently I received a new laptop, with the hope that time spent locked in a metal tube 5 miles up could be a bit more productive than reading the latest Harry Potter book. Oh yeah, we are out of new Harry Potter books, which is a good thing because those things are heavy.
We selected the Dell Vostro. For the price it is a good value. Core 2 Duo, 2gigs ram, 160gig 7200rpm hard drive and thankfully, Windows XP Pro. Loaded up with Premiere 2.0, Photoshop CS3, Encore 1.5 and other useful software, this thing has paid for itself already.
Here are a few other useful programs I have installed.
Audacity - this is an open source sound editor. Very useful for recording temporary narration (scratch tracks).
Bulk Rename Utility - just google that to find it. A handy little app which does just what it says. I primarily use this when dealing with PowerPoint files. Inevitably we are sent long Powerpoint presentations to integrate into a video. Time permitting I redo the slides in Photoshop or Premiere, however sometimes with some tweaking the slides can be used straight out of Powerpoint. Powerpoint exports slides as slide1.bmp, slide2.bmp etc. So open the handy program, set it to change "slide" to "projectname" and in one keystroke it is all set. Then you can import the files into your project.
Another useful application is for digital camera stills, which always seem to be named DSC10034.jpg. Same thing, change "DSC100" to "projectname_" and you suddenly are much more organized.
Video Inspector - this little program will open just about any video file and attempt to tell you what it is. For example, the extension .MPG can be any number of formats. If you just open a MPG file in Windows Media Player, it may play but you get no useful information about it. Video Inspector (there surely are other useful similar programs, probably 100's) tells you the dimensions, the bit rate, the audio format and the codec, if known.
Filezilla - If I am on the road, or just in my living room, I need access to various servers. While Firefox has a FTP plugin, I like using FileZilla. Self explanatory. It tends to time out on the display, even while a transfer continues.
Pidgin - If you must use IM, this is a much less obtrusive app than AIM, which tries to install un-needed stuff and makes noises from embedded ads.
The best feature of this computer is its long battery life. Two batteries gets me cross country, or very nearly.
Most important software is of course Premiere Pro. My first trip with this computer, back in early December '07, was in the midst of editing a job for a client, who was anxious to see the results of the shoot we did a few days earlier. On the flight down to Tampa I managed to get most of the first edit cut, with some further tweaking at the hotel, and then each day for the next few days. I render a medium res WMV file out of Premiere and post it to our password protected client website for easy download.
Given the generous internal hard drive, I was able to use Premiere's Project Manager to create a manageable version of a long-form project and shove it on the laptop also. On my Tampa to Phoenix flight (5.5 hrs) I worked on this video. Granted, my arms are normal length and American Airlines' seats are designed for tiny people, so doing anything besides simple cuts and static titles gets a bit carpal tunnelly. However the 10 minutes of edited content allowed me to make up some lost time on this project.
Finally, while it is sweet to be able to cut video on a plane, or in my hotel room, the laptop also allows me to take work home when necessary. Prior to the new machine, I would take a portable hard drive home and work on my home computer. However, when you move a Premiere Project from one machine to another, it has a hard time finding files.
So here I am, sitting on my sofa, finishing up a project. Much better than sitting in the office on a Saturday evening!
Yes, it's Saturday evening. We're having lamb chops. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood.
Thanks for reading.