Using my Bobby Compact under real life conditions

I felt I had enough with constantly heavy traffic, numerous hours lost behind the wheel feeling bored and helpless so I decided to start commuting to work by public means of transportation: The suburban railway of Athens started a new, direct route from Airport to Piraeus (no change of trains required) and it looked like the perfect alternative. The route takes about 1 hour, and I make good use of this time: I usually plan my day at the office by organizing tasks, reviewing documents and going through work-related material. I also have the option to relax and read my favorite books or even do nothing when I am tired.


I almost instantly switched my backpack back to the XD Design Bobby Compact, as it was the perfect gear for a crowded commuting mean like the suburban railway. Indeed, this is the environment where the backpack shined and showed its advantages over traditional ones. I was never afraid to wear it on my shoulders with other passengers behind my back thanks to its anti-theft design, the monthly pass card slot now proved useful and handy (compared to when using the same backpack when driving to work), and since the backpack holds its shape even when half-empty, I could easily let it on the floor without it falling to the side.

It felt light and comfortable on my back while walking from the station to the office (a 10-15 min walk), I had easy access to its contents even while on the road and its integrated rain cover proved useful during a couple of thunderstorms. On top of that, it forced me to pack light and be really selective about what to pack (and how to efficiently pack it).

However, after three months of daily use, I had to give up again…the reason? Its limited capacity.

I spend about 12 hours on a daily basis away from home (including commuting and working hours), so my lunch box and a couple of snacks (e.g. fruits, crackers etc.) are essential items for me. No matter how many different alternatives I tried, I couldn’t find a decent lunch box that would fit standing straight in the backpack. I wouldn’t want to risk putting it on the side, as any liquid inside it (e.g. oil, sauce etc.) might leak – and no matter how well I would protect it (e.g. inside plastic bags), any leak would affect not only the backpack itself but my work material inside it as well. I had the same problem with my Tech Air backpack, which was also relatively slim to fit such items.

lunch box office

On top of that, its limited capacity did not allow me to carry the occasional unexpected items with me (e.g. a couple of grocery items, a thick book etc.) on my way home from the office. I felt restricted and I had to find an alternative. I temporarily went back to my trustworthy Sentio backpack, which has a great capacity but suffers from its thin material and lack to hold its shape. And it is annoying (and looks awful) when at the office or during business meetings.

What I needed was a more spacious backpack that would fit not only my lunch box but also some additional (and bulky items) when needed, with some (at least) antitheft design elements and organizational options.

It was a matter of days before a brand new backpack joined the rest of my collection 😉


Τα κόκκινα φανάρια

Γιατί θα πρέπει η παραλιακή, την οποία χρησιμοποιούν χιλιάδες οδηγοί καθημερινά, να έχει σε κάποια σημεία της φανάρια κάθε 150 μέτρα και να σταματά όλη η ροή των αυτοκινήτων για έναν λουόμενο που θέλει να διασχίσει το δρόμο? Γιατί δεν υπάρχουν υπέργειες και υπόγειες πεζογέφυρες που θα ήταν πιο ασφαλείς για τους πεζούς και πιο πρακτικές για τους οδηγούς? Πραγματικά, μετά από μερικές ημέρες έχω την εντύπωση ότι θα πιάσω φιλίες με τους οδηγούς της διπλανής λωρίδας – περνάμε τόση ώρα δίπλα-δίπλα, ακούω τα προβλήματά τους, ακούω τα τηλεφωνήματά τους, τη μουσική τους κλπ.

Το να οδηγεί κανείς πάνω από μισή ώρα μέσα σε τραγική κίνηση (χωρίς να υπάρχει εναλλακτική) είναι άσχημη εμπειρία, τόσο ψυχολογικά όσο και οικονομικά. Πιστεύω πως θα έπρεπε να γίνει κάτι για να διευκολυνθεί η ροή των αυτοκινήτων προκειμένου να μειωθεί ο χρόνος μετακίνησης,  η ρύπανση και τα ατυχήματα με πεζούς και αυτοκίνητα.

Και το λέει αυτό κάποιος που για πάνω από 10 χρόνια μετακινείται σχεδόν αποκλειστικά με ΜΜΜ, διασχίζοντας πολλές φορές μεγάλο μέρος της Αττικής. Μερικές φορές όμως η χρήση των ΜΜΜ δεν είναι επιλογή (όταν π.χ. ο συνολικός χρόνος μετακίνησης με ΜΜΜ πλησιάζει τις 2 ώρες – και άλλες τόσες στην επιστροφή). Αν δεν βελτιωθεί η κατάσταση με τα (αραιά) δρομολόγια των ΜΜΜ, η χρήση αυτοκινήτου γίνεται ανάγκη, παρά το αυξημένο κόστος της…

The progress of a bad day (without a mobile phone)

Yesterday, just before reaching the suburban railway station, starting my daily commute to work, I realized that I forgot my mobile phone at home. I had two choices: either to go back home and spend precious time or to move on without it. I chose the latter. Let’s see how a day without a mobile phone would evolve.

The scenery at the station was lovely: cold weather, windy and drizzling while the mountains far away were already covered in thick clouds. I usually take a couple of shots per day there, and this would be a really nice opportunity. However, I couldn’t do so without my mobile phone’s camera…

I found my usual seat inside the train and as soon as I got seated, I reached for my mobile phone to check out the RSS feeds I downloaded earlier in the morning using my home’s Wi-Fi (I do not have a mobile data plan). This is the best way to start your day, reading news about technology, work and leisure. However, I soon realized that I do not have my mobile phone with me – at least I had a book in my backpack, so I started reading. I also tried to remember of any meetings that I had for today as I usually use my online calendar, always synced with my mobile phone. I could not recall any meetings, and if there were any, I would have trouble keeping myself busing during them without my mobile phone.

I reached my destination, somewhere in the north part of Attica. It was already snowing there; a sight not common for Attica. Cars started getting this bright white color of snow, the pavements received a thin layer of tiny snowflakes. Ideal subject for taking photos but still I did not have my mobile phone.

I reached the office and settled down; I am always the first to get there and this was the case today. As soon as I entered the kitchen to brew my typical morning espresso, I realized that there was no light there. I opened up all window shades and tried to switch on the espresso machine but there was no power. I took a peek at the fridge – no power there as well. I am not the most skilled electrician but still I reached the fuse box and tried switching on some fuses that were off. No reaction – half of the office remained without electricity. The landlord dropped by and let me know that indeed the whole building was left without electricity (in fact, half of it), and that he had already called the electricity company about that. He suggested that I did the same, in order to highlight the issue of not having power in a company (like ours). I tried to do so, but both phones are cordless and they were out of order due to lack of electricity. I tried moving on of them to another power outlet but the phone line cable was too short to reach. Then I though “Ok, I can call them using my mobile phone”, only to realize that I did not have my mobile phone with me…

I gave up and powered up my laptop; I had electricity in my office. Out of habit, I tried downloading my emails but the wired connection did not provide internet access. I said “Ok, let’s try the wireless one” but it was out of order, too. Both ADSL modem/routers were left without electricity. I tried to send an SMS through the web, asking colleagues to hurry to the office and help sort things out but of course without routers there is no internet…

I took a look through the office’s window and saw the snowflakes slowly falling on the ground, the trees of the nearby park and on the rooftops of the parked cards. What a lovely subject for a photo – it only made me wish I hadn’t left my mobile phone at home.

Then I thought that this is indeed a bad day so the least I could do would be to blog about it – I knew that I couldn’t reach my WordPress-powered blog without electricity/internet connection, so my second thought was to use Simplenote for that; alas, it also required internet connection! I gave up. Entirely. I fired up MS Word and started typing this post. After almost finalizing it, I recalled that I had the Evernote desktop version installed and I could have used it for drafting my blog post! If there was any single way for me to have made a tiny cup of coffee without electricity, things might have been better…damn bad day!

Electricity was restored a couple of hours later. In the meantime, a colleague of mine (and a good friend) announced that she’s quitting for another position (probably better). I tried to reach for my phone to get a selfie with her as a piece of memory (this is how I like to call them), but of course the phone was not there.

Throughout the day we got a really nice snowfall and I kept asking my colleagues to take some photos of it – I am not sure if I will ever receive these photos but I am sure that I would have made them in a different way. Later I wanted to see how my latest Instagram photo was doing but it was not possible (only through the lousy Instagram web interface).

During a meeting I found myself playing with anything that was around on the table – only to realize that I actually needed to get my hands on my phone!

While commuting back home, I really missed checking out the new RSS feeds through my phone and editing some photos on the fly; something I usually do after a hard day at the office.

The day ended. I reached home and found my mobile phone. WiFi was turned off and I had no calls nor messages. I made a couple of urgent calls, checked out Instagram, browsed my RSS feeds and then everything went back to normal.

Commuting FTW

Απίθανο σκηνικό: Αφήνουμε τον μεγάλο στον παιδικό σταθμό στις 07.30, μόλις ανοίγει δηλαδή. Λίγο αργότερα βγάζω το Dahon μου από το χώρο αποσκευών του αυτοκινήτου, φοράω το κράνος μου και φεύγω σφαίρα για τον προαστιακό. Στις 07.45 είμαι στα εκδοτήρια και διπλώνω το ποδήλατο, οπότε στις 07.49 είμαι ήδη μέσα στον προαστιακό. Ταυτόχρονα η γυναίκα μου πηγαίνει με το αυτοκίνητο στη δουλειά της, για να μπορέσει να πάρει και τον μεγάλο από τον παιδικό σταθμό το μεσημέρι.

Η ίδια ιστορία Χ3. Μέσα σε 4 ημέρες!

Ελαφρώς διαφορετικά: Επιστρέφω από τη δουλειά το απόγευμα. Βγαίνω από τον προαστιακό, ξεδιπλώνω το ποδήλατο και γυρίζω προς το κέντρο της πόλης που ζω για να βρω το αυτοκίνητο εκεί που το έχει αφήσει η γυναίκα μου το μεσημέρι. Διπλώνω το ποδήλατο, το βάζω στο χώρο αποσκευών και πηγαίνω να μαζέψω τον μικρό! Όλα αυτά μέσα σε15-20 λεπτά!