Two days before my teenage son was due to begin Sixth Form this week, the school phoned up to say that he's not allowed to study ICT at A-level. This came as a bit of a shock since computing was going to be one of his principal subjects. He might not be one of those 'A-star' students that you read about on results day - jumping …
Re: Hmmm bags and more bags
2x 1 litre bottles in a laptop case?
Didn't I see you in Lidl carpark trying to sell a "laptop"?....
A couple of thoughts...
1) Timetabling is a non-trivial problem. In fact, it's known to be NP-complete, so if your son's school has more than a few students taking A-levels and contention on rooms, sadly it's likely that clashes with less common combinations of subjects are likely to occur.
2) A-level ICT is likely to be based around how to use spreadsheets, which might be useful if your son wants to be an admin assistant, but if he wants to be a programmer, he would be wiser to choose subjects such as maths/further maths, physics, or chemistry, all of which will aid in the development of the numeracy and analytical skills he will need. The fact that these are exactly the A-levels I took many years ago, and I now work as a professional software developer probably bears this out. Just don't let him spend five years at uni studying Chemistry as I did...
I was in the same boat...
2002 GCSE options, and I want to do IT and history. My school at the time had a "block" system, where you had a number of subject groups and could select one from each. History and IT were in the same block, so I couldn't do it. Fortunately the IT and graphics teachers were the same bloke, so I was allowed to do my IT work in the back of the graphics class.
Samsonite Network bag
May not fit your lunch but this has far and away been my favourite laptop bag, freakishly light, handles tablet, laptop and kindle as well as paperwork and chargers separately.
Level of protection is only just sufficient but of the ones I looked at it was by far the lightest (I think without the shoulder strap its a bit over 200grams) which for a 'briefcase' bag is important.
My job requires bunny ears so cant have a rucksack....
Incompetent school IT
If the school isn't capable of running a timetabling program, it's probably not the best place to be taught A level ICT. Maybe your son should offer to do the timetabling for them in the future, as it sounds as if he could do a better job. And the drama course should help him deal with next year's awkward parents if their little darlings still don't get the options they want.
Re: Incompetent school IT
Timetabling is hugely 'political' as it deals with resource allocation (staff, rooms). Usually done by Senior People to minimise arguments.
Dell provides a backpack option for some of their laptops. They are small enough to fit on a plane as carry on, but big enough to hold an M6400 and it's power adapter . Neal Stephensons Quicksilver (the hardback edition) a similar assortment of IT goods and goodies (spare BBerry battery, spare (ancient) phone, various chargers, USB cables, USB powered light, paper hankies, 2 sets of headphones (the airplane kind and the earbuds for the cellphone) external USB speakers, a bike waterbottle, a variation on the theme of packed lunch and 2 external USB disks.
Oh, and a couple of pens, the weekend newspaper and a paperbased notebook, and a lefthanded logitech mouse.
And since it's a backpack you can lug this around for hours with less damage to your system then one of those over the shoulder things.
Re: dell bag
As much I am not a fan of Dell machines, I liberated one of their laptop bags that was about to get skipped during a lab clearout of my old company.
An "over the shoulder" briefcase thingy, but it is leather, big enough for 2 full size laptops and a book, chargers, mice, paper notepads etc. in it's many cubby holes.
Still use it to this day lugging the corporate Thinkpad about.
Always thought the backpack bags looked like something a cycle courier would use. Though probably harder to steal.
I have pretty much one of every computer bag ever made, and have finally found as close to perfect as I expect to get. Take a close look at the Tom Bihn bags; as I prefer messenger-style bags I have the Super-Ego. Lots of space, the Best Shoulder Strap Ever, tough as nails. Not cheap, but worth every penny.
Can't do that lesson
I had this at O level/CSE.
Put down 2 sciences, tech drawing, metalwork.
Couldn't do metalwork so had to do youarepeeing studies, managed a nice low CSE for it, I think 3 or 4 of us did it due to no metalwork.
To be honest, everybody's requirements are so different that finding the perfect bag is impossible. Your best bet is to create your own:
Put the tablets and laptops in individual padded sleeves and just chuck them all in the single main padded bit all together - no worry about them scratching each other.
Order multiple removable padded laptop inserts and put them in the main bit of a 'normal' bag.
There are loads of people who will make you exactly the bag you want. You can specify the size of each pocket, fastners, colours, fabrics, padding, strap width, the lot. And they're often surprisingly cheap too. Try Timbuk2 or similar, or even Etsy if you want to release your inner hipster.
Personally I'd split it betwen two bags. A messenger bag for handy items, like the Kindle, iPad, lunch, etc., and a backpack for the more 'worky' stuff - cable, drives, laptop, etc. It's easy to carry both together, and you can split them as required.
In terms of makes, I like Crumpler and Kata.
It's the way they swindle you out of it
My 3rd year - Year 9 or something nowadays? - they made us choose between Biology and German - "final choice next week, but quick show of hands which way you're leaning" - and I raised my hand for German, came back next week and said "Biology" and they said "Sorry, we already have too many who put their hand up for Biology"...
..."Schwänze!!!" (See, I learned both anyway ;-)
Targus Drifter II
Well built, roomy, lots of pockets and padding, separate padded laptop compartments, and comfortable straps. Easily holds a 16"+ laptop, a couple of tablets, two books, an umbrella, two power bricks, several dozen adapters and cables, and all the other essential detritus of everyday life.
I was surprised how nice this bag is. Only $57 on Amazon.
When I did my exams at school it was the block system... therefore I couldn't do both English and Computer Science(*) at A-Level - which rather upset my English teacher but I wasn't too worried at the time. Couldn't do Computer Science along with Art (GCSE or A-Level) either, which was more of an upset though. There are always going to be some scheduling conflicts, but sometimes the rationalisation between the blocks is gob smacking in its weirdness.
(*) And yes, it really was Computer Science. We started off learning logic diagrams and made our way up from there. No "how to apply a shitty effect to a Power Point slide" classes for us - probably part;y due to Power Point not existing at the time but also due to have a very good teacher who did care.
I had no idea.....
.... there were so many luggage obsessed anally retentive people like me out there!
Power to you all!
I have a Samsonite which has trolley wheels/handle and rucksack traps, one main section and a slightly smaller front with another st the bottom [smokes in here!], two side panels, one netted for me wet brolley.
I can get one full size laptop in here, power cable/brick, 10m LAN cable, one book [[Pale Blue Dot right now] two mobiles, one mp3 player, various cables for the USB plug / charger and, when the need arises, a weeks worth of clothing.
All in. Together.
Oh, and an apple!
"I mean, look what happened when they wouldn’t let Adolf Hitler on the right course."
In other words, the day your son is brought before the war crimes tribunal, you'll say it was all the school's fault and the parents had nothing to do with it? Yep, sounds like New Parenting to me...
Not sure who made my laptop bag
But its got Swiss things on, I thought it was the people who did the army knife stuff, don't really care.
But although it only has a pocket for 1 laptop a second one easily fits in the read compartment which is all heavily padded, so I manage two 17" "mobile workstations" plus assorted 200W power supplies odds and sods, Kindle, stack of drives and all the other shit that tends to pile up on these days.
The only problem left is actually being able to pick the damn thing up!
Does your son need the class to graduate this semester??
I had a similar issue in the US and since I needed the one course to graduate that semester, I went to the Dean and complained.
Turns out that a public college is required to provide courses needed to graduate regardless of the number of attendees. That all worked out because the rest of the people in my curricula signed up for the course when it became available.
Another bag supplier...
Try these guys:
You should be able to buy the components you want and zip them together to get the bag you really need. As an extra bonus, you can remove extra bag components for the times you don't need them.
Lot's of choice there. A tad on the expensive side though, yet well worth a look for cool features (Tracer!), impressive build quality and understated no nonsense design.
I've always used whatever carrier bag my favourite supermarket gives me. If they're good enough for carrying my plums about in they're good enough for anything.
I use a 3 pocket backpack that is made for weekend backpacking adventures; one step up from it would be a full on frame pack. 1 HUGE pocket that has a full heavy duty zipper fits 5 large legal textbooks, a laptop, a thermos and has some room to spare. The second pocket takes my cables/random small things. The third, outermost pocket holds pens, little notepad and sundry; this pocket has the volume of a small lunchbox.
The only downside is this backpack has a waist strap, which is great for preventing back pain but also makes me look like the uber-nerd. Of course the second I open my mouth that's obvious so....
Had a couple of Wenger rucksacks and have been dissatisfied with the space to keep stuff like pens, memory sticks, business cards although the bags have been brilliant. Best rucksack was a Vango which also had some emotional attachment as I've spent many a stormy night in a Vango Force 10 tent.
However, the Wenger messenger bag - from Tescos in a voucher deal for £15 - is the best I've ever had. Nice incidental pockets and a couple of deep zip-able pouches you can slip your glasses case, leads bag or phone in safely when you're in a hurry
Tom Bihn bags
I use a Tom Bihn Brain Bag rucksack, sometimes with one padded insert for a laptop (it's a bit *too* padded at times and takes up too much space, so I put my laptop in a Tucano neoprene sleeve then). It takes a laptop, Kindle, and iPad with oodles of room to spare. As BSAG put calls the smaller Synapse bag in her review, 'The TARDIS Bag':
My Brain Bag, even when packed with stuff, is incredibly comfortable to wear. Unfortunately, you won't be able to try one out as you order them directly from the manufacturer in the USA. Oh, the quality of construction is extremely good as well, with nice chunky zips, for example.
Unexpectedly awesome bag
Suprisingly enough I foud a great bag with room for two laptops, all the cables you could want, helpful side pockets as well and it seperates into three bags at will so you can leave half your stuff in the office and just carry the one laptop to a meeting in a much smaller bag. It looks terrible though. It's in the IKEA family range, so you are sacrificing all style and street cred to the ability to carry everything.
Re: Unexpectedly awesome bag
I think you mean the UPPTÄCKA bag - it's a roller bag, but the front comes off as a rucksack. Actually a fairly awesome tip - I have indeed varying "loads" depending on what work I do where.
OK, where is my IKEA discount card..
Samsonite pro-dlx 142
Bought this at least 5 years ago and still looks almost new. It did cost $200 but I can travel with my gargantuan 17" Lenovo W700 and it's 1kg power brick.
I've used the 5.11 range of backpacks for a while. The "camelbak pocket" is perfect for a laptop (had a 17" in there). They are covered in MOLLE strips which means that I can add and remove extra bags as and when required. Can be easier than trying to find one bag that works for everything.
As for the A-level; similar to another poster I took one without any input from the school (they just entered me for the exam). Still passed at A grade (no A* in those days). I'd be inclined to order a Syllabus from the Exam Board and if it looks do-able you son could take the exam only.
Tuna, ham, and tomatoes in an onion bagel?
Best find a bag with a pocket that can be hermetically sealed.
Alistair I am appalled.
Why in the name of fuck do you want to waste your kid's time on A level computing ?
Have you looked at the textbooks ?
It is not a real subject, that's not just from me a CompSci grad who has done real computing, but the leading universities don't even accept it as an A level at all, putting it in the same shit bucket as PE and Photography A levels.
(Reading accepts it as an A level, yet another reason not to go there)
Look at the textbooks, nearly all of it is at the level of general knowledge, whereas even the dumbed down Chemistry and Physics A levels contain words and ideas you simply won't know without studying the subject (delocalised electrons, diffraction, etc). Few if any of these in A level ICT, indeed if you look at the O level books and the A level ones, it is actually quite hard to tell the difference.
My older kid is 11, and when shown the book was aghast, if at 12he decided to to take this dumb ass subject I'd stop him.
In defence of drama...
Being able to talk in public is actually really useful and in my own life drama has helped me earn more money than Chemistry or Biology and waaay more than French,German, and woodwork put together.
Just a plug for one I got recently.
For meetings (c.f. the contractor with rolly-luggage) I like something that looks like an actual briefcase. Rectangular, landscape format, with a handle at top middle.
However, for carrying stuff, a rucksack is essential. Landscape format, with good shoulder straps.
So, for years, I've been a fan of convertible briefcase/backpacks. Unclip the should straps, stash them in a pocket, and suddenly you're carrying a briefcase, not a rucksack, for your meeting.
They're surprisingly thin on the ground, but I recently got this one: http://www.techair.co.uk/5105v3.html, from tech air, for about £35.
As well as 3 main compartments, each big enough for a laptop or even two, it has a ridiculous number of fastening full-size pockets (3 inside, four outside) and loads of odd-stuff pockets. And, it's not actually that huge, when half-full.
Because bags outlive laptops, and new laptops are always a different size, I gave up on padded interiors, and habitually remove them from bags (scissors, stanley knives..). Even the ueber-technical "air" padding on this one. Instead, I buy one good neoprene zipped cover for each laptop/fragile-tech-item, and put that in whichever bag I need to use.
For cables and non-fragile stuff, Muji (http://www.muji.eu/pages/online.asp?V=1&Sec=18&Sub=77) has lots of solutions; see-through bags etc., to keep small and large things from mating in one inseperable rat king in your bag. And velcro cable-ties.
Convertible Briefcase/Rucksack: folding plug
Replace all standard plugs with plugs where the prongs folds flat.
( http://www.maplin.co.uk/slimplug-compact-figure-of-eight-power-lead-99603. Practical, earthed, purchaseable, unlike design award winning vapour-products..)
(A plug plug..)
Everything that can be should be USB powered, so get /one/ 8-way powered USB unit, to charge them overnight.
(btw, I wish the tech air had an expansion zip, to make it a couple of inches deeper, for different loads..)
Victorinox or Crumpler Bags
Both brands are up to the job although Crumpler are more photo oriented.
Recently sent a 10 year old Victorinox laptop briefcase in for repairs as the expansion zip had given up the ghost. (Even after hasty repairs effected a few years back in a hotel room.) I rarely use it these days as the backpack style is safer on the old back.
I got a call saying, sorry it was unrepairable and they'd be sending a new one instead.
Can't beat the Victorinox lifetime warranty.