About Jim Schuyler

Jim Schuyler

Jim Schuyler (“But just call me ‘Sky’ — if Sting and Bono and Madonna can have just one name, then so can I”) is CTO of Traveling Geeks as well as CTO of The Dalai Lama Foundation, an international foundation for ethics and peace.

He recently founded CyberSpark.net to protect organizations that guard and promote free speech around the world. Sky is best known as an e-learning pioneer in online and edutainment software.

Latest Posts by Jim Schuyler

My iPad’s Cute Little Raincoat Keeps it Travel-Ready

January 15, 2011 by  


When I got my iPad and started carting it around everywhere with me, it first went into the big backpack along with my MacBook Pro (15”), and since I’m used to carrying 20+ pounds in the pack, adding the iPad didn’t bother me at all. It’s a good workout.

And when I’m flying internationally, I take one wheeled bag and the backpack, so it’s standard-issue for me.

However, as I started relying more on the iPad for my mobile life, I realized that I could go without the full backpack1. So I checked at REI and found two items I couldn’t live without2.

The first is this Outdoor Products 10-inch  Power Laptop Sleeve. {The blue bag in the photo.} They may call it a sleeve, but it’s a full carrying bag, padded on all sides, and large enough for a 10” clamshell computer (the type with a flip-up display—Acer, Asus etc.), so it handles an iPad with room to spare even when the iPad is already in a protective case.

The bag has a shoulder strap that clips on two ways, so you can carry the bag in a “vertical” or a “horizontal” orientation. You can sling it on your back, around the front, or almost under your shoulder.

Over your coat or under your coat. Over the shoulder, or across the chest (strangle-hold around your neck) because the strap loosens and shortens. You insert the iPad through a zipper pocket that allows easy access in either orientation, then you zip it closed. There’s an outer zippered pocket with a little slip-in pocket for SD memory cards, clip-ins for carrying pens (I keep a small LED flashlight in there as part of earthquake readiness), and an interior zippered pocket for headsets and the like.

The case is soft enough that it expands as you feed it more gear, yet padded enough to protect against bumps and grinds. I don’t believe the case is waterproof, because water doesn’t bead up on it, so I have taken additional precautions.

Oh, and perhaps the biggest surprise of all, I use a bluetooth wireless keyboard and it fits nicely inside the sleeve along with the iPad. Just barely, but it definitely fits.

The next one isn’t from REI, but I’ve got to mention it. I enclose the iPad directly in an incase Book Jacket that is heftier than Apple’s sleeve and really gives great protection.

Yes, I drop my iPad just like I drop my iPhone (and their iPhone case has saved my phone numerous times when it went flying across the room on the floor due to my waving my arms with great abandon).

The case makes the iPad seem twice as thick as the naked iPad would be, but makes it so much safer to carry. And even inside the incase, the iPad fits snugly into the Power Laptop Sleeve!

And finally, since it’s rainy season in San Francisco, REI sells “4 litre” Sea to SummitUltra-Sil Dry Sacks (waterproof bags) 3 and I bought a cute little yellow one (with a white interior, just like the raincoat my Mom got me to wear to kindergarten) and this bag fits very snugly around the incase and completely waterproofs the iPad for when it gets a tad rainy.

I even use the larger 10 litre size sack to put entirely around the Power Laptop Sleeve when there’s a downpour, thus enclosing everything in a waterproof skin.

I carry the sacks rolled up inside the larger Laptop Sleeve when I’m not using them. Yes, everything fits nicely.

And I don’t have to carry a backpack to business meetings any more!

  1. At least on business days. On weekends I trek around the city on foot, and I prefer to have some weight on my back just to get a better workout, as well as to carry a windbreaker, sweater and other supplies.
  2. I have no connection or contact with the manufacturers, bought the products at full retail, and can highly recommend them after months of use.
  3. I use these bags when I’m camping in the wilderness, to keep dry supplies dry. They really are so waterproof they’ll float in a river.

The Paris Metro You’ll Never See

January 2, 2011 by  


Without much comment, but with so much enjoyment (as one who uses the Paris metro beaucoup  when I’m there — three times in the last 12 months)… the story of a subterranean world very few will ever see.

I would call them benign explorers and documenters of public territory (my words, of course) and certainly not terrorists, though I’m sure there would be hell-to-pay if they were caught by “the wrong people” and someone wanted to hold them up as examples of how poor security is. But they are urban heroes to me.  ;-)

I’m certainly not going to tell you the details, but I’ve done my own exploring of locked up places that I shouldn’t have visited (once freeclimbing up the side of a brick building at midnight with no gears, ropes or other aids, checking for unlocked windows, and picking locks), and I know the rush of being there with no intent to do  harm but just exploring spaces that are usually closed off!

Perhaps you’re aware of the outcry among photographers (including myself) about rent-a-cop guards in the U.S. who try to stop you from taking perfectly legal and legitimate photographs in public places (most often near courthouses and federal buildings) — I have been stopped twice by these two-bit uninformed guards trying to keep me from taking photos because they believed there are federal laws prohibiting photography of federal or critical structures (even bridges). That’s not the same as jumping off the platform and running next to the subway tracks, but I couldn’t resist the comparison because it shows the paranoia that exists here in the U.S.

Also see my Art in Public Places articles, and the mixed-reality games I’ve made over the years since 2002.

[Photo “Ubiquitous | Paris 2007” from SleepyCity.net]

Hotels with “Free Internet”

August 31, 2010 by  


This may be just an artifact of my personal experience, but I think I’m finding that the hotels offering “free Internet” are more often the low-priced hotels than the more expensive ones. At least in Paris and London.

It’s not uncommon to find a hotel over 250€ per night that has a 15€ or higher charge for Internet access. But in the hotels I frequent—I’m fine with just a bed with barely enough space to move around the edges, a shower, and Internet connection, for just over 100€ a night—it seems to be more common to have a free Internet connection included.

Perhaps this is a reflection of younger travelers looking for less-expensive hotels and being attracted like flies (there is one buzzing around my head at this instant here in Paris’ 5eme where I am connected while sitting in the hotel lobby preparing to take the metro to a meeting) to hotels that provide connectivity.

And the true boon is that Skype on my iPhone can connect to the free wi-fi Internet and I can make Skype calls without having to purchase those “overseas” (and overpriced) mobile phone minutes! Quite a difference to spend USD$0.02 per minute rather than $1.29.

{Part of Sky’s series on using tech when traveling}

Artificial Countries

April 23, 2010 by  


I was browsing the history of Esperanto and discovered Rose Island, a micronation in the Adriatic Sea that declared itself the Republic of Rose Island in 1968. (And whose official language was Esperanto.)

Apparently there have been any number of these escapades, including, of course, pirate radio broadcasters off northern Europe. The story of Sealand is especially entertaining.

Gotta read up on them.

The photo is from Wikimedia Commons and has been released into the public domain by its copyright holder. Click for a larger view.