I've been surprised at how large and at the same time compact the Smart Alec is. What I mean by that is that it is able to hold more than I think it can, and at the same time, it feels less heavy on my back given the load. The bungee cord is great for when I have a small load and need to make the backpack smaller, or when the backpack is full to use the cord to hold my jacket.
At various times, this is what I was able to fit in it:
For a trip:
Freudian slip (vertical) - love the organization!
first aid kit
For a commute:
TWO Macbooks in neoprene sleeves plus cords for both
For filing my dissertation:
two reams of paper
(there was still room at the top for a light sweater)