I was never a Boy Scout but I do pride myself on always being prepared. I tend to be able to stand by this claim by being pretty resourceful, if I may say so myself. As I was just telling in yesterday’s post, I might get asked computer questions anywhere I go where people know I work in IT. In order to answer those questions or solve problems that come up, it can be made almost painless if you have the needed tools on hand whether they be software or hardware.
I was given this credit card-style swiss army knife as a gift a while ago and it went everywhere my wallet went. It contains a pen, knife, scissors, tweezers, LED, magnifying glass, and a 4-way screw driver about the size of a quarter. I found that 98% of the time I was using anything from this Swiss Army Card, it was the screw driver.
Eventually being in my wallet every day became too much for the card and it cracked. It was no longer able to hold together and its components started falling out whenever I had to pull out my wallet (which is far too frequently). Fortunately, just as I began looking for a replacment I came upon the Screw Key.
The Screw Key only costs $5 for the pair (phillips and flat-head screwdrivers). They go right on a key ring and are the size of a key, so I don’t notice them or get jabbed by them in my pocket. These work a whole lot better than trying to get by with a dime or quarter and they’re able to reach into deeper set screws where the Swiss Army Card couldn’t. I can’t recommend these enough as durable tools that are easy to have on you. The keyring works great if you need extra leverage.
From the same site, I also bought the pico pry bar. It’s of similar size and also fits on a key ring. A pry bar probably isn’t the first tool that comes to mind when you think of IT but this comes in handy while you’re working with small parts.
If you put these things on a keybrid, you’d have a really portable package with everything you need in one pocket.
There are other tools that might also be helpful to have on hand depending on your needs like a pocketknife, a Leatherman Multitool for its pliers, and the Eat N Tool which provides a spork among other things.
Hardware is only half the battle. From two of my previous articles, I also have two USB drives on me for convenience whenever I’m heading into an unknown computer issue.
One USB drive holds all of my portable apps. These can include Ccleaner, 7zip Portable, KeePass, FileZilla, Firefox and Chrome, Irfanview, Defraggler, Recuva, VLCPortable, and others. They also include installers for Avast and MalwareBytes in case we’re encountering malware. We last talked about portable apps and a menu for organizing them with CodySafe Sigma.
BartPE is another good option in case you need to get inside a Windows environment to repair a computer.
There are also plenty of Linux tools out there that work perfectly on a USB tool. I take this with me all the time because it can handle a variety of situations that come up, depending on what you’ve pre-loaded it with. I wrote about the MultiBoot USB tool over at Freewaregenius. Mine is currently configured with GParted, DBaN, the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor (blanking Windows passwords), and Clonezilla.
So that’s what I’ve got on hand to take care of tech problems as they arise. Anything else I’m missing or you would recommend? I’d love to hear it in the comments.