I’m not including the usual stuff everyone has, like power meters, test screens, screw drivers etc., because that would be both obvious and boring. What I’m listing here are the things that all those years ago, as I opened my first PC case, I never realised would become my new best friends.
5. Post-it Notes
The computer has a password, slap it on a post-it. The computer is awaiting parts, slap it on a post-it. The computer has its COA in an inaccessible place, slap it on a post-it. You have to leave the repair at a complicated place while you go and rescue your cat/dog/mother from up a tree, slap it on a post-it. You need to remember how much the parts cost before handing it over to accounts, slap it on a post-it.
They really are essential and need to be neon, the brighter the better.
4. My Trusty Bead Tray
A see-through, plastic, bead tray split into 32 tiny square compartments, with a lid that locks closed tight enough that not even the tiniest ipod screw can exit its designated square. I haven’t lost a screw since I got it, apart from the odd one I dropped on the floor and I’m working on a spider powered metal detector to solve that one.
3. Plastic iPod Openers/Pry Tools
I buy these in bulk, they are fabulous for jabbing into anything you don’t want to leave scratches on. Especially those laptop keyboard bevels you usually need to lever off before you can get at any of the juicy bits. I admit, sometimes you need a bit of screwdriver powered brute force and ignorance, but, if you want to leave a laptop/iPhone/remote control exactly as you found it, they are the business.
2. Heavy-Based Solar Powered Light
The ones they sell at Ikea are ideal. In the past I have used torches, head-band lights and glow-sticks, in fact everything but naked flame, but nothing beats one of these. The base stays exactly where you put it, without tipping, while you bend and wiggle the long neck to direct the light just where you need it. No wires, no batteries either, and when you’ve finished you just pop it on the windowsill and it’s soon ready for yet another wrestle with a motherboard’s f-panel connectors.
1. Nail Varnish Remover
The cheaper and nastier the better. You really don’t want anything that is kind to hands. It cleans off the nastiest gunk, it removes years old permanent marks from unsuitably graffitied plastic monitors and cases, it cleans up dried-on thermal paste in seconds, removes labels and evaporates instantly. Not for use in enclosed spaces I admit, but there is no way I could ever manage without it.