Consultant’s Swiss-Army Knife (Part 1)

As a consultant, I’m always looking for the perfect Swiss Army knife-type tools related to what I do. Pulling the right adapter or gizmo out of your bag can save the day, avoid embarrassment (yours or your client’s), or make you come off looking like the hero.

But you can’t carry a stack of steamer trunks: small and lightweight are crucial.

Here are a few things I’ve found helpful related to the software I write:

  • Of course the USB flash drive (aka flash disk, thumb drive, or USB key) is crucial. They’re getting higher capacity and cheaper by the month.
  • This Ethernet cross-over adapter lets me carry just one CAT-6 cable instead of two. It’s very small.
  • Trendnet’s USB modem is nearly as small as a thumb drive.
  • This Cables-to-Go USB Serial Port has proven itself valuable. The Belkin version is even a little nicer, with 3 LEDs: TX, RX, USB.
  • This Eforcity USB Sound Card Adapter gives you another sound card for $5, and is as small as a thumb drive. It’s amazing. (It was a bit confusing when I was looking at these, but it’s the same as this and this.)
  • National-tech seems to have lots of little adapters, though I haven’t bought from them.
  • If you need USB cables, this kit has them all. Other similar kits are here, here, and here.
  • An ordinary chair can be a life-saver (or back/neck-saver) when you’re working in an unfriendly environment. Target sells a camping chair for under $6 that packs into a bag. Well worth the money if you need it. (Sorry, I couldn’t find it online.)

I’ll put more up as I go.