How To Assemble The Ultimate Toolbox

A Look Inside The Bottom, Continued

First, I carry a Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2. This keyboard is manufactured by a company known as PFU, which is owned by Fujitsu. The keyboard size is very compact, and is about half the size of a letter-sized piece of paper. Measuring only 11.57 x 4.74 x 1.52 inches, this PS/2 keyboard has bailed me out of more than one jam. With its compact size and light weight, it is easy to carry along while you are on the road. Keyboard failures have become more commonplace than they once were, with manufacturers continuing to reduce the cost of a typical computer keyboard by using cheaper parts. While not inexpensive, the Happy Hacking Keyboard 2 is extremely functional. Due to its compressed size, it sports an expensive cost of about $70 US, which might put it out of reach of all but the most diehard of technicians needing this functionality.

Replacement cards come in handy for a variety of situations. Normally, you should carry at least a basic AGP video card, as well as a PCI Network Card. I carry an ATI Radeon 8500 AGP video card and a 3Com 3C905C-TXM. These cards are stable and easy to install, and can save valuable time when trying to isolate video or network card failure. It is possible to substitute the video card or network card that is most prevalent in the environment that you serve for the two video cards mentioned above.

Next, cables are another failure point where you can be assured that if you don't have them with you, you will surely need them. I carry an RJ-45 ten-foot crossover cable and standard network cable, as well as a typical seven-foot patch cable. Network cables aren't the only points of failure within cables. Telephone cables are also prone to problems. I carry both an eight-foot and 15-foot replacement cable to replace modem cables that have failed. When troubleshooting cabling problems, it is almost quicker to replace the suspect cable rather than spending the time to test it.

Power cables are also an overlooked item. I normally carry a standard power cable, as well as a Trip-Lite Surge Suppressor with me. The Trip-Lite Model PS5503M is handy. While designed for laptops, it can be carried for temporary use in a situation where the current surge suppressor has been fried. While I use this only temporarily, to get the user back up and running until such a time as I can replace the PS5503M with a more suitable replacement, it is surprising how many computer users will simply plug their computer right into the wall after a surge suppression failure. (If the surge suppressor has been fried, you would think most users would realize that it's not wise to plug the computer directly into the wall. I guess not, thus the need for this device.)

While we are on the subject of cables, more frequently than I would like to point out, IDE cables fail. Often the occasion for this failure happens when an IDE cable comes into contact with a heat sink within the system and melts through the cable. It is a good idea to carry several IDE cables in both the ATA100 and the ATA33 designs. Further, you will want to make sure that you have them in a variety of lengths, as IDE cables are not a 'one size fits all' product, unless you don't mind having a lot of slack left over in the cable line.

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