In the Movie “Up in the Air“, George Clooney’s character has a side hustle as a motivational speaker and talks about this very topic. In the movie, he discusses emotional baggage in an imaginary backpack. When I ask this question, I am referring to your physical backpack, not the metaphorical one.
When I think of tools, I think both software and hardware. As we do both software development and site work, the conversation differs slightly depending to whom you are speaking. Spoiler alert: I am a tool junkie!
On the software side, we use many apps and services (tools) to make our job easier. Certain tools are requirements such as the software we use for .NET or Crestron development. Others just make our lives easier. Here are a few that we couldn’t live without on the software side:
Notepad ++ This is Windows Notepad on steroids. Not only can you do macros, but the auto-save feature is awesome. I have many times clicked away when shutting down my laptop only to find I didn’t save a text file. Notepad++ auto-saves so I am never without my notes.
Snagit This is another app we can’t live without. Snagit allows you to annotate screenshots and take basic audio and video of your screen. This is great for an informal training video or to annotate screen shots quickly, professionally, and without using major graphic design software.
Our Own! Necessity is the mother of invention. We have written our own tools to make our lives easier. In one case, we wrote a tool to pull contact data from websites. Recently, we wrote a tool that allows us to create config files for our Crestron programs. While we can certainly can do this manually, it is quicker and less prone to errors to have a tool to do this for us.
On the hardware side, we have a few favorites:
Klein Pretty Much anything Klein is in our backpack. They make decent hand-tools that carry a lifetime warranty. Just remember to purchase at a brick-and-mortar store and keep the receipt to claim that warranty! Most times you can just return a broken tool to the store and they will replace with no questions asked.
Fluke 323 True-RMS Clamp Meter This is a great reasonably-priced meter that handles AC/DC voltage, current, and continuity very well.
DMXCat This is a great DMX testing tool. It allows us to perform many tests right from our mobile device using Bluetooth.
It’s not always a matter of what tools you have but how you use them. Above I have shown what works and works really well for us!