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Sysadmin Bag 2011

Created by dave. Last edited by dave, one year and one day ago. Viewed 3,068 times. #13
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Sysadmin Bag 2011

(31 January 2011)

So there have been several articles detailing >>10 Things Needed In Any Sysadmin's Bag. Proving that not only I can be late to the party but can take it to an excess, I thought it would be interesting to show you how an actual sysadmin who lives out of his bag professionally actually rolls.

The primary nature of my job is the part-time contract sysadmin. This means that at any given day I can be at one or more customer sites. This means that if I need it, I have to pack it.

Although I do have a permanent desk back at head office, that site is also more of a customer site than a permanent place to rest. So even there, I live out of the bag.

And this is the bag, a Targus CCB1:

I've had it more than nine years ago now. I got it when we got our first laptops. Mine was a Dell Latitude L400, one of the quasi-titanium skinned executive style notebooks. Not much bigger than a netbook is today. So there was a ton of space in the bag for the laptop and all the assorted pieces I generally need.

This is what is currently in it (as pictured):

This, then, is my life's work tools. Starting at the top left:

  • A small tupperware container with earbud/handsfree headset for the Blackberry. The tupperware keeps the wires from getting tangled in everything else and more or less keeps the wires untangled from itself.
  • A USB-to-Serial adapter. My first laptop didn't have a serial port either, and this was the $70 adapter I had to buy at the time. Now they cost all of $15, but this has stayed in my bag even through two laptops which did have serial ports. Possibly the oldest piece in the bag after the bag itself.
  • A CD carrier. CDs/DVDs itemized elsewhere.
Next row:
  • A hairbrush. Good for a quick hair straightening when visiting with new/important people. Personal grooming: look into it.
  • Four Sharpie markers. Three black, one blue. One is missing. (Note to self: someone's swiped my red one.)
  • Three purple 3-foot ethernet cables. These are useful to have to make temporary network connections in wiring closets. The purple ones are rare, meaning I can point to them in a customer rack and say "these are mine, go buy some replacements because I'm taking them back next time."
  • One 3-foot red crossover cable. Not as required as it used to be in the bad-old-days before auto-MDX switch ports, but still usefull. Still a consumable, I lose and have to replace it every six months or so.
  • One 6-foot ethernet cable. This is for plugging my laptop into things.
  • Note to self: someone's swiped my 6-foot bright yellow ethernet cable.
  • One large 6-way auto-advance multibit screwdriver.
  • One vendor-swag pocket knife (NetApp as it happens). Possibly the second-oldest piece in the bag, and useful in all kinds of situations.
  • Yellow handled wire-cutters. Useful for dealing with situations where someone's excessively zip-tied something.
  • Black handled needle nose pliers.
  • One 2-AA LED flashlight. I've been in dark places during power outages. Now I carry the flashlight. I don't like this particular one because it doesn't have a proper switch so I have to loosen the top or bottom to break the light circuit. Eventually I'll buy another one. I've gone through several of these over the years, either due to droppage, battery leakage, water dunkage, and occasional forgotten-behind-age.
  • Two 5-way multi-bit micro screwdrivers. Also unbelievably useful. Two because I thought I'd lost one and I replaced it, and then turned out to have been wrong.
Third row:
  • Paper work. A portfolio containing color-coded customer files (ewww, hardcopy) and three blank paper pads to write notes on. I've gone back to writing on these during meetings and then transcribing them into the computer later. And occasionally you just have to draw something out.
  • 2 pens. This is a lower-than-normal number. I lose them, or people steal them. I need more.
  • Two USB flash drives with assorted installable tools on them.
  • One Express Card Gb interface card. I like to work with VMs so that when I need to reconfigure my laptop to talk to non-standard or disconnected networks, I can configure a VM to do that and leave my laptop alone and/or connected to the outside world at the same time. This particular card looks flaky. I wish this laptop had a cardbus slot in it, since I have a perfectly good (and solid) 10/100 Cardbus card I could use instead.
  • A half dozen or so of my business cards. I try to carry them in my jacket, but the business card carrier I have doesn't follow me between jackets very well, so I'm constantly without them.
  • A RJ45-to-DE9 serial cable.
  • A RJ45-to-DE9 serial bender.
  • A Sun Video-to-SVGA video bender.
  • 5 various 9-to-25, male-to-female, and variation, benders.
  • One DE9 null modem cable.
  • One DE9 straight-through serial cable. (Thank you >>Linksys.)
  • 2 Cisco RJ45-to-DE9 serial cables. These are like gold, and people steal them. So when I find them I hoard them.
  • One dual-input Micro-USB cord. Not as useful as it used to be since the Blackberry is now Mini-USB instead. (Note to self: put spare Mini-USB cable in bag.)
  • Assorted security passes to get me through an assortment of doors. This collection ebbs and flows as customer assignments come and go.
Bottom row:
  • Power brick for the laptop. I'm pretty anal about keeping the cords wrapped up. Right now the upper, thinner cord is still bound up in the wrap it came in, and the lower, thicker cord is left loose. Occasionally I have to unwrap the upper cable to get the reach needed to connect me to the outlet I need power from. These HP ones are very basic from a cable management perspective. Personally I prefer the Dell bricks we've had for the last six years; they wrapped neatly and had a built-in plastic restrainer strap to keep them neat.
  • A couple straps of velcro. They looked useful so I put them in the bag. So far they have not been useful.
  • Logitech M305 wireless mouse. The receiver for this mouse lives in one of the USB ports of the laptop. Despite my history with them (documented elsewhere), this is my second example of this mouse type.
  • My phone, a Blackberry 9100 Pearl. My big priorities with the phone are 1- must be able to read email, and 2- must fit in my pocket. The bigger units fail to fit in my pocket comfortably. This is my second Pearl, I lived with one of the original Pearls for over three years. I'm attracted to the Torch as a compromise between a touch-screen and a keyboard, but it is expensive and too big for my pockets. So I'll live with the Pearl for another year and a half or so and then see what's what.
  • One HP Elitebook laptop.
I don't have a scale, so I don't know how much it weighs. Most of the weight is the computer, but even so some of the guys I work with comment that my bag is heavier than they'd expect it to be.

Well, having written all that out I guess it isn't as interesting as I thought it would be. I guess I'll file this as a Whats On Your Desk Day type of exercise.

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