back to article What's inside a tech freelancer's backpack? That's right, EVERYTHING

Paper jam. Yum, my favourite flavour. Good job it's in plentiful supply. The taste takes my mind off the zombie plague. At least, it would if everyone would take off their facemarks. It's like trying to work in the middle of the world's dullest Holby City cosplay meet. Modern printing devices shouldn't be jamming as often as …

  1. Franco Silver badge

    Must forward this to the people around me at my current contract, who think I'm MacGyver for the amount of stuff in my backpack. Assortment of cables, wallet containing USB flash drives, pens, pads, MucOff cleaning kit, roll of insulating tape, Leatherman multitool, maglite and most importantly my cafetiere mug and coffee.

    1. $till$kint

      I've supplied a bunch of decent 24" monitors, keyboards, mice etc (you try using MS Project on a 13" laptop), a Draytek 4g router (and appropriate data package), cabling and christ knows what else on my latest gig. If HMRC so much as whisper "IR35" at me I shall get Mr Beretta out, scatter a selection of 12G cartridges on the desk and have a rather brief and pointed conversation with them.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Sounds like HMRC could claim they are all working for you - and so you owe employers NI contributions for everyone else

        1. $till$kint

          Small company exemption. They would get to self-determine

    2. Negative Charlie

      MacGyver's approach was to start with an empty bag and a Swiss army knife and then pick up additional things during the mission, a technique brilliantly emulated by a former colleague who successfully backpacked out two servers in the week before redundancies hit.

      1. Eecahmap

        Reminds me of a Johnny Cash song. . . .

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Years ago, as a field engineer I used to have metal toolcase/briefcase which I would take with me to sites.

      Had to go to some place called the BBC, visit some some technical department.... with my boss. He said that I didn't need my toolcase, but took it anyway.

      Guess who was the only one that had a screwdriver?

      And he had insisted on going by train. Guess who had something to sit on because there were no spare seats?

    4. e^iπ+1=0

      "My most essential piece of kit is a four-way power extension cable and block."

      Not forgetting all the power adapters needed for eu, Switzerland, us, Australia, UK, more? No, the multi adapters won't suffice.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge
        Boffin

        My 4-way has an C14 plug on it, and I have a selection of short X-to-C14 cables.

        You can also find local-to-C14 almost everywhere. The the fact your multiway has an "IEC" plug and the adapters won't reach from wall to monitor tends to limit the "borrowing".

        Only downside is that all C14 plugs and line sockets are a total pain in the arse to rewire.

        1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
          Pint

          C14

          Damn my eyes.

          I kept reading that as C4 and thought of the number of times that would have come in handy.

          Have one on the house ---->

        2. Down not across Silver badge

          My 4-way has an C14 plug on it, and I have a selection of short X-to-C14 cables.

          <pedant class="especially since you used boggin icon">

          If your 4-way has C14 pllug on it, then surely the selection of short cables have C13 plug on them.

          </pedant>

      2. Muscleguy Silver badge

        I have a Mac laptop power cable for New Zealand. Bought last I was there. Cheaper than the all countries plug adapter for the power brick Apple sells and gives me a longer cable. I have a couple of those for Europe anyway. Since they passed the PATRIOT Act I'm not going anywhere near the US.

      3. Mattknz1

        DIY Adaptor

        After traveling between the US and AU/NZ I discovered, when urgency requires that simply twisting the flat pins allowed a non-earthed plug to adapt itself quite nicely....

  2. Dr_N Silver badge

    "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

    Because you're lugging loaner kit around for other people!

    All you need is a single USB A&C 60W block (US folding pin type) and a set of mains adaptor plugs for it. A USB-C power rated cable for the laptop and couple of USB-micro cable for everything else. (With some C and mini adaptors if needed.)

    Add a flat HDMI cable with a few adaptors, a mini mouse and a 4G modem and: job jobbed.

    This is the 21st century after all, not 1996.

    The borrowers can then go leech of someone else.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

      4G modem?

      That's what the 'Internet Sharing' function on the cell-phone is for.

      When I'm out travelling, my phones gets charged off the laptop. got to use those USB ports for something...

      And my phone can take 2 SIMs, so no need to lug two phones.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

        >That's what the 'Internet Sharing' function on the cell-phone is for.

        How does your laptop stay connected when you step outside to take a call on your mobile from another customer?

        4G USB stick modem: Doesn't flatten the phone battery on-the-go and people don't ask to share your connection either. ;-)

        And do people still use single SIM phones ?!

        1. regadpellagru

          Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

          "And do people still use single SIM phones ?!"

          They do. All my colleagues carry their shiny iPhone plus the shite company phone. They even endured win phone before the company switched to Sammy ...

          Why ? I do not know.

          1. BigSLitleP

            Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

            I'd rather use a company provided phone so that i when i drop it in to a waste sewerage tank, i don't care.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

              BigSLitleP>> so that i when i drop it in to a waste sewerage tank

              Isn't that more likely if you are juggling two phones?

              1. ClockworkOwl

                Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                I'm not entirely sure why you would be 'juggling' two phones.

                I'm available on my work phone in work hours, and my personal phone out of work hours.

                If it's an emergency personal call in work hours, it won't get answered straight away, but will be dealt with reasonably quickly.

                I work on-call from home, so I can see how other work situations would be different. I also put my personal phone down when at home, and spend time away from it, so those who know me see it as normal...

            2. Trygve Henriksen

              Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

              My work phone is a CAT S60.

              I'm afraid that it would probably survive the drop, and someone would have to fish it out...

              1. the hatter
                Boffin

                Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                I'm sure I heard a fatal 'crack' when it hit the rim before falling in. Did you hear that too, or are you going to fish it out to check ? (icon - going to need PPE to get that)

                1. Trygve Henriksen

                  Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                  Have you SEEN the S60?

                  If you hear a crack, it's the rim of the tank that cracked...

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

            I would use a company provided phone for one simple reason: I don't want the company to have any access to mine. If the company wanted to hand me a SIM and that's it, I'm fine using my device. But they never want just that. They want to use some specific apps. And because they're secure, they want to have some company-mandated control over the host device so they can find it or remotely wipe it. All that makes sense, and I don't begrudge them wanting that access. But I don't intend to give it to them because a) their access could potentially give them access to some of my data which they don't need and b) I'm running a degoogled Lineage OS build and there's a chance what they have planned won't work anyway. So if they want to reach me when I'm not at work, and typical methods of contact like email won't work, they can give me the device with which to do so.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

              "I would use a company provided phone for one simple reason: I don't want the company to have any access to mine. If the company wanted to hand me a SIM and that's it, I'm fine using my device. But they never want just that. They want to use some specific apps. "

              I understand your point but some companies actually do provide pro SIMs, like mine.

              Sure, there's the occasional shit app who of course wants access to EVERYTHING on your phone.

              But since it's MY phone, it ain't getting installed :)

        2. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

          I put my phone on silent if I'm in a meeting. Anyone who NEEDS to contact me then can email me, Skype me(text only or I'll force reboot their PC) or even use Teams chat.

          My portable(no serious manufacturer calls them laptop anymore because they're afraid of being sued when someone burn their wedding tackle) is a DELL 2-in-1 hybrid. Takes less space than a block of A4 paper, and easy to grab with me if I have to go outside.

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

        I located & bought a couple of "In-line" phone chargers that sit between the laptop & the charger plug, so my phone charges at the full rate it can supply as I only have 2 USB ports available (Third one damaged) & thats occupied by a Logitech Unified Receiver dongle for my mouse.

        The phone charger is a little more adaptable than its OEM counterpart, as one I don't forget it & it doesnt take up a power point.

        I also have a wall power to cloverleaf straight adapter, which cuts down taking a bulky AC cable with me in my leather laptop satchel, that just about takes my 15" Ultrabook & the few basics already mentioned without ruining the bag by jamming anything more in there (Other than a pen).

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

          >I also have a wall power to cloverleaf straight adapter.

          If you slice out a bit of the rubber between the pins on a standard two pin cassette/figure-8 power cable it fits the 3-pin kettle power bricks perfectly. I can't remember the last time I needed a kettle power cable.

          1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

            Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

            there's a 3rd pin for a reason....grounding / earthing else they'd have used a figure 8 2 pin

            1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

              It's ok, he's probably trying for a Darwin Award

            2. Dr_N Silver badge

              Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

              >there's a 3rd pin for a reason

              Yes there is.

              >grounding / earthing

              Ah. Not for safety grounding though. The low voltage ground isn't connected to the AC earth. And the power brick is plastic. The earth pin is (sometimes) used for RF shielding. And sometimes it's not even connected. (Or the plug earth is sometimes just plastic. Not much protection with those.)

              >they'd have used a figure 8 2 pin

              Unless they save money on the volume of C5 cables etc ?

              Just check if there is DC-ground to AC-earth path with a continuity tester.

              1. Richard 12 Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                Even a functional earth has a really good reason, assuming that you want the device to work, to continue to work, and for other devices nearby to also work.

                Yours, someone who has done conducted immunity testing.

                1. Dr_N Silver badge

                  Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                  Richard12> Yours, someone who has done conducted immunity testing.

                  Interesting. Ok, so you're saying laptop power-supplies can destroy other products if not earthed? (Or be destroyed themselves?).

                  How about the USB-C supplies we are now seeing to power laptops? How do they get away with just a plastic earth pin? (Or in Europe, just a 2 pin plug.)

                  I've swapped out the supplied brick for a universal one that only has 2 pins. Is that an issue too?

                  1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                    Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                    The PSUs that don't have an earth at all are fine without one. They're also more expensive for a given rating.

                    The ones that do are using it, either to avoid killing the user and/or as a handy current sink/source to deal with emissions.

                    If the PSU has a mickey-mouse connector, it is because it does need the Earth. If it didn't, they'd use the (much cheaper) fig-8 connector.

                    The failure modes vary from "occasionally goes batshit" to "releases the magic smoke" via "doesn't turn on". Batshit is particularly common for capacitive touch and mouse interfaces...

                    1. Dr_N Silver badge

                      Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                      Richard 12> The failure modes vary from "occasionally goes batshit" to "releases the magic smoke" via "doesn't turn on". Batshit is particularly common for capacitive touch and mouse interfaces...

                      Well I learned something. Here I was thinking it was just to make sure the supply brick got an FCC stamp of approval and this had been the case all the way back to the VIC-20.

                      BTW there is no protection offered by the AC ground. That's why those nice chaps doing those office compliance checks don't test 'em for that.

                      Otherwise they all fail and no one could use their laptops.

                      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                        Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                        The AC ground was originally placed there to make it less likely that you die due to equipment failure.

                        Consider what happens if the isolation fails and the case or output USB shell becomes live.

                        If there is an AC ground connection to the case etc, a lot of current flows and the fuse blows, or circuit breaker, RCD or GFCI trips immediately. You notice that the device has a fault and repair/replace it.

                        If there is no AC ground, then it is likely no current flows. The device even continues to operate. You do not realize there is a problem until you have received an electric shock. The shock won't be large enough to blow a fuse or trip a breaker, so if there is no RCD or GFCI, the shock may continue until you are seriously injured or die.

                        This is how AC ground protects you from death and injury.

                        BTW - The main difference between the US and the UK/EU is that the US electric codes primarily care about fire. Individuals can fry, they don't care unless the building burns down as well.

                        1. Dr_N Silver badge

                          Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                          Richard 12>Consider what happens if the isolation fails and the case or output USB shell becomes live.

                          Explain that mechanism for me. Because we can "consider" that for any plastic cased low voltage device plugged into the mains via a power supply. Consider and then see it just isn't plausible and definitely not the reason at all that a laptop supply is earthed.

                          1. Richard 12 Silver badge
                            WTF?

                            Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                            It doesn't sound like you've ever seen a laptop PSU, or any type of USB cable.

                            Take a look, and think about the shiny bits that you are touching with your sticky paws.

                            If the device is not "double-insulated" (box inside a box) then the earth is required for safety - even if the case is plastic - because the output may become live if something breaks inside.

                            Do not "measure continuity". That's useless at working out what's in the box, and won't tell you anything about failure modes unless it's already failed.

                            Kill yourself if you must, but please don't take anyone with you.

                            1. This post has been deleted by its author

                            2. Dr_N Silver badge

                              Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                              Richard 12> If the device is not "double-insulated" (box inside a box) then the earth is required for safety - even if the case is plastic - because the output may become live if something breaks inside.

                              But devices can be rated as double-insulated just by using reinforced plastic for the enclosure. Which again blows the safety earth idea out of the window. So to speak.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

            "If you slice out a bit of the rubber between the pins on a standard two pin cassette/figure-8 power cable it fits the 3-pin kettle power bricks perfectly."

            Yeah, and if you get really stuck, you can cut the plug off and stick the bare wires into the wall point too! ($deity, don't technical people have a clue about electrical safety anymore?)

            1. Dr_N Silver badge

              Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

              John Brown> Yeah, and if you get really stuck, you can cut the plug off and stick the bare wires into the wall point too!

              Oooh cool tip! Now go readup on laptop power supplies and how they ACTUALLY work.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

                How the PSU works is irrelevant. How the plug fits into and grips the socket without accidentally slipping out a little, maybe arcing and melting stuff or even causing a fire is what Is actually relevant.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

      Which is all very well until you've travelled a very long way* for a meeting only to find one of the key people has forgotten their laptop charger, the battery is flat and it's an unusual power socket. Then you're very grateful you packed the universal charger.

      *In my case from the UK to Brisbane**

      **OK, I was doing other things over there but this really happened in the first meeting I attended

      1. jmch Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

        "Then you're very grateful you packed the universal charger"

        I got a 'universal' charger which can charge any sort or round-plugged laptop. Of course when it was needed, the laptop in question was a Lenovo with a rectangular plug

    3. Joe Drunk

      Re: "my backpack can weigh between 8 and 14kg"

      Not sure why Dr_N got downvoted - I wholeheartedly agree. There's no reason why you should have to lug around 14kg worth of equipment and supplies while your colleagues packs only weigh 3kg. Mayhaps it's because they know you are the mule that supplies the whole team so they don't need to burden themselves. This happened to me at first, then I got tired of having to walk around having to ask for everything back, someone I loaned my laptop charger left early and won't be back in the office till next week, resulting in my having to buy another charger.

      No.

      My pack weighs in at 5kg. Tops. We all make a decent salary. If you need something there are plenty of office supply shops. "Can I borrow your-" "No. I don't loan things out" Eventually they will get the message and they will stop asking you. They will either A) Learn to come prepared with the supplies they need to do their work or more likely B) Find someone else to grub from.

      Your back will thank you as will your sanity since you no longer have to track who you loaned out what to.

      Have an upvote. Serial leechers can sod off.

  3. oiseau Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Suckers

    Hello Dabbs:

    ... to those with more investment cash than sense, who am I to doubt your genius?

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    But thinking it over (bad habit), I don't think it's genius.

    These days, there's a sucker born every minute second, so I'd have to put it under rampart opportunism and absolute lack of ethos.

    I see genius is another, actually desirable, quality.

    Cheers,

    O.

  4. John H Woods Silver badge

    unpacking order...

    If the first three things you take out are cable ties, duck tape and latex gloves, people tend to be more reticent about borrowing stuff.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: unpacking order...

      You forgot the jar of Vasoline...

      1. BigSLitleP
        Devil

        Re: unpacking order...

        No, he didn't

    2. j.bourne
      Black Helicopters

      Re: unpacking order...

      Or even duct tape - unless you are meaning the specific brand - so named because apparently people just cant hear duct and say / write duct. A healthy rendition never hurt anyone did it?...

      1. BoldMan

        Re: unpacking order...

        You mean gaffer tape?

        1. DanceMan

          Re: unpacking order...

          Gaff tape is not duct tape, as anyone who's tried to remove the ungodly mess duct tape leaves knows only too well.

          1. chivo243 Silver badge

            Re: unpacking order...

            Yes, having studied and worked in film, I know the value of Gaffers tape. I have a musician colleague who will reuse his gaffers tape when possible!

      2. Stumpy Silver badge

        Re: unpacking order...

        No, Cable Ties, Rubber Gloves and Duck Tape are all for holding your Duck together when it splits.

        1. monty75

          Re: unpacking order...

          Please tell me this isn't related to the Vaseline comment made above

        2. TwistedPsycho

          Re: unpacking order...

          Surely if the duck tape helps stop ducks asking for grapes......

          1. Ken Shabby
            Linux

            Re: unpacking order...

            For that you need a nail.

            1. Huw D

              Re: unpacking order...

              Got any nails?

              No?

              Then have you got any grapes?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: unpacking order...

          If your duck is splitting, you're doing it wrong. You have an "impenitent mismatch." You'll let all the "quack" out.

      3. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: unpacking order...

        Actually Duck precedes Duct, as it was originally used for waterproofing ammunition boxes - water coming off it like a ducks back

        https://www.scienceabc.com/social-science/is-it-duck-tape-or-duct-tape.html

        1. chivo243 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: unpacking order...

          I'm sure there was some military application to Duck Tape

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DUKW

          (colloquially known as Duck)

          My coat, made only of a shiny metallic looking tape...

    3. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: unpacking order...

      If the first three things you take out are cable ties, duck tape and latex gloves, people tend to be more reticent about borrowing stuff

      I am happy to lend out such things as mentioned, BUT I demand the borrower leave their driver's license as bail. I tell them if the item is not returned by the close of day, their DL can be retrieved from the shredder. It does tend to keep these items from going walkabout, and it's up to them to find me and return said item, not me chasing them down.

  5. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Freelancer? You forgot four items!

    Or four copies of one item, to be precise:

    One little black ledger book for you,

    One for the tax man, one for the missus, one for the mistress

    1. A. Coatsworth
      Joke

      Re: Freelancer? You forgot four items!

      But Dabbsy is adopting the French ways, isn't he?

      I'd expect he can now use the same one for the missus and mistresses, and that they know each other... no harm there unless he tries to run for mayor of Paris.

      [with apologies to Ms. Dabbs]

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "who have no idea what working in them can be like"

    What you mean is that they don't give a stuff what working in them is like so why would they be expected to have an idea.

  7. macjules Silver badge
    Flame

    Additional forgotten items ..

    1) Apple Magsafe1 to Magsafe2 adaptor for when you find Apple Displays in the office that have Magsafe 1.

    2) Just about every bloody adaptor for USB-C and Mac, including the Thunderbolt to USB-C (ref 1 above) and not forgetting the £70 Apple HDMI plus USB-2 plus USB-C Power input connector

    3) One of those weird HDMI cables that has one side blocked so that it only fits certain Dell or Lenovo screens.

    And the best bit is in those "shared" workspaces where you unplug all the Lenovo adaptors to plug them into the Mac ones and then forget to plug them back into the right places.

    I recently had to work for a company near Hoxton where I kept calling the agency to say "It's not a company it's a restaurant" to which they responded "It just looks like a restaurant, its a shared workspace unit with a restaurant at the front, go in and check". Upon entering the restaurant I was asked "Working or eating?"

    1. mr_souter_Working

      Re: Additional forgotten items ..

      "3) One of those weird HDMI cables that has one side blocked so that it only fits certain Dell or Lenovo screens."

      Do you perchance mean one of those full size DisplayPort cables - that looks almost exactly like an HDMI cable?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Additional forgotten items ..

        Display port cable and a nail file in case you need to connect to hdmi

      2. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Additional forgotten items ..

        I do indeed mean those ones. The ones that could easily have just been a normal HDMI port but someone decided to cut the side off.

        1. FlippingGerman

          Re: Additional forgotten items ..

          Except it's a totally different standard, and you're not paying a couple of Her Majesty's pounds for every HDMI port in royalties. AND (I think) the maximum framerate/resolution is better. TLDR DP is more better (albeit a one-way signal).

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Additional forgotten items ..

            But DisplayPort is so boringly predicatable with none of the rich heritage of high-speed, super-speed, extreme-speed, ludicrous-speed (and plaid) claiming cables that makes connecting any HDMI displays such a rewarding experience

            1. Glen 1 Silver badge

              Re: Additional forgotten items ..

              I have never owned a display port device.

              Came up through VGA, DVI (digital and analogue), and most recently HDMI.

              Was quite a surprise when I started seeing them on client's Windows machines. Just thought it was an Apple thing

              1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                Re: Additional forgotten items ..

                You'd probably only come across it if you had a graphics card capable of outputting 4K at a decent frame rate. Apparently it supports 4k at up to 144 FPS, whereas HDMI 1.0 would only manage 24 FPS at 4k.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Additional forgotten items ..

      Not forgetting of course that Apple have gone from Mini-DVI to Mini Displayport / Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 / USB C.

  8. Mage Silver badge
    Coat

    Beep Beep Printer jam

    I realised about 15 years ago that's why the printer would be empty. Sometimes I surreptitiously kept a ream of paper or two hidden in my filing cabinet.

    "I must be prepared to work in variety of poorly equipped client offices across a broad spectrum of hopelessness."

    Brilliant.

  9. DJV Silver badge

    "layer of dust has settled on some of the padlocks"

    Dabbsy, you need to learn a new skill: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm9K6rby98W8JigLoZOh6FQ

  10. Frederic Bloggs

    Power Blocks

    Just what is it about power blocks? No-one has ever got one that isn't already full. At home, not even me! So I am completely with Dabbsy here. I always carry one in my rucksack, it is always a six way because not only do I need at least three but, far more often than not, the people I am with need the rest. I also have a continental two pin to six way 13A block, that I made, for outings in the EU.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Power Blocks

      Why do you need 3 ports?

      Not that many portables that require more than one socket.

      1. Frederic Bloggs

        Re: Power Blocks

        One for the portable, one for the little 5 port switch, one (or sometimes two) for a suitcase full of radio gear (don't ask) that I am "testing". Then there is the charger for my phone (or a customer's) ...

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Power Blocks

          Word to the wise: My USB-powered 5-port 10/100 switch is an absolute godsend.

          Black Box do an 8 port and a 4 port gigabit version now.

      2. Glen 1 Silver badge

        Re: Power Blocks

        "Why do you need 3 ports"

        Power sockets are like Network ports, Raspberry Pis, Guitars, and Cars.

        How many do you need?

        At least one more.

        Always.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Power Blocks

      You may have six sockets in your 13A block, but the manufacturers of wall-wart power supplies have cleverly designed their products so that you can only use three of them.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Power Blocks

        That's why you have straight power blocks.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: That's why you have straight power blocks.

          No, mostly the 12V and 5V 2A models only allow alternate sockets too. So I have 3 way adaptors plugged in at alternate positions.

    3. $till$kint

      Re: Power Blocks

      Not forgetting that you need it to be surge-protected. Current "shared workspace" on a vaguely Gov programme has some rather moody wiring that occasionally goes single-phase 400V on some sockets, which makes your laptop go all warm.

      1. David 18

        Re: Power Blocks

        Warm and Fuzzy I would expect?

        1. Glen 1 Silver badge

          Re: Power Blocks

          Briefly.

    4. jmch Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Power Blocks

      "it is always a six way..."

      Here on the continent, it seems beyond the wit of equipment makers to add some thought when designing power bricks for various bits of equipment. There's so many pieces of kit that I have with the power transformer integrated as part of the plug and oriented in such a way that when you plug it into a power strip the brick part covers an additional 2 or 3 sockets, so a 6-way power strip can actually only accommodate 2 devices.

      And of course, whoever designs the wall socket outlets has them in compact groups that get covered by the aforementioned power brick, so to plug 2 devices into a triple wall socket I still have to plug in a 6-way power strip!

      1. DWRandolph

        Re: Power Blocks

        A quick search for "power cord extension and splitter" will help with bricks blocking the ports. Very short cords just to let the brick lay on the floor next to the strip. I am in the USA so mine are 120V NEMA 5-15, even have a couple C14 converters for getting notebook juice from the 240V rack PDU in the computer room.

        Though this does mean more stuff to carry, unless you forgo the circuit breaker and replace, instead of augment, the regular power strip.

        A couple of random product photos;

        #C14 - NEMA

        https://www.cableleader.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/650x/040ec09b1e35df139433887a97daa66f/a/c/ac-power-adapter-cord-nema-5-15r-to-iec320-c14_2.jpg

        # multi-tail NEMA

        https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71TI1Xu8dJL._SL1500_.jpg

    5. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      Re: Power Blocks

      Safer with a Schuko plug - at least they are earthed/grounded, which covers you in case someone plugs in a faulty class 1 appliance (needs an earth connection) otherwise they or you could get an electric shock from the bar not being earthed

  11. Stork Silver badge

    I got the mental image of Dabbs giving pole dancing lessons to Mr. Johnson

    Where did I put the mind bleach?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I got the mental image of Dabbs giving pole dancing lessons to Mr. Johnson

      @stork you'll be okay, now imagine if it was the other way round, BJ dancing for Dabbsy.

      That's what I call mind bleach territory.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: I got the mental image of Dabbs giving pole dancing lessons to Mr. Johnson

        Please be so kind as to pass the aforementioned mind bleach, I now desperately need it.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I got the mental image of Dabbs giving pole dancing lessons to Mr. Johnson

        BJ dancing for Dabbsy.

        Surely that would depend on who's performing the BJ?

        OK, coat is on, I'm off to the pub.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: I got the mental image of Dabbs giving pole dancing lessons to Mr. Johnson

          BJ?

          is there a monkey involved?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCQZFEKKf4U

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
  12. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Lockers

    There are lockers at many co-working spaces but these have been baggsied long ago; by whom is a mystery to all who work there.

    The baggsers have doubtless moved on to proper jobs, perhaps on other continents. When I retire I plan to tour the City to see how many of my bike locks are still in place outside offices where I once worked.

  13. not.known@this.address Silver badge
    Alien

    Ads in spaaaacccceeeeeeee!!

    "Just think, you travel 260 million kilometres only to stumble across a bloody advert."

    EE 'Doc' Smith got there before you - Virgil Samms asks what the strange opaque mounds are along the side of the road in one of the Lensman novels - possibly 'First Lensman', but it's been a while since I read them...

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: Ads in spaaaacccceeeeeeee!!

      Yep, that’s First Lensman.

      I want to have a car like Babe, the Big Blue Ox. I really do.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Ads in spaaaacccceeeeeeee!!

      Tregonsee on Rigel? Time to reread them, I think.

  14. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    "an overgrown and woefully misguided sense of self-belief who have no idea what working in them can be like"

    I think that you got the We Work folks there, but "in them" is redundant.

  15. Andytug

    Even worse if your work uses Surface Pros.....

    Sum total of ports, 1 USB one DisplayPort.

    Lovely lightweight tablet laptop it may be, but I have to carry a mains adaptor, a USB Hub (with a separate power adaptor lest you want to plug more than one thing into it as it may run out of power....) which also has the Ethernet port in it, and a displayport adapter if I want to use any external monitors (plus VGA/HDMI lead becasue nowhere ever has one).

    Plus mug, coffee, chocolate, the usual stuff.....

  16. holmegm Bronze badge

    What you need is a *seabag*: insanely sturdy, tardis-like in its ability to hold far more inside than the visible volume should allow, and can still be worn on the back without (usually) falling over.

    Roughly cylindrical in shape so it can be plopped in a corner and be more or less out of the way. Or you can lay it down and sit on it; just tell people that it is an ergonomic chair of some sort.

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      Nah, you want one of these: https://www.cadetdirect.com/plce-main-bergen-mtp though not necessarily one from those pirates.

      1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        These are the biz

        https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Black-30L-Patrol-Field-Day-Pack-Rucksack-Bergen-British-Army-Issued/153852563848?hash=item23d253d188:g:fNYAAOSw0BVeXncO

        https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/G1-British-Army-Black-30L-Patrol-Field-Day-Pack-Rucksack-2010/123935040016?hash=item1cdb1aa210:g:xhEAAOSw9N9dnxUJ

        These are also good, but much bigger (albeit come with shoulder straps)

        https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Deployment-Bag-British-Army-Surplus-Black-Rucksack-Backpack-Military-Holdall/202919444211?hash=item2f3ef0fef3:g:FScAAOSwAj9eSEJ-

        1. Mr Humbug

          Re: These are the biz

          The black 30L patrol packs are the only children's school bags I''ve found that last more than six months

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: These are the biz

            What's wrong with a proper leather satchel? Lasts for years.

  17. GDM

    Backpack Nirvana-ish

    Add a small variety of essential first aid stuff, spare t-shirt (also useful for padding) for when something inevitably gets spilt at an unfortunate moment and lunch, snacks and water bottle. The number of times I've popped to a client in the middle of nowhere for "just a quick job" and ended up there all day, I soon learnt to have something with me.

    My current favourite backpack is from the uninspiringly named Kaka via Amazon, a 50l "3 in 1" thing which whilst not without minor quibbles has stood up to lugging huge amounts of stuff about really well, much better than some of the "big name" bags I've tried at various times.

    1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      Re: Backpack Nirvana-ish

      Personal experience, best backpacks are the ones issued to the british military, designed to carry stupid amounts of weight over rough terrain, even the small day packs are able to hold a serious of kit, straps are heavily padded and lots of compartments

  18. Dvon of Edzore

    Interesting how most of the comments here...

    are about not carrying enough with the balance being suggestions about different. The portable office is indeed universal to the tech trade, and I suspect we're all hoping for a Bag of Holding before our joints give way.

  19. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Usual contents of bag: every possible lead except the one needed right now.

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      Feh. In the Final Emergency Container (a large plastic container, purchased at Office Depot) there are:

      1 100 ft roll Cat5e

      1 100 ft roll Cat6

      1 100 ft roll Cat6a

      what's left of one roll of 1000 ft Cat5e cable, stacked out of the way

      some Cat3

      1 container with 6 7 ft Cat5e cables

      1 6 ft Cat5e crossover cable (never used, even once...)

      1 box containing RJ-45 ends, nearly 100 left

      1 box RJ-11 ends, for the Cat3, only a few left, haven't used any in years now

      1 box low-voltage staples for tacking up Ethernet cable

      1 roll tv-standard coax and ends for it

      1 cable tester

      1 cable cutter/crimper

      1 12 ft parallel cable (standard Centronics)

      1 12 ft parallel cable (HD Centronics) (only used it once, but it was a life-saver...)

      1 SCSI external cable

      1 HD SCSI external cable

      1 SCSI cable (internal)

      1 HD SCSI cable (internal)

      1 IDE cable

      1 box SATA cables, only three left

      1 6 ft HDMI cable

      1 3 ft VGA cable

      1 6 ft Display Port cable

      1 3 ft RS422 serial cable

      1 3 ft RS232 serial cable

      1 standard power cable

      1 standard laptop power brick, with adapters for various size and type laptops

      1 Apple MagSafe laptop power brick

      1 2.1 amp power brick for cell phones and tablets

      1 3.5 amp power brick for cell phones and tablets

      1 Apple Lightening cable

      1 miniUSB cable

      1 Apple 40-pin cable

      1 can WD-40

      1 roll duct table

      1 tube Gorilla Glue

      1 hammer (large)

      1 hammer (small)

      1 container with 24 assorted screwdrivers, flat head, phillips, and hex

      1 container with 24 assorted nut and bolt drivers

      1 power drill with 12 different screwdriver ends and 12 different drills

      1 spare battery for the power drill

      1 set Apple case crack tools, including MacCracker, suction cups, pentahead screwdrivers, hair dryer, double-sided tape, more; note that this will work on Samsung and other heavily glued devices, too

      1 forceps

      1 bird-beak

      1 pliers

      1 boxcutter

      1 hacksaw and six spare blades

      Assorted batteries, ranging from AAA to lantern size

      1 box assorted USB 2 and USB 3 cables

      The Final Emergency Container has wheels so that it can be moved.

      1. Keven E

        Right next to the duck tape

        "1 bird-beak"

        I imagine it's what I call "duck-bills'.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        I gave money to a crowdfunder thing intended to prevent African kids dying from kerosene lamps now that had "western" education access (= homework)

        They keep sending me bigger and better generators every few months. I could power the whole building now I reckon, just by putting some rocks in a bag in the emergency stairwell.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      My usual contents:

      Two laptops (personal and company).

      Power cables for both laptops except for the one I needed last night and forgot to put back in the morning.

      USB battery for charging phone while out.

      USB wall power adapter.

      Two micro USB cables: the one I broke a month ago but for some reason I can't ever remember to take it out and the one that was working last time but whose probability of working this time is inversely proportional to how much I need it.

      Two ethernet cables, both of which work, surprisingly.

      WiFi access point with VPN preconfigured.

      External USB keyboard/mouse. Unfortunately, this is the one before Logitech figured out the concept of a power switch, so it might be dead at some point. And of course I don't carry spare batteries.

      Bluetooth earphones.

      Wired earphones which work only if the wire is bent at exactly the correct angle but I haven't replaced them.

      Assortment of display cables which I might need, but rarely do.

      Raspberry pi which I have configured as a fallback desktop. I can power this from the power adapter and use HDMI to a screen nearby. The one time I actually tried, I couldn't find a screen with HDMI in and used a remote connection from my phone which was quite painful.

      Sometimes that changes, but often these are present.

  20. OzBob

    Dabbs, you are missing an opportunity here

    sell the requisite kit to them at 5x retail, (paypal or cash) and simply restock on the way back home.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consultant additions

    I also carry my own backup power, my own snacks, and a portable hotspot so I don't have to go through the client's wifi. There's nothing less secure than my client's wifi.

  22. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    COVID-19 Protocol

    Take your own roll of Toilet Paper in a lockable steel box, as the BOFH may have pilfered them from the toilets

  23. VibhorTyagi

    I engineer AI and my bag is full of trash

    I engineer AI for a living. As such, I rarely have anything in my bag that I will need in the most immediate of senses. It is cluttered with chips and boards that will be useful for AI engineering way, wayy down the line. Among all the garbage, the only thing that I can say I really need, is my laptop, which I use for freelancing and engineering AI.

  24. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

    Re: Holby City cosplay

    Isn't that playing "Doctors and Nurses" only with lots of frowning?

  25. Just Enough

    Meeting Time : 1830 A.D.

    Meeting notes on paper? Written with a pen? No mention of an ink well, or blotter. And who's topping up the oil lamp and putting coal on the fire?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot, no DVM ?

    Can't believe that out of 70 odd comments from techies about the contents of their backpacks, that no-one carries a Fluke DVM, or AVO Model 8 with them these days.

    What's the world coming to?

  27. Evil Genius

    "I will have to nip around the building to collect all the items I've lent to colleagues throughout the day. Portable rechargers, USB-C adapters, that kind of thing."

    Lend?? You actually lend these items? I prefer "rent, with the full replacement value in cash left as a deposit". I will accept a freshly removed kidney as it never hurts to have a spare but storage in the shared fridge can be troublesome.

  28. SALOME SMITH

    UPLINK AGENT that's a lot like a free lancer

    Best to also pack a NERF MICRSHOT the up shot one, get it.

    I've got one of those small notbooks that run Android OS, in some cultures it looks like a Hamburger packet, hence showing the Hamburg connection.

    Might I also advise a Parker Pen to jot stuff down.

    Best Regards NOX OVERSEER

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