Tools I Carry

I recently wrote about the most important tools of a software developer. The tools that I mentioned are important to be a successful developer — they are not sufficient to master the other challenges of life.

Being the geek that I am, I carry all sorts of things in my pockets — things I couldn’t live without. Today, I’ll do a headstand and show you what I’ve got.

First of all, there is my swiss army knife. I need it for all kinds of situations: tightening screws, cutting of loose threads on clothing, opening bottles. Last spring we went on a hiking trip and my son got bitten by a tick — I used my knife’s tweezers to pull it out. It’s amazing: once you carry a swiss army knife, all kinds of occasions arise to use it and you wonder how you could have survived so far without it.

But I had to make a trade-off: naturally, I wish to have as many functions on my knife as possible: many screwdrivers of different shapes and sizes, a magnifier, scissors; and it should have a big blade such that its possible to cut off a slice of bread from a big loaf. All of this is available from Victorinox and Wenger (they even have knives that come with LED lights and USB memory). Alas, there is only limited space in my pockets! I certainly don’t want to carry a brick around. After years of experimenting with various models, for me, the Wenger “Evolution 10” is the best compromise. Always remember: the best knife is the one that you have on you; a 30+ function knife is of no use if it’s left in your cupboard.

I also need to have a pen on me. Not just an ordinary five cent plastic giveaway pen that might leak ink or run dry. Typically, those pens are also too big to carry them in your pants pockets (I rarely wear shirts, so all my tools need to be placed in my pants pockets). I prefer the famous Fisher ‘Bullet’ Space Pen. This pen is just so cool, so small, so sleek, so robust, so timeless. It comes with a special pressurized ink cartridge that allows you to even write up-side-down — on wet paper, if necessary.

Speaking of paper: a pen — even a Fisher Space Pen — is of little use without paper (unless you are willing to write on your palm or the back of your hand, something I do only in extreme situations). I’m a big fan of Moleskine notebooks and I would love to have one available everywhere I am. Unfortunately, even the small version is too big and heavy to carry in a shirt or pants pocket. By contrast, my ’emergency notebook’ is quite lightweight: a folded A6 index card, which gives me four pages of about 10 cm x 7.5 cm. It’s not much — but it is something!

Whether there is something to fix or an idea to be jotted down, with my tools I can rise to the occasion; I wouldn’t even think about leaving my house without them.