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[personal profile] bquinlan
I don't believe in the perfect gadget. Everyone has different needs and wants and tastes, all of which are moving targets as they change over time. What I want to do here is suggest general kinds of gadgets that might be useful and possible talk about why I like a particular one. I hope that seeing my reasons will help you to make your own guesses about their suitability for your needs.

In that light, I think it's only fair to provide a bit of background on how I got to be a gadget geek. That doesn't mean you have to read it. Feel free to skip ahead to the more useful entries.

I started carrying a Swiss Army Knife when I was around eight. Over the years I upgraded to fancier models. When the original Leatherman tool was released I bought one immediately. These have proven their worth by getting me out of the occasional jam, but they have also helped me solve a lot of life's little problems more easily.

Being a software engineer by profession, I spend a lot of my time around computers and other electronics. Having a few tools at hand makes the inevitable repairs and upgrades more convenient. Also, there always seems to be someone who needs to borrow a screwdriver or a pair of pliers.

My interest in personal gadgets became more serious when I spent a few years living in California. Within just a few months flooding knocked out the water supplies of most nearby cities, mud slides cut off roads and destroyed hundred of buildings, and wildfires threatened whole communities. Then on my next car trip east on I-80 I just missed getting snowed in along the Donner Pass by twenty minutes.

When I got back home from that trip I started assembling an emergency kit for my car. I also bought myself a belt sheath for my Swiss Army Knife that included a minimal survival kit. I began to carry a small flashlight in my pocket.

Because I find gadgets interesting as well as useful, I have the perfect excuse to research them. I look at company web sites for technical specifications. I read user reviews on Amazon and more specialized web sites. I hang out on forums where enthusiasts debate the latest offerings. Eventually I make my best guess and buy what looks to be the best gadget for my purposes. Then I use it until I decide it doesn't quite do what I want or until something even better comes out. At which point the whole process begins again.
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