The Things In My Swiss Army Backpack

I’ve got two 10 page papers to write by Wednesday so I figure there’s no better time to write a post about the things you can find in my Swiss Synergy backpack. This backpack is rather large but its size often comes in handy (grocery store trips and school finals come to mind). I used to value micro sized bags but living the portable life I do in San Francisco requires something a little bigger. So, to follow the format of my Software I Use Daily post…


  • The Sony Ericsson w600i
    My three cell phone requirements include: great responsiveness, small size and usable keys. I found all of these in a Sony w600i. I thought the phone was pretty cool when I first saw it but never expected the number of responses I’ve received when using it.

    This phone does just about everything; it’s an alarm clock, a flashlight, a hand-held gaming device, a camera, an appointment reminder, a chick magnet, a radio, an mp3 player and the best way to see when my next train is coming (using the browser and The interface is attractive and easy to use and I’ve only got a few small complaints about the phone as a whole:

    1. If you use the USB cable, you are at risk of an irrepairable ‘white screen of death.’ It happened to me and I was without a phone for about 3 days (thankfully, Skype was still free at the time). Using bluetooth is a slower but safer method of file transfer.
    2. It can’t be charged using the provided USB cable
    3. You need to use a sorta annoying adapter to plug into headphones.

    One of the things I love about the w600 is its ability to set any sized mp3 as a ringtone. Right now, when people call, my phone starts jammin the high quality Cajun beats. The reception is also top notch.

  • The Western Digital 120 GB Passport
    I bought this hard drive at for a measly $80! It’s USB powered and pocket sized. The encryption software that came on it kinda sucked so I wiped it and used TrueCrypt to encrypt the entire thing. Awesomeness.
  • Mio GPS
    My BFF, Brandon, got me this GPS for Christmas! I used it on a daily basis while vacationing in Louisiana; I even used it on the flight back home. It’s got a day and night mode and a huge “point of interest” database that even found my favorite restaurant, Hebert’s Steakhouse in Kaplan, Louisiana. Here in San Francisco, I use the Mio’s pedestrian mode to find nearby sushi places and walk to them. If only Muni bus routes were programmed in there too…
  • Bose TriPort Headphones
    Audiophiles often diss Bose but I compared these to a few others and they were incredibly crisp. I use them while on the bus/subway and on the airplane; they fit snugly over my ears and earplugs.
  • Microsoft Wireless USB Mouse
    I’m on my second one.. I used the first one so much but it broke it after spilling raspberry mocha all over it. Once my awesome girlfriend saw my distraughtness, she gave me hers!
  • Apple Macbook
    I won’t be making this mistake again.. I knew buying an Apple Rev A product was risky but this just sucks. This laptop looks great and is fast as hell but it’s recurring fan issues make me want to hasten next year’s budgeted laptop purchase. I’m considering, strangly enough, purchasing a Fujitsu laptop. It’s not the most popular brand, but I had one in 2003 and it was one of my favorite laptops.

Other Stuff

  • Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean Black Tea
    A delicious source of on-the-go caffiene. Just add hot water.
  • Tide-to-Go
    This stuff seriously works! I’ve used it to remove coffee from my khakis and soy sauce from my prized puffy vest. Everyone always asks if it works when I bust it out and I always enthusiastically answer yes.
  • My Student ID
    I’m currently a senior at the University of San Francisco and I LOVE it. I’ll be graduating in December with a BSc in Information Science. The program is geared towards working adults and so I only have to get my butt to class once a week (and some Saturdays). All of my classes are pre-set and each semester, my advisor contacts ME to tell me how far along I am with my degree and provides me with an audit. There’s no guesswork involved and thus no question as to whether my application for graduation will have problems. Also, USF automatically registers me for class.. all I really do is pay tuition (a hefty amount), show up and do my homework.

    During the past year that I have been in school, I’ve also figured out how to properly explain Information Science to non-computer people. I tell them “Computer Engineering deals with computer hardware. Computer Science deals with computer software. Information Science deals with the data and information that utilizes computer hardware and software.” Now to figure out how to simply explain the title “Database Administrator.”

  • My Zipcar Zipcard
    When not using my Chevrolegs to walk around the city, I rent fun-to-drive cars by the hour or by the day at Of all the car-share programs I evaluated, I liked this one the best. The rates are $8.50/hr or $65/day and that includes gas and insurance.
  • Huggies-Wipes-To-Go
    I once had a friend who always carried around a spoon and a blanket. I asked him why and he said “You’d be surprised how many times these things come in handy.” Same thing goes for these wipes on the go. Not only is it a great TP replacement for the times that the stall you’re in has just run out but it also effectively cleans the mystery stuff you just put your hand in while riding the bus.
  • Floss
    Popcorn. Enough said.
  • Persol Sunglasses.
    My lady companion got me these for Christmas. They’re so sexy, they’ve earned me the nickname “Hollywood” at work.
  • Ear Plugs
    Great for blocking out crying children on planes and extreme volume sometimes found at dance clubs and movie theatres. Yep, I wear these things shamelessly at dance clubs. People laugh but I have the last laugh when I leave without diminished hearing! ;)
  • San Francisco Popout Map
    A fellow San Franciscan suggested I buy this pocket sized map of the city.. it’s initial size is small but then it pops out to show the entire city. It even has some bus lines listed.. totally worth the 7 bucks.

Oh, and I can’t fit them in my backpack, but if I could, I’d also carry around my web hosting provider, I initially chose Simpli because of their 100% Uptime Guarantee and I’ve stayed with them because their service is outstanding, they have great communication skills (and even keep a blog) and they refuse to outsource. If you are looking for colocated and dedicated hosting in the Bay Area, I highly recommend Simpli.

Chrissy is a Cloud and Datacenter Management & Data Platform MVP who has worked in IT for over 20 years. She is the creator of the popular SQL PowerShell module dbatools, holds a master's degree in Systems Engineering and is coauthor of Learn dbatools in a Month of Lunches. Chrissy is certified in SQL Server, Linux, SharePoint and network security. You can follow her on Twitter at @cl.

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8 comments on “The Things In My Swiss Army Backpack
  1. Annie says:

    Chrissy – Girl I have a great laptop for you. Last weekend I was at Costco and found an HP (yep, I have moved on from my Dell) that is totally awesome. And it even goes on sale for $899 2/20/07 (I paid $999 cause I have no patience).

    The model is dv6253c, AMD Turion 64×2 dual-core, 2GB Ram, 120 GB HD, DVD+RW, built in Web Cam (cool!) and Windows Vista Home Premium. It is so great.

    Thanks for the tips on WSUS (that is how I found you) – not having fun with this stupid server – though. I look forward to checking out the rest of your archives.


  2. zac says:

    1) gateway dual core 1.6 intel 1gb 100gb hdd laptop running XP SP2. It came with Vista but I formatted it after 2 weeks of frustration and not being able to run certain apps even in compatability mode.
    It’s pretty lightweight and I get decent battery life (about 3 hrs with standard battery).
    2) Gateway extended 12-cell li-ion battery. Goes for about 4:45 to 5:00 hours.
    3) Gateway power adapter
    4) APC external 80WHR li-poly battery. I plug my AC adapter into this and plug my laptop into the battery. The battery will give me a little extra boost (can charge back up my primary battery from 5% back up to about 65% in a decently short time). I also plug my usb powered accessories (bluetooth headphones, smartphones, etc) into its USB charging port for a boost.
    5) Timbuk2 laptop sleeve
    6) off-brand laptop foam sleeve that goes inside the timbuk2, from the japanese dollar-store Ichiban Khan. I would have gotten their A4 sized hard case for that but my laptop is about 1″ too big :(
    7) Treo 700WX EVDO smartphone
    8) Treo charger, and Seidio external treo battery charger for USB2, and USB charge-cable for Treo.
    9) MonsterPower 4-outlet travel surge protector. Great for when all the outlets at Starbucks are taken.
    10) DC to AC power inverter for car.
    11) 1 to 2 DC power outlet splitter.
    12) Sennheiser headphones
    13) Phillips noise cancelling over-ear headphones (gifted by BFF Chrissy for…i think it was chinese new year?)
    14) 2.5mm to 3.5mm headphone adapter so i can listen to tunes from my Treo on those oversized headphones
    15) Clif bars
    16) Water bottle
    17) 1gb flash drive on keychain
    18) ZipCar zipcard
    19) Motorola HT820 stereo bluetooth headphones/ headset. Listen to music and also talk with the same device on smartphone. The hacked stereo A2dp bluetooth on Windows Mobile sucks however. I hope eventually to find a device that has A2dp and Exchange activesync in the future…but without Windows Mobile. If only they made the Nokia E61 for CDMA networks. Or also considering the Helio Ocean. Yeah, i just started a Sprint contract but…..i digress.
    20) Scala 500 windproof mono bluetooth headset. Thing runs all day without charging :)
    21) Sprint Novatel U720 USB Rev-A wireless broadband card. I get 1400 kbps down and 700kbps up with 100ms latency on this bad boy.

  3. Tonya says:

    Randomly found this entry. LOVED it. Thanks for sharing. I LOVE SF and will be there again next week and cannot wait!! Never heard of those zip cars…interesting. May have to check that out next trip!!

  4. Brad Baesic says:

    Portable Boombox = Sony Ericsson w600i CHECK!!!

  5. Number6 says:

    Le’see: Gym clothes, a usb key, two sudafed, a usb extention cable, a
    SanDisk Sansa mp3 player (dead battery), nail clippers, a post-it detailing
    how to automate a defrag job from a command line.

  6. dgdgdgdg says:

    “Chevrolegs!” LOLOL.
    I get around town on my size-10 Fee-ats!

  7. Yaffle says:

    Please….don’t write so catching! I just needed to know the key combo on rdp and now i’m stuck reading your blogs and bio….Keep it up!
    Greeting from Holland

  8. Stefaanv says:

    Same overhere.. Just wanted to find out how to change an Ilo Pass :)
    And now reading the blog..

    Greetzz from Belgium.. and I should check out San Francizzco!

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