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Ask HN: What are the must have gadgets for an hacker?
23 points by digamber_kamat on Feb 21, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments
Yes, we all have computers and so on. But beyond the obvious any suggestions? May be a CRKT toolkit ? Blackberry/Android/Iphone ? Torch? Screwdrivers ? What kind of flash drives ? Which tablets? Just name it.

A small notepad + a pen.

I prefer a small, lined Moleskine and a blue Zebra F301 pen. Being able to write things at moment's notice is invaluable.

The Zebra F-301 is awesome - I keep both blue and black at my desk at all times. Reliable pen, good feel, and eminently affordable. Zebra also makes an F-301 Compact, a non-retractable that's about 4" long, fits in your pocket without poking you, and becomes full length when the cap is put on the back of the pen. Uses the same ink cartridges as the rest of the F-301 line. Every day carry for me w/ a clip of index cards (almost a Hipster PDA, but I don't quite use it like one) and sometimes a small notebook.

I switched to felt-tips a few months ago and will never look back.

Props on the Zebra F301, though I prefer the black ink.

I like http://amzn.to/feb5cC, although it's not as small as a Moleskin notebook.

what about a ruler ?

An ergonomic office/desk chair - Doesn't have to be expensive, just has to be comfortable for your body type.

I'm a fan of Mirra by Herman Miller - it's pricey though (although affordable if you consider its warranty - buy 4-5 $150 chairs over 10 years, or just one $700 chair) .

Also had good experiences with a few Office Star chairs (the higher end ones, around the $200 price point)

I'll throw a vote behind the Hag Balans kneeling chair, which apparently is no longer being made but the link below lists other kneeling options


How do y'all go through office chairs so fast?! I've been using a cheapo office depot made in china $80 special for 12 years daily here at work, and it was a few years old when I started. Sure, the seat foam is nearly gone and there's a rub spot where the fabric back hits the wall, but it certainly isn't falling apart.


For people working with computers all day, having an ergonomic, well adjusted chair is paramount.

I have several Herman Miller Mirras in my office. They're every bit as good as the Herman Miller Aeron, just a lot cheaper and easier to adjust.


I always carry duct tape, a piece of cardboard, a few paperclips, string, grease, a pocket knife, a few screwdrivers, and a lighter. Everything else I need is on my phone.

+1 ;)

I always carry duct tape, WD-40, swiss army knife, another knife, lighter, a spare CAT-6 net cable. Also recently I started to carry those small bags with sugar that they give in coffee shops. Funny thing is, that run into situations where duct tape is needed almost on daily basis. It's like the "when only thing you have is a hammer..." effect, but in a positive way. Opportunities to fix/hack things find you all the time ;).

General Purpose Pocket Computer. (Rooted Android 'Phone')

This is pretty much all I carry on a daily basis. I hate having things in my pocket, so the abundance of smartphones (and specifically Android due to it's functionality) has made me a very happy geek. No more notebook, no more diary/calendar, no more anything. Just Android + gtasks + a few other apps.

Mead notebook. $1.36 plus free shipping. http://amzn.to/feb5cC Plus it looks great. Eat that Moleskin.

Depends on the task at hand, but my day to day load out is a trusty mechanical pencil, a notecard, and my Palm Pre. Anything i'd need to note that wouldn't fit on the notecard is long enough to be worth whipping out the phone for (which is pretty snappy, with a minimum of effort put into tweaking it). Likewise, it keeps me constantly plugged into the 'net, so I can look up any data I need on the fly. Same if I ever need access to my home machine, or to remotely administrate any of the servers I manage. With a full terminal and access to a solid optware repository, I can even write up patches to my code in vim on any machine I own through SSH without carrying around a bulky device (like the MacBook Air cough).

EDIT: Fixes grammatical error

You will always have trouble getting things power, thus power strips, and extenders.

I have a bunch of 1' m/f power cords, for keeping wall-warts from taking up too many spaces:


I also picked up some of these with a right angle passthrough connector - you can put them into a wall, cord comes out parallel with the wall:


Great for small clearance areas.

I like having a single AA-powered LED flashlight lying around. I searched around and eventually bought the Inova X1 and am very happy with it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002TUWG6

It has actually turned out to be very useful as I keep flipping the breaker when I forget that I can't run the coffee maker and a space heater or microwave at the same if they are plugged into the southern half of the apartment...

I have also had a cheap Smith & Wesson knife for new gadget unboxing for several years now.

I resisted long enough, but I'm really enjoying having this ultra-portable computer (smart phone) on me all the time.

Interestingly for me, is that the phone probably doesn't draw as much attention and envious looks and comments (in my circles anyway) as my not-red Swiss-army knife (big and small blades, tweezers and toothpick, bottle/can opener, screwdrivers). EDIT, not that this is of any use for computer hacking, sorry, got sidetracked.

A nice lockpick set.

I wish I would remember to keep picks with me more. They turn out to be more helpful than you can imagine when you least expect it (and with no nefarious intent).

I have a lot of gadgets, but the only ones I need are those that allow me to test product, such as my iPhone 4(iOS projects) and iPad.

Same here, I have heaps of gadgets for testing, but hardly use them in daily life. (tables, phones, a big pile...)

A towel.

I believe he meant hacker, not hitchhiker.

I always keep a Leatherman in my bag, amazing how many times I've used it. Android phone for looking things up.

I got a Leatherman for Christmas 2009. Since that time, it's been amazingly convenient to have pliers, a screwdriver, a knife, and a bottle opener wherever I go (in roughly that order). The pliers are especially nice, with strong forged jaws and a very slender shape, not quite a needle nose. I find myself using them when I'm standing right next to my toolbox with 8 styles of pliers available.

It's a Leatherman Skeletool CX, FWIW.

Nothing is better than my simple Moleskine and a pencil.

Simple, gorgeous and can be taken anywhere.

The Kinect opens the door to many cool hacks.

Mechanical calculator: http://www.vcalc.net/cu.htm

I have a small MacBook Air. It's so light and slim that I can write code anywhere I happen to be.

USB-JTAG adapter, DMM, oscilloscope?

Flash stick with bootable Linux distribution, preferably Backtrack.

victorinox minichamp or midnight minichamp. It covers about five of the items listed in the comments. Pen ,light ,lockpick ,bottle opener, knife...

bottle opener


Crossover ethernet cable

A lighter.

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