After Hours

Put a camera in your kit

Computer support is all about having the right tools. Any IT shop worth its salt is going to have a basic complement of equipment, but what else should be on your workbench? Here's why a digital camera needs to be within reach.

Computer support is all about having the right tools. Any IT shop worth its salt is going to have a basic complement of equipment, but what else should be on your workbench? Here's why a digital camera needs to be within reach.

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There are lots of tools that come to mind when one is trying to outfit the ideal computer service center. Personally, I am a big fan of those precision screwdriver sets. You know the ones that let you apply pressure to a pivoting button on one end while your other fingertips turn the driver's shaft. They are great for disassembling laptops. After you have your screwdrivers though, and all the other obvious equipment, you should make sure that your techs have access to a digital camera. It might not immediately occur to anyone that the help desk might need one, but a point-and-shoot can come in really handy...

...for documenting a hardware disassembly. Snap a shot of each part you remove and where it fits. The camera's review mode will let you step through the process in reverse. Never have leftover screws again! ...when meeting new clients. Take a picture of your contact person in the client office and share that photo with your colleagues. Every tech that might need to service that site will be able to recognize the customer contact immediately. ...if you need evidence. Once, I was sent to work on a machine that some joker had filled with hot glue. Every cable, every port, every internal component was stuck tight. I shot a photo to show the client why we wouldn't be servicing that box. ...when you can't find a pen. Shoot a picture of a machine's serial number or the Microsoft Product Key label. ...for getting a second opinion. I was able to take pictures of a weird problem with an Apple iMac's LCD. The iMac is an all-in-one computer, so swapping displays was not an option. I sent the photos to an Apple service center, and they confirmed that the problem was a failure of the integrated video board.

These are just a few of the uses that I have had for a digital camera while on the job. I am sold on the value of having one close at hand, but what do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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