Computer Technician ToolBox
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Thread: Computer Technician ToolBox

  1. #1
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    Computer Technician ToolBox

    + Intro +

    Iíve been thinking for a while about starting my own Computer Repair business. These are my endeavorsÖ

    + Status +

    Starting your own business involves a lot of (paper)work, not to mention money. Right now, I donít have the required paperwork yet, let alone the capital to get this started. Iím planning on keeping you guys updated

    + The business +

    The business

    First things first: starting my own business. Laws differ from state to state, but what Iíll basically have to do is this:

    - Determine the legal structure of the business, and properly file the business name with the state and/or county.
    - Determine the potential tax responsibilities on the federal, state, and local levels.
    - Determine the necessary licenses, permits, certifications,Ö
    - Have someone draw up decent contracts. I donít want to end up in The Peopleís CourtÖ
    - Since Iím planning on using own money, I wonít need a business plan. If youíre looking into getting a loan/investors, youíll need one.

    Sounds like a job for a lawyer/accountant to me.
    Estimated start-up cost for the paperwork: $1,000.

    A minor problem already arises, thoughÖ technically, itís illegal to have a business in this neighborhoodÖ

    Preparation

    Since I canít get started with the paperwork yet, Iím concentrating on getting everything else I can do ready:
    - Necessary equipment, both hardware and software.
    - Necessary skills and, more important in my opinion, resources. Itís nice to know by head what socket an Intel Pentium MMX requires (that would be a socket 7 321 pins) , but if there are free charts available that look nice on a wall, why botherÖ

    Necessary skills/certification

    Skills? For a computer technician? Donít need any, sir. Well, legally you donít. If people have the choice of bringing their car to a licensed technician or an unlicensed one, most people will choose the licensed one, though. Same goes for computers. I wouldnít want just any nitwit to work on my box.
    Most computer technicians have at least the A+ certification, so thatís what Iím going for. In this case, it does pay to know what socket a Pentium III E requires (that would be the 370), along with how to clean your mouseÖ Useful in the computer repair? If you donít know how to clean a mouse, and if you canít find out what socket an AMD K6 requires (that would socket 5 320 pins) by using your resources, you should look for a different career.
    A+ is all I needÖ and only because it looks good.

    + The Tools of the Trade +

    My hardware kit

    General:

    Starting out as a computer technician with a limited budget, requires me to weigh off cost vs. gain:

    Available replacement parts vs. cost: itís nice to have every imaginable replacement part in stock, but there are a few things to consider: hardware goes out of fashion faster than ummÖ fashion. I donít want to end up with a bunch of obsolete hardware. Not to mention the cost of purchasing a huge stock.
    Solution: get some basic replacement parts (more about that later), and get good contacts with suppliers.
    Most suppliers charge you a small amount (around $100 a year) to ďsubscribeĒ to their catalog. Youíre then allowed to purchase at wholesale prices.

    The Hardware:

    Hardware, as in tools. And as in ummÖ hardware.

    Tools

    No tools without a decent toolbox to put them in. The Home Depot, Sears,Ö all have a bunch of toolboxes in stock that are perfectly suited for computer technicians.

    Letís start with the basic tools: pliers, sheers, a flashlight (it can be dark even in an opened box), an anti-ESD wristband (ESD = Electrostatic Discharge - Iíve never ever used one, but I donít think a judge would like that), screwdrivers, screws, nuts, bolts,Öand a paperclip! (to open CD-drives)

    Computer Hardware

    Next, the computer-related basic tools: an outlet circuit tester (always handy to know if a circuit is good), an ATX power supply tester, some USB/PS2 converters, all possible computer cables (from power cable over printer cable to CD-cable), a can of compressed air,Ö

    Basic computer components: thermal compound, CMOS batteries, some jumpers, heat-sinks, fans,Ö

    Next, the peripherals: a mouse and a keyboard, of course. If youíve got the spare room, a pair of speakers. Or even a monitor.

    Computer parts: always handy to carry some spare hardware, not only for testing purposes, but for quick replacement as well: a video card (Radeon 8500ís for example are cheap, and still decent), a hard disk (doesnít have to be huge), a sound card, a NIC, a power supply,Ö

    Blank media: a couple of blank floppies, a couple of blank CDís.



    My software kit

    Links to all software can be found at the bottom of this document

    General:

    Luckily for computer technicians, most needed software is free. There is some paying software you canít get around, though. Illegal copies are a huge no-no for a multitude of reasons: itís illegal, it could cost you your business, and a knowledgeable customer could take advantage of it (ďyou better fix my computer for free, or Iíll sue youĒ).

    The Software:

    OSís

    Letís face it, weíll need some Windows OSís: 98, ME, and XP Home/Pro at a minimum. Since Iím focusing on un-savvy home users, there is no need for any *nix flavors.

    Basic paying Windows applications:

    Partition Magic, Norton SystemWorks, Stellar Phoenix recovery suite.

    Boot disks:

    Thereís no excuse for not having boot disks for all Windows flavors.
    Something like the Ultimate Boot Disk comes in handy as well.
    On top of that, carrying a copy of Knoppix is always a good idea.

    Service packs:

    Itís unrealistic to think that youíll have the time and means to download all necessary Windows service packs. Therefore: burn them on a CD, and carry them around.

    Basic Windows software:

    MicroSoft Java Virtual Machine
    Sun Java Virtual Machine
    Visual Basic Runtime Files
    Acrobat Reader
    WinZip / WinRAR

    System Info Tools:

    While SiSoft SANDRA is probably the standard, there are free tools out there that do just as much, if not moreÖ
    I stumbled upon the Belarc System Advisor, a tool promoted by Crucial to determine what kind of RAM upgrade a box needs. This tool reveals more about your box than youíll ever need to know:
    - OS info, System Model, CPU, Main Circuit Board, Drives, Memory Modules, Local Drive Volumes, Network Drives, Users, Printers, Controllers, Display, Bus Adapters, Multimedia, Communications, Other Devices, Virus Protection, Installed MS hot fixes, Software licenses, Software versions (lists EVERYTHING installed on a box).

    Disk Cleaner
    RegClean

    System Tweaking:

    X-Setup
    Tweak UI
    Fresh UI


    Password Crackers:

    Youíll run into numerous customers who forgot their passwords to their email-account, ISP, web-forms,Ö

    Windows keys and license numbers, other software licenses:
    The Belarc System Advisor is the perfect tool for this job.

    Windows passwords:
    L0phtCrak
    John The Ripper

    E-mail passwords:
    People get a password to their email account from their ISP, fill it in in Outlook (Express), and then forget it. Bummer if you have to format the box, and reconfigure everything.
    This is a perfect example of picking the right tool for the trade. Iíve seen people advising to install Ethereal, then sniff the (unencrypted) password while transmitting. While this is a perfectly valid solution, itís overkill. Simply using a ďwhatís behind the asterisksĒ-tool will get you the same result:
    Asterisk Key

    Security:

    RegistryProt
    MS Baseline Security Analyzer

    Anti-Virus:
    Avast
    AVG
    BitDefender

    Firewalls:
    OutPost
    Kerio
    Sygate
    ZoneAlarm


    Ad-ware - Spy-ware:
    SpyBot Search & Destroy
    AdAware
    HiJackThis


    Internet:
    Opera
    FireFox
    SmartFTP (I have all software on an FTP server, just in case. On top of that, all software is loaded on a laptop I carry around)


    Media:
    I carry around a bunch of freeware media applications, from IrfanView over KazaaLite to dMC convertor.


    Networking:
    WinPCap and Ethereal
    Angry IP Scanner
    International WhoIs
    GFI LanGuard
    NetStumbler

    My Resources:

    Google: nice, but not very handy without a network connection.
    Therefore, I carry around some cheat charts:

    Chart with all Intel and AMD CPUís, sockets, core clock speeds,Ö
    A bunch of hardware books.


    + And finally +

    I hope to get some more insider tips and tricks out of this, and hopefully Iíll be able to post a follow-up in a couple of monthsÖ

    + Sources used / more info +

    Tomís Hardware Guide: How to assemble the ultimate toolbox
    Tomís Hardware Processor Overview Chart
    MA LABS - PC Component Supplier
    Tech Data - PC Component Supplier
    4Tests - A+ certification test questions
    A+ Glossary of Terms

    + Links to software +


    Partition Magic
    Norton System Works
    Stellar Phoenix Recovery Suite

    Ultimate Boot Disk
    Knoppix

    MicroSoft Java Virtual Machine
    Sun Java Virtual Machine
    Visual Basic Runtime Files
    Acrobat Reader
    WinZip
    WinRAR

    Belarc System Advisor

    Disk Cleaner
    RegClean

    X-Setup
    Tweak UI
    Fresh UI

    L0pthCrack
    John The Ripper

    Asterisk Key

    Registry Prot
    MicroSoft Baseline Security Analyzer

    Avast
    AVG
    BitDefender

    OutPost
    Kerio
    Sygate
    ZoneAlarm

    Spybot
    AdAware
    HiJackThis!

    Opera
    FireFox
    Smart FTP

    Irfan View
    Kazaa Lite
    dBpowerAMP

    Ethereal and WinPCap
    Angry IP Scanner
    International WhoIs
    GFI LanGuard
    NetStumbler

  2. #2
    Macht Nicht Aus moxnix's Avatar
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    Negative,
    The only thing that I saw that you were missing was Swatit. http://swatit.org/download.html A great little program (although kind of slow) that really gets into the system in depth. The Pro version will even list the open ports that you have.
    \"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO - What a Ride!\"
    Author Unknown

  3. #3
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    I hope that thing really gets into the system in depth... lol... it's scanning 14,000 files, it's been running for 38 minutes now, and it's only at 42%... CPU usage has been 98-100% for the entire time...

    It's found 5 thingies up to now, after I scanned the box with Spybot and AdAware...
    1 of the things it's found is a zipped version of NetCat ("Network Crack Wizard")... and it's giving a "Open FTP Server" for three (valid) files in the Fruity Loops directory...

  4. #4
    King Arana: Super Moderator
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    SwatIt (for some reason) alway's lists my FTP server's and server file's as malicious files or trojans but I know 100% they aren't. Oh well, SwatIt is a useful tool (a must-have IMO) and is great for getting in-depth with your system.
    Space For Rent.. =]

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Negative, if you haven't tried AIDA32, here is a site to download it from. Will give system info on the computer for when people don't have the manuals or you don't want to or have time to look inside.

    http://www.webattack.com/get/aida32.shtml

  6. #6
    AO Łbergeek phishphreek's Avatar
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    I second AIDA32... I use it ALL the time.

    Its great when you need any serial or part numbers... or ANY info for that matter.
    I've found obscure part numbers in the reports that the OEMs didn't even have on file.

    I've been taking a full report of all systems that I have at work and creating an intranet page.

    One click access to all info that you'd ever want/need to know about a system.
    (Of course, they should be updated from time to time...)
    Quitmzilla is a firefox extension that gives you stats on how long you have quit smoking, how much money you\'ve saved, how much you haven\'t smoked and recent milestones. Very helpful for people who quit smoking and used to smoke at their computers... Helps out with the urges.

  7. #7
    that link changed to:
    http://www.snapfiles.com/get/aida32.html
    but that download doesnt work anymore
    use this one:
    http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/idg.us...ord=830132849?
    if you have time be sure to drop my my website at www.johnscompany.net

  8. #8
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    that link changed to:
    http://www.snapfiles.com/get/aida32.html
    but that download doesnt work anymore
    use this one:
    hxxp://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/idg.u...0
    13249?
    Ummm.. Why are you pointing people to an ad page? I did a little google search and found this link for Aida32: http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail...fid=1033800563 . In the search I did notice that the company that made Aida32 has closed their website and seem to no longer be making the tool. They are going on to future endeavours. Visit http://www.aida32.hu for more info.
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
    Extra! Extra! Get your FREE copy of Insight Newsletter||MsMittens' HomePage

  9. #9
    damn... that was the url in the browser.... stupid ads.. lol. sry
    it was a dl from pcmag
    anyways just to make up for the crappy link, even though you allready posted one, ill put in my two cents (well kinda)
    http://www.sofotex.com/cgi-bin/ls/jump.cgi?ID=9326
    sry about the link, it musta been the last thing my browser loaded of like i had my mouse over an ad or something. its weird but oh well....
    if you have time be sure to drop my my website at www.johnscompany.net

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