The Essential Collection

This is my must-have list of technology that helps me get through the day and life, in general.  I'll try to keep it updated as my needs continue to evolve (or as things break!).

Some (not all!) of these links may be affiliate links that help justify my ability to devote time to this "hobby" =) but will never influence a recommendation.  If I do list something here, I've used it or are currently using it.


To fix MiniDisc devices, you're going to need a good set of tools and here are the ones that I use (you'll see them in my videos):

iFixit Mako Driver kit - these 64 bits and the smoothly rotating handle will get you into whatever device you're working on. The magnetized handle is powerful enough to pass through whatever bit you're using, so you're not going to lose screws either. This is a must-have and a big upgrade from the cheap, hardware store chrome-plated "micro screwdrivers".

Kaisi S-130 Silicone mat - This mat is my main "background" in videos because it's good to protect your desktop as you work, but it also has a lot of handy indentations for putting your screws in as you work.  I like to use the grid to keep track of screws (for example, bottom screws go near the bottom edge, the top lid's screws go on the top, and interior screws go in the middle). It comes in different sizes to cover more area if you need it.

VCT VT-500J - step down transformer for using Japanese 100v devices on US 110/120v outlets. For most Japanese-market devices, especially older ones, you will need something to output the 100v that they're looking for. This transformer is what I use along with some splitters to get more than one device plugged in.  I use this for my MDS-JE700, Onkyo FR-B8, and a bunch of "wall warts" for portable devices. That 2-prong 100v outlet can be stiff, but be patient, and you'll have a steady supply of 100v power to keep your JDM devices happy!

Computing Devices

I think specific configurations can cause too much variation in terms of models/SKUs but the types of devices I use daily include some old and new things:

Phones - I still like the "separation of work and life" so I carry two phones.

Google Pixel 6a - for work, you need constant security updates, and in the "Wild West" of Android security/OS updates (OK, it's getting much better now), you're really only guaranteed fast, frequent, long-term updates with Google and Samsung. Since I carry two phones, having a smaller, secondary phone for work suits me just fine.

LG V60 Dual Screen - I know, I know... I just talked about security updates and here I am with not only an older phone, but from a manufacturer that's OUT of the phone business! Well, the fact is, I still love the dual, separate screens (like the LG G8x dual screen I had previously) because there's no better way to multitask on a phone without the unsightly crease and possible reliability issues. I know I won't be able to keep this guy for long, but the dual 6.8" screens and Snapdragon 865 still feel fast enough for most tasks.

Samsung S23 Ultra - Yes! A current phone! This was a great deal from T-Mobile but I haven't worked it into my lineup yet, so it's a glorified mini-tablet/gaming phone at home. I'm a sucker for styluses (stylii?) as you'll see in my other daily-driver devices. I don't love the idea of carrying around two giant phones (a total of three 6.8" screens!), so ideally, this will replace my venerable LG V60.

Dell M15 R5 Ryzen - Sure, there are newer laptops out there, but this powerful gaming laptop has served me well for the past two years including digital art, video editing, Photoshop/Lightroom, Stable Diffusion, and of course, gaming via Steam/Epic and whatever launchers I've had to install... I've upgraded to 64 GBs of RAM and added a 2 TB NVME drive for storage, but the Ryzen 9 5900HX and Nvidia 3070 have been perfect for what I do.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra - This beast of a tablet is a bit of an indulgence for sure, but nothing beats 14.6" of OLED in a razor-thin form-factor! Great for consuming content and drawing in Clip Studio Paint, it's never been easier to carry around a powerful device with such a beautiful display.

Chargers and cables

In this day and age, you can never have enough, can you?  When I was traveling more, I was concerned with portability and power banks, but the pandemic has changed that and now I'm really more concerned with efficiency, power, and flexibility.

UGreen 100W GaN 2-port USB-C charger w/folding plug

OK so this would be great for home or travel! I was looking to get at least two ports of high-powered charging for a laptop or tablet that charges via USB-C along with a phone or other device.  This fit the bill perfectly.  If you're unfamiliar with GaN, it stands for Gallium Nitride which allows for smaller, more efficient chargers.  It's a nice dense brick that will power whatever you need.  The only thing of note is that connecting a new device while it's charging an existing one may cause the charging to be interrupted temporarily while power is reallocated.  For example, you may hear that USB "disconnect" sound in Windows, but just give it a second and you'll be back in business.  

USB-A to 3x USB-C charging adapter 

I honestly stumbled onto this one since it's technically made for charging Rode's wireless mic adapters.  If you have a lot of USB-C devices (yay!) that don't need a ton of power (think game controllers, phones or tablets that can sit overnight, etc.), these are great.  These will let your standard USB-A charger power 3 USB-C devices.  I use them specifically to give me more device density at my "charging station" specifically for things like the kids' electronics (unused overnight) or game controllers (wish I could use them more!).  Yes, they are a bit short, but they really help if you need more device capacity!

UGreen USB-C hub - USB-C to 4x USB-A

I swear, I'm not sponsored by UGreen (but gimme a call, if interested!), but I also love these USB hubs.  I have a few of them and I like to use them by extending harder to reach USB-C ports (behind a laptop or monitor) and allowing me to use the ports up front.  I like how there's one that sticks up.  I like to use that one for a memory card reader or for a dongle that I might take with me between devices.  The cord is long enough to be useful and can be coiled/tucked away to keep things neat.  

INIU USB-A to USB-C 5-pack in varying lengths with green LED

I told you I wasn't sponsored by UGreen!  I love these sturdy USB-C cables since the small light helps me know I'm connected and where the cable is (if it's dark in the room or if it's tucked under a desk).  I've got tons of these in the car, desk, charging stations, etc. and they've been great!