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Tips for organizing equipment, wires, parts. Mine. Yours?

I'm trying to get our office more organized. Remove the insidiously distracting clutter.

Some CHEAP solutions I've found;

1. Ziplock bags
Great way to store cables, things with cables (mouse, usb hub, etc.).  You can SEE them, they're easy to sort amongs, they're easy to use, etc.

2. Twist-tie by-the-yard.
Just found this. I've always used twist ties, but I saw that you could get a ROLL of the stuff for about $3.00

3. An attractive cabling solution is this 'banding' thing. Looks like telephone cord.  I love this stuff.  $8 for 10' or so. Well worth it.

Anyone have any other suggestions?
Mr. Analogy {Shrinkwrap ISV} Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2005
A cable staple gun.

It's like a regular staple gun, but it uses special staples that have a U-shaped hump on top for cables to pass through (so when you staple down, very little pressure is actually put on the cable).

I got mine, a Power Tacker model, at Home Depot for about $30.
Marco Arment Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2005
The round filing cabinet on the floor is good for reducing clutter.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Wrapping cables to me falls into two categories:
  - neatness: If you are looking for neatness, you want things that cover the cables, giving you a finished look (flex tubing).
  - organization: If you are trying to organize cables, then how they look is only secondary (like behind equipment), I like really cheap zip ties.  They are cheap and can be broken usually by pulling them apart.  If you buy good ones, you will need to cut them off.
Spiral wrap -
- works great, but only use it on cables you do not need to come apart easily.  It wraps really well, contains no adhesive and can be undone easily (not quickly).  It makes all the cables like one large one and somewhat finished.  I like this much better than flex tubing, however flex tubing _can_ look more finished. 

Velcro wrap -
- for cables that I take with me and my laptop.  These use to be about $1 each, now you can get 25 for $15.  Very easy to be portable, and nice organize "cables to go"

Raceways -
- these are for the serious I want the room to look finished type of cables.  You will not be pulling things in and out of this without a fight.  A cable in here should be considered nearly permanent. 

Ramps -
- unless your desk is against a wall, you need to get cables to it.  It will almost always need to come across the floor, unless you have a raceway around the room.  In that case, cover them with ramps. People do not crush the cables, trip on them, or worse - pull the component off. 

IKEA - the store.  If you go there you can find many small boxes, tins, etc. to hold cables, parts, etc. that will fit on a shelf in a closet.  Another option being small plastic bins, that will fit on shelves.  All very cheap.  We have one about 2 hours from here, so if I am in the area I stop in.  I have not found their on-line shopping to be nearly as generous.

Home improvement store - I just saw this last week on a home show and think I may try it.  They put up a 1x3 strip around the top of a wall, then attached crown molding to the front of it.  This gave them a 2 inch run around the entire ceiling.  They installed lights, but I could see running cables up there too, especially in areas where the option to go under the floor is not available.

 - I picked a couple of usable vendors here.  Always shop around as the prices vary tremendously, week to week.
 - Consider what you have as wires.  Since moving to a wireless router, I have eliminated all except the USB and power cables.  It may be easier and cheaper in the long to move wireless if that is where your cables are.  Stereo and Home Entertainment? Cables are still the way 99% of the time.
Friday, September 16, 2005
I have been screwing around with wireless in my house for weeks, and I conclude wireless is only reliable if the access point is within arm's reach of the PC.  This doesn't make it totally useless, but mostly useless. I've decided you're better off to bite the bullet and run cable. Another technological disappointment.
NetFreak Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2005
NetFreak:  Are you sure your equipment isn't broken or just crappy?

Good wireless routers are very reliable.  That's why so many businesses use wireless connections.

Now, if you're looking for high transfer speeds, wireless doesn't even come close.  (That 54Mbit sticker on the box is a theoretical maximum that real performance will never even approach.)
Marco Arment Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2005
+1 for Neat Freak.

I have a Linksys Wireless G, 2.4Ghz, less than a year old.  I lose connectivity 3 feet away (on rare occasions) and regularly lose connectivity upstairs. (Wireless router is in the basement).

Now, it might be fine for INTERNET ACCESS, which is tolerant of occassional failures. Howver, for my LAN, I just haven't had and ejoyable experience.
Mr. Analogy {Shrinkwrap ISV} Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2005
Pragmatic tip: don't bother organizing your wires.  You'll just end up installing that new microphone for Skype or moving your speakers or unplugging everything to put in the UPS or switching up your network configuration or moving your wireless router so it gives a better signal or installing a printer or ...

Of course, maybe you don't shuffle around as much as I do.
hmm Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2005
Instead of buying twisty ties by the roll buy extra cat5.  Split it open and use the pairs as twist ties.  That'll run you about $.17/foot, and there are 4 pairs in that foot.
Joel Coehoorn
Friday, September 16, 2005
I have a Linksys WRTG whatever it is wireless router in my house. I have solid wireless coverage throughout the house, and good coverage in the backyard as well.

It really depends on the construction of your home. If the router's in the basement, there's probably a lot of pipes & wires & ducts between the computer & the router. And if you've got a fireplace in the middle of your house, forget trying to send through the chimney.

One thing I've found for organization: make sure that the wires are the right length. There's nothing worse than having KVM cables that are three inches too short and only fit if you run them right across the center of your desk. Similarly, I currently have a 10' run of CAT-5 that I only needed to go about three feet with, but didn't have a shorter cable. The spool just sits there, taunting me.

Luckily it's behind my monitor, so my shame is only revealed to those who can get past the dust bunnies.
Chris Tavares Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2005
Rich Send private email
Friday, September 16, 2005
I get great service from my wireless equipment ... if I had to guess, I'd say you've got a source of RF interference on the channel you're using.
Steve Moyer Send private email
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Or you have a Linksys WAG54g, which is (was?) very unreliable.
MugsGame Send private email
Saturday, September 17, 2005
I have a D-Link DI-624 superG wireless router in my study which is at the front of the house.    I regularly use my laptop from the toilet at the other end of the house and the signal travels ok all the way through the bedroom, livingroom and bathroom.    I get the occasional drop out but generally its quite good.    Software indicates about 10 to 18mbps average.
Freedom of Movement
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Yes, using a different channel for wireless was the key for me. Someone in the area was also using channel 6, and until I switched to 5 it only worked when I was 3-5 feet from the router. Now it's solid throughout the house.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

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