String theory

I threw away the palm pilot this morning. It still worked if I took it to bits every six weeks and reassembled it, a voodoo which restored the touch screen to touch sensitivity, but I have just got a new phone which will store as many addresses and is smaller. Along with the Palm, I threw away its mains charger, its USB charger for connecting to the computers, and four different widgets to connect the mains charger to the wall in different countries. It was a start. However, as the man who gets to recharge the family’s batteries, and I am speaking without any metaphorical intent, I still have on the floor chargers for one music player, five mobile phones, two laptops, and two cameras. Another camera charger has gone missing.

Then there are the cables to connect all these things to the computers. All the phones, of course, have different connections: that’s five cables straight away. None of them will fit the cameras or the music player, so there are another four USB cables for that. USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. That’s why none of them fit any of the sockets for the other ones. On the other hand, they are almost all of them black, to make them harder to distinguish from each other.

Elsewhere on the desk there are two sets of small headphones, both black, but terminating in different and incompatible plugs.

I know I could, and will, get rid of the fifth mobile phone, though it goes against the grain to throw away something that works perfectly well. The other four are all necessary – one is my foreign (unlocked) phone, and one is my domestic one; the other two don’t belong to me.

But this still leaves the problem of how to sort all these cables. All I want is to be able to see and collect quickly the cables that I need when I go away. Would ziploc bags, neatly labelled, be the answer? The true zen method would be to buy one more of everything, and keep the spares in my backpack. This doesn’t appeal either. Does anyone have a system that works?

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5 Responses to String theory

  1. I keep a set of retractable cables (where possible) in my computer bag. Not too expensive, not too much room, and then I don’t forget them.

    Are you familiar with the Sharpie line of indelible marking pens? They recently introduced a “metallic silver” version that’s good for marking black computer connectors. I’ve marked all my cables and wall rechargers.

    And all the unused stuff for each device goes into a ziploc bag.

  2. It sounds to me as if, like me, you’ve got more devices than you can use.

  3. acb says:

    FG: Not really. I use the ones that are mine, but my wife and daughter tend to accumulate stuff as well. I have one camera, one laptop. two mobile phones and a music player. The rest is other people’s.

    JL: Silver sharpies sound a great idea. Thanks.

  4. quinn says:

    i swear by these guys:

    the cellphone usb charger with interchangeable ends might help with a few things in one go. plus i got a labeler and labeled my cables. while clearly a yak shaving activity at the time, it helped. now i don’t need it- i’m down to ipod usb charger, usb phone charger, slr battery pack recharger, and laptop charger. it sounds like a lot, but packs up nicely.

  5. rr says:

    I have ziploc bags for all the peripheral impedimentia which isn’t of the first rank in importance, each bag containing a different genre of cable.

    I have small retractable USB cables which recharge for iPod, Palm and mobile in a pouch in my computer bag. Thus I only need to add the laptop charger, plug adapters and camera battery charger to be ready for, well, charging.

    At home the most useful thing I’ve found is a packet of velcro strips in different colours which can both keep the cables tidy and colour code what each is for. See, for example, [“these for sale online from Maplin”: In fact I might just get some more right now.

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