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Author Topic: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!  (Read 10060 times)

J-Mac

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Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« on: December 28, 2007, 02:30:37 AM »
Do others have the same problems I seem to have in my little office at home?

Two questions I find myself asking... well, myself as I sit at my desk:

"Where in the hell am I going to plug THIS in?!?"  and  "Why don't they put more USB ports on computers if every new peripheral is connected via USB?!?"

(A corollary to the first question above is, "Why do so many manufacturers put the stupid transformer blocks at the plug end of the cord?!?")

First, the power issue.  In my office I have two PCs running most of the time; my main box, and my previous main box, which my wife now uses for gaming.  My PC has two monitors connected.  Add to these my wireless router, cable modem, external USB drives, a Canon MP830 All-in-One Printer/Fax/Scanner/Copier, a few powered cradles for handheld devices, desktop phone, desk lamp, PC speaker systems.... I could go on for a while.And that's just MY side of the room!  Then there's the HP Media Center box my wife uses along with all its peripherals.  Then there's the opposite corner with a shredder, air purifier (to help clear cigarette smoke out? Go figure...), a couple battery chargers, a Dust Buster, a couple more lamps, etc., etc.  There are a total of 4 receptacles in the room, but not all on separate circuits.  I am pretty sure that there are two separate 15A circuits feeding the room - though some power is going to the room next this one, I think.

I keep wondering at what point my circuit panel in the cellar is going to just vaporize or something. I mean, how much more of this can it take?  BTW, the heat in the room gets stifling so I now have some fans in there to keep things a little cooler. Fortunately both PCs have cooling systems inside the cases, plus graphics cards with attached coolers, so at least the PC equipment itself is staying cool enough. But the rest of the room is HOT.  So now I make sure all monitors and lights are turned off when not in use. That has helped a little. But I just know that soon I will be paying electricians to come in and give me MORE POWER. Which will not be inexpensive as I live in a 100+ years old house.  There must be a better way........

And now for my USB port rant. What is it with the recent proliferation of equipment that must be connected via USB ports - wait, no; check that. USB 2.0 ports! Heaven forbid I connect something with USB 2.0 capabilities to an old, stinking, rotten USB 1.1 port!  Then of course my operating system starts yelling at me with those annoying little popups: You have such and such connected to a USB 1.1 port, you flaming idiot!!! Fix it NOW!

Virtually everything I own must be connected to a USB port on my PC! I almost believe I could jump start my truck by connecting it to a USB port - as long as it is USB 2.0, naturally! Keyboard, mouse, Wacom tablet, mobile phone, All-in-One, external drives, speaker system, microphone, etc., etc.  I have USB hubs, though I had to replace them of course to get USB 2.0 hubs! What else?!  And these hubs, naturally, must be powered! (See question #1).  But then some equipment insists that I had better not plug it into some funky old hub! No, they have to be connected directly to a USB port on my PC. And some stuff goes even beyond that, insisting that they be connected to a REAR USB PORT, and not a front port.  And I am totally serious about that - no kidding!

Fortunately I had the foresight to tell Falcon Northwest when I ordered this Mach V that I would need as many USB ports as it was possible to add to a PC; as long as the total number of ports was not less than 15 or so. When they got done laughing their lunch through their noses, they politely told me that they could give me 8 USB ports. I insisted on 10 minimum and they agreed. Well, actually they just lied. Outright. When I received the PC it had all of 8 USB ports. However as I started using them I found that some didn't work. I submitted a support ticket and they told me......

"Oh, yeah. We knew that."  What?!?! You knew that?!?  there are 4 rear USB ports, all working. But in the front there are also 4 USB ports - only 2 working. According to Falcon, the Asus 8N32 SLI Deluxe motherboard can only support 6 total ports. Then, as only a completely stupid, non-techie type could do, I asked a terminally stupid question:  "If only 6 can work, then why did you build 8 ports on it?"  Their reply went something like,  "Duhhhhhhh!!  Because you wanted a multi-card reader, and that is using the power that WOULD have gone to those other two front ports. So there, you idiot!" Or something like that.

Still seems kind of odd to me that a machine with dual processors, three onboard HDD's: 1 - 80 GB, and 2 - 500 GB, - a high-end cooled graphics card, a 3D sound card (and, no - I have no idea how they make sound into "3D"!), a TV Tuner, two ethernet adapters, three optical drives, can only support 6 lousy USB ports!!  My HP Media Center box - 5 years old and less than one-fourth of the price of this PC -and it has 8 USB ports. Why is that? Of course I can't ask Falcon that now - they'll really laugh then.

But seriously folks, if more and more peripherals are going to be created with only USB connectors, PC makers are going to have to respond someday with larger buses to support more doggone ports.

And as for the power problem - well, what would Al Gore think?

Jim
« Last Edit: December 28, 2007, 02:41:35 AM by J-Mac »

f0dder

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2007, 06:21:44 AM »
3D sound: adding "texturing" and doppler (and other) effects, 3D aural positioning, etc. I dunno if it was Creative who started it, but their EAX is probably the best-known 3D audio brand.

15 Amps is a lot, and while computers do suck a lot of juice and make your electricity bill nasty, you can go a long way on 15 Amps as long as you don't attach water boilers, microwave ovens, toasting machines, etc.

Count of USB devices is growing and growing. I'm keeping my own count down, but can see how it can be a problem. You don't always have to power USB hubs; use a hub for connecting all the low-power and low-speed devices (mouse, keyboard, drawing tablet, cellphone data cable, ...), use dedicated ports for high-speed or high-power devices (external harddrives, etc.).

You can always buy a PCI card if you need more USB ports, the ones I've seen typically have max four external ports, since PCI cards can only be so tall. But some of them offer additional internal ports, that you can connect to front connectors, or they have "break out boxes" :)

Btw, if you're not downloading or connected to IRC or whatever, I suggest you use standby if you leave your box for 10+ minutes... resume from standby is really fast, and it does help on the power consumption.

If you haven't already, you might want to check Tell me why I have to be a PowerSlave?, as it's related to this topic.
- carpe noctem

J-Mac

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2007, 11:00:01 AM »
f0dder,

I have a security camera system connected to my main PC, so I can't use any of the power saving protocols on that one. And the HP Media Center PC simply refuses to recover from standby a good bit of the time. I was using it and my wife - who is using that PC now - claimed it wouldn't wake up a lot of times. I thought maybe she was doing something to somehow prevent it - I have no idea what, though - but I have now tried it on a few random occasions and she's right - it won't wake up sometimes. I tried to find out why, but my wife now just turns off the monitor whenever she is done with it.

I guess I could install a PCI card - I just need to get some more detailed specs for the mobo so I know exactly where to power it from.

Thanks.

Jim

J-Mac

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2007, 11:01:54 AM »
Hey f0dder - I was just looking at your Powerslave thread and it looks like you have a similar system, from what I can see.

Jim

CWuestefeld

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2007, 01:18:12 PM »
I guess I could install a PCI card - I just need to get some more detailed specs for the mobo so I know exactly where to power it from.
The bus carries the power for most PCI cards (except some really power-hungry video cards, afaik), so you don't need to worry about that. I had to add an additional card myself, with both USB and firewire for video. Just plug it into the slot and go.

3D sound: adding "texturing" and doppler (and other) effects, 3D aural positioning, etc.
This is a pet peeve of mine. There is nothing "3D" about this. There's isn't even anything 3D about 5.1 surround sound on your entertainment center. The whole 3D sound thing is a marketing gimmick.

Think about it: what does 3D mean? It's short for "3 dimensional", i.e., having three dimensions. These dimensions are commonly referred to as width, depth, and height.

Now, what dimensions does your 3D sound card, or your entertainment center offer? It has stereo sound, that is, left-right, which corresponds to the width dimension. It has surround, i.e., front-back, corresponding to depth. But nowhere, not out of your fancy DVD player and amplifier, nor out of your EAX processor, will you find any indication of height. This is just fine with me, but I resent that marketing is so clearly false in what's being promised.

Returning from my brief thread hijacking ;) -- I do appreciate the need for power transformer boxes in order to reduce desktop clutter and keep the device itself cooler. However, I really hate those "wall wart" boxes that have the plugs built-in, occupying three outlets by overlapping one one each side. It would work out better if, like most laptop computers, there were cords coming out both sides of the transformer.

Not all USB hubs need to be powered. It depends on what you plan to plug into them. Something like a flash drive takes little enough power that it can run off what was supplied by the host. However, some devices take so much power that some cheap USB ports can't supply them adequately (e.g., my Dell Axim PDA draws as much as 1.2A when the USB spec only requires that it be given 0.5A, which is a real crime).

a_lunatic

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2007, 01:30:01 PM »
Going by ASUS your mobo should support 10 x USB 2.0/1.1 or 9 if its got a WiFi addon board Asus 8N32 SLI Deluxe
Quote
Deluxe/WiFi:Supports up to 9 USB 2.0 ports
Deluxe:Supports up to 10 USB 2.0 ports

Two of them would be used for the card reader so in all you would get 8 or 7 with WiFi addon board.


Quote
"Why do so many manufacturers put the stupid transformer blocks at the plug end of the cord?!?"

Yeah got to hate this as I got a large belkin power board & can only use 7 of its 8 plugs even though its got extra space between the plugs.

With my mobo ASUS recommend a 600W power supply but I got one of those watt meters & it only draws about ~380W(thats all components like monitor,etc)  running 3dmark06 will do some more tests with it & post it in the power slave topic
« Last Edit: December 28, 2007, 01:34:03 PM by a_lunatic »

Edvard

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2007, 03:21:48 PM »
Dude... Get a Squid
powersquid.jpg

I'll never go back...

On the other hand, go to the hardware store and pick up a few hanks of wire, some plugs and sockets and they make excellent "wall-wart breakout" cables...

Plug                   Socket

=D-----------------(=)

wall_wart_breakout.jpg

Or you could buy 'em from here
« Last Edit: December 28, 2007, 03:24:17 PM by Edvard »

JennyB

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2007, 03:40:01 PM »
I do appreciate the need for power transformer boxes in order to reduce desktop clutter and keep the device itself cooler. However, I really hate those "wall wart" boxes that have the plugs built-in, occupying three outlets by overlapping one one each side. It would work out better if, like most laptop computers, there were cords coming out both sides of the transformer.

Not all USB hubs need to be powered. It depends on what you plan to plug into them. Something like a flash drive takes little enough power that it can run off what was supplied by the host. However, some devices take so much power that some cheap USB ports can't supply them adequately (e.g., my Dell Axim PDA draws as much as 1.2A when the USB spec only requires that it be given 0.5A, which is a real crime).


IBM has a PoweredUSB standard that is compatible with normal USB but uses four extra wires to provide up to 6 amps of power at 5, 12 or 24 volts DC. With so many appliances now that are either rechargable or low voltage, it would be really nice if you only needed a single transformer hub to power them all!  8)
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J-Mac

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2007, 04:25:42 PM »
I guess I could install a PCI card - I just need to get some more detailed specs for the mobo so I know exactly where to power it from.
The bus carries the power for most PCI cards (except some really power-hungry video cards, afaik), so you don't need to worry about that. I had to add an additional card myself, with both USB and firewire for video. Just plug it into the slot and go.

Sounds good - I'll look into getting one quick!

3D sound: adding "texturing" and doppler (and other) effects, 3D aural positioning, etc.
This is a pet peeve of mine. There is nothing "3D" about this. There's isn't even anything 3D about 5.1 surround sound on your entertainment center. The whole 3D sound thing is a marketing gimmick.

Think about it: what does 3D mean? It's short for "3 dimensional", i.e., having three dimensions. These dimensions are commonly referred to as width, depth, and height.

Now, what dimensions does your 3D sound card, or your entertainment center offer? It has stereo sound, that is, left-right, which corresponds to the width dimension. It has surround, i.e., front-back, corresponding to depth. But nowhere, not out of your fancy DVD player and amplifier, nor out of your EAX processor, will you find any indication of height. This is just fine with me, but I resent that marketing is so clearly false in what's being promised.

Exactly why I mentioned it - it's silly.

Returning from my brief thread hijacking ;) -- I do appreciate the need for power transformer boxes in order to reduce desktop clutter and keep the device itself cooler. However, I really hate those "wall wart" boxes that have the plugs built-in, occupying three outlets by overlapping one one each side. It would work out better if, like most laptop computers, there were cords coming out both sides of the transformer.

Not all USB hubs need to be powered. It depends on what you plan to plug into them. Something like a flash drive takes little enough power that it can run off what was supplied by the host. However, some devices take so much power that some cheap USB ports can't supply them adequately (e.g., my Dell Axim PDA draws as much as 1.2A when the USB spec only requires that it be given 0.5A, which is a real crime).


I do have a couple nice non-powered hubs, but I also know someone who apparently burned up his bus by over-drawing high amperage from it using a device that should have been on a powered hub. Or at least that's what his PC builder said. Either way, they fixed it free, so there wasn't really a need to give him a cock and bull story about it. I don't know enough myself to know what really happened.

Thanks.

Jim

J-Mac

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2007, 04:28:24 PM »

Yeah got to hate this as I got a large belkin power board & can only use 7 of its 8 plugs even though its got extra space between the plugs.

Some have the block halfway between the two ends, so you can still plug in to a regular outlet. I wonder why more don't do that.

Jim

f0dder

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2007, 05:36:34 PM »
3D sound: adding "texturing" and doppler (and other) effects, 3D aural positioning, etc.
This is a pet peeve of mine. There is nothing "3D" about this. There's isn't even anything 3D about 5.1 surround sound on your entertainment center. The whole 3D sound thing is a marketing gimmick.

Think about it: what does 3D mean? It's short for "3 dimensional", i.e., having three dimensions. These dimensions are commonly referred to as width, depth, and height.

Now, what dimensions does your 3D sound card, or your entertainment center offer? It has stereo sound, that is, left-right, which corresponds to the width dimension. It has surround, i.e., front-back, corresponding to depth. But nowhere, not out of your fancy DVD player and amplifier, nor out of your EAX processor, will you find any indication of height. This is just fine with me, but I resent that marketing is so clearly false in what's being promised.

Returning from my brief thread hijacking ;) -- I do appreciate the need for power transformer boxes in order to reduce desktop clutter and keep the device itself cooler. However, I really hate those "wall wart" boxes that have the plugs built-in, occupying three outlets by overlapping one one each side. It would work out better if, like most laptop computers, there were cords coming out both sides of the transformer.

Not all USB hubs need to be powered. It depends on what you plan to plug into them. Something like a flash drive takes little enough power that it can run off what was supplied by the host. However, some devices take so much power that some cheap USB ports can't supply them adequately (e.g., my Dell Axim PDA draws as much as 1.2A when the USB spec only requires that it be given 0.5A, which is a real crime).
Actually, in my humble opinion, there is 3D taking place... since your position in 3D space and the sound source position in 3D space is taken into account when generating the output sound. With a pair of good stereo headphones, you can hear the difference.

Other 3D properties include sound occlusion, reflections (again, taking sound "textures" or "wall materials" if you want) into account, etc. I only have a basic Audigy card with EAX2 support though, so I haven't heard all the fancyness.

But imho it's more than just a marketing gimmick.
- carpe noctem

mikiem

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2008, 06:17:43 PM »
FWIW, agreeing with f0dder, I believe there's 3 sorts of 3D audio: there's the DX type stuff used in games to, I guess I'd say enhance the illusion. There's the multi-track audio used for the same purpose for movies. And there's a compromise (or maybe just plain fake) waveform processing to make 2D sound seem like it's really 3 dimensional -- again with the same purpose of enhancing the illusion that you're really there, instead of listening to what all too often is the world's crappiest speakers that they bundle and sell for PCs.

RE: USB... I'd fault whomever put the box together, as looking at recent boards there isn't *any* shortage of available ports, like 10 or more. Of course there isn't room at the rear panel header, so someone has to hook them up to the front of the case or an adapter back where the cards go.

If you have a device that won't work thru a hub, it's very often the hub at fault. If not, USB extension cords are very cheap lifesavers. When it comes to using more than one hub, congregating the hardware that doesn't need external power from the port on one hub, then powering another hub with a wall wart for everything else helps. Then again 7 (or more) port hubs can cut clutter & eliminate a wall wart too.

One thing to note in a biz environment, is hubs are dirt cheap on-line -- before the brands add their 4x + markup & packaging -- but many don't show any regulatory approval (i.e. UL) & I imagine that could be a problem. For wall warts, someone with more tech savvy would know better than I, but I believe it's not a good thing to plug wall warts into surge protector devices. A squid type arrangement (without the surge protection) or a simple power strip I think is ideal, especially if you can turn the wall warts off when not in use for long periods -- energy usage from a dozen (or more) of those devils adds up, plus turning them off eliminates a potential unattended fire hazard.

CWuestefeld

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2008, 07:26:38 PM »
FWIW, agreeing with f0dder, I believe there's 3 sorts of 3D audio: there's the DX type stuff used in games to, I guess I'd say enhance the illusion. There's the multi-track audio used for the same purpose for movies. And there's a compromise (or maybe just plain fake) waveform processing to make 2D sound seem like it's really 3 dimensional -- again with the same purpose of enhancing the illusion that you're really there, instead of listening to what all too often is the world's crappiest speakers that they bundle and sell for PCs.

Nope. I can hear width and depth, but not height -- even from my expensive entertainment center with 5.1 DTS. I don't know anyone who claims to hear height, even you didn't make that explicit claim. You just say that it's "really 3 dimensional ... really there". And my argument is that marketing is programming people to misunderstand the term "3 dimensional".

You say that they are "mak[ing] 2D sound seem like it's really 3 dimensional". This is incorrect. They're taking 1D sound (the left-right width dimension) and processing it to create the illusion of 2D (left-right and front-back)

So let me ask you explicitly: do you think that the sound you're hearing lets you discern how high above the ground the supposed "source" object is?

mikiem

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2008, 09:09:18 PM »
"...do you think that the sound you're hearing lets you discern how high above the ground the supposed "source" object is?"

Me personally? Nahhh... I'm da**ed near deaf!  :P

That said, most people have 2 OEM mics, a right and a left. Everything heard goes thru them, and we pick up spatial clues well enough to kind of tell if a plane is passing overhead, or coming up fast on our 6.  :'(

So, with a set of decent headphones you can control what sound is presented to those two OEM mics, and, mimic the plane flying overhead for example. I'm not saying the small app that came with a $10 sound card I have lying in the drawer somewhere will be *that* accurate, but the basic principle is sound (no pun intended). In fact, for modeling studies they use fancy manikin heads outfitted with mics at the ear holes. Speakers are much more difficult, and a separate discipline when it comes to placement and room acoustic characteristics [at the least it involves measuring sound from each speaker from the place of the listener], but it's more than possible to provide realistic 3D effects. The average Blockbuster DVD OTOH features the theater soundtrack most often, designed for their typical speaker set-up, so mileage at home does vary. Also, different amounts of work go into preparing the multi-track audio that eventually appears on a DVD -- for simpler 360 degree audio all you need is the raw tracks and Vegas. Some PC games have long used the direct sound stuff from Microsoft which does I *think* include 360 degree spherical placement -- it's been quite a while since I looked at it (I am not a coder).

One example that shows in a dramatic fashion how sound waves bounce around, is concert events... Since the venue is usually less than perfect, opposing sound waves are sent out, and by varying the volumes at different frequencies, they can effectively mix what the audience hears. Same thing happens in our living rooms, only the reflections aren't usually under our control.

f0dder

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2008, 06:34:53 AM »
CWuestefeld: good question whether you can "hear height", but I do think it's possible, at least with a decent pair of headphones. At least sounds did help me very quickly locate my enemies when I have spare time to play computer games. But obviously sound textures help greatly with this ("he's in the vents!").

As mikiem says, I can't see why 3D positional audio shouldn't be possible with a pair of headphones, since all we have are two ears (or "OEM mics" :-*) anyway. 360° spatial sound is definitely possible.
- carpe noctem

universaljim

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Re: Power and Ports - The Ever Diminishing Resources in My Office!
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2008, 09:06:21 AM »
Howdy    wait    don't throw something at me yet       but how about 1 more computer?    ie:     an older el cheapo box that you can use as a file server and internet gateway     load it up with some usb cards    let it sit at the far side of the room with the modem ,router and all in one printer and any of the usb devices that you dont need or want on your desk and its own little rats nest of  pluggables and wires and peripherals   once its set up and running there is no need for a monitor to be on     it gets all of that stuff out of your way at your main work space   put it under a small table that can be used to hold all the things you attach to it   hmm  ?   make sense?   and an older computer only uses about the same power as a lightbulb so your not drawing much more than you are now     also it works nice for me in that i get to move a lot of stuff like music and video from my hard drive to the server so more room for important things like games :^)   hope that helps      and if that leaves you with a power problem    well    you can always do like my ex brother in law did     run a long extension cord in a trench from the neighbours house      it worked for a little while but it helps to have a neighbour with a sense of humour