I'm looking for inspiration on how to reduce computer clutter. I run a lot of machines and make them do a lot of cool things, but in a 92sqm apartment where we're also trying to manage massive DVD, magazine, and book libraries, and where my previous work station (which was never all that orderly) has been conquered by my girlfriend's rampaging makeup and sewing stuff, it ain't easy. I want to compartmentalize, organize, and speed up the process of accessing my stuff. Ideas?
posted by saysthis to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The crux of the problem is that I have a LOT of "computer stuff", and that the network of stuff which we currently have is about to be scaled up, bigtime, due to an impending move to a bigger house. I'll want to include scalability and a solid phalanx of l33t gadgets in the future.
I've just been booted by my fashion designing wife off the corner of the room I used to use for more of her albums of pictures exactoed from fashion magazines. And, in the past year and a half, I've gone from 1 buggy laptop and a big USB hard drive to a substantial accumulation of knowledge and stuff, as I've begun exploring exactly what open source software can really do. I've been suitably impressed made much progress with it, paring down our AV setups from crappy independent DVD players, cords, and all kinds of discs to an interconnected system all controlled from my laptop. Up to now, I've kept the extra stuff in...well, piles. But the recent chaos of her expanding business, my expanding capabilities with hardware, and our impending move is a chance to get this beast under control before it becomes a cancer that conquers all of our available desktop space.
My inviolable principles include:
a) that one of my hobbies is fixing up junk and giving it away. It's an interesting means to get to know people, expand your network, and learn and practice computer skills. Gift economy 4 lyfe.
b) I'm a strong believer in ghettotech, and almost everything I own on the list was inherited. I've spent maybe $500 on computer stuff since 2006. Triple-R 4 lyfe.
c) I take an "appliance" approach to computers - the "all-under-one-box" approach has never worked for me, as something's always gone wrong or I've filled up the hard drive or busted the software and had to reinstall, and I've wasted much too much of my life on downtime and much too much of my money on new machines that proceed to break and not do what it says on the box. Modular single-purpose units 4 lyfe.
- a sweet media/gaming FrankenPC that gets hooked up to the living room projector
- a gutted box that serves as an uberNAS, with 6 IDE slots, 2 SATA plugs, and 12 USB ports (you bet your ass my data is redundant)
- a clumpy old workstation for volunteers in my organization who can't travel to our main office or the other side of the city; my house is the only locale we have on the east side of the city, and in Beijing, where a lot of the students we rely on to do our volunteer work sometimes don't have computers, or need to work or train with me in person
- my trusty daily driver, from whence I also manage this stuff, a 2005 ultraportable
- my lady's beater, an early 2004 Dell Inspiron, which is likely about to bite the bullet, and will need replacing soon
- bluetooth mouse & keyboard x2, for when I, and the woman don't feel like hunching over my/her laptop
- USB mice and keyboards for the desktops (or laptops if we want to)
- USB bluetooth adapters when necessary, I think we're at 4 now
- an optical drive in an external case - it keeps me from having to buy separate ones for each unit, and we rarely use it, but sometimes I do need to burn things (I work in post-production, clients occasionally just want a multiplexed DVD) or get at something on a disc (rip, mount to virtual drive)
- a grip of thumb drives that I use for data transport, disk images, booting, what have you, all neatly labeled
- a VOIP handset
- CORDS!!! yards and yards of wire in every shape and size, 'cause, y'know, things gotta get linked to things
- a totally sick wireless router
- hard drive USB cases, leftover from the days when I didn't have an uberNAS, and waiting for more hard drives to be connected to the uberNAS
- much of this all needs its own power cord, and I have them in abundance
- the odd RAM & PC card, motherboard, and whatnot waiting for a home in the computers I take home and patch up for friends and family
- various backup hardware in case something important goes kaput
- a couple WIFI cards for laptops, mostly for guests, but the woman's laptop currently needs one to get online.
- 2 monitors for the workstation, gaming machine, and occasional maintenance.
Right. Well, we're moving from a 92sqm apartment to a much much larger one in the coming months (as soon as the decorators are finished!), and we'll be expanding from our current setup of:
- 2 TV's controlled by the media machine
- uberNAS in a corner behind the couch
- laptops on the coffee table
- workstation on a teensy desk in the bedroom
- one phone hookup
to a two-floor apartment with:
- 4+ TV's & audio setups on two floors that all want access to the uberNAS
- a dedicated office for the woman's girlygirl stuff (er, actually, her job) and my own office/den/schmoke lounge for manlyman things
- wherever the uberNAS goes, probably my office
- an upstairs living room with
- the gaming box
- a PS3 (!!!)
- and a downstairs all-purpose studio that wants access to same (this room is a party area, yoga/dance studio, movie screening room, all kinds of fun stuff, but it all calls for proper geekery, and will likely want powered USB gadgets)
- a gajillion phone jacks and in-wall wiring for just about everything but VGA and HDMI
- probably more area and rebar than one wireless router can handle
The wife's hobbies call for lots of shelving and workspace, while mine only calls for a philips screwdriver, voltometer, and lots of teensy compartments. All this stuff, other than the stuff that's actually out and in use, calls for, at most, a dresser-drawer-sized space, but it requires a lot of compartmentalization and protection from dust and spills. I'm looking for inspired solutions on how to minimize and properly store the cords, components, peripherals, and other buildup that goes along with a hobby like this.
The best ideas I've had are toolboxes or tackleboxes for the loose stuff, twist-ties for the cords, a moratorium on any new desktops in the system (any new TV/media hookups are going to be disposable 2ndhand laptops w/ S-video outs and wireless), and a desk area that can be cleared for maintenance if need be. And that might be good enough, but I bet I could improve on it.
I'd love to hear creative, inspired storage solutions if you got 'em!