Computer workspace wiring mystery
October 25, 2004 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Computer workspace wiring mystery

Box is a Mac G4, sits on the floor. On the same table as the monitor is a small Ikea halogen work light. They are plugged into the same power source.

If the Mac is sleeping, and I turn the light on, it wakes up the Mac. If the Mac is on and I turn the light off, quite often the cursor freezes and I have to reach down and unplug it from the USB port and plug it back in. This fixes it.

Why would this happen, and am I somehow damaging the Mac with this arrangement?
posted by zadcat to Technology (3 answers total)
Sounds like a power spike from the bulb - not suprising - halogen and other inert gas bulbs take a high voltage to start and then run exceedingly low (it's cheaper, for instance, to leave a neon-tube light light 24 hours a day than to keep switching it on and off too often).

I'd guess you can try and seperate the plugs a little, or buy a power-conditioning extension...
posted by benzo8 at 9:26 AM on October 25, 2004

Actually, it sounds like the halogen light is somehow affecting the USB mouse specifically--because moving a mouse will wake the machine from sleep, and my own experiences with USB have taught me that just about anything can cause a USB connection to flake out but re-plugging the mouse will usually fix it.

Does the mouse cord go anywhere near the light cord? Rarely, improperly shielded wires can induce currents in each other if they run parallel. If the two wires aren't near each other, I'm not sure what else it could be.

Do you have more details on exactly where the various objects in question are located relative to each other? Also, what's the 'shared power source'--a cheapo power strip, the same outlet fixture in the wall, a UPS, an extension cord w/ multiple outlets, or what?

Other, not-really-related thoughts--try another USB mouse and see if it has the same issue? Also, assuming it's optical (and if not, shame! No reason to be using a rollerball mouse in this day and age.) does the light under the mouse go off when the cursor freezes? I assume it does, because that's what happens to me when I have my USB mouse issues (specifically, using a cheapo KVM switch, which has since been rectified =)).
posted by cyrusdogstar at 6:25 PM on October 25, 2004

Something to do with the sudden large ambient light changes confusing the optical tracker on the mouse, perhaps?
posted by chrismear at 1:26 PM on October 26, 2004

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