The Curse of the AC adapter

The Curse of the AC adapter

Summary: We're moving offices over Easter, and after much cajoling from our office manager, I'm finally clearing out ZDNet UK's lab space. It's hell in there, with more entangled power leads, cat 5 cables and other random bits of tech flotsam, not to mention jetsam, than you can shake a stick at.

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We're moving offices over Easter, and after much cajoling from our office manager, I'm finally clearing out ZDNet UK's lab space. It's hell in there, with more entangled power leads, cat 5 cables and other random bits of tech flotsam, not to mention jetsam, than you can shake a stick at. And I've been shaking some sticks I can tell you.

One thing that strikes me (and I'm sure we've mentioned this before) is the particular hell that is the AC adapter. We have loads of the things, and they invariably (a) are separated from the device they once powered and (b) bear no distinguishing mark to identify their host.

Many will therefore be dispatched for recycling, or wherever PSUs go to die. Inevitably, of course, when we arrive in our new lab some vital bit of gear will be found to be missing its AC adapter, causing much gnashing of teeth.

Other occupants of the recycling pile tell an interesting story of tech archaeology: analogue video leads, serial and parallel cables, CRT monitors, PS/2 mice and keyboards...

Topic: Reviews

About

Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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  • The Curse of the AC adapter

    You're not the only one who's ended up with a pile of unidentifiable cables (a plastic bagful, in my case.) You'd really think the hardware industry could come up with a bright idea to deal with this. If they can't make a universal adapter, couldn't they at least print the name and model number of the device on the adapter itself? Or is this more difficult than you'd think?
    Karen Friar
  • The Curse of the AC adapter

    This is the reason I insist on labeling each AC adaptor before we deploy it. I keep brother label makers all over the firm. It costs hundreds if not thousands of hours of labor each year tracking down unlabeled power supply and matching devices.

    I broke my rule recently and fried an old Linksys device because I carelessly assumed the first Linksys AC adapter I found was the "correct" one. In this case, the problem was that Linksys HAD put their moniker on the device. A 1 penny label would have saved a $50 appliance. Pretty good return on investment in the long run.
    Even worse, I have seen people with a cubic yard of adapters and absolutely NO idea of what was useful or not. In the end, they threw out the whole lot and lost several valuable AC adapters for the lack of a label.

    I have also seen people mail out docking stations, printers, LCD monitors, etc. with the wrong adapter. Not a problem if the need isn
    jon_saxon@...