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back to article Wang charged in inappropriate electricity socket use

Electricity thieves beware: if the battery charge in your phone or laptop is getting a little too low for comfort, don’t just stick your tech gear into the first available plug socket or you could find yourself in the back of a police van. The warning comes from Taipei, where a man by the name of Wang was prosecuted this week …

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Unhappy

Ah crap

Seems I got off lightly then, as I've done just this in a Taipei train station.

Hopefully my mitigating circumstances of not understanding written Traditional Chinese would have saved me...

Still, seems harsh.

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Bronze badge

Re: Ah crap

I doubt not being able to read the sign would get you off, it wouldn't in any common law country where "Ignorance of the law is no defense" is a well known principle.

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WTF?

One word

fuse

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Re: One word

yeah good point. If they put a 500mA fuse in the socket then you can't steel much electric.

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Bronze badge

Re: Re: One word

If you put a 0.5A fuse in it also defeats the object of having the sockets there for the cleaners to use.

The simple solution is to get some very unusual sockets and matching plugs for the cleaners machines. Hey presto, you solve the problem of all but the most determined people using the cleaners sockets and not reading the signs.

It also solves the problem of cleaners unplugging things that are clearly marked as "DO NOT UNPLUG" since their equipment doesn't work with it.

Yes, I suppose you could do lockable covers however human nature is to leave them unlocked because locking/unlocking them is too much of a pain.

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Boffin

Re: Re: One word

Fundamental lack of understanding how these chargers work. If it's capable of 500mA (@ 5V as USB is meant to be), then if it's an approximately 80% efficient charger circuit, that's 3.125W.

3.125W/110V = 28mA

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Re: Re: One word

I'm assuming the designers of the charger have a built in fuse set to the proper amperage to not draw unsafe current, inside the charger itself, that would prevent it from inadvertently blowing a fuse on the wall socket. If so, the arrest was totally bogus and just another tyrannical example of poor government by ignorant people.

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Headmaster

Re: Re: One word

Nor, indeed, could you steal it!!!

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FAIL

Re: Re: Re: One word

@Peter2, "It also solves the problem of cleaners unplugging things..."

I doubt it. Human nature dictates that they unplug it, look blankly at the incompatible socket and then go away to complain their plug is wrong (or that their cleaner is broken, or they've injured themselves with the unusual plug), leaving the critical equipment unplugged.

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Paris Hilton

Re: One word

How about "switch", as in the sockets are switched off unless the train is being serviced.

Train design engineer: "Doh!! I never thought of that, much better to have live sockets so small children can stick screwdrivers into them”

Paris; remains switched off unless being serviced.

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Facepalm

More WTF....

"...a short circuit may bring down the electricity-powered rail network."

Then the rail network is not fit for use and probably fails to meet many mandatory standards. It should be closed down until Taipei Rapid Transit have been investigated.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: More WTF....

Having once shut down half a factory when meddling with a three-phase power outlet I kind of undertstand Taipei's concern....

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Facepalm

Re: Re: More WTF....

Yeah, if it's that much of a problem, they probably shouldn't have loads of power sockets around the place that anyone can plug anything into.

Put padlocked covers over them or something.

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WTF?

Re: Re: More WTF....

"Having once shut down half a factory when meddling with a three-phase power outlet I kind of undertstand Taipei's concern...."

Blimey, what kind of phone requires a three-phase power outlet to charge?!

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WTF?

Re: Re: More WTF....

Anyone plugging a laptop or mobile device charger into 3 Phase will be in for one hell of a shock...

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Re: More WTF....

The traction-power will be separated from the socket power. (Traction is normally 600V at several kiloamps).

However, if the fuse-board's ELCB is tripped, then it could take out several mains circuits including -

1. All other platform sockets, including vending machines.

2. Any platform ministores.

3. Ticket issuing machines.

4. Platform access gates - hopefully these fail to open, rather than to closed.

5. Platform-train screen gates used on over-crowed lines - if these fail open then people could fall onto the tracks, if they fail closed, then none can get on/off the next train.

Yes, there should be better separation, but if the sockets are only for cleaning machines, then it might not be that well designed.

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Joke

Re: Re: Re: More WTF....

> Blimey, what kind of phone requires a three-phase power outlet to charge?!

One with a very, very big battery :D

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WTF?

Re: Re: Re: More WTF....

Anyone plugging a laptop or mobile device charger into 3 Phase will be in for one hell of a shock...

Have you seen the size of a three phase plug?

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Unhappy

Re: More WTF....

> worried a short circuit may bring down the electricity-powered rail network.

Don't tell TfL, next thing you know carrying a mobile phone charger on the tube will get you arrested (or shot?) for "going equipped for terrorism"

Sadly I'm only half joking...

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Coat

Re: Re: Re: More WTF....

"Blimey, what kind of phone requires a three-phase power outlet to charge?!"

Are you trying to start another iPhone 5 rumour?

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Megaphone

Cleaning machines

You mean those industrial-size floor polishers that are all motor? Those things must use kilowatts of power. Hard to understand how a mobile charger could bring down a whole station when a cleaning machine doesn't affect it in the least.

(aren't the ticket machines on a different breaker than the cleaning outlets? One would certainly hope so)

More like the station management being d*cks about people using their outlets. And perhaps a small safety concern about people tripping over folks huddled by the outlets during rush hour, I guess.

//Megaphone for station manager

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FAIL

Re: Re: More WTF.... No comparison!!

No comparison:

1. A three phase outlet is NOT a GPO. OK?

2. Very small it must have been. It can't have even been a medium sided factory if you took half of it out from a single outlet.

3. Most machine tools etc. are fused at the normal 15/30A per phase or whatever which usually represents only one or at most a few machines. Normally machine tools, lathes, mills, etc. are individually fused (parallel loading of machines on multiple outlets from one fuse/breaker is normally avoided to stop catastrophic arcing in case of a short circuit).

4. If it were a high current outlet of hundreds of amps (meant for large industrial machinery) then the local arc flash may have killed you or its UV stuffed your retinas.

5. If it were a high-current, high-power outlet, then what were you doing fucking about anyway? Such high power outlets are an absolute no-no unless special precautions/safety measures are undertaken first.

6. If 1-5 don't apply then there's a serious writing fault within the factory and the site should be declared unsafe until it's fixed.

Again, no modern industrial system such as Taipei's Metro could be brought down by the fusing of a normal GPO. If for some remarkably strange reason it were ever to happen then the chief electrical engineer and all is junior engineers ought to be strung up by the balls on meat hooks. In such circumstances, a description of them involving 'incompetent' would be pathetically weak and mild.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: More WTF.... No comparison!!

Oh dear we've summoned Captain Safety.

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FAIL

@Mondo the Magnificent

Err? Domestic and small-industry three-phase power is just three feeds at standard mains voltage, shifted 120 degrees between each. Plug your adapter between one phase pin and neutral or ground, and things will just work without going *foom*.

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Re: Re: Re: More WTF....

I take it you don't have one of these new fangled Android steroid enhanced LTE touting screen bigger than Grandma's telly things they call a phone?

I never thought I'd say this, but the whole mobile phone arms race really is starting to get out of hand!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Mondo the Magnificent

Bingo sir and you can even unbalance the system by drawing too much from a single phase.

This in turn triggers the protection relays upstream, where unfortunately the cooling circulation pumps were also connected to.

Main machine (in my case printing press) senses overheat and shuts down, with alarms blaring and leaving me to figure out how to explain it all! Cascading failures, that 's how you bring a factory down from a single socket.

After this I withdrew my job application for the nuclear plant (jk - in this last part)

But after joining IT I witnessed a colleague bringing down the entire company network just by plugging one network socket into the other (gotta love auto-mdix) so I felt right at home.

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Coat

Re: Re: Re: More WTF....

"Blimey, what kind of phone requires a three-phase power outlet to charge?!"

try an iphone that will work after 6pm on a single charge !!

now where did i put my android phone that lasts to about 8pm,,,

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Joke

Re: Re: Re: Re: More WTF....

"Have you seen the size of a three phase plug?"

Yes, though not in Taipei. For all I know, my standard charger could fit - though I doubt it would have enough pins... ;)

-d

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Re: Cleaning machines

"You mean those industrial-size floor polishers that are all motor? Those things must use kilowatts of power. Hard to understand how a mobile charger could bring down a whole station when a cleaning machine doesn't affect it in the least."

Actually, 1 kilowatt or so for your typical floor polisher (though most of them don't have much in the way of starter caps and thus have a nice fat current surge at start up). A phone mobe charger is equally likely to blow a breaker if it is short circuited as a floor polisher (as in either case, current will cease to be limited by the device and only be limited by the wiring + whatever is making the short, tripping the breaker /almost/ immediately). However, other posters are correct - in neither case should it significantly impact anything upstream from local distribution.

-d

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Vic
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Re: Re: More WTF.... No comparison!!

> If 1-5 don't apply then there's a serious writing fault within the factory

You might be right, but I'd be far more worried about the wiring faults...

Vic.

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: More WTF....Daniel 4

nope a 3 phase has 4 wires

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Anonymous Coward

Re: More WTF....

"Then the rail network is not fit for use and probably fails to meet many mandatory standards. "

Pfft. It's made in Taiwan, what did you expect? (That's an 80's thing for the youngsters)

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WTF?

A bit Harsh?!?

More like ridiculous. If you plug in your 1996 "high end" gaming rig and take the whole cities power, fair. But a phone charger?

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WTF?

Re: A bit Harsh?!?

My 1996 high end gaming rig had I think a 350 watt PSU, my 2007 high end gaming rig had a 750

watt PSU..your point was?

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Trollface

a short circuit may bring down the electricity-powered rail network

You can run a commuter train system on 240V power?

Wow, that's efficiency.

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Meh

Public electricity

"crime of stealing public electricity"

If it is indeed <b>public</b> electricity, surely it's his to use?

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Bronze badge

Re: Public electricity

Do you pay for public transport?

Public != Free

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Re: Re: Public electricity

Hmm, your point is a good one, and I'm struggling to counter it. However, I'd argue that most things "public" are free, unless there is a method of payment either next to, or part of it. For example, you get on a bus, and there's a driver or machine who will take your money, or a machine you can wave a card at.

If something is "public" (ie. accessible to the public) and there's no method of paying, the only way to access that is without paying, which makes it free.

Yes, I'm being fasicious.

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Meh

After reading the article I can only assume the usual reg headline editor is off for the day.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

But, but, I'm here..

:-(

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Re: But, but, I'm here..

But to no avail..

WTF is a plug socket?

I think you mean "socket"

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Headmaster

Socket to me

As opposed to a TCP socket, or a socket set (for playing with your nuts)...

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Joke

Re: Re: But, but, I'm here..

"WTF is a plug socket?"

I think it's one of those things they have over in 'merica (also Japan; Taipei I don't know about).

They function a bit like a mains socket, but with just 2 small parallel slots for little slotty pins. If you want an earth you often have to unscrew one of the fixing screws and attach a separate wire to it. Also they seem to have a habit of overheating badly and even catching fire (compared to the 3-pin types used in Europe).

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Go

Re: But, but, I'm here..

"Wang fined for publicly plugging into mains socket?"

"Wang plugged into mains?"

"Sizzling Wang shocker?"

"Wang pulled free of mains electricity; fined for his pleasure"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: But, but, I'm here..

"mains socket" is what you're looking for.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: But, but, I'm here..

Yes, I did consider those but I fear I blew my quota with "Acer's proud Wang: We're on the rise at last" and "Acer pulls out Wang, thrusts its wealth at Ho".

There will more plenty of Wang-based opportunities in future.

C.

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Facepalm

Re: But, but, I'm here..

Wang > Electricity Thief.

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Silver badge
Joke

Re: Re: Re: But, but, I'm here..

But surely - as my misses often says* - there's no such thing as too much Wang.

*I wish

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: But, but, I'm here..

Dan, you got your wish. Wang quota topped up. Will never go soft again etc...

C.

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