back to article Power to the people - if you can find a spare socket

Changing family circumstances have resulted in my need to use long-distance trains more frequently. They used to call them "InterCity" services back in "the age of the train" but the less said about that the better. InterCity trains when I was a child were horrible: dirty, uncomfortable and stinking of piss, an odour that could …

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Silver badge

Re: Rond hole sockets?

Nearly everything in my house needs an Earth.

Almost all electrical equipment needs it - the only things that don't are the "double-insulated" items with the box-in-box logo.

I've also lost count of the number of electric shocks I've had from unearthed equipment that was in otherwise perfect working order - because many PSUs use Earth to drain their suppression caps.

It is a rather unpleasant tingly-buzz, jumping to a killing blow if a single fault occurs.

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This sort of thinking is why you shouldn't be involved in any kind of engineering work, ever. And why I long for the day when someone in power here eventually has the guts to free us from having stupid and shoddy "European" "Standards" forced upon us in preference to our generally superior British Standards...

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Office wiring

Working for a university spinoff, I had to get a new office fitted out - as the first occupants, we had walls, a window, an extractor fan and overhead lights, nothing more. The university's own electricians quoted about a grand to put sockets along the two long walls; a local contractor charged about the same but included a dozen runs of Cat5e at the same time. (Three-part conduit.) Result: each desk's got a pair of proper 13A sockets nearby - not surge protected, because that would add stupid amounts to the cost - with a surge-protected 4 or 6 way strip plugged in to power computers, monitors, phones and whatever else needs some electrons to feed on.

Thomas: earth is very important for anything with any exposed metal - i.e. any desktop PC, among other things - and a fuse means a short-circuit causes a powered-off device instead of an electrical fire. When it comes to safety features, I'd rather have my equipment "vastly over-specified" than get electrocuted, TYVM.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Office wiring

each desk's got a pair of proper 13A sockets nearby - not surge protected, because that would add stupid amounts to the cost

It would also mean an increased maintenance cost, since those sockets would need replacing every once in a while as the surge protectors degrade over time.

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Holmes

I'd just like to point out...

...that if there's a smell of pee on a train "dahn sarf" it is not from a Glaswegian, since they're all busy micturating up here.

I suspect what you have encountered are in fact ex-pats.

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You should see our data centre

Well, not ours exactly -- we don't own it, I mean the one we park our boxen in.

All the power outlets in the racks there are 10 amp IEC (kettle-type) ones. Handy if you've got lots of old PC-to-monitor cables from the days when PC power packs had a proper on-off switch and a pass-through outlet. Not so handy if all your power leads are 1363s.

I ended up making a bunch of adaptors with an IEC plug one end and a 4-gang trailing socket the other end, just to run our kit.

No doubt the next cheap data centre we find to move our machines into will have the round blue campsite sockets .....

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Re: You should see our data centre

Eh? Data centre we use does indeed provide the round blue command sockets - rated at 32A. You do know you can buy PDUs with those already fitted, don't you?

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Paris Hilton

Re: You should see our data centre

Why *do* they call them 'commando' sockets, anyway? Specified and installed 'em for years, and never found out...

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Re: You should see our data centre

Don't you mean CEEform sockets?

Never heard them called "commando" before though.

Blue ones are 230V, red 400V, yellow 110V to name the three most common.

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Re: You should see our data centre

CEEform is indeed the correct name, but all of the sparks I every had dealings with, and Datacentre staff (Telecity/UKG etc.) call them commando sockets.

Commando was the MK brand name for them, is the origin.

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Re: You should see our data centre

Why make up cables when you can buy 1-6 metre C12-C13 leads for 1-2 quid each?

You don't have to use the lead which was packed with your server.

I just fitted out a new rack in our data centre with these - because they're more compact and at 1U spacing, so it's clear where the socket for each server is. The other end of the PDU leads have 32amp commando plug on 'em.

1363 plugs have a number of deficiencies - amonst which is insufficient contact pressure, resulting in thermal effects at high currents.

WRT "ring mains", the concept of an entire floor being fed off one breaker is something out of the 1940s - as is running all lighting on one breaker. The last thing you want when the breaker pops is to lose _everything_ or all lighting. Copper is a lot cheaper than labour costs.

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Silver badge

Bah!

Bollocks. I rode a BR train twice a day between Coventry and London in 1982, and I now yearn for those days of clean, quiet, fast, timely trains. Breakfast in the buffet car in the morning, comfy padded seats on he way home.

Would that the Long Island Rail Road, the boil on the backside of commuter rail, could come close to that sort of service.

They may not have Brainsmacked Glaswegians, but the Long Island Rail Road customers could give them a run for their money in terms of stench, mess and rudeness.

Plus, the trains take longer to do the 40 miles between Deer Park and NYC than BR did to do the 110 miles between Coventry and London Euston.

Plus the LIRR breaks down more. Even the newly replaced bits break down almost as soon as they are switched on (see: New signals, non-damp-proof wiring of)

Plus the LIRR trains move more like the Seaview did in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, hurling people from side-to-side. Fall asleep in a BR train and all that would happen would be sleep. Fall asleep on the 6:04 from Atlantic Terminal to Ronkonkoma and you'll wake up with whiplash, and if you are seated next to a window, a concussion.

Plus, only one electrical socket, for cleaning equipment.

Still I shouldn't complain: The designer of the new trains finally figured out how to keep the lights on when the train crosses a switch or parks for one of the interminable delays that are the hallmark of the LIRR rider experience. For twenty years I carried a small flashlight so I didn't have to stop reading my book for five minutes here and there.

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Silver badge

A space-saving solution

What saves a huge amount of space is an extension strip with 6, 8 or more parallel IEC sockets rather than UK 13-amp sockets. IEC plug-socket cables are easily sourced and inexpensive. What' s infuriating is that two 4-way 13-A plug strips cost about £5, and an 8-way IEC strip with no flex (just an IEC plug) costs about £80. The components it's made from (8 IEC sockets, one IEC plug, a foot or two of wire and a plastic box) surely cost less than a tenth of that ... you can look them up in an electronics catalogue, apart from the plastic box.

Typically you'll find fancier metal-case versions of these strips fitted in 19 inch server racks (and the prices for these are even fancier! )

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Unhappy

To paraphrse...

Plugs expand to fill the sockets available for their insertion.

My work bench has 4x6way extension sockets, and I still run out!

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Rather lucky...I suppose

Can't say for others, but our comp's lucky the fire inspectors don't spend time looking under desks. A six-pack outlet extension plugged into another six-pack plugged into another with an extension cord running to the cube in the corner with no outlets.

And...

Surge protectors? Certainly! Says so right on the packaging. That's what the light by the switch is for.

UPS? Ummm? Mail Room is the third door on the left.

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Praising British trains?

You can tell that Mr Dabbs doesn't travel very much. My god but British Intercities are poky little things with less leg room than a Ryanair Alicante special! Even in first class getting in and out of a seat is best left to contortionists! Treat yourself to a ride on a proper train (ICE 3rd generation say Frankfurt - Amsterdam). Power sockets below the armrests on every chair, intelligent reclining seats to minimise disruption to those behind you, compartments with optimised data connections for those who need them, and quiet compartment for those who don't and prices that don't go sky high just because you want to travel during rush hour.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Praising British trains?

Hey, at least the British HAVE TRAINS.

Hell, Amtrak is considering re-routing the Southwest Chief because BNSF won't maintain the damn track in western Kansas and eastern Colorado, and they can't run the train fast enough to keep up with the schedule - and THAT'S saying something (namely, that they cannot even run the train at 60MPH).

I'm guessing all the towns that will be losing service will now insist that the government give them air service.

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Re: Praising British trains?

It's not that I don't travel much but that I don't move in the same circles as you, Charlie. First Class indeed.

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Happy

Don't knock Inter-City

I did travel on the ECML in the 1970s. You got a comfortable sprung seat at a table, and the seats were aligned with the windows. You had a sliding ventilator which you could adjust to suit the contitions and which didn't cause a howling gale for passengers two bays down on the opposite side. You had TRUKs and TRUBs which were available to all passengers, and they could serve a full English breakfast between Kings Cross and Peterborough. If you were lucky you got a Deltic on the front. The rot set in when they introduced air-con coaches, HSTs and in particular the Mk.4s with their horrible Swiss bogies.

Nowadays I travel on First Great Western and their HSTs are like mobile toast racks. You get a high back seat about a foot in front of your nose and you're lucky if you get a view through part of a window. It's just not fun any more.

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Whilst Travelling

In preparing to leave the US for a year in South Africa, i forsook my minimalist backpack for sybaritic luxury. I brought along a US 3-socket extension cord and three additional unwired sockets. Fortunately, almost everything is dual voltage: Macintosh, bluetooth mouse, razor, phone, etc. I bought a US-to-SA adaptor and although the maze of cables look messy, it's been very effective. I wired one of the US sockets onto a power cord which powers the razor and electric toothbrush. The dual voltage feature has proved amazingly convenient and cost saving. I've even lent out my Rube Goldberg (Heath Robison) cable so Americans and Canadians can charge their iPads, Kindles, and computers.

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What offices do you work in?

Every office I've ever worked in, and a lot of the datacentres too, have 4 gang plugged into 4 gang plugged into 4 gang on and on, regardless of if they were fancy new ones or re-purposed sheds. People hope that the IT equipment plugged in means never reaching anything near 13 amps (actually I'm not sure they even consider it)

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Go

looking for my leopard

looking around, I have got 5 spare wall sockets in my immediate viccinity and another 3 in the extention I have in the easily accessible cable tidy bit in my desk.

Just me showing off the one good thing about the office block we work in :)

Anyone want a top up?

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MJI
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Sockets

Got 4 for my desk but I keep pulling the PC power cable out with my chair.

Home 4 sockets 2 with multiway adaptors in the living room. You need 10 by a TV I think.

Mast head amp, TV, 3 x PVR, 3 x Console, Scart switch, ethernet hub, turntable, receiver, MD, DVD, that is 14 and I moved the VCR to the dining room by the PC

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MJI
Silver badge

BR was great

Made alot of use of them in 70s & 80s, also a bit in 90s.

Comfortable definately.

Fast HST - is a record holder.

Reliable - yes

Affordable, sometimes.

The best thing about privatisation is allowing any locomotive which is capable allowed on the mainline. When the best passenger Diesel locomotives (as opposed to HST power cars) live on preserved railways and were not allowed to do what they did best was wrong.

Virgin started it by hiring our best locomotive class for cross country trains as they needed 100mph, there are unconfirmed reports of the same machine doing well over 110.

South Wales commuter trains decided on the next locomotive down, but got told off for twisting the rules and showing up modern equipment.

The best is of course the Deltics and the next best the 50s.

4 coach commuter trains work well with 2700bhp

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