The Snarl Tamer

 By Shamus Oct 23, 2007 13 comments

Behold! Otaku taunts me with his snarl-free setup! But apparently I got him back.

Someone requested a picture of said snarl, which isn’t really possible. It’s big and nasty, but almost entirely hidden behind my desk. Still, you can extrapolate. You have a computer? Look at all those wires back there. Now double them, because I have two. Now double them again to include the PS2, the network, phones, lights, and the crazy PS2 -> PC cables. That’s the scale of the problem I’m up against.

You can actually see a panoramic view of my workspace here, if such a thing might interest you. The desk I use has a back wall which prevents nice bundling of wires, since you can’t reach them. I have to just drop wires into place from above or (worse) feed them through. A nice desk with an open back would help a lot, and that’s what I’ll be getting when I replace this one. An odd thing about desks is that, figuring surface / storage space being equal, as the desk gets lighter and and more open it gets increasingly expensive. The cheapest desks are both heavy and bulky, which seems a bit counter-intuitive. Doesn’t it cost money to ship those things? My desk looks like particleboard beneath the faux-wood finish, but when you try to move it you can clearly tell it’s made from depleted uranium, or perhaps a bit of condensed solar mass from a white dwarf.

1313 comments. That's a baker's dozen.


  1. Adam says:

    I have a similar Snarl under my TV: PS, N64, Cable Modem, Router, VCR, DVD, Controlers, two power strips. Oh did I mention I have 19 month old and a 3 year old that occationaly like to see what all the wire look like.

  2. Phlux says:

    If you’re looking for a desk that has the “glass and steel” look, you can save a LOT of money if you can find someway to buy just the steel frame. People occassionally sell these on ebay or at garage sales. You can then go to any glass cutter with exact dimensions needed for each piece and pay a fraction of what it cost originally with the desk.

    A friend of mine did this for a coffee table. Saved over 100 dollars off the price, and was able to get a nicer, thicker piece of tempered glass than what it originally came with.

  3. Oh did I mention I have 19 month old and a 3 year old that occationaly like to see what all the wire look like.

    yeah, our younger daughter just turned 6mo, which was the primary motivator for me in de-Snarlification.

  4. mark says:

    my workspace has the following devices contributing to a megasnarl:

    - tv
    - PS2
    - cable tv box
    - scart switchbox for changing between cable TV and ps2 (handy, but adds an extra cable to the snarl)
    - two PCs
    - two monitors
    - cable modem
    - wireless router
    - network switch
    - 5 ethernet cables coming from the wall which lead to the other 5 rooms with ethernet in the house
    - patch cables connecting both my PCs and the networking gear
    - printer
    - 5.1 speakers
    - 2 fully loaded 4 port usb hubs
    - the usual array of keyboards, mice, headphones, etc

    basically, the snarl covers an area approximately 5 feet by 1 foot, and god help me if i ever need to move any of it…

  5. Mari says:

    I can’t claim an awesome snarl. I have Snarl Jr. Especially compared to the hubs. The snarl at his desk is awe-inspiring. The man has the usual computer and accessory wires combined with a printer, a scanner, a DVD player (the kind that normally hooks up to the tv), a VCR, a laserdisc player, and a cassette player. He’s been trying to get his hands on an 8-track player to add to the nostalgic snarl. Plus there’s a cool array of USB extenders/hubs, an external hard drive, several external media readers, and random cables that occasionally hook into other devices but stay connected to the PC permanently. And to make life even more interesting, his “workspace” is actually a solid-oak entertainment center with a desk awkwardly tacked on for the PC components.

  6. Darin says:

    Okay, last snarl topic I was too busy to post it, but I finally found it so I can put it here:

    http://www.decluttered.com/

    This is where the pegboard and zip strips idea came from. If you look, a lot of snarls have been defeated. Did this to my desk and its amazing how well it works. And it is cheap to boot!

  7. Sharpie says:

    I have 4 computers at one desk at home. Also an old fax machine, 3 printers, a backup power source, lamps, phone lines, headphones, etc. It is not a snarl anymore. It is a solid mass of wire.

  8. Telas says:

    The only thing I take away from this is that the Ikea computer desk that Otaku uses is known as the “JERKER” model.

    Um, wow.

  9. Snook says:

    I won’t claim to have a large snarl, it isn’t, but I constantly get my feet tangled in the damn thing. And then I unplug something important, like the power cord.

  10. krellen says:

    Is it wrong that I find all those images beautiful?

  11. Raka says:

    An odd thing about desks is that, figuring surface / storage space being equal, as the desk gets lighter and and more open it gets increasingly expensive. The cheapest desks are both heavy and bulky, which seems a bit counter-intuitive.

    Makes sense if you think about the materials involved– and the cost of the materials (and the construction methods those materials require) varies over a very wide range, while the shipping price for slightly different sizes is negligible and different weights (within the ranges we’re looking at) is effectively nonexistent.

    Particle board is awesome in compression. As long as there’s a solid mass of particle board in the direction of a force, you have nothing to worry about. Particle board absolutely sucks in tension, however. That’s why the surface of a desk is either real wood or particle board supported by crossbeams. Putting a load in the center of an unsupported shelf (which is effectively what a desk surface is) creates tension at the endpoints, pulling them towards the center as it bows. Pulling forces are tension. Tension turns particle board into plain old particles right quick.

    Tension is also the reason that cheap particle board shelves and desks ALWAYS have a back. Bending and twisting forces are also tension, and they would be focused right on the screws and pegs that hold the shelves together. But there’s a cheap and common material that’s astonishingly good in tension (though worthless in compression): paper. That’s why cardboard boxes work– all of your forces are pulling, and they balance against each other as long as the paper surfaces are intact. That cardboard backing on shelves and desks and entertainment centers isn’t decorative. It’s essential cross-bracing that’s the only thing preventing the boards from twisting and rocking themselves into rubble under their own weight.

    Steel is pricey. Welding makes it pricier yet. But you don’t need solid walls and blocks of it to make stable structures.

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