Here’s my Top Tip for the day: a desk lamp beneath my desk allowing me clearly to see the (labelled) connections on the back of my PC case.
The lamp is for those moments when I have to crawl down there to (un)plug an audio or USB cable, or when I’ve got the side panel off the box just making sure that everything is okay. I’ve got so many power sockets under there anyway I might as well employ one to help me while I’m guddling about under my desk, like some kind of IT troll.
Another thing that I find useful is to label cables. Take a look at the mess of cables beneath my desk (right). The only way that I’m able to determine which cable is which, especially when it comes to power cables and USB cables, is because I label them all.
All power cables have a label on the plug telling me what they are, e.g. PC, Monitor, hp 1000 (laser printer), hp 5150 (colour printer), etc. No more accidentally unplugging my PC when I meant to switch off the printer.
All the USB cables have a little label flag (simply a label folded round the cable and back onto itself) on each cable at the PC end, telling me what they are, e.g. HP 5150 (colour printer), USB Hub, etc.
At the other end, on my 4-port USB Hub I have little label flags there too: Belkin Media Reader, hp 1000, SiPix Webcam, and IrDA.
This way I don’t have to waste time untangling cables between peripherals and my PC to find out what’s what. I just have to switch on my under-desklamp and read the labels.
(The lamp is really good for keeping my feet warm, too, on cold mornings!)