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Schizo Desktop I: USB switch

I have an of­fice. It's like a home of­fice but it's in an­oth­er place. It's just mine, so I get the peace and qui­et of a home of­fice but al­so get to go out­side to get there. It's a good set­up.

BUT I have two com­put­ers there. Well, ac­tu­al­ly I have like 10, but I in­ter­act with two. One is my per­son­al desk­top com­put­er, the oth­er is my work lap­top. and I want to use the same pe­riph­er­als in the same way with both of them. That's why I have the world's most com­pli­cat­ed schizo desk­top set­up.

This se­ries of posts will doc­u­ment it, the why and how of it, and the var­i­ous things I've learned along the way, along with mak­ing you want to buy weird chi­nese gad­get­s.

Today: My USB Switch

What is it? A 4x2 switch. That means you can con­nect 4 USB de­vices to it, and it can be con­nect­ed to 2 com­put­er­s.

It's not an ex­pen­sive de­vice, it costs around 6 dol­lars!

USB switch

How do you use it? It has a but­ton. When you click it, all the de­vices move from one com­put­er to the oth­er.

What's plugged in­to it? My we­b­cam, my mi­cro­phone (not re­al­ly, it's a bit more com­pli­cat­ed, but that's an­oth­er ar­ti­cle) and my head­phones.

The head­phones are ac­tu­al­ly con­nect­ed via a small USB au­dio card be­cause that gives me a vol­ume knob for them (a­gain, about 6 dol­lars).

USB audio card

Why these de­vices? Be­cause they are my "video cal­l" de­vices. If I am do­ing a video call for work, I use them from the work com­put­er, and when I want to do a per­son­al one, I use them from my per­son­al com­put­er.

They switch in about half a sec­ond, and they work fine.

I do not use this for key­board and mouse. I have oth­er, bet­ter so­lu­tions (a­gain, an­oth­er ar­ti­cle)

Phys­i­cal­ly how is it mount­ed? I at­tached to the bot­tom of the desk to my left, next to a hook for the head­set and the arm for the mi­cro­phone. When I want to switch, I just reach down and press the but­ton.

What can fail?

  • If you up­date the ker­nel in one of the ma­chines and did­n't re­boot then hot­plug­ging the USB de­vices may fail. Don't do that :-)
  • Some op­er­at­ing sys­tems or users may get con­fused by au­dio de­vices pop­ping in­to ex­is­tence and dis­ap­pear­ing.
  • If you for­get to switch noth­ing works and you will be the per­son in the video call say­ing "can you hear me?"

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