I normally charge the PS3 controller by connecting it to the PS3 while its idling, but I guess it's much easier to charge it through my PCs USB port.
Would this work?
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With respect to charging the controller with a PC: If the controller does not start charging when plugged in to your PC (for me, light was on/solid), open Device Manager, find the game controller listed under Human Interface Devices, disable the controller using the right-click context menu, unplug the controller, plug the controller back in, and the controller should start charging (light(s) on/blinking). I just verified this procedure works on Windows 8.1
Yes the PS3 controller can be charged from a USB port on a computer, and there are also specialised controller charging stations available. It appears that generic AC-to-USB adapters won't work, possibly because the controller requires device drivers on the host or some kind of "handshake" in order to charge.