There was probably a time in your life when, had someone suggested a wedgie, you would have blushed, stuttered, adjusted your underwear in a defensive manner, and high-tailed it to safety. There’s no shame in that – we’ve all been there. But what if I were to ask you the same question today?
Okay, before you’re weirded out any further, let me explain. The wedgie I’m referring to today, as a mature adult, is actually the Wedgee®. Spelled with a double “e.” That already makes it less intimidating, don’t you think? And you should feel even more at ease when I say that the “Wedgee-with-a double-e” is actually a cord organizer, not the cruel misuse of an undergarment. Yes, a cord organizer. Whoever named that one had a sense of humor, but you know what? I like the thing. It’s useful. It works.
The cord I just referred to isn’t a cable cord, as you might expect, but actually a bungee cord – and it’s included with the Wedgee. The whole reason this even came to mind is that Summer is here, the sun is shining, and there are outdoorsy fun times just waiting to be had. The thing is, a lot of those outdoorsy fun times require outdoorsy fun equipment, the schlepping of which can be extremely tricky business.
That’s where the Wedgee® enters the picture (and saves the day). It holds stuff together, so you have less juggling to do. You just detach one end of the bungee cord from the Wedgee, wind it around your gear, and then lock the bungee cord’s end back into one of the Wedgee’s slots. Easy.
The Wedgee Cord Organizer is perfect for sporting goods, camping equipment and fishing gear, but personally, I’m taking this baby to the beach. That’s right. My beach blanket, towel, umbrella and umbrella pole are about to become a single, unified entity, which I’ll be able to grab and carry with one hand. It’s going to be a good summer.
Filed under: Electrical, Power and Data Distribution, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
Earlier this week, I was reading up on the history of Wiremold, a 110 year old company that’s been a lot of places and done a lot of things over the past century. They started out making electrical conduit, and moved on to things like raceway, loom, duct, and power products, with a few segues into War Effort manufacturing along the way. One thing that caught my eye was Wiremold’s introduction of the Tele-Power Pole in 1969. I though to myself, “Hey, wait, I know that thing!”
Turns out, I had seen the very same product a bunch of times over the past few years (yes, we sell it)… I just hadn’t realized that it was made by the same company I was reading about. So, after that lightbulb went off, I thought it might be worth a mention, because it really is a pretty cool item, and it’s still going strong after 40 years.
Tele-Power Poles were invented with the wide-open, cubicle-infested workplace in mind. Yes, I know, I hate cubicles too, but hear me out. Nowadays, we have the luxury of power and data connections right at our desks, no matter how far said desks may be from the nearest wall (and wall outlets/data ports). That’s largely thanks to innovators like Wiremold, and inventions like the Tele-Power Pole, which began allowing us to drop power and data cables from above the ceiling down to any workstation, anywhere in the room. Otherwise, we’d not only be seated in cubicles, we’d be seated in cubicles with extension cords and mile-long data cables running everywhere.
Take a minute to imagine that. It would be mass chaos, and people would be tripping everywhere. Not to mention that every inch of wall space would have to be encrusted in receptacles and data faceplates to accommodate everyone. Nope, it just wouldn’t work. But with Tele-Power, well… it’s a totally different story. Like the heavens have opened and are showering connectivity down upon us (literally – these things go from ceiling to floor). Since that fateful day they hit the market in 1969, Tele-Power Poles have let us tap into power and communications, without even leaving our rolling office chairs. I’ll raise my coffee mug to that.
Lately I’ve been loosely involved in the purchase and repair of ceiling tiles, and it surprised me how lightweight and flexible the things are. I guess the whole lightweight thing makes sense, considering how they have to be suspended above a room and all (anything weighing in at more than a few ounces would probably be dangerous in the event that one fell), but I wasn’t expecting them to have so much give.
That said, drop-ceiling products like the Erico-Caddy Fixture Stabilizing Clip are beginning to sound like a pretty smart idea. While drop ceilings aren’t too common in the average home (unless, of course, you want to snazz it up with funky patterned ceiling tiles), they’re pretty much all the rage in commercial properties. From offices to retail stores, this style of ceiling just seems to work, because it allows for easy access to ductwork and cable runs, and is easy to repair in the event of water damage.
There’s just one catch: commercial environments tend to have things like exit signs hanging from the ceiling, which means extra gravitational pull on those sag-prone ceiling tiles. It doesn’t take much for a bulge to form, but no one wants a deformed ceiling. What to do? Well, remember how I said those Fixture Stabilizing Clips have started to sound pretty smart to me? Here’s why. They actual help to increase or relieve tension between above-ceiling sign mounts and ceiling tiles as needed, so instead of having a wobbly sign or bulging ceiling tiles, you get a nice, smooth ceiling and securely-mounted signage to boot. Best of both worlds.
Who knew that something so simple could be your #1 weapon in the Battle of the (Ceiling Tile) Bulge?
Filed under: Electrical, Power and Data Distribution
Well, I never thought the day would come, but I’ve actually come across a power strip that can only be described as manly. I’m not referring to the wussy, delicate, light beige-colored plastic ones that we all have around the house. I’m talking about a power strip that you need two hands to heft up onto your workbench. A power strip that has 10 outlets that were built for power tools. A power strip that’s covered in (wait for it)… diamond plate.
You heard me. Diamond plate. The manliest surface-cladding material known to mankind. And it’s pretty much all you can see when you look at the Plugmold® Tough Power Strip from Wiremold. This thing is awesome. So much so that I’m actually not going to show it my dude’s dude car guy husband, and instead save it as a Man Cave-warming surprise for when he finally lands the 2½ car detached garage he’s been drooling over. But since you don’t know him (so you can’t squeal) and I have you here anyway, I’ll tell you all about it.
The Plugmold Tough Power Strip is 48 inches long and has 10 outlets, which makes it perfect for mounting along the back of your garage workbench. There’s no shortage of power here, but there is a built-in circuit breaker to protect your tools against overloads. And have I mentioned how great it looks? I’m pretty sure it would even impress Courtney Hansen.
Filed under: Electrical, Fire Protection, Workplace Safety
I usually try to kick off my blog posts with an at least somewhat comical life observation, personal experience or childhood memory, but today I’m going to put all things quirky aside, and instead blog in all seriousness. Today, we’re talking about arc flash, an area in which I’m very grateful to have to no firsthand experience. In case you’re not too familiar with arc flash, it’s basically an industrial-strength electrical short that causes voltage from one conductor to spontaneously “arc” through the air to another exposed conductor. This arcing action can result in an extreme electrical explosion called an arc blast, which has the power to gravely injure, or even kill, anyone who happens to be nearby.
The explosion can generate a pressure wave that packs thousands of pounds per square inch, as well as temperatures up to 35,000°F. Force and temperatures of this magnitude can mean broken bones, collapsed lungs, ruptured eardrums, concussions, extensive third degree burns, and even damaged eyesight – and that’s if you’re lucky and it doesn’t just kill you on the spot. Arc blast can easily become personal tragedy, and there are electrical workers who face the risk of it every day.
Thanks to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and OSHA, electrical workers are now required to wear a range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and flame retardant (FR) clothing to decrease their risk of injury should an arc blast occur in an area in which they’re working. Standard items of arc flash clothing include FR shirts, pants, and coveralls, arc flash hoods, face shields, safety goggle, ear protection, insulating rubber and leather gloves, and dielectric footwear made of rubber and/or leather. But while most arc flash PPE is intended to be worn, there’s one protective measure that you don’t actually put on: the arc protection blanket.
Arc protection blankets are generally made of heavy-duty canvas, and are intended to create a barrier between the arc explosion and the worker. Depending on the room or vault that the work is taking place in, arc protection blankets can either be suspended in various ways, or hung up against a wall. They’re particularly good for work in underground vaults, where they can be arranged like a makeshift funnel, to direct blast energy up and out of the chamber. Arc blast blankets not only have the ability to direct blast flow, but are also able to absorb impact and contain flames to a certain degree. And while they may not be completely foolproof (nothing is, when it comes to arc flash), when used in conjunction with regular arc flash PPE, they can leave you a lot better off than you’d be if you hadn’t used one.
Filed under: Cables and Wires, Electrical, Power and Data Distribution
Being a small house dweller, I’ve found that no matter which room I arrange furniture in, something inevitably ends up pushed against a wall. Not that I wouldn’t love to have stylish little furniture groupings in the middle of the room, it’s just that the rooms I’m currently in possession of don’t have enough “middle” to allow that. So whether we’re talking the bed, dresser, couch or bistro table, they’re all getting pretty cozy with the outer perimeters of the rooms they live in.
While those up close and personal wall/furniture relationships aren’t so much a problem in and of themselves, the fact that there always happens to be a much-needed power outlet right where I need to position the latest IKEA purchase is getting to be a bummer. Sure, you can always leave said piece of furniture a few inches away from the wall, but with use, everything ends up weaseling its way right up to the wall, and I don’t want to have to worry about constantly making sure that plugs aren’t being squashed beyond the point of recognition and safety.
That’s why that FlatPlug® low-profile extension cord is about to make my life so much easier. True to its name, this handy power extension has a truly flat plug that won’t jut out from the wall and start a turf war with your furniture. That means you can arrange a room as you see fit, and still enjoy the modern conveniences of electricity without worrying about starting an electrical fire. Sounds good to me.
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Server Racks and Enclosures
I’m one of those people who’d really rather not fish around behind desks looking for computer cables. It’s annoying to have to crawl around on rough carpet, there are almost always dustballs involved, and I’m perpetually terrified that my rear pants-waistband will creep down well below where it’s decently supposed to be – and I do not want to come down with a case of Plumber’s Butt… ever.
With these neuroses in mind, I’ve become a big fan of products that keep unplugged computer and peripheral cables at seated arm’s reach, right along the back edge of your desktop. This solves the problems experienced by me, Ms. Crack is Whack, but what about all the IT guys out there who have to worry about keeping cables just so in a server enclosure?
Now, I’m pretty sure that locating stray cables in a server enclosure is free from the public exposure issues that I always run from, but still, it’s got to be super frustrating. Trying to grope around for a cable or two in what is essentially a dark metal box full of electronics pumping out hot air can only be unpleasant at best. And that’s before you even think about the tens or hundred of patch cords that already live in there. It’s kind of a hellish “Where’s Waldo?” scenario.
Luckily, it seems that some genius out there decided to apply their mental powers to server rack accessory design, because Middle Atlantic happens to offer the perfect solution to this needle-in-a-haystack-type predicament. I give you the Brush Grommet Panel. It may not look or sound too exciting, but this thing works, and in more than one way.
First of all, it’s designed like a brush, which means bristles. Said bristles gang up together, and united, they’re gentle enough to let cables move on through when they need to, but strong enough that they hold the cables in place, without letting them slip backward into oblivion (aka “the cabinet”). Secondly, even though the look like they completely block cable access openings, all of those bristles we just talked about still actually allow for airflow, helping to keep interior components cool. And lastly, while the bristles let air through, they’re not so easy on dust, which we all know is riff-raff and needs to be kept out and away from fussy server equipment.
So, IT/Network Admin dudes… why don’t you have one of these yet?
Filed under: Cable Identification, Heat Shrink Tubing, Label Printers
Patch cords can be a tricky bunch. First of all, they all look the same – it can be almost impossible to tell them apart. And I think that they had a little network cable meeting and planned it that way. It’s like they’ve taken the oldest decoy trick in the book to the extreme: when one misbehaves, they all gang up together like an army of clones, looking the same, so that the poor IT tech sent in to troubleshoot can’t visually separate the real culprit from the rabble of imposters surrounding it. Who knew that mere cable could be so devious?
So right off the bat, it goes without saying that patch cords need labels – at least they do if you want to remain in possession of your sanity when you deal with them. But depending on where the cables are located, you need to give some thought to what you use. In well-ventilated areas where heat doesn’t really get the chance to build up, sticker-style labels work fine on patch cords. But if they’re cooped up in an enclosure with hot-running servers or in an otherwise warm environment, the toasty conditions can eventually cause the label adhesive to fail. After a while, you can end up with a bunch of gummy, unidentifiable patch cords and a pile of fallen-off labels on the floor below them. That’s no good.
To keep your patch cords labeled for the long haul, I recommend using a nice tube-style heat shrink label, like the ones in Brady’s IDxpert™ line. IDxpert™ heat shrink labels come in cartridge form, so that they can be used in conjunction with Brady label printers. You just load in the heat shrink cartridge, type the legends you want to use into your label printer, and let it rip. Once they’re printed, slip the sleeve-style labels onto your patch cords, and shrink them into place with a heat gun. No slipping around, no peeling off, just labels that stay exactly where you need them… on those pesky little patch cords.
Filed under: Cable Identification, Desk Cable Organizers
Four short years ago, I had no idea what “cable management” was, or the types of products it entailed. But ever since I got into this business, I’ve turned into a complete organization geek who actually gets excited whenever the newest, shiniest wire organizer comes my way. It’s pretty amazing that people are still coming up with new ways to tame messy cords, because it’s seemingly all been done. I’ve used cord organizers that looked like a turtle’s shell, a yoyo, a spine (believe it or not), and cartoony zoo animals. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.
Why all of the weird and whimsical designs? Because cable management is boring. Boring but necessary. Yet the necessity of it all becomes a little less mundane if you can use products that add fun and novelty to practicality. Heck, that’s what keeps my attention. Keep thinking of ways to make cable management interesting, and you’ll keep me on the line.
But what if you’re a regular non-geek who doesn’t need to be amused by their wire management devices? What if you just want something that will keep your computer cables in line, and prevent them from falling behind your desk when you unplug them? In that case, I’d fast-forward right past the cord winders and wire-hiders, and bring you to a screeching halt right in front of the Keep-a-Cable. This cord anchoring system is cheap, simple, and pretty much as no-frills as they come, but you know what? It works.
Here’s how: The Keep-a-Cable is basically a flat, flexible piece of plastic that has peel and stick adhesive on one side, and cable slots on the other. You just peel off the backing, adhere the Keep-a-Cable to the back of your desk (behind your computer), and then pop your cables into the slots (you can see a live-action video demonstration of this here). These slots are wide enough so that the cables can move freely, but narrow enough so that connectors can’t slip through and fall to the floor. When you need to plug a peripheral into your computer, you can just reach to the back of your desk and grab the corresponding cable, instead of crawling around on the floor to find it. Then, when you’re done, you just unplug and leave the cord resting in the Keep-a-Cable, ready to go for next time.
The was a time when I blogged affectionately about the faux leather charging station that maintained order on my kitchen counter, but alas, those days are over. My poor charging station became a casualty to my recent move. Gone without a trace. It’s been a few months now, and I’ve come to grips with the loss and am beginning to feel besieged by charger cords again. Time to move on.
Whereas in our last house we generally used to charge phones in the kitchen, my husband and I have somehow taken to juicing up our small electronics in the guest room/home office of the new digs. That’s fine and all, but I’ll have to change my strategy a bit, seeing as how my snack-size IKEA laptop desk is already tight on surface area. I need something that’s smaller than my old countertop charging station, but that has a similar look and feel. And I think I’ve found it: the Faux Leather Charging Valet.
I love it when things are useful and sound posh, don’t you? Charging valet. But lest you think that my admiration for this product is entirely name-based, let me tell you the other reasons why I’m sold on this baby. First, it’s 10″ x 10″ square, which makes it a lot easier to squeeze onto the back corner of my miniature desk than if it were, say, oblong, like my old charging station.
Secondly, it has the power strip built right in, which is something that you don’t see too often in charging stations (pardon me, “valets“) in this style and price range. Most of the time, you get what’s essentially a decorative, strategically laid-out box that can accommodate several gadgets, but you’re responsible for the actual power outlets. It’s really nice not to have to “accessorize” this charging station with the most essential part of the equation.
And lastly, it looks great, and is practically made to stash small office supplies. In addition to having room for 3 devices, there’s also a shelf that’s perfectly sized to fit a few Post-It pads, and a little drawer that would be ideal for paper clips, pens, and maybe even a short stack of business cards.
Sorry, this product has been discontinued.