It’s happened to the best of us: you need to change an outlet or swap out a light fixture, but when you run to the breaker box to shut off the circuit you’ll be working on, confused head scratching ensues. Maybe the breaker labels are a little too old and worn to read, or you just can’t make out the chicken-scratch of the last people who lived there. Whatever the reason is, your lack of breaker ID leaves you using the old trial-and-error method, which is no way to locate an electrical circuit. When it comes to electricity, Trial and Error are not our friends – they’ll either have you turning off all the wrong breakers before you find the right one (have fun resetting every digital clock in your house), or otherwise thinking you flipped the right one the first time around… until you find out (the hard way) shortly thereafter that that’s not the case (ouch).
Thankfully, Ideal Industries is in tune with Mystery Circuit Breaker woes, and has come to the rescue with an extremely cool Digital Breaker Finder. This two-piece locator is super-simple to use, and will cut out all of the guessing and time-wasting that you usually deal with on your quest to find the right breaker. Just plug the transmitter into the receptacle that you plan to work on, and then mosey to the breaker box with the receiver in hand. Run the receiver over the breakers until the green LEDs flash, and you’re in business. Too easy.
I realize that I’m recommending this from a consumerish, home owner standpoint, but this is a total must-have for professional electricians and HVAC technicians as well. Walking into strange houses and decoding their individual breaker situations day in and day out is even more annoying than deciphering one’s own circuit breaker fiasco, so toss one of these breaker finder sets into your tool bag – the faster that you knock one job out, the sooner you can get onto the next. And lowering your risk of shock never hurts either.
Dasco Media Storage Racks: Simple, Organized Storage for Offices, Studios, Libraries or Home A/V Hounds
So, A/V fans, how do you store your media? Unless you’ve gone completely Technologically Awesome and have, by now, ripped all of your CDs and started downloading all of your favorite movies from iTunes, you still need a place to keep that stuff (for the record, I do, too). I don’t know about you, but my music and movie storage situation tends to get a little precarious at times, mostly because discs (boxed, jewel-cased or au naturel) aren’t meant to be stacked into mini-skyscrapers until you need them. Bump into one of those piles, and bad things happen. Try to whisk one disc out of the stack without disturbing the others, and you’re in a predicament that’s worse than Jenga and the Tablecloth Trick combined.
Sounds like it’s time for a media rack.
I just recently got a load of Dasco’s Media Storage Racks, and I have to say, I like what I’m seeing. If you’ve ever wished that you could get your hands on the type of shelving units you see at the neighborhood movie rental place or your library’s AV department, these are them, just a little better. Their angled shelves keep things from sliding off, make it easier to scan titles, and can be adjusted in 1 inch increments, depending on what you need to store. Whether you’re into CDs, games and Blu-Ray discs or are still kickin’ it old school with the audio cassettes and VHS tapes of your glory days, it all fits.
I’m not going to even try to imply that this would be the perfect fixture for your living room, but if you have a separate, dedicated home theater or media room, it would work like a charm. What’s really nice is that you can choose the configuration that works for you – there are multiple heights, single and double-sided designs, and standing or wall-mount versions available.
Lest I paint too narrow a picture, here, Dasco‘s media racks aren’t just for home A/V types – they’re also great for offices, schools, studios, and any other environment with lots of media in need of proper storage. It’s time to stop treating your discs and tapes like building blocks.
In this world, there are two types of People Who Get Stuff Done. The “Do-It-Yourselfers,” and the “I’ll-Do-It-Myselfers.” I’m the latter. I don’t know exactly why, but I hate asking for and/or accepting help. I’m always ready to lend other people a helping hand, but this project I’m working on? I’m fine, thank you very much – you can stop hovering in concern and go away now. It can be putting together a bulky piece of furniture, hanging a huge, heavy picture on the wall (without being able to find the hook), or painting a spot that’s just a little out of reach, even when I’m standing on a chair. It’s stupid, actually. Pretty pathetic. But I figure that at least the risk is pretty low – I only act like this with my own stuff, and if I screw up, I’m the only one who will be put out.
I would never do this if I were, say, a professional network or A/V installer who happens to rackmount other people’s really expensive new electronics on a regular basis. Trying tackling a job like that alone, and you could end up in a situation that calls for way more than an embarrassed “Oopsie.” Rackmounting heavier components often requires two pairs of hands, but what do you do if there isn’t a sidekick available, or if you (like someone else you know) prefer to work alone?
The product developers at Kendall Howard know that staff can run short and that stubborn people sometimes take singlehanded risks, so they created the Rack Helper, a temporary bracket that’s able to bear the weight of heavy servers and UPSs while you use both of your hands – and all of your focus – to bolt them into a rack. No juggling routines or physical strain: just an extra pair of hands (so to speak) that stay out of your way, and let you work faster and smarter. And if that’s not enough, you’ll love this: the Rack Helper doesn’t charge by the hour, so it can really help you cut down on labor costs.
What is it about mini stuff that makes it so irresistible? Puppies, fun-size candy bars, tiny bonzai trees, baby clothes… what makes them so much more fascinating and appealing than their grown-up, full-sized alternatives? Guess it just goes to show that cuteness always wins, and now that’s even true in the world of cable ties.
Confession: I have never gazed lovingly at a cable tie and gushed “Awwwwwwwww, look at it!” But this morning, I almost did. Let me explain. I’ve never thought of ordinary cable ties as anything other than utilitarian. They get the job done, but otherwise, they land themselves in the “Blah” category every time. They’re made to be functional, not charming. But it looks like the Mini Rip-Tie is the one that got away.
This little cutie (oh, man, here I go) is a hook-and-loop cable tie that’s made specifically for the type of small cables we’re all constantly accumulating more of: cell phone chargers, short USB cables… earbuds, anyone? You know what I mean – the type of cords that normal-sized cable wraps are way too bulky to hold? You think that you have everything coiled up and wrapped, and then those slippery little wires start sliding around, and things aren’t so pretty anymore.
That doesn’t happen with Mini Rip-Ties. Because they’re perfectly scaled to smaller cables, they don’t turn into big, bulky, never-ending spools of hook-and-loop, and are able to keep a better grip on even the skinniest of cords. And, of course (since I haven’t mentioned this yet), they’re super adorable. Don’t act so tough – you know you want a pack.
They say that a conduit run is only as strong as its adhesive. Okay, well, maybe they don’t say that, but it’s true! Pretty much anything out there is only as strong as it’s weakest point, and when it comes to conduit, that would be the joint (or joints) where separate pieces of conduit are spliced together.
I may be getting a little too basic here, but the main point of conduit, its raison d’etre, is to protect cables and wiring. That’s it. Sure, it helps get them from one place to the next, but the real deal is the way it serves as armor against water, chemicals, and sharp things. If the bad stuff finds even one weak spot in the conduit where it can weasel its way in, the whole game’s up. Conduit itself, when not severely abused, is more than up to the task of sealing out water and corrosive agents, but the adhesive and fittings that join conduit runs have to be pretty good to keep up. Here’s one adhesive that can really hold its own.
Meet the cleverly-named BonDuit® Conduit Adhesive by American Polywater. It’s an accomplished multitasker that plays very nicely with PE, PVC, metal and composite conduits, and, when properly applied, creates a completely airtight, watertight joint to keep cables safe. The cured product also has a very high tensile strength, so it can stand up to quite a bit of bad weather and abuse without budging.
I know what you’re thinking: adhesives with those types of super powers usually come in several parts, and are a pain to mix and apply. Yes, BonDuit is made up of two separate components, but they aren’t frustrating or messy to mix, thanks to the special mixing nozzle applicator that automatically does the job for you. You just pull the applicator trigger, and the nozzle will do all the rest for you, mixing the two components in perfect proportion before laying down a bead of the final product. Not bad at all. To almost quote my favorite kid in the world, it’s “easy peasy… ummmm… adhesive squeezy.”
I think that being faced with server racks and enclosures all the time, I tend to take rack-mounting for granted. Have computer components, recording equipment or a power conditioner? Just bolt it/them into a rack – that’s what everyone does. Or do they? What about the people who have absolutely no extra space to accommodate a full-blown server rack? Or who may have some rackmountable equipment, but not enough to merit the purchase of a full-size enclosure?
My guess is that they balance stuff on desks and table tops, and hope for the best. That can be a little risky, though – think about all of the overheating and general damage that can happen when when stacks of papers and cups of coffee are piled near (or worse, on) your network equipment. Not a pretty thought.
So Bud Industries has decided to stop cringing at all the horrifying what-ifs, and has developed a table-top relay rack for all of those small offices that only need a little bit of rackmounting. No oversized, cumbersome cabinet that takes up too much valuable floorspace, and no wallmount enclosures jutting out into your already limited workspace. Just a compact rack that’s the perfect size (12U – 16U) for the few components that you have, and can be installed right onto a desk, table or media console top without hogging your entire work surface. Safely mounted electronics with no wasted money, and no wasted space. That’s just smart.
Around the office, we’ve been talking about different types of cable management products for film sets. Thinking about all of the possibilities reminded me of a very cool product that I’ve been acquainted with for quite some time, but (for some reason that I can’t figure out) haven’t yet blogged about. So this afternoon, I’m introducing you to non-skid braided sleeving.
Remember the Banana Peel gag that used to be the standby in old movies? You know, a character goes strolling along the sidewalk, whistling happily, hands in pockets, and then his heel suddenly comes down on a slippery old banana peel, and he’s flat on his back before he knows what hit him. A classic. Well, it turns out that the Banana Peel Effect didn’t end with Charlie Chaplin or the Three Stooges – it’s still happening on film sets and sound stages, but instead of an actual banana peel, cables are now the culprit.
Film sets and broadcast studios are overrun with cables, many of which wind their way right across the floor in high-traffic areas. There are power cords, boom-mic cables, camera and monitor wiring – you get the idea. It’s not uncommon for wiring to be gathered together into bundles (or “cable snakes”) and covered in braided sleeving. Braided sleeving is, as a rule, a great product, but much of it is plastic-based, and that means it can easily slide around on smooth flooring. Enter a preoccupied sound engineer, camera person, or on-a-mission assistant, and someone’s bound to step in the wrong place and take the spill of their life.
That’s why slip-resistant braided sleeving is such a lifesaver for film crews. It protects critical cables from under-foot damage, but also gives the people on set much less reason to slip and fall. Non-skid braided sleeving works so well because while half of its filaments are standard PET (plastic), the rest are made of a high-friction polymer that actually grabs onto floor surfaces when stepped on, instead of skidding under the weight and momentum of the person trampling it. To make a long story very short, step on it, and it doesn’t move – and neither do you, for that matter (at least not in any unplanned way).
It’s sounds like a product worth getting to know better, right? If I were you, I’d definitely take it to the movies.
So, I saw the name “Dasco Media Storage Cabinet,” and I automatically got presumptuous and assumed that this one was like all the others: a plain metal cabinet used to put things like CDs, DVDs and licensed software under lockdown. Then I dug a bit deeper, and when I saw what this cabinet is truly capable of, I began to remember the old adage that says that “when you assume, you make an *ss out of u and me.”
Needless to say, I was wrong. This wasn’t any ordinary storage cabinet. It was a treasure trove of storage possibilities. From the outside, it doesn’t look like anything particularly special, but thanks to all of the optional accessories you can choose from to accompany it, it can be turned into an ultra-custom dream cabinet. Want to store CDs and DVDs? No problem – there are special dividers designed just for that. Need to hang files and store binders? Easy – there are special drawers and compartments for that too. But I think my absolute favorite would have to be the mail cubbies, so that you can sort and store mail for a bunch of people at once. I’m not so sure why I like those so much, but I think it might be because they remind me of Fawlty Towers, with John Cleese flipping out in front of the hotel’s front desk mail compartments.
Sorry, we’re talking multimedia storage, not BBC classics. Anyway, the whole concept is that you order the basic cabinet, and then treat it like a blank canvas, customizing it with whatever floats your boat. And then it’s beautiful, organized storage galore – under lock and key anytime you choose. Who knew that mere office storage could be this good?
It’s painfully Monday, and my mind keeps drifting toward more fun and diverting times, like this past weekend (which was extra amusing, thanks to Halloween), and even last week, when we ran our E-mail Costume Contest. Never heard of it? In that case, you must not be one of our subscribers. Sounds like someone (that’s you, by the way) has some opting-in to do.
Why sign up to get e-mails from CableOrganizer.com? First of all, it’s free. Secondly, it’s all about you. We let you in on new products that we think might be of interest to you, or make your life or job easier. Third, it can save you money. We’ve been known to keep our e-mail subscribers posted on deals, and who doesn’t like getting every chance they can to save money on stuff they need? And last (but absolutely not least), they’re fun. That’s right: fun. As in games and prizes, which we randomly throw out there via e-mail every now and then.
What kind of prizes, you ask? The good stuff: in the past 6 weeks or so, we’ve given away a restaurant gift card, a cake from the nationally-known (Oprah digs them) We Take the Cake bakery, and even donated $1 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every e-mail game response sent back by our customers. Now that’s my idea of teaming up to make a difference.
But I have to say, my absolute favorite so far has been last week’s Costume Contest. We CableOrganizers are a fun and quirky bunch (to say the least), and we always make the most of Halloween, and tend to get a little competitive costume-wise. So this year, instead of deliberating amongst ourselves, we sent out photos of our top 3 costumed individuals/teams, and let our e-mail subscribers do the judging. Everyone who sent in a vote was entered into a drawing to win one of the Oprah-approved cakes I just mentioned, and now there’s one very lucky gentleman eagerly awaiting a FedEx box full of autumny goodies. And it could have been you, had you only been on our e-mail list…
Don’t miss out on anything else… sign up, and get in on the action!