Lesser-Known Fact: Cable labeling is a lot more fun when the wire markers remind you of the Spokey-Dokes you used to snap onto your bike wheels back in elementary school.
Yes, I went there. I just compared a very interesting new form of wire marker to the ’80s bike accessory that left baskets and handlebar streamers in the dust as they went zooming down the street to the neighbor kid’s house with an unmistakable “slide-clack-slide-clack-slide-clack-slide-clack” and blur of neon colors. Meet the next wave of cable-labeling awesomeness: Clip-Tags Plastic Wire Markers from HellermannTyton®.
Clip-Tags are so simple, yet so functional. They have a tube-shaped design that’s open along one side, so they can be easily slipped onto cables and wires, even if the cables are preterminated with larger connectors, or are already in use and can’t be unplugged to have, say, a heat-shrink sleeve label slipped over the end. That’s the “Spokey-ness” of them – a small, plastic, bead-like object that’s designed to snap around another object in any configuration you choose.
Clip-Tags are available in single digits ranging from 1 to 9, so you’re free to apply multiples in different combinations to create any number or code you need. They’re easy to apply, too – Clip-Tags come packaged on a unique flared applicator that lines up right against the cable you’re labeling so that you can simply slide a number into place, wherever you need it to be. There’s no need to wrestle around with these things – they’re very straightforward.
Another cool feature is that because Clip-Tags are only one digit long and have the ability to move a little bit, they still allow the labeled area of a network cable to flex and bend, unlike other wraparound labels that tend to add a degree of rigidity. So if your cables need a little wiggle room, these are perfect.
Plus, they’re just like Spokeys… did I mention that?
Filed under: Cable Identification, Label Printers
The cookies were set out,
The hors d’oeuvres were hot
Festivity was cranking
But the tunes, they were not.
The music had started,
Then the stereo went “pop”
So we scrambled for speakers
And an iTunes’d laptop.
When what to my greatest chagrin did appear?
But some tangled-up cables
And a great sense of fear.
In the end, music played
Our guests, overjoyed.
But anonymous cables
I have learned to avoid!
Inspired by the classic poem “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore
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.
Oh, how I love 3M™ products! I can’t seem to live without Command™ hooks and picture hanging strips, and I always have Post-Its on hand so I can jot down notes that will keep me in line. And talk about the tape. But just when I started to think that 3M products had infiltrated every possible aspect of my home and life, I came across a new little gem that will soon be joining the ranks of My 3M™ Stuff quite soon: the ScotchCode™ Write-On Wire Marker Dispenser.
It has a look and size that’s pretty similar to your average tape dispenser, except that instead of tape, it holds a roll of pre-cut, stick-on cable labels. Sounds pretty handy, right? It’s great for around the house, and even small office or retail environments – you know, places where you may have to label a few cords every now and then, but can’t really justify the need for, or purchase of, a full-fledged label printer. The ScotchCode™ lets you write on and dispense one label at a time, without any big to-do or programming – just scribble what you need to on the exposed writing field, pull the label from the dispenser, wrap it around the wire of your choice, and you’re done.
Word to the wise – if you’re one of those people who will be going down in history for your chicken-scratch handwriting, you may want to avoid this one, because it’s an entirely legibility-driven product. But if you have a knack for penmanship, this is a great time and money saver, and I feel pretty confident saying that you won’t regret it.
Okay, now that my little handwriting side-note is over with, you probably want to know a thing or two about the labels themselves. They’re made out of oil, dirt and heat resistant vinyl, and they prevent themselves from smudging, thanks to a clear, self-laminating overlay. And they also come in refill rolls, so you don’t need to buy a new dispenser every time you run out of labels.
One more thing about the ScotchCode™ labeler – it’s packaged with attention to detail. I don’t know about you, but I love it when businesses are considerate enough to provide thoughful and convenient extras with their products, and 3M is no exception. The ScotchCode comes with a super-fine-point permanent marker, which makes things really easy. I’ve used similar products before, and each time, I’ve had to try multiple pens because nothing was fine enough for laying down tiny print. But this brilliant company has taken the trial and error out of the equation by being professional enough to provide a pen that’s designed specifically for small writing. So simple, but so genius.
Filed under: Cable Identification, Network Products, Power and Data Distribution
Don’t get me wrong – labeling network data ports and phone jacks is a great thing, especially if you have a situation where the two are grouped together. Unless you want to stick to the old phone and data jack color codes (which many people don’t do anymore for decor reasons), the two can be just about impossible to tell apart at a glance, so labels can be pretty important. But then again, they can look so, well… networky. That is to say, extremely technical. Let’s admit it – there are probably times, now and then, when you just don’t want to see printed labels all over your wall jacks. And do you know what? I can’t blame you for that. Neither can Panduit®, which is why they developed Mini-Com® Snap-In Port Identification Icons.
Instead of relying on bold lettering to tell you which jack is which, Panduit’s® Mini-Com® port ID plates rely on subtle icons to clue you in. A computer means “data,” and a phone means “voice.” Super easy. And since the icons are molded-in and not printed on, they don’t scream for the attention of people who are passing by – they just sort blend in until you need them. Another nice thing about Mini-Com® snap-in icons is that they’re available in 12 different colors – neutrals to further blend in with your room’s color scheme, or brighter hues that fit in with just about any color code. And have I mentioned that they’re fast and inexpensive to use? No labels to print, no backings to peel off – you just snap a plate into the icon slot of a Mini-Com® module, wall plate, surface mount box or patch panel, and your work is done.
Admit it: you dread having to troubleshoot or make any changes to your computer setup or home theater equipment because it’s just too darn frustrating to weed through all those cords and find out which one goes with which component. And how many times have you accidentally disconnected the wrong one? It’s okay, it happens to the best of us, but to be quite honest, it sounds like you need some sort of cable label…
Label printers are terrific for labeling cables, but if you can’t justify owning one simply to label the cords of a few electronic devices, then I know of something I think you’ll be interested in: Kableflags® cable identification tags. Kableflags are flexible flag-style cable markers that are available pre-printed in entertainment, computer, or home theater packs, or in a blank style that lets you create your own labels with a permanent marker.
Kableflags® have a self wrapping, self-locking design that completely eliminates the need for adhesives, so your cables won’t get sticky like they might from stick-on labels. The soft PVC material withstands many reuses, and will never corrode. Another great feature of Kableflags is that they’re completely adjustable, so they’ll fit just about any cable, from thin wires to bulkier power cords.
Label printers are incredible organizational tools to have, but there’s just one problem: they only print in black. What do you do when you need to print custom labels in color? One easy solution is to try our Print-On Label Sheets for laser and inkjet printers.
These label sheets are a standard 8½” x 11″ size, so they’re compatible with any printer. And formatting is incredibly easy – just download the template for the appropriate label size right from our product detail page, input your information, and print away. Depending on which size label you need, there are anywhere from 8 to 156 labels per sheet, with 10 sheets included in each pack. If you’re looking to print custom labels in volume without investing hundreds of dollars into an industrial label printer, these labels sheets are a very smart and economical choice.
The labels are made of a UV-inhibited polyester material, which means they can stand up to the abuse of ultraviolet radiation should you choose to use them outdoors. However, while they’re suitable for occasional exposure to water and oil, they’re not a good match for perpetually wet environments. They’re also self-laminating, which helps to increase label lifespan by putting a clear protective layer over the printed surface. When labeling cables, simply stick a label’s printed end to the cable first, then wrap the see-through remainder of the label around the cable and back over the printed part. That one simple wrapping motion leaves you with a well-protected, durable label.