Yesterday was the first official day of Summer 2011, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve already been in Fresh Air Mode for a few weeks now. Mowing lawns, potting flowers, weeding, cleaning gutters, touching up house paint – all of the fun outdoor maintenance stuff. And with that yard work comes things like hoses and power cords.
Just one problem- if you’re not careful, these taken-for-granted necessities can end up taking a real beating, as I unfortunately discovered when I went to unspool my garden hose a few days ago. When I took a good look at it, I realized that a few too many tight kinks, driveway run-overs and close calls with the large, sharp-edged rocks in our front plant beds had scratched up, and in some places started wearing through, the wall of the hose.
Oopsie. Guess we should’ve been more careful pulling the car in when that last few feet of hose was trailing off its spool and into the driveway. But it was dark, and well, stuff happens. Fortunately for involuntary destructos like myself, I just came across a protective glow-in-the-dark spiral wrap that helps prevent life’s little (bump) “ummm, I think I just drove over the hose/extension cord” moments.
NightGlow spiral wrap prolongs the life of your outdoor equipment in two ways: first, it (as you’ve already gathered) glows in the dark, so you see it, and the power cable or hose within, before you trample, drive, or trip over it. Secondly, should the worst-case scenario occur (ie: you do something that would normally result in damage), your hoses and cables are covered in flexible armor that deflects abrasion and cuts, and helps prevent full-on crushing. And I haven’t tested this particular theory yet, but I’m pretty sure that even though it’s super flexible, the spiral wrap will probably prevent hoses from kinking so tightly that they pinch closed.
NightGlow wrap is made from tough polyethylene, has the ability to withstand extreme temperatures (-40°F to +280°F), and automatically “charges” itself when exposed to light, whether from the Sun or an artificial light source. And when the lights go out, it glows for up to 8 hours, so that you can steer clear of your poor, mistreated extension cord no matter how little else you can see.
Once in a while, you just have to appreciate something for its sweet simplicity. Take the Cord Hog, for example. Granted, it’s not too prettily named, and it looks way more like a pine cone than anything in the pig family (or at least I think so). But it’s easy to use, and when it comes to ummmm… hog-tying (as in limiting the movement/activity of) cable slack, this little cord winder is as uncomplicated as it gets.
Yes, I realize that this looks like just another plastic thing that you wrap cords around. But here’s what I like about the Cord Hog cable wrap: you don’t have to be a meticulous cord spooler to get the finished product to look like the picture. Have you ever looked at the packaging of some organizational product (especially one dealing with cable management), and seen an impossibly pristine “after” shot? The “before” pic matches your situation perfectly, and then you put the miracle organizer into action. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get your cords to coil as neatly, and there are inevitably a few loops of cable that, due to having spent years in a mangled pile of clutter, refuse to de-spazz and align smoothly with the rest of the bundle. The end result may be better than what you were originally dealing with, but it’s nowhere near as good as what you were hoping for.
All of that example-giving to explain that the Cord Hog has built-in channels, into which you fit excess cable as you wind it around and around. Proper alignment isn’t an option, and that’s a good thing. As you wrap, everything automatically falls into place, and you come out looking like a photo stylist for an organizing magazine without even breaking a sweat. Did I mention that the Cord Hog can also accommodate up to 12 feet of cable? So give the Hog a try – it will have your desk or counter top looking like less of a pigsty in no time.
Panduit Cable Bundle Organizing Tool: Straight, Organized Cable Bundles Without the Stress and Hand Strain
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Cable Wraps
“Cable bundle.” It sounds so benign, doesn’t it? And in a way, cable bundles are a good thing – after all, wouldn’t you rather have all of your cords in one cohesive group than running wild in every direction? Cable bundling is definitely the way to go. The only thing is, when you start dealing with handfuls of cables, they can get a little tricky to manage. Between Point A and Point B, they can switch places and wind around each other, and there are always at least a couple of renegades that try to make a break from the rest of the pack. It’s like the proverbial herding of cats – have fun with that.
I used to use wire loom to corral all of the computer and phone cables under my desk, and in order to get cables into wire loom, you have to do a little makeshift bundling first. Long story short, even a measly desk’s worth of cables can be a challenge. What on Earth do cabling installers do for heavy duty backbone cable runs? My guess is that they have to really put their backs… and arms… and both hands… into it. I don’t know about you, but I try not to put myself through frustration and physical duress at the same time, and that’s why I really like the idea of Panduit’s Cable Bundle Organizing Tool.
This cable organizer is so simple, yet so brilliant. Structured in a generally round shape, which is more or less the same form you’d want a cable bundle to take, the Panduit organizer actually creates order from the inside out. It’s full of individual spaces that you can slide cables into – each and every cable gets a designated space. Once all of your cables are inserted into the organizing tool, you snap an outer ring around the loaded frame, secure it with the included hook and loop wrap, and slide the configured organizer down the length of the bundle, installing additional cable ties along the way. It more or less combs the cables into the same positions the entire way, so you’re left with a cable bundle that’s smooth and well-ordered, without the stress and exhaustion of having to take care of every last detail yourself.
That’s working smart.
Green is the new black, and these days, it seems like there’s a more environmentally-friendly way of doing everything, from changing lightbulbs and doing laundry to driving and remodeling your home. The list of “greener ways” now even extends to cable management, thanks to one sweet, extremely natural product called the BongoTie™.
If George of the Jungle were ever to design a storage/organizational product, this would pretty much be it. For starters, BongoTies fall somewhere between bungee cords and cable ties, both form and function-wise. Add to that their very organic looks (thanks to natural rubber straps and bamboo toggles), and you have something that’s natural, rugged, and as comfortable bundling climbing ropes and camping gear as it is keeping computer cords and studio cables organized.
But don’t let me get off the subject of BongoTies’ greenness: they’re reusable over and over again, and when you get to the point where you just can’t reuse them anymore, you can toss them in good conscience, thanks to the fact that the natural rubber and bamboo they’re made of are totally biodegradable.
Enough about the looks and overall greenery: you probably want to know how these things work (understandable). BongoTies™ are essentially big, ultra-stretchy (they go from 5″ to 22″) rubber bands that wrap around whatever you need to bundle (cables, sports equipment, hunting/fishing gear) and toggle closed with a button-style bamboo fastener. Super easy. Then, when you’re done with them, just store your BongoTies until another need for them arises (and one will).
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Cable Wraps
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.
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.
Talking about the Wedgee® Organizer in my last blog post got me thinking about other ways to wrangle outdoor gear, and it came to in a flash of lightening: Camo Gear Wrapz. Now, while the Wedgee is great for general audiences, Camo Gear Wrapz™ are geared toward a decidedly masculine demographic. Not to say that there aren’t any girls out there who would get a kick out of them, too, but generally speaking, dudes dig these.
My husband has been on an extended camouflage kick for about 3 years now. Camo golf bag, camo cell phone holder, camo backpack, camo pants… you get the idea. Last Christmas, I was stumped for stocking stuffers, until I came across Camo Gear Wrapz at work. While they’re great for soldiers who have to bundle and unbundle gear in the field without making noise, I thought that my civilian husband might be able to get an equal amount of mileage out of them on hunting, fishing and camping trips.
In short, he freaked – he thinks they’re the coolest thing ever. And it turns out that guys of all ages want in on the action. A couple of weeks ago, Captain Camo and I were roaming through a local sporting goods store with our two nephews, ages 5 and 12. While both boys are into all things manly, the 5 year old wholeheartedly believes that he will enter into full-fledged, dedicated Ninja training as soon as he turns 6. He spied a bag of camo straps, picked them up to investigate, and promptly exclaimed “Whoooooaaaaa!!!! …. ummmmm, can you buy these for me?”
Apparently, they’re perfect for the storage and transport of ninja weapons, plus they have the added bonus of silent operation (they’re rubber with plastic toggle closures). Because we all know that stealth is of the essence when you’re trying to sneak around strapped with swords and nunchucks.
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: Cable and Wire Storage, Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Cable Wraps
I’ve been catching up with some of the newer cable tie-like products that have recently made it into our inventory, and there’s one in particular that’s especially versatile: the Wrap N Strap®. Oddly enough, it first caught my eye because I thought it looked like a hospital bracelet. Hmmmmmm.Yes, I know that that’s probably a bizarre association to make, but don’t let that weird you out. I’ll admit that I’m a consummate white-coat phobic, but the colors that these cable straps come in are so fun and cheery that they pretty much killed any negative medical-related vibes right off the bat. Probably took that a little too far… suffice it to say that these look kind of like hospital ID bracelets, but not in a bad way.
That said and done with, Wrap N Strap cord organizers do fasten like a hospital bracelet… you know, with a little round plastic fastener that pops through one of a series of holes? But unlike a patient ID bracelet, these can actually be removed without scissors. This easy removability factor is great for two reasons. First, when it comes to unbundling cables from standard zip ties, it can be a little iffy to introduce a sharp pair of scissors into the mix: it may be your intent to only snip through the cable tie, but if you’re not careful, you can nick or cut through a cable as well. And secondly, the fact that Wrap N Straps can be removed without being destroyed means that you can reuse them – always a smart choice for those looking to save a little money or cut down on waste in general.
I’m sure that by now you’ve caught my drift that Wrap N Straps® work great on cables, but they also play nicely with rope, bungee cord, chain, Christmas lights… pretty much anything in strand form that you’d want to neatly bundle up and store. And remember those fun colors I mentioned earlier? They make these perfect for color-coding.
A couple of months ago, I was watching some sort of behind-the-scenes show that showed scenes from a movie (if I’m not mistaken, it was Night at the Museum) being filmed in front of a green screen, and it really amazed me. Not the concept of the green screen itself, but rather the fact that actors are able to pull off something totally believable when they’re interacting with nothing but thin air (shout out to Ben Stiller here: well played!). Same thing with a few Pirates of the Caribbean snippets I saw a while back - in my imagination, it would be pretty darn tough to effectively swagger and swashbuckle without genuine rolling seas and immortal skeletal pirates to spur one on (a tip of the feathered cap to you as well, Mr. Depp). How do they do it?
Raw talent, I guess, and practice – lots of it. But get this: I just found out that acting isn’t the only challenge when shooting a major motion picture in front of a green screen. It turns out that making all of those lighting, power and boom mic cables disappear into the background is something of an issue as well. What’s a movie stagehand to do? Would you believe that a little cable sleeving can solve the problem?
There’s a very cool product by the name of Studio Key sleeve on the market, and for all its simplicity, I think it’s downright brilliant. It’s pretty much just fabric tubing that fastens around cables, but here’s the interesting part: it’s reversible, with ”green-screen green” on one side, and “blue-screen blue” on the other. So if special-effects filmmaking is your game, Studio Key just might be your new best friend: it’s super easy to apply, incredibly durable (it actually protects wiring in addition to covering it), and has the ability to multitask between green and blue screens built right in. Give it a try – your editors and special effects crew will love you for it.