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
It’s all fun and games until someone presses the big red button and everything goes dark. No, not the big red Staples “Easy” button that makes affordable office supplies magically appear. I’m talking about the big red button on the wall in many data centers, the one that’s usually inadequately labeled, but should actually read “Paralyze Data Center” or “Commit IT-Career Suicide By Accidentally Bumping This.” Yes, yes, the Emergency Power Off button, affectionately known as the EPO.
The whole point of having an EPO button is so that a data center’s power can be cut in one fell swoop if there’s a fire, electrocution, or other dire emergency. The only thing is, an EPO can wreak total havoc, and even cause you to lose your job, if you accidentally push it. When the power suddenly dies, you’re left with hours or even days of downtime and recovery, which can mean very bad things for both your business and your clients. As a matter of fact, I recently saw a hilarious blog post that showed a picture of an EPO that was cleverly labeled “Armageddon.” That pretty much sums it up. So why the heck don’t data center managers (with the exception of the “Armageddon” guy) do a better job of labeling these things?
Put away the Post-It notes, masking tape and markers: it’s time for a real label, one that’s worthy of a Bond villain’s control panel. One that’s authoritative enough to say “do not push this unless absolutely necessary” and mean it. What we need is a little HellermannTyton.
HellermannTyton has recently developed a really cool, extremely substantial foam label that can be printed with a thermal transfer label printer, but has a lot more impact that plain old tape-style labels. They can take large fonts, have room for additional graphics, and some of them are even cut to fit around buttons and toggle switches. These things are not joking around – they’re serious labels for serious controls. Try them out, because a data center is never the place to say “oopsie!”
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.
If you’re a complete butterfingers with penchant for labeling things, have I got the label printer for you. Meet the Brady ID PAL™, a handheld, multipurpose label maker that’s tough enough to withstand even a 4-foot drop onto concrete. So, now that you no longer have to worry about your labeler being destroyed every time it slips out of your hands, what sorts of tasks is your ID PAL™ going to help you tackle?
For starters, it’s rugged design makes it perfect for use in the field, where you never know what types of harsh conditions you might encounter. So that makes it great for network technicians, electricians and home theater installers who are always on the go, especially since the ID PAL™ can quickly crank out long-lasting thermal transfer labels for cables and wires. Labeling adds a truly professional touch to any cabling installation, because it keeps wire clearly identifiable for future tasks like troubleshooting and updates. But the ID PAL™ isn’t limited to professional applications – it’s also great for labeling things like containers, shelves, file folders, toys, and school supplies around the house, office, or classroom.
As far as features go, the Brady ID PAL™ can create labels that range from ⅜″ to ¾″, with single or multiple-line printing. ID PAL™ cartridges, available in clear and 6 different colors (white, blue, green, orange, red, and yellow), are easy to change, and are printed on at a resolution of 180 DPI. Although the ID PAL™ label printer runs on 6 AA batteries (each batch of batteries provides enough power to print 3500 labels), you also have the option of using an AC power adapter.
Sorry, this product has been discontinued.
Over the past few years, I’ve been exposed to some of the most high-tech label printers out there, but I have to confess that, despite my knowledge of the more expensive and complex label printers of the world, I still have a weakness for my Dymo® Label Buddy. It goes back to when I was a kid, and I got a turn-and-click style labeler as a stocking stuffer one Christmas. I don’t remember if it too was made by Dymo®, but I do remember that I could’t put the thing down, and ended up labeling everything in sight until I ran out of label tape. How could I not? It’s strange how entertaining it can be to turn that dial and spell out the names of even the most basic of objects, and how satisfying it can be to see your label emerging, one letter at a time, with each passing click.
I’m about to make myself sound really boring, but I’ll just come right out and say it – I spent last Friday night revisiting my childhood fascination with turn-and-click label makers. Back when I moved into my apartment (about 6 months ago), I had bought a Label Buddy to do some basic organizing around the new digs – you know, start off on the right foot. But even with the best of intentions, I got sidetracked and my Dymo® Label Buddy sat, still wrapped and untouched, in a storage cabinet until last weekend. I went rummaging for something else, but came up with my Label Buddy instead, and the discovery led to a late-night “let’s get this place into shape” tear. That mood doesn’t strike me often, especially not on Friday night, so I decided to run with it and make the most out of the situation.
So, I labeled my freshly-washed kitchen canisters and, just for fun, my husband (yeah, yeah, real mature). And do you know what? I had fun doing it. The Dymo® Label Buddy is incredibly easy to use. If you’ve never gotten your hands on a turn-and-click label maker, you really should try one. They’re the most basic kind out there: you just turn the dial to the letter or character you need, give the labeler a quick squeeze until it clicks, and watch your embossed label pop out one letter at a time. Label Buddies are a great option if you just need to make a few household labels every now and again, and are perfect for getting your kids to label school supplies and other belongings (they won’t know it’s not a toy). And best of all, there are no batteries involved – they run on sheer people power, so they’ll never run out of juice.
Every time I used to see an embossed metal label, I’d always assume that it took some sort of heavy-duty imprinting machinery to get the job done. That’s probably the case for mass embossing jobs, but if you have a smaller-scale application that requires a few metal labels, you can actually custom-make them yourself, by hand, with DYMO’s RHINO M1011 Metal Tape Embosser.
This cast-aluminum embosser stands up to rough conditions, and makes quick work of embossing heavy, non-corrosive metal and vinyl tapes. The rugged labels that the RHINO M1011 cranks out are perfect for labeling pipes, cable bundles, and machine components in harsh environments, and you even have the option of tacking or cable tie mounting them, thanks to the embosser’s built-in hole punching mechanism.
The M1011 works according to the old turn-and-click method that you might remember from mini label embossers you used as a kid. However, this is the grown-up version, with a large, easy-to-read character wheel. And as you’ve probably guessed from the “turn-and-click” comment, this embosser uses no batteries, so you never have to worry about losing power, or having spare batteries on hand.