Newer, Faster Ethernet Standards Are Here

Your network Ethernet cables are about to get a whole lot faster — and you won’t even have to rewire a thing.

The NBASE-T Alliance has recently approved the new IEEE P802.3bz standard, which will allow existing Cat5e cables and Cat6 cables to achieve faster transfer speeds up to 2.5Gbps and 5Gbps, respectively. This is a huge leap over the standard maximum 1Gbps speeds we’ve had to put up with for quite some time now.

Of course, there are non-standard ways to reach up to 10Gbps, but these methods only work with Cat6a cables, which often involve an extensive (and expensive) overhaul of any existing systems that rely on older cables. The current 10 Gig Ethernet hacks are also known to suck up a formidable amount of power usage.

The new standard, however, only requires upgrading the hardware to support 2.5GBASE-T and/or 5GBASE-T, which is already available on newer products and is expected to become even more widely implemented on network devices over the next three years. In the simplest terms possible, this means your existing infrastructure of Cat5e network cables or Cat6 cables can be used to deliver the faster speeds.

Right now, the improvements are for the most part only aimed at industry applications. This is good news in the health care sector, for instance, where nurses currently spend 7% of their time documenting vital signs. Faster speed signals could help save time — and lives.

The bad news, of course, is that home consumers will still have to wait a little longer to see the improved standards have any real effect at home. But if the speed of the approval process so far is any indication, the wait won’t last for too much longer.

“From proposal to approval, the standards process took less than two years — a remarkably fast progression,” said NBASE-T Alliance chairman Peter Jones. “Seeing the standard approved so quickly has been an enormously satisfying experience, and shows what can be achieved when we work together to develop a compelling solution that offers clear value to the industry.”

Get your Ethernet system ready for the upgrades: Make sure all of your current cables are up to par, or order some bulk Cat6 cables to take your connections to new speeds.

5 Amazing USB Hacks You’ll Want to Try Right Now

Despite the recent standard upgrades to USB 3 cables, many of us still have several — OK, several dozen — USB 2.0 cables lying around the house. We use them for charging our phones, connecting to our printers, storing external information on thumbdrives, and so much more.

But you don’t have to ditch your old cables for the newer models just yet. There are plenty of cool ways to get more use out of your USB 2.0 cables. Here are our top five hacks for USB cables you need to try out today.

  1. More Power
    Do you keep every electronic device connected to the cable it came with? Big mistake. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, for example, both come with 5-watt USB chargers by default, but you can power up the device in half the time by using a 12-watt iPad charger instead.
  2. Computer Key
    Use a USB flash drive as a physical “key” for access to your laptop or computer. Download a free program like Predator to make sure no one can access your files without inserting the magical USB drive first.
  3. Longer Lengths
    Want to run your cables a little longer? You can string together a few USB 2.0 extension cables for lengths up to 5 meters (approximately 16 feet, 5 inches). This is especially helpful for running sound or screen systems without an outlet nearby. For even longer lengths, try an active (repeater) USB 2.0 extension cable specifically designed for this purpose.
  4. Boost WiFi Signals
    Use your USB WiFi dongle to connect to a homemade “satellite dish” fashioned from a metal colander or tin can. It’ll help you pick up better signal from your own router (or the open network from the cafe across the street).
  5. Make a Flashlight
    Power your very own little light with a simple USB port and this converted USB 2.0 device cable. Follow instructions here.

Just because newer 3.0 USB cables and C-type connectors are here doesn’t mean that the old 2.0 doesn’t still hold a firm place in our hearts. Give the old cables in your drawers a new lease on life with a few creative hacks that will be sure to please your geekiest sensibilities.

Why Use an Ethernet Cable Instead of WiFi? Here Are 4 Surprising Reasons

These days, wireless internet seems to be all the rage. While it can come in handy when visiting friends or accessing important information when we’re out and on our phones, there are some huge benefits to using a Cat6 Ethernet cable instead of a WiFi router in our homes.

You might think that using internet via WiFi on your phone will alleviate the need for Cat6 Ethernet cables, but the truth is that our smartphones have a lifespan of only about two years, which means you might be out of luck for internet access in the not-so-distant future. Conversely, opting to access the web on your device through a network Ethernet cable means that you’ll have stable and quick access throughout your home, whenever you need it. Here are four surprising reasons why you might want to consider choosing Cat6 cables for your internet needs:

  1. Faster
    One of the most important feature of Cat6 Ethernet cables, or even Cat5e Ethernet cables, is that they are much faster than wireless internet. When a bunch of devices in one location are all sharing the same wireless router, the bandwidth — and therefore, speed — for everything slows way down. It’s essentially an Internet traffic jam. The strength of a wireless signal depends on how close your device is to your router, but you can use anything from a 75 foot Ethernet cable to a 328 foot Ethernet cable to ensure you’re always connected and experiencing the same quality of speed throughout your home.
  2. More secure
    With WiFi, your connection is potentially pretty vulnerable. Even if your signal is password protected, those with enough technological know-how could potentially access your system. When you use Ethernet cables, you’re assured that no one can get into your network without direct access to the cable in your home. This means that no one will be able to snoop without your say-so — or use the connection you’re paying for without your permission.
  3. Conserves energy
    Whether you’re concerned about energy for the sake of the environment or for the sake of your pocketbook, using an ethernet cable will account for less power used and therefore less cost for you. Knowing that you’re practicing energy efficiency in your home can give you peace of mind.
  4. More reliable
    Wireless internet is prone to interference and interruptions. It can pick up on signals from appliances like microwaves and can experience interruptions from other devices that utilize the same signal. Because Ethernet allows you to have one designated signal for one device, this type of internet connection rarely experiences errors and will provide you with the most reliable connection.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how our network Ethernet cables can help improve your connection and your life, please contact us today!

Home Theater Setup

Cables You May Need For Your Home Theater Set-Up

Everyone dreams of making their home theater system just as good — or better — than any commercial venue. To achieve true audio and video perfection, though, you’ll need the help of some high-quality cables. Here are a few of the most important cables required to set up the best home theater system possible.

Audio

  • Optical Cables
    Optical audio cables are good for 5.1 surround sound signals. They use light to carry a digital audio stream from DVD and Blu-ray players. However, be warned: they may not be able to support the absolute highest sound quality available on all Blu-ray player makes and models.
  • Digital Coax Cables
    Alternatively, you can use digital coax cables for 5.1 surround sound. They, too, connect to DVD and Blu-ray players, but use an RCA cable to pass sound signals.
  • Stereo Audio
    If 5.1 isn’t a feasible option for your home theater system, you can still get better-than-average sound out of regular stereo audio with two RCA cables to give you two channels of audio. It won’t support 5.1 surround sound or digital audio, but it’s better than television speakers.

HDMI

  • Standard Cables
    There are three kinds of standard speed HDMI cables: the regular, straightforward HDMI Standard, the HDMI Standard with Ethernet, and the HDMI Standard Automotive. Any standard speed cables will give you speeds up to 1080i.
  • High Speed Cables
    If you’re looking for a little more juice, high speed cables can handle speeds well beyond 1080p. There are two different kinds of HDMI High Speed cables — again, with or without Ethernet.

Speaker Wires

For home theater systems, you’re likely going to need speaker cables that can run long, withstand high power applications, and pair with 4 or 6 ohm low-impedance speakers. In that case, it’s recommended to use a thick 12- or 14-gauge wire.

With each of these components in place, you’ll have your home theater system up and running in no time — guaranteed to give any commercial venue a run for its money.

Quiz: What Type of Ethernet Cable Do You Need?

In the market for a new Ethernet cable but aren’t sure which kind to buy?

Take this easy quiz to find out what you need!


What do you use the Internet for most often?

  1. Personal: Just surfing the web, checking Facebook, and watching cat videos.
  2. Business: Telecommunication, storing files in the cloud, sensitive data transfers.
  3. Gaming: Kicking butt and taking names in real time against other players around the world.


How much are you willing to spend?

  1. I’d rather keep all costs to a minimum.
  2. I’m not going to take out a loan, but I’m willing to pay a little more for better quality.
  3. Whatever it takes — the cost is worth it.


How are your DIY electronics skills?

  1. DI-what? Can someone just do it for me, please?
  2. I know my way around around a toolkit, but I don’t want to risk blowing up my house, either.
  3. I have fiber optic cables practically surging through my veins.


What kind of technology equipment do you have?

  1. Nothing fancy — whatever I find at garage sales or inherit from my tech friends who don’t want them anymore.
  2. Good, solid equipment with a good track record and a long lifespan.
  3. Only the latest and greatest. If there’s a new device out, I’m first in line to buy it.




RESULTS


Mostly A: Cat5 Cables
Category 5 cables aren’t exactly the newest “Cat” in town, but they’ll still get the job done — often even better than a WiFi connection. They’re fast and durable. In fact, a quality-constructed Cat5 cable can easily last through five to 10 years of use. They’re perfect for the person who wants a little bit more juice but doesn’t need all of the bells and whistles.

Mostly B: Cat5e Ethernet Cables
For those who need a little something more, Cat5e Ethernet cables can provide up to 1Gb/second speeds at 100MHz frequencies. The “e” stands for enhanced, so you know you’re getting more quality than a Cat5 but still don’t have to spend the extra money on a 6.

Mostly C: Cat6 Cables
Cat6 Ethernet cables provide more speed and higher frequencies than either of the other two, but they’re also more expensive and, according to some, a bit fussier to install. But if you answered “C” to even one of the questions above, consider a Cat6 to meet your needs.

Technology is evolving all the time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s out with the old and in with the new. Cat5 and Cat5e Ethernet cables are still perfectly good alternatives for the cost-conscious consumer who just doesn’t need super connection powers. But if you’re looking to up your game, investing in Cat6 can make a big difference to your speed.

History of Ethernet, Part II: Need for Speed

In the previous blog post, we discussed the birth of the network Ethernet cable. Back then, there were no arguments over Cat5 cables versus Cat5e cables, and certainly no Cat6 cables bulking out from every corner of every office in America. When we left off, Ethernet was just entering the public sphere, where it would quickly receive a warm welcome in the rapidly evolving computer world of the 1980s.

Let’s Make a Deal

After setting out on his own, Ethernet-inventor Bob Metcalfe persuaded three computing heavy hitters — Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel, and Xerox — to join forces in developing a local area network standard using Ethernet technology. The result was the DIX Ethernet Standard of 1980, which ran at a then-impressive 10 Mbits/second.

The New CAT in Town

Ethernet wasn’t the only LAN system in existence, however. At first, there was steady competition between the DIX Standard and other systems that utilized either a Token Ring or Token Bus topology; ultimately, Ethernet was favored because of its ability to operate via Cat 3 cabling, which was cheaper and more widely available than other coaxial cables.
In 1983, the DIX Standard was officially sanctioned by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

BASE-jumping

Since the late 1980s, Ethernet cables have been practically ubiquitous for computer connections. As technology evolved, so too did Ethernet supplements, providing for increased bandwidth, coaxial capabilities, and various physical media. With every new addition came new standards, including the modern-day Fast Ethernet standards we still use today.

It seems incredible that any ordinary consumer today can simply buy Cat6 cables bulk, when computers used to take up entire rooms and cost thousands of dollars to operate. It’s hard to imagine life without Ethernet now, especially in high-tech fields that depend on instant connectivity, like medicine. In fact, the West Health Institute estimates that hospitals can collectively save $30 billion every year by utilizing connected medical devices like vital sign monitors, smart pumps, and ventilators to their electronic health records.

No matter how many WiFi signals you might be picking up right now, Ethernet will always have a place in modern homes and offices by providing fast and secure computer connections. And the technology only continues to evolve. Will we live to see the Terabit Ethernet era? Only time will tell, but if the trend line is any indication, you can bet on it.

History of Ethernet, Part I: In the Beginning

Any high-speed tech buff likely has plenty of Cat6 cable bulk laying around — not to mention some older Cat5 cables and Cat5e Ethernet cables. These simple devices have given us the gift of connectivity for as long as many of us can remember.

But have you ever stopped to wonder how these network Ethernet cables came to be? In this two-part series, we outline the history of Ethernet, from its humble beginnings right through to that nest of tangled Cat6 cable bulk lurking behind your computer desk right now.

A Star(LAN) is Born

Ethernet’s official birthday is May 22, 1973, when electrical engineer Bob Metcalfe wrote a memo describing his idea for a local area network (LAN) that could allow multiple computer systems to communicate simultaneously. Like many of our beloved inventions, this one, too, was born in Silicon Valley, where Metcalfe was working for the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to train military personnel in how to use ARPANET, a very early precursor to the world wide web.

Aloha PoE

Metcalfe’s ideas didn’t come out of thin air, however. His system was initially based on the Aloha Network, a radio communications system connecting multiple Hawaiian island channels at once. The Aloha Network’s great strength was that it allowed any station to send signals whenever it wanted; its great weakness was that if two signals were sent at once, it caused a “collision” where neither could get through. Metcalfe invented a way to detect and reroute collisions so that all systems could communicate effectively.

What’s in a Name?

By 1975, Xerox filed a patent on what Metcalfe had first named “Ethernet,” after successfully using it to connect its internal Alto network. The name is a nod to the “luminiferous ether,” a (debunked) theory from the 1800s about the transportation of light. By 1979, Metcalfe had left Xerox to form his own company, 3Com, and Xerox relinquished its brand rights over Ethernet, which allowed for its path to standardization.

One of the most amazing aspects of Ethernet is its lasting longevity in this fast-paced throwaway tech culture of ours (and by “longevity,” we’re not talking about a 500 ft Ethernet cable or the 1,000 to 2,000 insertions you can get out of a standard RJ45 plug). In the next section, we’ll trace the Ethernet of the 1990s and ’90s through its many rapid cycles of evolution to today’s high speed frequency capabilities.

Your Guide to Ethernet and Crossover Cables

If you have a business, you also have a computer network and a computer system that need cables. You have your USB cables, network Ethernet cables, high-speed HDMI cables and crossover cables. Many people are not always sure what each does and what the differences between these kinds of cable are. With so many cables to work with, knowing which one does what can be helpful.

What is “crossover cable”?

Most of the time, computers and other devices are not connected directly. They are usually linked through a computer hub. There are times when it is better to link the devices directly and when this is the case, the kind of cable that is used is called a crossover cable. Reasons people do this are to test one computer by comparing its performance to another computer or when two people are playing a video game and want a faster response time. Some people want to avoid using the computer hub and that is why they link devices directly with crossover cables.

What is a “straight through” cable?

These are the cables that are used when devices are connected through the computer hub. These are very common cables in homes and offices around the planet.

What is the best cable for my business?

There are a few kinds of network Ethernet cables. When you go to the computer supply store or look online, you will find the following options:

  • Cat5 cables: This is the oldest kind of Ethernet cable that is on the market today. It can still transmit voice and data at a performance of up to 100 MHz. These are the most common cables that are found in offices and homes around the world. While they are not the newest or the fastest cable on the market, they do work faster than many WiFI connections. One of the reason they are around and have lasted is that they are very durable. When you treat it right, it can last between five and ten years. If your office uses these cables, there is no need to rush out and switch them unless you are having some problems with the connections.
  • Cat6e cables: These are the next generation of the Cat5 Ethernet cables. They are faster and can transmit up to one gigabyte per second at 100MHz. The “e: was added to indicate enhanced capabilities of the cable to show that this basically an upgraded Cat5 Ethernet cable. For people and companies that want some extra power and speed but are not ready to make the jump or pay the money for a Cat6 Ethernet cable, the Cat5e cable may be just the ticket. Some people report less interference between wires located inside the cable.
  • Cat6 cables: These are faster and more efficient cables. They were designed and are built to handle up to 10 gigabits at about 150 MHz. Some people report that these are harder to install than Cat5 or Cat5e cables.
  • Cat7 cables: These are the fastest and newest kid cables on the block. It works at speeds up to 600 MHz. Some people say that these cables are more durable than the others. They are absolutely more expensive. * This is a European standard that is unlikely to be ratified in the US.

How to Keep Your Cables Safe and Secure:

There are a few things you can do to extend the life of all of your cables. Keeping them taped or tacked down can prevent people from tripping over it and protected so that nothing rolls over it to crush it or damage any of the internal wires.

If the cables under people’s desks and around the network hubs look more like nests of snakes, you can control the chaos by using zip ties to bundle the cables together. This will keep the mess to a minimum and make it Easter to cover and protect the cables running all over the place.

Proper labeling of the cables on either end will help a lot, too. For example, your router has a number of ports for different Ethernet cables. Label each for their destination and when you have problems you will have an easier time fixing them.

The cables that connect your computers, the network and your devices are important but having the latest is not always the most important thing. Having a working system is.

6 Tips to Keep Your Office Cable Clutter Under Control

Computer cables can easily become the bane of your office existence. Of course we need our computer systems and networks, but all the patch and crossover cables, power cords and everything else can turn into a snake’s nest under your desk. To fix that problem, we have some ways to deal with the mess, without sacrificing the connections you need.

It does not have to cost a ton to get the cable messes under control. Often, the supplies you use in your business may be all you need to tame the snakes and reduce the clutter.

Use binder clips to attach cable to your office furniture. Do you have cables that refuse to stay on your desk? You can keep all of the cables you want to stay on your desk firmly in place with binder clips from your local office supply store. Binder clips are inexpensive and come in a large selection of sizes. You can use these to clamp your Cat5e cables bulk, printer cables, power cords and any other USB cables or whatever to your office furniture.

Keep your cables together with zip ties. These are super inexpensive and easy to use. Keep all of your cables together and tidy with some properly placed zip ties. If you bought a bunch of Cat5e cables bulk, you can store what you are not using easily by coiling it and then keeping it together with your zip ties. If you need to run a few cables along the wall, floor or ceiling, you can make sure they stay together the same way.

Use old credit cards as cable organizers. You will need an expired credit card (or rewards card or even a library card), a singe hold punch and some scissors to make this do it yourself cable organizer. Create a space in the middle of the card with the single hole punch. Use your scissors to add an easy way to slide your cables through. If you are just inserting at the end of your Cat5e cables bulk, for instance, you may not need this but if you are approaching your cables somewhere else, you can add this to the card. This method can also be used to keep those cables on your desk. If your binder clips are not big enough for all of your cables, feed them into a card and use the binder clip to attach that to your desk.

Mount surge protectors to the wall or furniture with double stick tape. Mount surge protectors to the wall or furniture with double stick tape. You can use this to affix a number of items to walls or furniture. If you have a modem or router that likes to fall off its perch, you can keep it in one place with the tape. If you want to have your surge protector in a fixed location, the tape works well for that, too. Even if you want to just keep it from sliding around on your desk, a little double stick tape can go a long way in making it stay put.

Label everything. This may not keep your cables from becoming snakes when left alone, but it will make it a lot easier to fix things and replace the right cables when you need to. Label both ends of the cable. So many cables these days have the same end on both sides so this is really helpful when you are switching out cables. Label the end that is going into the device and the end that is going into the computer, the network or whatever it normally is attached to. If you have a hub for all of the cables you need, this makes a big difference. It will save you time and money.

Tack down your cabling. When you run cables all over, they can be stepped on, furniture can roll over them, etc. Tack down the cable so that no one trips over it and place a protective cover so nothing breaks it.

Messy cables are a problem for offices and businesses all over the world. These simple and cost effective tips can help reduce your clutter, and make your workspace tidier and less stressful!

iOS 10: What to Expect

Have you updated your iPhone to the new iOS 10 yet? Many are holding out for fear of the unknown, so we will go over some bullet points here of what to expect out of Apple’s newest update.

  • Photo Finder: If you are like me, and have thousands of photos saved on your phone, then locating one particular photo can be a nightmarish task. With the new update you have some great options for photo finding. The first is the new “people” photo folder, which helps locate pictures using facial recognition. If you need to find a picture based on location, date or surroundings, you know have Siri to come to the rescue. She will sift through your photos for you using the embedded date, location or nearby surroundings, saving you time and putting an end to your squinting.
  • Safari Tabs: With iOS 10 we will now be able to open endless amounts of Safari windows, without having to worry about that pesky 36-tab limit. This is great news for those of us who like to open a lot of tabs and keep them open to come back to look at later. Accessing your camera is now easier than ever too; just swipe right on your screen without having to unlock your phone.
  • Magnifying Glass: If you need a little extra help seeing small print, you can now use your iPhone to zoom in with just a few flicks of your finger. Access this under the “settings” tab, then select “general” and then select the “accessibility” tab. Here you will find the “magnifier” option. Once you have that installed, just click your home button three times to magnify your screen. It’s as easy as that.
  • Alarm Clock: There is a new feature titled “bedtime reminder,” that will allow you to enter the time you wake up every day, and how many hours of sleep you require per night. Your phone will now send you a reminder every evening letting you know that your bedtime is coming up. You can use this new feature to track your sleeping patterns too!
  • Music: Have you ever been jamming out to a song, only to have to cut it short for a photo op? That issue is a thing of the past with the new iOS 10 upgrade. You can now simultaneously take pictures and listen to music at the same time!
  • iMessage: You are now able to send stickers, doodles, GIFs, and sketches in text message form. Emoji’s got an overhaul as well. If you use a particular emoji three times or less in a row, they pop up twice as big as before.
  • Apple Maps: This app got a much-needed overhaul. Hardly anyone uses Apple Maps anymore, the performance issues were not worth it. Now it has an updated interface and a cleaner, easier to understand platform. The cherry on top is that Apple Maps will now remember where you parked!