Park It!

If you live in the Bay Area, you are no stranger to parking woes. If you live in any big city for that matter! The problem with parking lots is that they can be hard to find, and when you do find them there is no guarantee that they won’t already be filled to the brim. Like many things nowadays, there is an app for that. Spot Hero, (available for both Android and iOS) is hoping to help solve some of your parking nightmares. This app will not only find you a lot or garage to park in, but they will allow you to reserve your spot through the app to secure your space before you arrive.

I live in Oakland, which is about twenty minutes outside of San Francisco. I was curious to see what parking lots are in my area. Turns out there are quite a few. Pricing ranges around $5 to $20. The price depends on a few different variables, including lot size and how busy of an area the lot is located in. The app will even tell you how long the walking distance is from your house. This might be for those of you who, like me, live in crammed neighborhoods with extremely limited parking. If you have a friend coming to visit, it almost makes sense to have them pay to park, just out of convenience. If you think about it, driving around looking for parking is not only aggravating, but it wastes gas. With gas prices creeping up again, it might save you money in the end to reserve a spot in a lot.

If parking in your neighborhood isn’t even an option, you can use Spot Hero to find you a garage or a lot that will sell you a monthly pass. Some have hourly restrictions, which would work for folks who work near the lot or garage, and who don’t want to deal with the hassle of finding daily parking. Your parking spot is registered by your license plate, so remember your monthly pass will only work for the car that you are driving.

The app will also give you valuable details about where you are about to park, including time limits and if there are in and out privileges. Spot Hero will also let you know ahead of time if the lot is staffed, which is important in high crime areas with a high rate of vehicle break-ins and theft. Something to remember too is that pricing varies between cities, and when you switch your destination to SF, the price range also shifts, and gets much higher. Monthly passes in popular sections of the city jump up to $500, and daily spots can fetch up to between $30-$40 depending on where you are looking to park. These are pretty standard rates for SF parking, so the real convenience is finding a location that already has a spot with your name on it. You can even reserve a spot for when you park at the airport. Keep in mind that there are time restrictions too; you might find a spot for $5, but remember that the spot might only be reserved for two or three hours.

Some see apps like this as unfair, as those “first come, first served” can get turned away if there are spaces taken up by folks that are using the app. There were similar apps that popped up last year who would find you empty street parking-for a fee. Cities quickly shut these apps down, as no citizen owns public property, and therefore cannot profit off of it.. Spot Hero is different because they work with lot owners, so it’s a legal transaction. The app is currently available in fourteen major cities, including Chicago, NYC and Washington.

Buy Your Cables in Bulk!

Some of the best contractors in the business all have one thing in common: they buy their cables in bulk. It’s the most cost-efficient way to buy network cables for your business or assorted home projects. This is because bulk cable is a lot less expensive per foot than pre-made cables, so if you are dealing with longer runs you will end up saving a bunch of money. Bulk spools and boxes of cable also allow you to pick your own connectors and to cut the exact length that you need. When you take length into consideration, not only is it a lot less expensive to only use what you need, but your installs will look much neater and organized. On top of that, having extra cables hanging around creates an eyesore, and they can be hazardous if they are left on the floor and can be tripped over.

There are all kinds of different cables that are available in bulk. There’s Ethernet, RG6, RG59, fiber optic, security, speaker, fire alarm, phone cord, SVGA and more. Once you have decided what time you need, then you can decide on the extras, like whether you need it shielded, unshielded, direct burial, outdoor, plenum etc.

Once you have decided on what type of cable that you need, then you can start deciding on your connectors. Depending on the cable you choose, you will then decide how you want to terminate the cable, by crimping or compression. If you want to crimp the cable, you’ll need a punch down tool, but if you’re compressing your connectors, you’ll need to pick up a compression tool for the job.

Once you have all your materials in place, you are all ready to start creating your own cables. Measure out your cable and start cutting the desired lengths. You are then free to get your connectors attached and you are ready to go! Check out our whole line of bulk cables here.

Rising Above with Riser Cables


A few weeks ago explored the world of plenum cables; this week will be going over the plenum cable’s distant cousin, the riser cable. What is the difference between plenum and riser? Let’s find out.

So far we know that plenum cables are built for the plenum area of a building, but where do riser cables go? The name riser leads us to believe that these cables should be installed up high, but in actuality, riser cables are designed to be placed in between the floors of a building. To differentiate the two, plenum cabling is referred to as CMP, while riser cables are referred to as CMR. A good rule of thumb to remember is that while plenum cables can be used in place of riser cables, but riser cables cannot replace plenum. Riser cable is often referred to by installers as the “backbone” cable, as these cables are typically out of sight and out of mind once that are in place.

While plenum cables have strict specifications they must meet, the rules for riser cables are a little more lax. This is because air does not flow through the floors of a building the same way it does the plenum of a building, so there is no chance of toxic air being pushed through an air vent. But because regular cables can expel harmful toxins in the heat of a fire, it’s important that these cables still be fire resistant. This means their jackets should be self-extinguishing and have a low-smoke rating.

Riser cable can also be used in elevator shafts. In order to be used in that environment, riser cables must be compliant with UL 1666, otherwise known as the “standard test for flame propagation height of electrical and fiber optic cables installed vertically in shafts.”

If you are ever in question Always remember to look for the “CMR” marking on your, to make sure it is the correct cable to use in riser areas. You can also check out our selection here!

The Uses of Lightning Cables

Have you ever heard the term “lightning cable,” but you are not sure what it is used for? Well, for starters, it’s got nothing to do with naturally occurring weather conditions. Lightning cables are simply USB 2.0 cables that connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod to your computer’s USB port or outlet adapter for syncing and charging.

Lightning cables replaced the 30-pin dock connectors used by older generations of Apple products, and instead have only eight signal pins. This decrease in size helps to support Apple’s preference in developing super-slim devices such as the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6. It’s only slightly bigger than a standard micro-USB connector.

Despite the fact that it’s 80% smaller than the older model, it’s sturdier and more durable. One of the other great aspects is that unlike the older cables, lightning cables are reversible. There’s no right or wrong way to plug it into your device (upside down or downside up). According to Apple, it’s an all-digital, eight-signal design that adapts to what the signals need to be for the accessory you’re connected to.

Presumably for cost reasons, lightning is based on USB 2.0, not the faster 3.0 or Thunderbolt cables. However, it wouldn’t require much extra engineering to get USB 3.0 down there, and Apple also has promised Lightning-to-HDMI and Lightning-to-VGA cables for the future.

While you won’t be able to plug it directly into anything that requires a 30-pin connector, there are adapters available that convert a 30-pin connector to a Lightning connector. The adapter supplies the user with support for analog audio output, USB audio, as well as syncing and charging.

However, the adapter doesn’t support video output, and not all 30-pin devices will be supported. New accessories may still have to be purchased to use with the iPhone 5 and 2012 iPods or later models.
Finally, the iPod Out feature, which gives certain devices such as car stereos iPod-like navigation of your music collection, is not supported. The adapter is fairly large as well, so any accessories that fit around the device likely won’t work.

The Night Shift

Is your iPhone keeping you up at night? Most people know that staring at a bright LED screen before winding down for bed is counter-productive, but we all do it anyway. With their latest iOS 9.3 update, Apple has introduced a new feature called “Night Shift” which they state will help late night iPhone users fall asleep faster. The LED light that is emitted from smartphones is known as “blue light,” which studies show can stimulate your brain and make it harder to fall asleep.

How Blue Light Affects Our Brain

Before the invention of modern electricity, our bodies relied on sunlight to tell us when to wake and when to sleep. The theory behind blue light messes with your body’s internal alarm clock by waking up your brain and tricking it into thinking that it is daytime. When this happens, and it is actually nighttime, you might be in for a sleepless evening. Studies also find that blue light can put a brain drain on our melatonin supply, which in turn zaps our natural ability to fall asleep.

Night Shift

To combat this phenomenon, Apple’s engineers created the Night Shift feature, which will eliminate your iPhone from emitting blue light.
The function is already pre-set to begin right at sunset. This is great news for those iPhone aficionados who set their alarm clock early. That means that you will have a few hours of non-blue light viewing before hitting the hay. With this feature your brain will have a little time to wind down and realize that it is time to crash out.

When your phone is in night shift mode the images on your iPhone will appear to have warmer hues, and if you find this annoying, you can adjust the color temperature to your heart’s desire. You can also adjust the time that you want to the feature to turn on. Now turn on the night shift, and get some sleep!

Why Plenum?


If you have been on the cable search lately, chances are that you have run into a cable type described as “plenum.” What is plenum cabling, and why is it more expensive than other types of cable? Below we will give you the scoop all about plenum, when it should be used and why.

There is a sad story behind how plenum cable came to be created. Way back in November of 1980, there was a fire that broke out in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The result of this hotel fire was tragic; over 85 people were killed, and more than 700 people were injured. The cause of the fire ended up being an electrical short circuit. The hotel’s network cables were ran through the plenum of the building, which is typically the space above the ceiling or below the floor. These are the areas where air circulates, so they are extra dangerous when there are cables present that may emit toxic smoke when exposed to fire. Because air is circulating to the rest of the building through vents, toxic air can circulate around the building very quickly, and can be fatal, as it was in the MGM fire. There has been much speculation that the toxins inside the cables sparked the fire to become larger and hotter, and all of the toxic smoke spread throughout the hotel very quickly.

Out of this catastrophe came new regulations for the types of cable that were used inside commercial buildings. This is when flame retardant cables, aka plenum, became the norm for use in large industrial buildings. Plenum cables are constructed to be fire retardant, which means that when they are exposed to flame they will burn much slower, and release less toxic smoke into the air. The jackets that coat plenum cables is a special type of PVC, which explains why plenum cables are typically pricier than other cables. Today many government installations require that only plenum cables be installed, whether the cable is installed in the plenum of the building or not. The same goes for large office buildings and hotels. It was a tragedy that pushed plenum cables into the limelight, but now that they are here to stay we can all feel a little safer.

Get Yourself a Job!

For many job seekers, combing through Craigslist ad pages can get old real quick. Not only is Craigslist hard to navigate, but it is also hard to see all the jobs that you are looking for in one place, without having to go to multiple areas of the site. Luckily those days are over. There are a ton of new apps on the market targeting job seekers, and these apps will do the dirty work for you. They will pull job information from multiple sources including Craigslist and other big name job search engines, so you don’t have to. Below have compiled a list of the most popular apps that will lighten the burden of finding your next gig!

LinkedIn Job Search

While LinkedIn has long been a site that has been used for job recruiters, now they have come up with an app for job seekers as well. The LinkedIn Job Search app is designed to help you find a job quickly and easily, just enter keywords related to the type of job you are looking for and you are set to go. Some jobs will even allow you to apply for jobs using just your LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Switch

The Switch app is perfect for anyone who is currently employed and feels uncomfortable applying for jobs and having their cover blown at work. To keep this information out of the wrong hands, Switch was invented. Now you can quietly apply for jobs by simply using your LinkedIn profile. This will allow employers to look over your resume anonymously, and contact you only if they are interested. Switch will also alert you through email and push notifications when there are new job opportunities posted in your area. This is the perfect choice for professionals who are looking to upgrade their job without the risk of losing the one that they already have. Switch borrows its interface from Tinder, letting you swipe left or right depending on your interest.

Indeed

When Indeed.com first hit the scene some years back, they quickly became one of the biggest job boards available online. This is one of the web’s biggest resources, compacted down to a mobile site. You can also post your resume directly to Indeed’s job board. Staffing firms also utilize Indeed.com, which increases your chances of getting contacted for a job.

ZipRecruiter

This app will take all the legwork out of finding a new job. ZipRecruiter will pull information from a bunch of sites like Craigslist, Monster Jobs and more. You can post your resume on this site, and you will then be alerted every time that your resume is viewed. This will also allow job recruiters to find you. So you can just sit back and wait for the job opportunities to come to you.

So now that you have your job app all picked out, remember to clean up your social media pages when you are on the job hunt! Many employers will now check your Facebook and other social sites before even calling for that first interview. Use your privacy tools to protect those pictures that you may not want employers to view.

Snapchat: User’s Guide


The Snapchat app has been a surprise breakout star in 2016, and is now inline with the likes of heavy hitters like Facebook and Instagram.
Back when Snapchat was introduced back in 2011, it was expected to be just a flash in the pan. Fast forward to present day 2016, and Snapchat has around 100 million daily users. This means nine thousand snaps that are shared every second, pretty impressive right? For those of you who haven’t used Snapchat yet, we will be give you the skinny on what it’s all about.

When the app first arrived on the scene, it was still pretty basic. You could send other users pictures or short videos up to ten seconds long. The beauty of Snapchat was that you could not screenshot a pic without notifying the original sender. This meant there was literally no evidence of anything ever sent. This is what led Snapchat getting a reputation for being used strictly for nefarious purposes. Snapchat caught wind of their bad reputation, and made some changes. The new re-vamped Snapchat has a bunch of fun features, and now is mentioned in the same breath as other social media giants. Here we will explore the ins and outs of the new face of Snapchat.

Snapchat’s new filters will turn your sefie into a dogface, a leopard, crying girl and even a police officer. The Snapchat face reader will scan your face and match up their filters accordingly. Many of the filters will allow you to open your mouth and stick out your tongue, giving the illusion of a dog tongue, vomiting rainbows or blowing bubbles. My personal favorite is the horror theme face with running make-up, and the red lips and winged eyeliner. Because it lines up with your face perfectly it is sometimes hard to tell it’s just a filter. Another awesome feature is the “soft” filter, which literally softens your photo, and will give you photo a flawless look and make your eyes appear slightly larger. You can even save Snapchat photos to your phone’s picture library now, which is a new feature. This allows you to send your photos by text too.

When you check out your list of friends on Snapchat, sometimes they have emoji faces next to them. What do they mean? Here’s the breakdown:

Baby Face: You have just become Snapchat friends with this person.

Gold Star: users have replayed This person’s snaps within the last 24hrs. This means they might have interesting snaps.

Yellow Heart: This person is your Snapchat best friend forever. You send the most snaps to each other.

Red Heart: You have been Snapchat best friends for longer than two weeks. Things are getting serious.

Pink Hearts: You have been Snapchat best friends with this person for two months straight. Might as well start planning a wedding!

There are some other basic features that Snapchat uses, like normal color filters and a text-over-photo option. You can even chat with other users. The key to this feature is that conversations get deleted in a matter of minutes, or whenever you close the app. In the end, Snapchat has given us the new technical meaning of “living in the moment.” Because if you look away, chances are that moment has already passed.

Fiber Optic Cables vs. Other Cables

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which monitors economic trends in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and other developed regions, found that subscriptions to fiber optic broadband internet increased by about 13.9% from June 2012 to June 2013. This significant growth shouldn’t be too hard to understand as fiber optic cables are one of the best means to transmit data over long distances and at higher data rates than other cables.

In comparison to traditional copper wiring (which is more commonly found in homes) fiber optic cables offer much higher data rates and have the ability to reach longer distances. Copper wiring is typically installed in phone lines and cable TV services, which can make it more convenient, but fiber optic cable can transmit data at rates of 100 megabits per second to one gigabit per second.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for traditional copper cabling to meet growing bandwidth needs. As data traffic on wireless networks continues to explode — from 90,000 terabytes of traffic per month in 2012 to 3.6 million terabytes per month by 2014 — optical fiber’s scalability makes it the best choice going forward, hands down.

Not too long ago, such speeds would have been considered “overkill” for most internet connection needs. However, the advent of modern computing uses has made the need for 1Gbps or even 100Mbps broadband beneficial in homes today. The requirements for even a “basic” internet connection have steadily increased in recent years as online features such as streaming audio, streaming video, online backup, software updates, video chat, multiplayer games, animated GIFs, and more have become popular.

It may not look it, but pound-for-pound, fiber optic cable is one of the strongest and most durable of materials. Inch for inch it is even stronger than steel and more durable than copper. Every centimeter of optical fiber is strength tested at a minimum of 100,000 pounds per square inch to ensure its mechanical integrity. Corning’s Center for Fiber Optic Testing sets the industry standard for performance testing.

In fact, fiber optic cable is so strong and durable, experts in the industry aren’t even sure what the “theoretical lifespan” is for them. Fiber optic cable that was made and installed over 40 years ago is still in use today, and newer cables now being made are of even better quality. In other words, if you don’t already use optical fiber to connect to the internet, you may not be very far off from adding this feature to your home.

The Death of eBay?

Not too long ago, if you had something you wanted to get off your hands while making a couple bucks at the same time, you headed straight to eBay or Craigslist. But that was yesteryear. In the past few years, there have been a bunch of new apps to hit the market that do exactly what eBay does, just in a more localized format. These apps allow you to showcase things you want to sell, and at the same time search for items you would like to buy. All of this without the pain of shipping. Some of the newest apps allow you to list your stuff within seconds, all at no cost to you. Is this the wave of the future when it comes to selling your stuff online?

Letgo: This app was released this year, and has quickly became one of the most popular seller apps on the market. You can both buy and sell through this app, and the best thing about it is that it gives a generalized location, not your exact address. The Letgo app is really popular with parents, as it offers a wide selection of children’s and baby clothes. www.letgo.com: This free app is available for both iOS and Android.

Wallapop: Using GPS, this app will list all items for sale within a predetermined radius that you set. The Wallapop app offers a vast variety of different items to choose from: electronics, appliances, clothes, accessories and even cars or real estate. You can sell your own stuff on the app too, just take a picture, name your price and wait to be contacted. If your items aren’t selling, you can always choose to drop the price. If you are looking to buy, but don’t see anything that you fancy, the app moves with you. Whenever you are in a new area, you have new items to choose from. Contacting a seller is easy, just shoot them a message. You can also haggle prices with sellers this way. This app is free, and available for iOS and Android.

Carousell: What differentiates this app from the rest of the bunch is that it is available worldwide. It also allows you to post up to four pictures with your item’s description, so that a potential buyer will be able to view the item from a few different angles. Adding more pictures allows you to get a little more creative when listing the stuff that you want to sell. This app also offers the most variety when it comes to categories, which makes it easier to navigating if you are just browsing and not looking for anything in particular. This app is free, and available for both iOS and Android. https://carousell.com

*As a side note, for your own security, it’s always best to meet up at a public place like Starbucks to meet up and swap your items. It’s never advisable to give a stranger your exact address, as you never know who is going to be a weirdo!