HDMI vs. DVI Cables

Whether you’re in the market for a new computer, or you’d like to hook a digital device up to your TV, you may be unsure of which ports on your monitor may come in handy. Two types of cables you’ll see designed for today’s high-resolution TVs and displays are HDMI and DVI cables. What are these cables, and how do the ports they connect to work? Here’s what you need to know about these two different yet very similar formats:


HDMI cables have become one of the industry standards for connecting to televisions, Blu-ray players, computers, and various other electronic devices. Overall, there are more than 1,600 of the world’s largest consumer electronics, PC, and mobile device manufacturers that regularly incorporate HDMI connectivity into their products for consumer ease and quality.

HDMI cables and ports are one of the simplest to connect and network — about as easy as plugging in USB devices. Since HDMI cords don’t feature any pins, you never have to worry about them getting bent or broken. Instead, you simply plug and play with a number of digital devices.

One of the best features of HDMI cables is their ability to stream both digital and audio through one line. In addition to their 1920×1200 HD video and 8-channel audio capabilities, HDMI cables support HDCP
encryption for the newest HD content. Additionally, HDMI can pass video resolutions from 480i up to 4K. It’s important to note, though, that each manufacturer determines the specific parameters for what is to be transferred via HDMI in their components. Basically, a good HDMI cable is all you’ll ever really need to connect a computer or video device to a monitor or TV. That’s why it’s considered one of the standard digital cables available today.


Digital Visual Interface, or DVI, cables are also popular for use with things like desktop computers and LCD monitors. With up to 24 pins and support for analog as well as digital video, these cables are similar to VGA connectors.

With DVI cables you can stream up to 1920×1200 HD video, or up the ante even more with dual-link DVI connectors. That will allow support for up to 2560×1600 pixels. The exact number of pins a cable has will affect the resolution capabilities. Be aware that some DVI cables have fewer pins, which means they’ll only work on lower resolution devices.

Which One Should You Choose?

It turns out that the quality of cable used to transmit signals in the digital format makes virtually no difference when it comes to HDMI and DVI. Ultimately, the type of cable you buy will largely depend on the type of device you own.

Is Wanderlust Setting in? We can help!

With summer quickly approaching, we are starting feel some wanderlust. Are you feeling it too? With air travel prices at record lows, this summer is all about picking a destination and getting out of Dodge! To prepare, we compiled a list of apps that are designed to make your next trip a little easier. Check them out!


If you are looking to get the best airfare rates possible, then download the Hopper app! This app allows you to pick a destination, what dates you are looking to fly and at what times. Hopper will then predict when pricing will be lowest, and will keep an eye on airfare changes so that you don’t have to. Once prices hit rock bottom, the app will send you a notification so you can purchase your flight. Just as easy as that.


This popular travel app is designed for the frequent traveler who needs to keep multiple trips organized. Just forward your confirmation emails directly to TripIt, and they do the rest for you. From the information that you provide, they will come up with a master itinerary so you can see all of your trip’s details in one place.

The basic app is free, but if you want to upgrade to the $4.09 a month subscription, then you get some added extras. The app will also alert you of any changes, including flight delays or cancellations. You can even check to see if there is a better seat available on your flight.

On top of all that, if you are wanting to make your friends and family jealous of your cool vacation plans, just use TripIt to blast your trip on Facebook and other social media sites. They will post all of the details for you, including your departure and return times. You can also choose to share with your travel mates, or anyone who is dropping you off or picking you up from the airport. Pretty convenient!


This handy app will not only help you find a hotel in the area that you want to stay in, but it will help you find the cheapest rate possible. This is awesome if you are planning a trip in advance, or if you decide last minute that you need a room for the night. They will allow you to compare information that is pulled from over 200 hotel booking sites, so you can make an educated choice on which one will give you the most bang for your buck. With Trivago you can bypass having to check the usuals such as Expedia and Hotels.com, because they have already pulled that information for you. This app will save you some time, and most likely some money too.

City Mapper

This GPS app is great for anyone who needs real-time navigation and who wants an alternative to both Google and Apple maps. City Mapper is great for those who are traveling in unknown territory, and trying to get around a city using public transportation. The app will alert you in real-time to any foreseeable delays, including when transit the busiest.. The app now features ride sharing information as well, with times for both cabs and Uber. If you use your bicycle, City Mapper will track mileage, and even the amount of calories burned. This is app will be your pocket-sized travel agent.

Google Translate

This app is an honorable mention for those of you who will be traveling to another country where English is not the main language. Google’s translate app is invaluable when it comes to getting around strange lands without the help of a tour guide. Now you will be able to decipher street signs, food labels, warning signs and directions; all available right at your fingertips. Chinese is the newest language that has been added to the 28 existing language that the app already features. The best part of Google Translate is the “World Lens” feature that allows you to translate words using your smartphone camera. Just point and shoot words on a sign, and the translation will pop up on your screen. Doesn’t get much easier than that! Available for both iOS and Android.

Units Plus Converter

When you are planning your trip to foreign lands, you will need to know what the money conversion will be. This handy little app is here to help you do just that. It is updated every 15 minutes, so you can rely on real time conversions, and 155 world currencies are covered. This app takes the guesswork out of trying to decipher how much goods and services will cost you with your American dollar. If you are confused about what the tipping policy is in the country that you are visiting, this app will do the work for you. The best thing about this app is that it converts more than money. It will convert weather from Fahrenheit to Celsius, kilos to pounds etc. With one less thing on your mind you can focus on enjoying your trip.

How to Choose a Surge Protector

So you’ve decided to invest in a new surge protector to protect your devices and information saved within. A wise decision indeed, but you may ask yourself what the difference is between the many options
available on the market.

For starters, surge protectors offer protection in amounts known as joules. Joules are essentially reservoirs of protection that increase the amount/size of hits your products will be able to withstand. For example, a surge protector with 1,000 joules means it can take ten 100 joule hits, one 1,000 joule hit, or any combination in between.

Many surge protectors will carry a manufacturer’s warranty on not only the device itself, but also the equipment you have connected to it. Belkin offers one model that features a $300,000 Connected Equipment
Warranty that says: “If your electronic equipment is damaged by a surge, spike, or lightning strike while properly connected to this power strip, we will repair or replace it, up to $300,000.”

While looking for surge protectors that offer the most joule protection is generally the best idea, it’s important to be wary of products that claim to “condition” the power from your wall. The fact of the matter is electronic devices already do this on their own. Virtually every device that’s made today will take the incoming wall current (110v in the US), filter it for noise, and convert it into whatever that particular device needs. Unless you’re using a really cheap device, or you live in an area with bizarrely inadequate power, a power conditioner isn’t something you need your surge protector to do.

When it comes to number of outlets on your surge protector it’s almost always a good idea to play it safe and go with more than what you currently need. In today’s day and age, there’s a much better chance
you’re going to add another device that needs wall power before you get rid of something you’re currently using. Therefore, if you only need four outlets today, it’s best to opt for the six outlet surge protector.

Some surge protectors even sport 12 ports, well spaced so you can use them all. Buying the right number of ports will make sure you don’t have to daisy chain surge protectors, which can be an incredibly dangerous practice.

Many surge protectors now even come with USB connections, so you can charge your mobile devices. While these can be incredibly convenient, it’s important to know how much power you’ll be getting out of them.
These connections are usually either one or two amps. One amp is adequate for cell phone charging, but most tablets need 2 amps for fast charging.

Make sure that any surge protector you buy is certified by Underwriter’s Laboratories, and at least meets their UL 1449 standards (required for the label “transient voltage surge suppressor,”). This will ensure that the product you buy is a legitimate device to protect your valuable equipment.

Two last things to be aware of an check before making a purchase are absorption rating and clamping voltage. Absorption rating has to do with joules and is literally how much energy the device can absorb before it fails. The higher the number, the better. Clamping voltage, on the other hand, is the amount of voltage that will trigger the surge protector into action. Around 400 V or less is usually a good standard to look for. Keep in mind, lower numbers are better when it comes to this feature.

The Do-it-Yourself Guide to Setting Up a Server Room on a Budget

Setting up a server room can sound like an overwhelmingly difficult and expensive operation, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few things you need to know in order to successfully set up a server room on a budget.

1. Find the Right Server

First, you have to determine what the service size and primary function of your server room will be. If it will be used for tasks like print serving and office document file sharing among fewer than 25 users, a server with a low-end processor, as little as 1GB to 2GB of RAM, and 500GB to 1TB of RAID storage should be about right. This will run you about $400.

If you’re going to need to handle tasks like data-intensive web and database serving, video storage and sharing, and enterprise-grade messaging and conferencing, however, you’ll need something a little
more high-end. This type of server room will typically include multiple processors, 16GB or more of RAM, expansive storage with multiple redundancies, and a high-end server operating system. A server room of this caliber could cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.

2. Choose the Appropriate Server Rack Units

Once you’ve determined the amount and type of equipment your business requires, you’ll need what’s known as a server rack to store this equipment. Server racks are measured in terms of rack units, usually written as “RU” or simply “U.” One rack unit equals 1.75 inches (44.45mm) in height, with compliant equipment measured in multiples of “U.” Network switches are generally 1U to 2U, servers can range from 1U to 4U, and blade servers can be anywhere from 5U to 10U or more.

In standard server rack units, the width is typically 19 inches and 600 to 1,000 millimeters deep. Some server racks come with adjustable rear brackets, though most rack mount servers come with adjustable mounting kits that can be used as long as there’s sufficient depth for the server.

3. Obtain Backup

Even if your server room’s building has an excellent power source, you’re going to want to ensure you invest in a quality uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Generally speaking, a runtime of 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient for proper server shutdown in the event of a power outage.

4. Think About Remote Access

Finally, you’ll want to make sure your servers can be remotely accessed via an alternative circuit should the primary Internet link go offline, especially if you run critical workloads. Today, this can be done through a 3G or 4G LTE mobile wireless connection. This is called out-of-band access. Previously, analog dial-up lines were used for this.

By following all of these steps, your business will be prepared to run a server room of any size. Make sure that you find the right equipment, server racks, power supplies, and cables to meet all of your
business’s most crucial IT needs.

Instagram’s Growing Pains

If you have checked out Instagram in the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed a few changes. A few weeks ago, the powers-that-be decided to change Instagram’s algorithm, meaning that users would be shown pictures in a different way. This was a big shake-up for a lot of users. Since Instagram’s inception, their content feed was chronological, meaning that when you logged in you would see content in real time, as people posted. That meant you could see posts from earlier in the day by just scrolling up. After the algorithm change, Instagram will now decide what posts they think you will be most interested in. So they will move around content, and instead of seeing what you would normally see, now they will decide what you see.

So who was most upset by the changes? Well, mostly those who have made this photo app a very real part of their life. From teenagers to thirty-something’s, this app is obsessively popular, with folks from all different walks of life. This was a concern for retail users of Instagram, who’s potential customers might now never see their posts. To combat this, there is a “subscribe” button that will alert you when your favorite account posts something new. The general consensus is that users are still upset, and had no problem with seeing their feed in chronological order.

Then yesterday Instagram debuted a new logo, and met a ton of backlash from users. Since fall of 2010 Instagram had a recognizable logo, a rainbow striped vintage Polaroid camera-shaped box. The new logo is a simple camera shape with a rainbow background. One might think this is a silly thing to get upset about. But change can be hard. And why do popular companies change logos? Some think that it will keep marketing fresh. Google changes their logo just about every week, and we are ok with it. Instagram commented “Our updated look reflects how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become.” Now Twitter and Facebook are both buzzing with angry Instagram users who are demanding that the old logo be reinstated. Not that this is anything new. When the wildly popular ride sharing app Uber changed their logo a few months ago, they too met backlash. On paper it seems like most consumers value familiarity, as there is almost always a public outcry when big name companies change their logo. Maybe it’s that we as consumers fear change. Time will tell if Instagram folds to its users, or if they will keep trucking on with their new look.

Through the Looking Glass

In today’s selfie-obsessed narcissistic society, when you see a photo, it is hard to tell if it has been “touched up” by a photo editor, or if it is a real-life-untouched photo. When you are scrolling through Instagram, and there a million pictures of amazingly beautiful people, one can lose sight that most people nowadays use a Photoshop-type app, which can erase flaws and literally change a person’s appearance. A fake beauty, but beautiful nonetheless.

On the other hand, everyone has the one friend who wants in on the trend, and posts unfiltered selfies regularly. These friend’s and their cringe-worthy selfies, just don’t understand what the craze is all about. They don’t understand that people are drawn to beauty. No one wants to know what a regular person looks at 3pm on a Wednesday while they are at work. No. We want Friday night make-up, cute outfits, manicured coif’s and ultra- filtered prettiness.

Why do we prefer an illusion versus reality? I guess that’s a whole other story. There are a few different instances where freshening up a photo can come in handy. Online daters might want to use photo-enhancing apps on occasion in order to put their best face forward. Most people will only make slight changes, to cut back on shock when finally meeting their online beau. The same goes for pictures that you post on social media pages, where is the harm in brightening things up and making the photo nicer to look at? If you want to play around with your photo-editing options, here are our favorite top three photo apps, check them out!


Hailed as the “picture perfect” app, most people use Facetune to remove their smaller flaws; with the app you can erase dark circles, cover blemishes and even whiten your teeth. Use the “smoother” feature to blur out harsh lines and make your skin look clear and bright. After using the smoother tool, you will no longer be able to see tiny pores or any roughness at all. Just be careful not to overdo it, when your face begins to look blurry it is painfully obvious that you are touching up your photo. These types of touch ups can be used by anybody, and won’t cause you to be unrecognizable. If you want to take it a step further however, Facetune a few more drastic option, such as a tool that will reshape both your facial structure and expressions. Have a pesky bald spot, or thinning hair? The “hair salon” feature has you covered, and will both cover up bald patches and make your hair appear fuller too. Facetune also allows you to play up features; it doesn’t matter if your lips or your eyes are your best trait, use the app’s details tool to emphasize either one or both. With the “defocus” tool you can blur out your background, which makes your face the subject of the photo.

Another cool feature of Facetune is that they offer free tutorials on how to use the app to your best advantage. After watching a few of their how-to videos, you will surely be a pro. Pick this up from your app store for about $3.99.

Adobe Photoshop Express

You can never go wrong with the tried and true grand daddy of all photo editors, Adobe Photoshop. This is the express version for your mobile device, which will work for both iOS and Android. Photoshop offers an array of features, starting with a ton of filters and frames to pick from. The filters range from vibrant, soft glow or my personal favorite, 60’s TV Grab, which is a retro style grainy filter. You will also be able to adjust colors, touch up flaws, remove red eye, add highlights and can add vignette lighting to spice up your photo and give it a customized look. This app is user friendly, and no change that you make is permanent. You can crop and resize your photos too, and then upload them directly to your social page or your camera roll, with no extra steps. This app costs about $5, with plenty of in-app purchases available, all the way up to $59.99


If you don’t want to shell out any bucks for a photo editor app, then Aviary is a great choice for you. This free app will give you some great filter options that some of the pricier apps don’t offer, and twenty other tools to enhance your photo. One of the best tools that we found is “focus” which will allow you to focus in on one aspect of your picture while blurring the background out. This will put your subject into sharp focus and gives a cool look to the picture. If you are feeling adventurous try the “color splash” tool, where you can black and white out your photo and then add in color where you want it. Makes for a neat shot! This app is available for iOS and Android.

Gift Ideas for Techie Moms

Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, May 8th! If you have a techie mom that is into gadgets, we have a shopping list for you. Check out our some gift ideas below!

Amazon Echo

If your mom is a busy woman, give her the gift of her own personal assistant by picking her up an Amazon Echo speaker. This multi-purpose speaker will not only stream her favorite music apps like Pandora and Spotify; but it will also take down notes, create shopping lists and have goodies delivered to the front door without mom having to pick up a finger. $179.99

Battery Backup Charger

If mom has a hectic schedule, keep her connected by picking her up a battery backup charger. Ours comes in a retro candy pink, and can charge your smartphone twice when fully charged. This backup battery is the perfect size for mom to throw in her bag and take with her anywhere. $11.57

Smartphone Camera Attachments

Does mom like to use her smartphone to take photos? If so, pick her up some cool camera phone accessories!

Help her throw a little light on the subject with the Photojojo Pocket Spotlight. Constructed out of 32 tiny LED bulbs, the Pocket Spotlight will brighten up nighttime pictures, or add soft lighting to photos that are slightly dim. This spotlight will provide flattering lighting for those selfies too, if mom is into that! $15

While you are at it, pick up some different lenses for mom to play around with. Check out the Photojojo Iris Phone Lens Collection . This set comes complete with a fisheye, wide and macro lens. These lenses will work with any type of case, and will give boring old photos a fresh new look. Endless hours of fun for mom! $69.99

Roku Streaming Stick

Get mom the gift of TV with Roku’s brand new streaming stick. With this stick she will be able to stream the most popular new TV shows that everyone is talking about, all by plugging in the stick directly to her TV. Mom can even cancel her pricey monthly cable bill, because now she’ll have the ability to stream TV shows, music apps and so much more right at her fingertips. $49.95

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!