The Spaghetti Incident

When it comes to setting up a server room in your office, not every company has the money to go out and buy top-of-the-line equipment. In some cases, a server room could consist of a computer with an eight port router/switch/modem combo.

There are ways to make this work, but too many of your staff & colleagues have been screwing around with the cables and other equipment, so now nobody seems to know who's plugged into which port.

Imagine this same dilemma with a 50+ port system. That same switch looks like a pasta maker, and the tangled mess that was your data cables, now looks more like spaghetti!

So what's the answer? - Well it may surprise you to know that a small amount of organisation can go a long way. If you have a small company, rather than spending thousands of dollars on switches and IT people, just think a bit laterally.

  1. Use colour coded cables - Blue for computers, Purple for telephone lines, etc.
  2. Install a small server cabinet that can be locked - This way you can monitor and control access to the equipment and cabling.
  3. Purchase equipment that you will need next year, not today - If you have four staff members and you are a growing business, buy an eight port switch to prepare for future staff.

Just remember; every step you take to make your business function a little smoother today will pay dividends down the track. It also lets your staff focus on the important stuff, like growing your company.

Micro USB Cables

The Micro-USB connector is the smallest of all USB interconnects. At half the height of the Mini-USB connector, this new slim design is better suited to increasing consumer demand for compact light-weight mobile devices.

The Micro USB connector is designed to be more robust and endure the constant plug-and-play usage of handheld OTG (On-The-Go) mobile devices like MP3 players, digital cameras, PDAs, GPS and mobile smart phones. Micro-USB technology was developed by the USB Implementers Forum, Inc. (USB-IF), an independent non-profit group that advances USB technology. Micro-USB connectors allow manufacturers to push the limits of thinner and lighter mobile devices with sleeker designs and greater portability.

A USB Micro port will allow over 10,000 insertion cycles compared to the Mini-USB at 5,000. Standard USB is approx 1,500 to 2,000 depending on the manufacturer. It's a requirement that all USB devices allow 1,500+ insertion (connect/disconnect) cycles. This is a little known fact about the lifespan of active USB products. Passive USB products, like cables and thru adapters, do not have this limitation.

I love a sunburnt country...

I love a sunburnt country and it just wouldn't be an Australian summer if you didn't pass at least one broken down old car on the way to work today. Don't worry if you missed out, I'm sure there will be a guy filling the radiator of his brown and tan '71 HQ Kingswood on the way home.

Record breaking heat-waves in the south, cyclones in the north and flash flooding in the west are make Australia a hotbed for unpredictable summers. Air conditioners, coolers and freezers are all working overtime while the power grids are struggling to maintain supply.

Photo credit: West Australian Desert Panorama via photopin (license)

In Victoria last summer, over 420,000 people in the CBD went without electricity and 13,000 train services were cancelled. Tasmania had its hottest day ever at 42 degrees and also its coldest January day ever recorded at 2 degrees.

South Australian power companies implemented power cuts called Load-Shedding to relieve some of the demand on their grids during several consecutive days of 40+ degree heat.

Flash floods affected WA and the Northern Territory, while Queensland has been hit with tropical cyclones which also caused flooding and dangerous winds.

With the overload on the power grids, blackouts are inevitable. How you are protected against power failure could be the difference between a long and prosperous future for your company or closing the doors.

Blackouts don't give warnings, they don't send a friendly reminder email advising you of their intention to cut your power supply, and they don't have an offshore call centre for support. When it happens, it's quick and ruthless, and unless your computer has a backup power supply, you can kiss all of your unsaved work goodbye!

On the other hand, you could spend as little as $100 on a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), save your work and go swimming at the beach for the afternoon.

A UPS is a back-up battery that can power you system long enough to safely save all your data and shut down. It will also protect against surges, spikes and brown outs. The choice is yours - Sink or swim?

5 Key Benefits of Upgrading to a Fibre Optic Network

In recent years it has become apparent that fibre-optics are steadily replacing copper wire as an appropriate means of communicating signal transmission. More evedence to this is the NBN rollout, which will allow fast internet for the majority of Australian homes and businesses once completed.

Fibre Opitic systems span the long distances between local phone systems as well as provide the backbone for many network systems. Common users include cable television services, university campuses, office buildings, industrial plants and electrical or utility companies.

A fibre-optic system is similar to the copper wire system that fibre-optics are replacing. The difference is that fibre-optics use light pulses to transmit information down fibre lines instead of using electronic pulses to transmit information down copper lines.

At one end of the system is a transmitter. This is the place of origin for information coming on to fibre-optic lines. The transmitter accepts coded electronic pulse information coming from copper wire. It then processes and translates that information into equivalently coded light pulses. A light-emitting diode (LED) or an injection-laser diode (ILD) can be used for generating the light pulses. Using a lens, the light pulses are funnelled into the fibre-optic medium where they travel down the cable.

Light pulses move easily down the fibre-optic line because of a principle known as "Total Internal Reflection". The principle of TIR states that when the angle of incidence exceeds a critical value, light cannot get out of the glass; instead, the light bounces back in. When this principle is applied to the construction of the fibre-optic strand, it is possible to transmit information down fibre lines in the form of light pulses.

5 Key benefits of upgrading to a Fibre Optic Network:

  • SPEED: Fibre optic networks operate at higher speeds.
  • BANDWIDTH: Large carrying capacity.
  • DISTANCE: Signals can be transmitted further without needing to be refreshed, boosted or strengthened.
  • RESISTANCE: Greater resistance to electromagnetic noise such as radios, motors or other nearby cables.
  • MAINTENANCE: Fibre optic cables cost much less to maintain.

Acronyms we use everyday in Audio Visual and IT

We use a lot of acronyms in the IT and AV industries, some of which are self-explanatory, but most are just plain confusing. So here are a few you may have heard of:

  • HDMI - High Definition Multimedia Interface
  • DP - DisplayPort
  • EDID - Extended Display Identification Data
  • HDCP - High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection
  • USB - Universal Serial Bus
  • LAN - Local Area Network
  • VGA - Video Graphics Array
  • DVI - Digital Video Interface
  • SCSI - Small Computer System Interface
  • RGBHV - Red Green Blue Horizontal Vertical
  • ATA - Advanced Technology Attachment
  • SATA - Serial Advanced Technology Attachment
  • eSATA - External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment
  • PCMCIA - Personal Computer Memory Card International Association
  • PCI - Peripheral Component Interconnect
  • PCIe - Peripheral Component Interconnect Express
  • IWB - Interactive White Board
  • OSD - On Screen Display
  • KVM - Keyboard Video Mouse
  • 1RU - 1 Rack Unit
  • PDU - Power Distribution Unit
  • LSZH - Low Smoke Zero Halogen
  • RoHS - Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive
  • RFID - Radio Frequency Identification
  • ADSL - Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line

Fun Fact: Wi-Fi does not mean 'Wireless Fidelity' even though it appears to have been inspired by the common stereo term Hi-Fi which is an acronym for High Fidelity. It is simply slang terminology used when referring to wireless devices or networks.

TRENDnet Receives EMEA DIAMOND AWARD for Smart Home Vendor of the Year

DISTREE EMEA 2015 presented TRENDnet with the coveted Diamond Award Smart Home Vendor for the EMEA region.

DISTREE EMEA is a powerful business platform for brands looking to manage, build, or launch routes-to-market within the EMEA region. DISTREE, an invitation only event, assembles top tier ICT, telecom, and consumer electronic channel executives from over 60 EMEA countries. Senior channel representative are paired with top tier consumer brands in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

More than 1,000 senior channel executives gathered at the Salle des Etoiles in Monaco, for the 'EMEA Channel Academy 2015 Awards', held in conjunction with DISTREE EMEA. Attending EMEA distributors, retailers, and online stores used a live electronic voting system to select the leading Smart Home vendor. TRENDnet competed in this category with five other top tier brands. Voting took place in real time, followed by a presentation to TRENDnet as the Diamond Award Smart Home-EMEA 2015 winner.

"The entire TRENDnet team is thrilled to be awarded the Diamond Award Smart Home Vendor of the Year," stated Stephanie Xian, TRENDnet international business development director. "Having our peers recognize TRENDnet’s innovative Smart Home products says a lot about the solutions we are bringing to market."

“The number of connected smart devices in the home is expected to grow from 7 to 20 devices this decade alone.” stated Pei Huang, TRENDnet CEO and president. “TRENDnet, as one of the original networking hardware brands, is highly focused on bringing Smart Home solutions to market which resonate with consumers. We are honored to be recognized as a key brand in the evolving Smart Home market.”



Digital signage takes off in a big way

Digital signage is a growth industry, using the flexibility of motion graphics to deliver powerful advertising messages and information tools. The most stable form of signage system relies upon central play-out devices delivering video signals via CAT5e or CAT6.

Digital signage are electronic displays that are installed in public spaces and are typically used to entertain, inform or advertise.

Major benefits of digital signs over traditional static signs are that the content can be exchanged without effort, animations can be shown, the signs can adapt to the context and audience, and even be interactive.

Digital signage offers superior return on investment compared to traditional printed signs.

Time and Attendance Data Logging

When you think of Time and Attendance Data Logging, you're probably thinking of some guy punching away at the keyboard on the out of date computer in a small office lit with fluorescent light that smells of cheap instant coffee. This is not always the case...

Data logging technology is used by businesses all over the world from security firms, food storage to cleaning companies. Whether you're managing staff attendance or monitoring the temperature of a greenhouse, there is a data logging solution for you.

Maxim iButtons can be attached to a or keyring and with the correct setup, can grant its owner access to a building, or vehicle. Attached to a work tote, it can measure processes to improve efficiency in manufacturing, delivery and maintenance.

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Some Maxim iButton versions can be used to store electronic cash for small transactions, such as transit systems, parking meters and vending machines. The iButton can also be used as an electronic asset tag to store information needed to keep track of valuable capital equipment.

The Maxim iButton's unique form factor and features address widespread cultural and economic needs with regards to identify and authenticate personnel, time and date stamp events, guard property and track inventory.

The Maxim iButton is ideal for any application where information needs to travel with a person or object. With over 175 million iButtons currently in circulation, iButton technology has found a home on every continent.

Get Crystal Clear Images with HDMI

How do you get Crystal Clear Image  on your HD television? - Only use quality HDMI cables... It's that simple!

The High-Definition Multi-media Interface (HDMI) is an industry-supported, uncompressed, all-digital audio/video interface. HDMI provides an interface between any compatible digital audio/video source, such as a set-top box, DVD player, and A/V receiver and a compatible digital audio and/or video monitor, such as a digital television (DTV).

HDMI supports standard, enhanced, or high-definition video, plus multi-channel digital audio on a single cable. It transmits all ATSC HDTV standards and supports 8-channel digital audio, with bandwidth to spare to accommodate future enhancements and requirements.

Type A HDMI is backwards-compatible with the single-link Digital Video Interface (DVI) used on computer monitors and graphics cards. This means that a DVI source can drive an HDMI monitor, or vice versa, by means of a suitable adapter or cable, but the audio and remote control features of HDMI will be unavailable.

HDMI is a modern replacement for older analogue standards such as RF - coaxial cable, composite video, S-Video, SCART, component video and VGA, and the consumer electronics replacement for older digital standards such as DVI (DVI-D & DVI-I). In the computer world, HDMI is already found on many peripherals and a few newer video cards, with adoption rapidly increasing.


Does the Quality of Cables Matter?

So you've just bought a high-definition home theatre system. You get it home, plug it in with the included cables, and you're set, right? Not so fast. If you're using poor-quality cables, like the ones that come in the box with most audio/video gear, you could be throttling your system's performance.

Think of it this way: If you owned a high-performance sports car, you wouldn't outfit it with low-end tires or you'd get insufficient traction, poor handling, and increased road noise. You'd lose all the benefits of buying a high-performance car in the first place. In the same way, low-quality cables can rob you of the performance you paid for when you bought your system.

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Poorly made cables can allow noise and interference to compromise the signals coming from your source components, resulting in a sub-par listening or viewing experience. They generally won't give you the best-quality connection, and often aren't built to last. And of course some free cables may simply be too long or too short for your setup, making them less than ideal.

Replacing free "in-the-box" cables with higher-quality ones, or buying a step or two up from the cheapest quality cable you can find, can really make a difference when you're building a nice audio/video system. You'll enjoy more realistic sound and a clearer picture when your system isn't hampered by weak links.

(Source: Kristen Schaub of Crutchfield)