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Black Box Explains... Multiplatform cabling environments.

When using a ServSwitch™ with multiple computer platforms, choosing which peripherals to use to control your diverse group of CPUs can be confusing. Because of the wide variation in connector... more/see it nowtypes and compatibilities, there is a hierarchy to follow when choosing your “user station“ keyboard, monitor, and mouse.

1. If you have at least one Sun® computer in your application, you should use a Sun keyboard and mouse to control your CPUs.

2. If you have a mixture of PCs and Mac® computers, use your PC-style keyboard and mouse to control your CPUs. collapse

Black Box Explains...Connectors.

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Black Box Explains...Shielded vs. unshielded cable.

The environment determines whether cable should be shielded or unshielded.

Shielding is the sheath surrounding and protecting the cable wires from electromagnetic leakage and interference. Sources of this electromagnetic activity... more/see it now(EMI)—commonly referred to as noise—include elevator motors, fluorescent lights, generators, air conditioners, and photocopiers. To protect data in areas with high EMI, choose a shielded cable.

Foil is the most basic cable shield, but a copper-braid shield provides more protection. Shielding also protects cables from rodent damage. Use a foil-shielded cable in busy office or retail environments. For industrial environments, you might want to choose a copper-braid shield.

For quiet office environments, choose unshielded cable. collapse

Black Box Explains…Energy-Efficient Ethernet.

The IEEE 802.3az Ethernet standard, ratified in 2010, provides a standardized way for some Ethernet devices to reduce power consumption. Energy-Efficient Ethernet devices have a low-power idle (LPI) mode that... more/see it nowcan cut power use by 50% or more during periods of low data activity. Because energy-efficient Ethernet devices scale down power consumption when the load is lower, they save both the energy used to power processors and the energy used to cool them.

These energy savings are currently available for 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T, and 10GBASE-T Ethernet as well as some backplane Ethernet. 802.3az can be found on most types of network equipment, including NICs, switches, routers, and media converters. Because these devices are totally backwards compatible with other Ethernet devices, all you need to do to reap energy savings is to swap out devices. collapse

Black Box Explains...Quick disconnnects.

A quick disconnect enables you to disconnect your headset without disconnecting your call or taking off your headset. This option is expecially convenient when you need to leave your desk... more/see it nowand keep your caller on the line. When you return to your desk, all you need to do is reconnect the plug and you’re talking again. The quick disconnect works well for call centers and busy offices where files aren’t at your desk or when you need to speak to a supervisor. collapse

Black Box Explains…Component vs. channel testing.

When using a Category 6 system, the full specification includes the testing of each part individually and in an end-to-end-channel. Because CAT6 is an open standard, products from different vendors... more/see it nowshould work together.

Channel testing includes patch cable, bulk cable, jacks, patch panels, etc. These tests cover a number of measurements, including: attenuation, NEXT, PS-NEXT, EL-FEXT, ACR, PS-ACR, EL-FEXT, PS-ELFEXT, and Return Loss. Products that are tested together should work together as specified. In theory, products from all manufacturers are interchangeable. But, if products from different manufacturers are inserted in a channel, end-to-end CAT6 performance may be compromised.

Component testing, on the other hand, is much stricter even though only two characteristics are measured: crosstalk and return loss. Although all CAT6 products should be interchangeable, products labeled as component are guaranteed to perform to a CAT6 level in a channel with products from different manufacturers.

For more information on cable, channel, and component specs, see below.

Buyer’s Guide: CAT5e vs. CAT6 Cable

Standard — CAT5e: TIA-568-B.2; CAT6: TIA-568-B.2-1

Frequency — CAT5e: 100 MHz; CAT6: 250 MHz

Attenuation (maximum at 100 MHz) —
Cable: CAT5e: 22 dB; CAT6: 19.8 dB
Connector: CAT5e: 0.4 dB; CAT6: 0.2 dB
Channel: CAT5e: 24.0 dB; CAT6: 21.3 dB

NEXT (minimum at 100 MHz) —
Cable: CAT5e: 35.3 dB; CAT6: 44.3 dB
Connector: CAT5e: 43.0 dB; CAT6: 54.0 dB
Channel: CAT5e: 30.1 dB; CAT6: 39.9 dB

PS-NEXT (minimum at 100 MHz) — 32.3 dB 42.3 dB

EL-FEXT (minimum at 100 MHz) —
Cable: CAT5e: 23.8 dB; CAT6: 27.8 dB
Connector: CAT5e: 35.1 dB; CAT6: 43.1 dB
Channel: CAT5e: 17.4 dB; CAT6: 23.3 dB

PS-ELFEXT (minimum at 100 MHz) — CAT5e: 20.8 dB; CAT6: 24.8 dB

Return Loss (minimum at 100 MHz) —
Cable: CAT5e: 20.1 dB; CAT6: 20.1 dB
Connector: CAT5e: 20.0 dB: CAT6: 24.0 dB
Channel: CAT5e: 10.0 dB; CAT6: 12.0 dB

Characteristic Impedance — Both: 100 ohms ± 15%

Delay Skew (maximum per 100 m) — Both: 45 ns

NOTE: In Attenuation testing, the lower the number, the better. In NEXT, EL-FEXT, and Return Loss testing, the higher the number, the better. collapse

Planning a digital signage system.

How to plan a digital signage project. Considering the many available digital signage solutions might seem like an overwhelming task. But taking some time to research and understand your options will... more/see it nowbe well worth the investment for your institution. Follow these key steps: 1. You need to understand and articulate the objective at the start. Clearly define the goals and determine how you will measure and analyze against the goals. Determine what information you want to communicate and for what purpose. You may want it to give you one or more of the following: • Sales uplift. • Brand messaging. • Entertainment for waiting customers. • Better internal communications. • Public messaging. • Third-party advertising. It is not only imperative to understand what you want the signage to accomplish but also how it will be evaluated. In short, “How will the success or failure of the system be judged and by whom?” What metrics of judgment will be used: ROI, ROO, or other qualifiers? 2. Clearly define the content: The success of any digital signage system starts, of course, with the content. It must look fresh, exciting, and professional. Who will create it and how will it be presented? Do you have internal resources and expertise, or will you need to outsource content creation? A good source of creative and editorial help can be found in aspiring graphic designers culled from the student ranks, in addition to your school’s art department, yearbook and newspaper staffs, and TV studio (if you have one). 3. Invest the time to understand your options: Once you’ve decided on content, you need to consider the infrastructure that will deliver it and study your display options: LCD vs. plasma? RSS feeds? Live video? Remote management? Playback verification? The options will seem limitless, so taking time to sort through them is imperative. 4. Involve all the appropriate stakeholders: The communications/information department should be involved at the start, considering that your digital signage will likely be used for external community relations. If it‘s a K–12 application, you’ll need to include not only your district’s superintendent, principals, purchasing personnel, and IT staff, but also quite possibly instructional technology and AV staff, as well as maintenance, curriculum, athletic, and cafeteria directors. 5. Figure out how you’re going to pay for it: Digital signage is often viewed by some as a luxury item? —? particularly in the face of shrinking school budgets. But because it can also be used as a tool for emergency communications and notification, administrators can easily make the case that digital signage is a must-have component of any crisis plan — especially in this day and age when school violence incidents capture news headlines. Consider government sources of funding for your digital notification system (federal funds are available from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for pre-disaster mitigation and preparedness, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, for instance). Whether it’s earmarked entirely as an IT expenditure or apportioned across multiple departments in your budget, you need a spending roadmap in addition to a developmental one. The hardest part with this may be determining the total cost of ownership over the life of the system, including any nickling-and-diming with ongoing licenses and upgrades. College administrators, however, can easily make the case from a cost-savings perspective. Having to constantly update traditional signage across a campus can be quite costly. Paper signage is expensive to print and replace regularly. With digital signage, no printed material is necessary, so both time and cost savings can be made, and the environmental impact is minimized. 6. Decide how to implement the solution: Based on your deployment size and scope, decide if you can implement it in-house or if you need the help of a professional integrator. A number of “out-of-the box” systems can be set up with relative ease. But the more dynamic and complex the system, the more complicated the implementation and ongoing management? — ?and the more likely you’ll need outside help. collapse

Black Box Explains...Media converters that are really switches.

A media converter is a device that converts from one media type to another, for instance, from twisted pair to fiber to take advantage of fiber’s greater range. A traditional... more/see it nowmedia converter is a two-port Layer 1 device that performs a simple conversion of only the physical interface. It’s transparent to data and doesn't “see” or manipulate data in any way.

An Ethernet switch can also convert one media type to another, but it also creates a separate collision domain for each switch port, so that each packet is routed only to the destination device, rather than around to multiple devices on a network segment. Because switches are “smarter” than traditional media converters, they enable additional features such as multiple ports and copper ports that autosense for speed and duplex.

Switches are beginning to replace traditional 2-port media converters, leading to some fuzziness in terminology. Small 4- or 6-port Ethernet switches are very commonly called media converters. In fact, anytime you see a “Layer 2” media converter or a media converter with more than two ports, it’s really a small Ethernet switch. collapse

Black Box Explains...vDSL.

VDSL (Very High Bit-Rate Digital Subscriber Line or Very High-Speed Digital Subscriber Line) is a “last-mile” broadband solution for both businesses and homes, providing economical, high-speed connections to fiber optic... more/see it nowbackbones.

VDSL enables the simultaneous transmission of voice, data, and video on existing voice-grade copper wires. Depending on the intended applications, you can set VDSL to run symmetrically or asymmetrically. VDSL’s high bandwidth allows for applications such as high-definition television, video-on-demand (VOD), high-quality videoconferencing, medical imaging, fast Internet access, and regular voice telephone services—all over a single voice-grade twisted pair. The actual VDSL distances you achieve vary based on line rate, gauge and type of wire, and noise/crosstalk environment. collapse

Black Box Explains...Breakout-style cables.

With breakout- or fanout-style cables, the fibers are packaged individually. A breakout cable is basically several simplex cables bundled together in one jacket. Breakout cables are suitable for riser and... more/see it nowplenum applications, and conduit runs.

This differs from distribution-style cables where several tight-buffered fibers are bundled under the same jacket.

This design of the breakout cable adds strength to the cable, although that makes it larger and more expensive than distribution-style cables.

Because each fiber is individually reinforced, you can divide the cable into individual fiber lines. This enables quick connector termination, and eliminates the need for patch panels.

Breakout cable can also be more economical because it requires much less labor to terminate.

You may want to choose a cable that has more fibers than you actually need in case of breakage during termination or for future expansion. collapse

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