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Using Dock Cleats As Cable Managers In Classrooms

Dock Cleat

When it comes to computer cabling in classroom environments, no matter what you do for the long runs, you usually a mess on your hands those final few feet to the faculty equipment.

No matter what you do in your school classrooms to handle cabling for faculty, there is that final length of cable for audio and video to projectors, interactive boards and audio that usually is a total cluster. Then, add-in the multiple uses and people in the rooms doing a variety of different types of presentations in different locations in the room and you compound the issue.  In our case, we had long cables running from the projector and speakers and the length connecting to faculty laptops has always been a nightmare to deal with. They sits on the ground and constantly get kicked around, removed, lost and/or damaged. It also just looks bad when you come in and see a pile of cables you need to rely on for a teaching session.

In addition to adding cable management from the projectors and speakers in the room through putting then behind the walls (if you can) or going with cable tracking to conceal and secure cables, you still need some slack to allow teachers to setup in the space in different locations. Because you want to leave some slack, but it can stay unorganized. All strict cable management systems from the usual vendors are really geared to hold the cabling in a fixed position. This doesn’t work for that final few feet from the wall you want for the teacher to be flexible with depending on their material and hardware use.

I found nothing great out there in the cabling vertical market intended to handle this sort of scenario. But, there are many solutions out there for dealing with situations LIKE this on boats with rope, which is why I looked to solutions with rope management and found that dock cleats could be a perfect solution. Different materials and environments, but very similar form and function. After a talk with L-W Visual Arts teacher, Robert Sanborn, who happens to be extremely knowledgeable of boat hardware and interiors, I found out that I should head down to West Marine and see what they have that could work for VGA and other rope-like cabling we deal with in schools.

Dock Cleats

West Marine had many different types of dock cleats but the Dock Edge Classic Cleat models seemed to be the best one to use in my opinion because it was lightweight, sturdy and seemed like our walls could handle it without too much trouble. Going through the check-out, the cashier asked if I had a boat (which we do not.) After briefly explaining I would be using this in a classroom, he smiled pretending to understand and was happy to sell whatever to me for whatever reason. Sidenote: If you have never had the chance to go in and look around store that carry boat supplies, I highly recommend it. There is a lot of really cool equipment and tools for boats but have so many other applications as well.

After We are getting a bunch in and will be installing in every classroom as we can in addition to normalizing the cabling runs with boxes and tracking. The have white and powder-coated models. We will get a mix of both depending what we can continue to acquire from vendors. I prefer 8 1/2 inch model (PN#2508W-F) as it provides enough spacing for decent extra length from the wall to take into the room for a table or desk use presentation.

Besides working quite well to tether the last few feet of a VGA, audio and USB cable, the cleat provides relief on the cable run itself to the rest of the run when it is pulled from the desk or table with the equipment. It stops the pull to the rest of the cabling in the track or behind the wall while still providing organization.

Lastly, it is also pretty fun to say you are getting a piece of equipment for your classrooms of your school from Bass Pro Shops (as they sell this model as well!) But, there are many places on the web you can order them from if you don’t have a local boat shop in your area. Depending on which sizes you get, the pricing ranges from $10-$30 or so.

Don Draper And Big Tobacco, You And Social Networking: Tough Habits To Break

As one of the many Mad Men devotees trying to cope from withdrawals after the season finale last Sunday, I can’t help but see the connections to the world of Don Draper, played by John Hamm, in the hit AMC show and our world today. This, of course, is what the show does so well and why many of us find it so entertaining. We watch the amazingly alien experiences of excessive drinking on the job, constant heavy smoking and behavior around the office that, at a minimum in today’s world, would reasonably be construed as a hostile work environment rife with sexual harassment. Fans of the show appreciate all these foreign situations and yet also feel the very real similarities of our own life in a struggling business or fighting for work, handling difficult relationships, coping with unresolved personal histories and tensions around family. Another clear connection one can see is how both cultures are infused the major underlying force of the day. For the players in Mad Men, the undeniable force are the giants of ‘big tobacco’ and clearly ours are the giants of social networking.

One of the major plot lines of the final episodes of this season dealt with the advertising agency of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce losing a major client the big tobacco company, Lucky Strike and how they deal with the fallout. As this storyline plays out, you see how so many companies orbit around ‘big tobacco’ and that they really generate a complete ecosystem of business for others. In today’s world, many companies owe their overall existence really to social networking blockbusters Facebook and Twitter. Zynga might be doing their best to branch-out, but they built their brand and got their customer-base by riding Facebook. Twitpic, and others are all present now because of the environment that social networking provided. When Facebook or Twitter launches a new service that competes or could be displacing services from one of these companies, we all wonder how they will survive much like when Lucky Strike moves business away from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in the Mad Men world and send our characters in a scramble for their own survival. The similarities between their world and ours are hard to ignore.

Smoking is common-place in the Mad Men world. As a viewer and no matter how long you have been a fan of the show, it can be shocking to see the addiction many face in between the well-written dialogue. It feels so distant to what we experience today. For example, in San Francisco, I can go weeks and or months really before I might even see someone smoking in public. There are so many laws now that you can barely even smoke in your own house nowadays in the Bay Area much less while you are at work indoors with others. Ah, but social networking? There is probably not an hour I don’t see someone I work with or one of our students on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn taking a hit off status updates, commenting on a friends update or updating their information. iPhones, Blackberries and Android phones are the delivery systems to our drug of choice. Being constantly connected and checking Facebook in a meeting is just as acceptable as lighting a cigarette while in the conference room in Don Draper’s world. Conversely, if one doesn’t partake in smoking and/or drinking in their world, there is something wrong with them. There is something amiss. This is no different to when you get into those conversations with few co-workers or friends and family that don’t have accounts on Facebook. What is wrong with them?

With the constant stories in the news about security breaches, social networking companies selling your personal information and the various revelations that voluntarily disclosing so much of your personal information on the internet through Facebook, Twitter and others can damage your name, it is commonly understood that using these services is really bad for you. People might argue that promotion oneself and staying connected in the special way social networking accomplishes more than compensates for the possible negatives involved in dealing with the loss of our privacy and the visibility we provide to the rest of the world, but we all kind of know there has to be some downside to using companies that give us stuff for free. This is no different than the fact that everyone in Mad Man know cigarettes have to be doing something bad to their body even though participating in the social norm and getting a nicotine high are pleasant effects of the bad habit. It was really telling when Don Draper was meeting with the American Cancer Society about ideas on anti-smoking campaigns now that his firm no longer deals with ‘big tobacco’ in the season finale and everyone around the table mentioned they all smoked. This is no different to those in the media writing about the various security breaches or 3rd party schemes of Facebook and others and then posting or updating their status with a link to their story to for their audience.

Overall, I suppose the allure of Mad Men is that, in many ways, it is so not what the world is today yet at so many levels it is exactly what we are. Good and evil, villains and heroes are just as tough to classify in Don’s world as they are for us today and when you look his era and their cultures and habits as compared to ours, they might not be so ‘mad’ after all.