Posted on May 29, 2012 by bboxadmin
Lately, it seems that every week or so, there’s a news story about solar storms
, explosions, and flares, which, as the news stories ominously tell us, can take down entire power grids, disable phones and satellite navigation, and generally wreak havoc with electronics. But yet we seem to continue getting power and everything continues to function. Are solar storms all just hype or is there really a threat?
The sun is now entering the most active part of its cycle, producing explosions that spin solar winds towards the Earth. These solar storms produce damaging bursts of radiation, radio, and magnetic emissions and are perfectly capable of taking down power grids and computer networks. There is a long history of solar storms causing damage. In 1859 a solar “super storm” caused auroras that lit up the skies as far south as the Caribbean and disabled telegraph systems. In 1972, a solar flare disabled telephone service in Illinois. In 1989, a solar disturbance brought down the power grid in Quebec.
The current solar storm cycle is expected to peak in 2013. If it produces another solar super storm like the one in 1859, the effects would be devastating. Not only are today’s sophisticated electronics are far more vulnerable than 19th-century telegraph systems, but we’re also far more dependent on those electronics. A massive solar storm could easily bring down power grids around the world, ground planes, and disable the Internet.
Filed under: Blog Posts | Tagged: networking, power, power protection, solar storms, surge protection, UPS | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 22, 2012 by bboxadmin
Although Ethernet is usually thought of as having a star topology, it’s also possible to build an Ethernet network as a ring. This configuration has the advantage of providing a redundant pathway if a link goes down. A ring topology is often used in application such as traffic signals and surveillance, where long distances may make it difficult to run fiber in a star formation from a central switch and where downtime must be minimized.
The key to the ring topology is spanning tree protocol. One switch-in this case, the switch in the central office-is the root of the spanning tree. A node on the opposite side of the ring blocks on of the ports leading back to the root switch, creating a topology that functions like a long line of Ethernet switches. If a link breaks, the network reorganizes itself to relink all the switches. Although this convergence isn’t instantaneous, it takes only a few seconds to bring the network back. In the diagram below, Hardened Managed Ethernet Switches create a ring topology that operates at Gigabit speed to support traffic cameras at the interaction. Industrial Ethernet Serial Servers make the connection from the switch to the serial interface on the traffic signals, enabling central management of the lights across the Ethernet network.
Filed under: Blog Posts | Tagged: Ethernet, Ethernet Serial Servers, Hardened Managed Ethernet Switches, Industrial, networking, Ring Topology | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 18, 2012 by bboxadmin
It was a dark and stormy night.
A line of storms blew through the Black Box campus in Lawrence, Pennsylvania yesterday. The power flickered, the UPSs beeped, and we were reminded again that it’s that time of year. It’s time for summer power problems.
Summer with its electrical storms, downed trees, and cranked-up AC, always seems to bring out the worst in our power grid. We tend to suffer from fading power—the lights dim and the background hum of civilization drops a notch, then recovers a few moments later when the power gets back up to speed.
APC Smart-UPS® 5000VA, 208V Rackmount/Tower for 5U: Rackmount or tower protection for your high-powered servers, telecom equipment, and business cricital systems.
Less often, we get a power surge like the big one we had at my home recently. The surge killed a couple of small appliances, but our nice new flat-screen TV was okay because a surge strip bravely gave up its life to save it. Part of the surge strip actually melted and the house smelled like ozone and burnt plastic for a couple of days afterwards. This is exactly what a good surge protector is supposed to do—sacrifice itself to preserve the expensive stuff when the big jolt comes through. Wish I’d thought to put a surge protector on the microwave.
Filed under: Blog Posts | Tagged: power, power distribution, surge protection, surge protectors, UPS | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 11, 2012 by bboxadmin
Hopefully most of you don’t rely on Big Lots for your cable. At the end of March 2012, UL
issued a public warning
about the unauthorized use of the UL® mark on packages of CAT5e
and USB patch cable
. In the warning, UL states that “The products bear an unauthorized UL Mark on the product packaging. The products have not been evaluated by UL to the applicable Standard for Safety and it is unknown if they comply with the UL safety requirements.”
The cables listed in the notices are TriQuest 15-foot CAT5e patch cable, model number 60-0102, and TriQuest 10-foot USB 2.0 patch cable, model number 60-0302. The notice reports that the CAT5e cables first went into production in March 2010 and that 124,300 units were produced. The USB cables went into production in February 2010 and 95,120 units were produced. The cables are manufactured by Sela Products, LLC, and they are made in China.
The back of the cable packages is marked with the UL mark in a circle and the words UL Approved. They are not approved, and the use of the UL mark is fraudulent. You can see photos of the cables and read the notice at the UL Website.
Filed under: Blog Posts | Tagged: Big Lots, cabling, counterfeit cable, UL | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 8, 2012 by bboxadmin
Today’s new digital video formats like HDMI
provide uncompressed digital audio and video with a sharp, crystal-clear image quality. No more flickering and blurry pictures. However, even the best inventions have their limitations. Digital video signals require a huge amount of bandwidth to be transmitted properly. Using low-quality cabling or distribution equipment may lead to problems. Here are the five most common:
Problem #1: Black screen (no picture at all).
Possible cause: A. Bad cable or one that’s too long, causing either the video signals or EDID/HDCP control signals not to be transmitted properly. Make sure that you use good-quality, high-speed HDMI® cables—they don’t even have to be expensive ones—or try an HDMI extender. B. HDCP is unsupported. Does the display support HDCP? DVI displays usually don’t.
Problem #2: “Sparkles” in the picture.
Usually caused by: Too long or inferior HDMI cable. Use a video extender, and/or buy quality HDMI cables from a reputable supplier.
Filed under: Blog Posts | Tagged: Cables, digital video, DVI, HDMI | Leave a Comment »