Don’t Take Our Word for It

BerkTek_6878I have a love-hate relationship with business jargon. That’s a lie. It’s a hate-hate relationship. I don’t understand why crossing the threshold of an office building makes people feel like they need to integrate jargon into their vocabulary. Just say what you mean, people. Use regular words and phrases. For example…

  • Let’s put a pin in that. = That idea is ridiculous, and I hope you forget about it before the next time we talk.
  • This idea could really have legs. = That is so far off course, that it might actually work.
  • Start with the low hanging fruit. = Please, please, please give me the easy stuff to do first.
  • Open the kimono. <Author’s note: I actually have no idea what this phrase is supposed to mean in the business world.>

All that ranting aside, there is one little piece of jargon that I’m going to allow for the purposes of this blog post:

  • Don’t take our word for it. = We know you have doubts about what we’re saying. That’s why we went to a third party to verify it for us.

In this industry, there are a lot of claims made – performance, dBs above standard, lifetime guarantees, etc. But how do you know what’s an actual claim and what’s just marketing fluff? (Don’t worry; I’m a marketer, so I’m allowed to use that phrase.) I

For example, when Berk-Tek first launched our Converged Application Score as a whole new way to evaluate a cable’s performance in real-world conditions, there were more than a few nay-sayers. I can’t say that I blamed them. Our product development team knew the score was legit, our TEK Center engineers knew it was legit, and everyone at Berk-Tek knew it to be a science-based way to evaluate cabling solutions. But not everyone in the industry was convinced.

I’m happy to announce that the nay-sayers no longer have to take our word for it, because our CA Score Process was recently third-party Verified by UL.

UL Verification is an objective, science-based assessment that separates fact from fiction. To earn UL Verification, a claim – such as the CA Score Process used by Berk-Tek to test cabling – has to pass extremely rigorous audit process that examines procedural documents, training records, equipment calibration, and system functionality. Click here for more information.

Heat is No Friend to Your IP Traffic

LizardMy son owns a lizard. A leopard gecko, to be exact. His name is Larry. I’m not kidding. Larry the Lizard.

Larry lives inside a 10-gallon glass terrarium in my son’s bedroom. Larry eats live crickets, which I am forced to feed it when my son isn’t home. I’m not a fan. Obviously.

But that’s beside the point here. The point of this post is the lamps that rest on top of Larry’s tank. Well actually, the point of this post is PoE. But we’ll get to that.

Larry’s tank has two lamps on top of it. One is a 75W heat lamp, and the other is one of those 25W blue bulbs that’s supposed to simulate night time. You see, we need to switch the lamps on an off a couple times a day to optimize Larry’s lizard comfort. This thing requires more maintenance than my children, I swear.

Anyway, the other day I knocked the heat lamp over when I went to turn it off. In my haste to save it from falling, I grabbed the metal dome and burnt the heck out of my hand. If I were a normal person, I would’ve shouted a few choice words, righted the lamp, and moved on with my day.

But I’m not a normal person anymore; I’ve morphed into a cable nerd. And in true cable-nerd fashion, my brain went right to power and heat and cables. Specifically, I cursed the fact that they don’t make those lamps out of something that dissipates heat a little better!

My mind then jumped to the display we have in the TEK Center at Berk-Tek, where we demonstrate how much hotter regular Cat 5e cables get than LANmark-XTP cables get when you run power over them.

There’s no way around it: when you run power over copper conductors, you generate resistance. Resistance generates heat. More power = more heat. Heat is no friend to IP traffic. It weakens signal strength, which can lead to errors. Errors lead to a slow network, which leads to unhappy customers, employees and guests. Nobody wants that!

The key to successful deployment of PoE is to minimize that heat rise. Berk-Tek cables are specially made for this. Check out more here.

Why AV over IP

This post is last in Berk-Tek’s AV blog series. Our first post focused on the HDBaseT Alliance and SDVoE Alliance, and our second let you in on the dirty little secret about my slow reflexes (along with the latency challenges inherent in AV systems). Before we dig into this final post (warning: shameless plug ahead), don’t forget to register for Berk-Tek’s upcoming webinar: 3 Key Essentials for Moving AV to the LAN on December 12.

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My Latent Brain and the Future of AV Technology

The second in a 3-part series on AV over IP

FI_Brain

Image Credit: Franklin Institute

Last weekend I took my kids to the Franklin Institute, a science museum located right in the heart of Philadelphia. For me, the best exhibit there was Your Brain, which explores the complex inner workings of the brain and how it makes sense of the world around us. I learned all about how neurons send electrical and chemical signals, which parts of the brain control which parts of the body, and how the brain constantly processes everything going on around us.

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AV Technology Advancements: Try to Keep Up!

Berk-Tek is preparing to launch our new LANmark-HD cable – a revolutionary new shielded Cat 6 cable specially designed for high-definition AV transmission. In honor of this exciting announcement, our next few blog posts will talk about the rapidly advancing technologies surrounding AV over IP. This is the first in our three-part series.

Antique TV sets background. 3D rendering

The recent advances in AV technology have been nothing short of amazing.  Up until about the year 2000, standard definition was the norm for every television, computer monitor and laptop in America. Fast forward to today, and high definition (HD) video has taken over the market. (I’m dating myself here, but I remember when it was HUGE deal to have an HD cable box in your house!) Continue reading

The Top 5 Reasons to Integrate Smart Lighting in the LAN

Berk-Tek recently rolled out a new initiative with Cree, a leading manufacturer of LED and smart lighting solutions, to help our customers better understand smart lighting and how to best integrate it into their IP networks.

LTG-ExtremeNetworks-CorporateCampus-MorrisvilleNC-031414-014Most people we talk to are familiar with smart lighting. They know what it is and the benefits that come with it. They’ve read articles and heard other suppliers talk about lower energy costs, reduced maintenance, and better productivity. But most times, these sources lack details and present only a portion of the big picture.

The most common feedback we get from customers is, “I want to learn more, but I’m not really sure where to start.” Most people are looking for someone to “stitch it all together” for them so they can fully understand WHY and HOW they should integrate smart lighting into the LAN.

Let’s start with the WHY. Below are the top 5 reasons why you should integrate smart lighting into the LAN:

  1. Centralized Control. No more trucking down hallways to go from room to room to adjust your light fixtures. From the comfort of your laptop or other IP device, you can adjust color tuning, max lumen output, the sensor sensitivity to movement, and much more.
  2. PoE. We look at the benefits of PoE first in terms of CAPEX, then in terms of efficiency.

CAPEX of PoE vs AC: Installing a PoE-powered smart lighting system costs about 15-20% less than installing a similar system powered via traditional AC. PoE is less complex, it is less labor, and the labor itself is less expensive per hour (low voltage contractor vs electrician).

Efficiency: A PoE-powered system is relatively efficient when care is taken in selecting the right infrastructure solution. Selecting the right cabling products – those with optimized twist rates and AWG size, and made with premium materials that minimize heat rise – can significantly reduce the losses inherent in a 100m channel.

  1. System Integration. An integrated smart lighting system serves as the communication channel for building automation systems to talk to each other via a common Ethernet language, and without the need to human interaction. This is relevant to a host of building automation systems, including HVAC, access control, security cameras, and more.
  2. LiFi. Light Fidelity (LiFi) is several years off from being adopted in any sort of scale, but it holds promise. LiFi uses light waves to carry digital information and is meant to complement existing WiFi LAN inside your facility. LiFi requires LED lights and they need to be connected to a network. Therefore, installing a smart lighting system integrated into your LAN is preparing your organization for future LiFi capability.
  3. Actionable Analytics. Arguably, one of the greatest benefits of a smart lighting system is the ability to act on the data collected from the sensor network embedded in the lights themselves. In addition to identifying and acting on energy savings, opportunities, you could use sensor data to identify underutilized spaces and reconfigure your layout to maximize the space you have instead of buying or renting space you thought you needed. For example, if your analytics are showing that your space utilization is only 60%, the system can make recommendations on how to relocate personnel to maximize space.

Want to learn more? Register for our upcoming webinar – Realize the Future: How to Integrate Smart Lighting into Your Network – on October 4!

How’s Your Lighting Right Now? Making the Most of Workplace Productivity

Tone Up at the Terminals

Office ergonomics have come a long way since 1988’s “Tone Up at the Terminals with Denise Austin.”

The average person spends about 35% of their waking hours at work. I know; it’s a little jarring. That’s a LOT of time in the office. Go ahead…take a minute to recover.

You good? OK, let’s continue…

Because of all that time people spend working, over the past several decades, there’s been more and more focus on making that time better for our employees. Office ergonomics have come a long way since they first became a thing in the 1980s. In workplaces across the world, efforts have been made to increase productivity, reduce injuries, and generally keep people happier at work.

In our offices, we’ve got stand-up desks, wrist-support mouse pads, ergonomic keyboards, and chairs equipped with enough bells and whistles to fly themselves to Mars.

But how about the lights? Let’s face it; typical fluorescent office lighting leaves a lot to be desired and a lot of headaches to be had. Literally.

The impact of lighting on workplace productivity has been well-documented over the past several decades. In the late 1980s, the lighting systems in a U.S. post office in Reno, Nevada, were renovated to make the building more efficient. The renovation was successful, saving $50,000 a year in energy and maintenance costs. But the improvements didn’t stop there. Working in a more naturally lit work area, postal employees did their jobs better and faster – to the tune of an 8% increase in productivity. The productivity gains equated to $500,000 in additional revenue per year.

Fast forward 30 years. Lighting systems – and the way we connect and power them – have evolved. IP-connected lighting – or smart lighting – is an emerging technology that leverages the energy efficiency of LED light bulbs with the cost-savings benefits of power over Ethernet (PoE).

Maybe you’re already familiar with the cost savings benefits of smart lighting. Those benefits are significant, but there’s more to it than that. Integrating a smart lighting system into your LAN can provide you with actionable data to improve the efficiency of your business.

Berk-Tek can help you understand all the benefits of smart lighting. We are working with Cree, a leading manufacturer of LED and smart lighting solutions, to help you better understand this emerging technology and provide the solutions that work best for you.

Learn more here