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Thanksgiving - The First American Holiday
An incredible beginning • November 23, 2022
William Bradford was born on March 19, 1590 near Doncaster, in Austerfield, Yorkshire.  When he was only twelve years old, inspired by his reading of the Bible and by the sermons of a Puritan minister, Bradford began attending the meetings of a small group of Nonconformists. In 16th century England, the dominating church was quite powerful.  They had accumulated more wealth than the Kings and Princes.  The church had swayed the monarchy to make it illegal for Nonconformists to worship anything but the accepted doctrine publicly, so the Protestant group met furtively in a private house. Later, when the group formally organized as a separate Congregational church, Bradford joined them. In 1609, at only 19 years of age, Bradford and many members of the congregation fled to the Netherlands, . These Separatists went first to Amsterdam before settling at Leiden. The group was aided by London profiteers and merchants, who lent them a ship and a crew as an investment.  While what were to become the Pilgrim's motivations for moving may have been fine and pure, there is leeway to be allowed as to these investor's intentions. 

Shifting alignments of the European powers, due to religious differences, and struggles over the monarchies, caused the Dutch government, fearing war with Catholic Spain, to become allied with James I of England. Social pressure (and even attacks) on the separatists increased in the Netherlands. Their congregation's leader, John Robinson, supported the emerging idea of starting a colony away from Netherland's and, hopefully, England's influence. The separatists wanted to remain Englishmen, yet wanted to get far enough away from the Church of England and the government to have some chance of living in peace while worshipping as they saw fit.  They quickly realized that they would have to get to a place far removed from both England and the Netherlands - America.

After making their investors aware of their plan, and continuing to use their monies, the Leiden Separatists bought a small ship, the Speedwell, in Holland.  In July of 1620, they embarked to Southampton, England to meet the Mayflower, which also had been chartered by their English investors.  There, more Separatists and additional colonists joined them for the voyage.

On August 15, the Mayflower and Speedwell set sail for America.  The Speedwell leaked so badly that both ships turned back to England, putting in first at Dartmouth and then at Plymouth.  Finally, on September 16, 1620, the Mayflower, Mastered (Captain) by Christopher Jones, set sail, alone, for America.

The Mayflower was a sizable cargo ship, around 100 feet in length. She had served many years in the wine trade. With the crowding of 102 passengers plus crew, each family was allotted very little space.
 
The 66-day voyage was frequently stormy.  At one point, a main beam cracked and had to be repaired using a large iron screw. When the passengers sighted Cape Cod, they realized that they had failed to reach Virginia, where they had permission to settle. The season was late, however, and supplies of food and water were low.  They could go no further. 

(Bradford, describing the Pilgrims' safe arrival at Cape Cod aboard the Mayflower)
"Being thus arived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over ye vast & furious ocean, and delivered them from all ye periles & miseries therof, againe to set their feete on ye firme and stable earth, their proper elemente. And no marvell if they were thus joyefull, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on ye coast of his owne Italy; as he affirmed, that he had rather remaine twentie years on his way by land, then pass by sea to any place in a short time; so tedious & dreadfull was ye same unto him.
But hear I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amased at this poore peoples presente condition; and so I thinke will the reader too, when he well considers ye same. Being thus passed ye vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembred by yt which wente before), they had now no friends to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure…
Let it also be considred what weake hopes of supply & succoure they left behinde them, yt might bear up their minds in this sade condition and trialls they were under; and they could not but be very smale. It is true, indeed, ye affections & love of their brethren at Leyden was cordiall & entire towards them, but they had little power to help them, or them selves; and how ye case stode betweene them & ye marchants at their coming away, hath already been declared. What could not sustaine them but ye spirite of God & his grace? May not & ought not the children of these fathers rightly say : Our faithers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie, &c. Let them therfore praise ye Lord, because he is good, & his mercies endure for ever.…"

Colonies in British North America needed permission, in the form of a "patent" or charter, from the king or from a company authorized by him. Before the Mayflower sailed, the Pilgrims obtained the First Peirce Patent for a settlement in the northern part of the Virginia Colony.  The Pilgrims landed north of the patent's boundaries. 

When the Mayflower reached Cape Cod, anchoring in today's Provincetown Harbor, in November of 1620, some passengers questioned the authority of the group's leaders.  That authority had been granted by a patent (or charter) for a settlement in the northern part of the Virginia Colony.  The patent was not valid in New England.

The Pilgrims drew up an agreement that the passengers would stay together in a "civil body politic."  That agreement, known as the "Mayflower Compact," was signed on November 21, 1620.  While the original Mayflower Compact has disappeared; we know its wording from the writings of William Bradford:

THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT
In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November [New Style, November 21], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.
John Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, William Brewster, Isaac Allerton, Miles Standish, John Alden, Samuel Fuller, Christopher Martin, William Mullins, William White, James Chilton, John Craxton, John Billington, Richard Warren, John Howland, Steven Hopkins, Edward Tilly, John Tilly, Francis Cook, Thomas Rogers, Thomas Tinker,
John Rigdale, Edward Fuller, John Turner, Francis Eaton, Moses Fletcher, Digery Priest, Thomas Williams, Gilbert Winslow, Edmond Margeson, Peter Brown, Richard Bitteridge,
Richard Clark Richard Gardiner, John Allerton, Thomas English, Edward Doten, Edward Liester, John Goodman, George Soule

The Mayflower Compact was an interim document that governed the colonists only until an official charter was obtained.  It is an exaggeration to see it as the forerunner of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. 

The Mayflower Compact did, however, embody the guiding and lasting principles of the Pilgrims as expressed by their pastor John Robinson: separation of Church and state in a "civil body politic" and the rule of "just and equal laws."

For Bradford the hardships of the long ocean voyage did not end with landing at Plymouth. In December, while the Mayflower was anchored in Provincetown Harbor, Bradford and other men took a small boat ashore to scout for a place to land and build shelter. When they returned, Bradford learned that his young wife had fallen or jumped from the ship. Perhaps Dorothy Bradford was in despair when land was finally sighted and she did not see the hoped-for green hills of an earthly paradise. Beyond the ship lay only the bleak sand dunes of Cape Cod. That bitter winter, half the settlers were to die of cold, disease, and malnutrition.

The first winter in the new colony was a horrific experience. November in New England can be harsh to say the least and half the colonists perished on the boat, including the colony's leader, John Carver. Bradford was selected as his replacement in the spring of 1621; he was 31 years old. 

The following year, Bradford was elected governor of the plantation. "If he had not been a person of more than ordinary piety, wisdom, and courage," the Puritan preacher Cotton Mather later recorded, Bradford would "have sunk" under the difficulties of governing such a shaky settlement. Bradford proved to be an exemplary leader, and he went on to be elected governor of the Colony no fewer than thirty times.

The following spring, on March 16, 1621, what was to become an important event took place, an Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement. The Pilgrims were frightened until the Indian called out "Welcome, Englishmen" in English!

His name was Samoset and he was an Abnaki Indian. He had learned English from the captains of fishing boats that had, years before, sailed off the coast of his village in what would become Maine.  After staying the night in the Pilgrim camp, Samoset left the next day. He soon returned with another Indian named Squanto who spoke better English than Samoset. Squanto told the Pilgrims of his kidnapping years earlier; his voyages across the ocean and his visits to Spain and England .  In Spain, he gained an education at the hands of monks who had bought him and others. It was in England where he had learned English.  He lived among the Pilgrims for the next 20 months showing them the ins and outs of living in North America.  It was Squanto who guided the Pilgrims as they learned how to adapt.  He taught how to tap the maple trees for sap. He taught them which local plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers. Amazingly, despite his previous encounters with the white man, he was the primary broker of peace between the colony  and the neighboring indigenous peoples.

Squanto's importance to the Pilgrims was enormous and it can be said with no small amount of gravity that their early tribulations might surely have been extended without his help.

The harvest in October was very successful and the Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to put away for the winter. There was corn, fruits and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and meat to be cured over smoky fires.

The Pilgrims had much to celebrate, they had built homes in the wilderness, they had raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. They had beaten the odds and it was time to celebrate.

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together."
Edward Winslow

401 years ago, in early autumn of 1621, as was the English custom, Governor William Bradford proclaimed that a 3-day celebration of Thanksgiving was to be shared by the 53 surviving Pilgrims in order to give thanks to their Creator for their first successful American harvest.

They prepared and ate their fill; played games, ran races, marched, played drums and demonstrated their musket skills. The revelry was loud enough to be heard by their Native American neighbors.  Local Chief, Massasoit, and 90 braves came to investigate.  They were summarily invited, along with Squanto and the other Indians, to join in the celebration.  They joined in the feast and all celebrated as a way of worship in thanks for the bountiful year.

Exactly when the festival took place is uncertain, but it is believed the celebration took place in mid-October.

The Pilgrims did not call this harvest festival a "Thanksgiving," although they did give thanks to God.  To them, a Day of Thanksgiving was purely religious.  (The first recorded religious Day of Thanksgiving was held in 1623 in response to a providential rainfall.)

The religious day of thanksgiving and the harvest festival evolved into a single event: a yearly Thanksgiving, proclaimed by individual governors for a Thursday in November.

As the Plymouth Colony prospered and grew, it also gradually disintegrated as a religious community, despite Bradford's efforts to hold it together. The ideal of the "city upon a hill," the Pilgrims' dream of an ideal society founded on religious principles, gradually gave way to the realities of life in the new land. Bradford's record of this grand experiment ends in disappointment. When more fertile areas for settlement were found and after Boston became a more convenient port to England, Plymouth then lost much of its population. "Thus was this poor church left," Bradford wrote in 1644, "like an ancient mother grown old and forsaken of her children...Thus, she that had made many rich became herself poor."

William Bradford died at Plymouth, and was interred at Plymouth Burial Hill. On his Grave is etched: "qua patres difficillime adepti sunt nolite turpiter relinquere" “What our forefathers with so much difficulty secured, do not basely relinquish.”

This is the lesson of Thanksgiving;  It is a day to remember just how exceedingly difficult it was for the original Pilgrims, seeking freedom, to land on this continent.  And once the sea journey was over, the suffering that took place before the original success.  Though funded by profit seekers, how the original peoples, while simply seeking religious freedom, came to understand that, though a lofty goal, it was not enough - that only through a justly-governed republic, with vast liberties for ALL, are ALL freedoms made available.  It is our continuing  inherent obligation to strive mightily in today's world to continue to remember and honor our forefather's Thanks, while adding our own to it in appreciation to our own Benevolent God!

It was they who planted the first "seeds of independence"; Independence from England.  Seeds that would, through the grace of God and the perseverance of our original settlers, sprout and grow for over 100 years, until harvested in the War of Independence.

It is our duty to remember these events as we are giving our own thanks to the Lord for all the blessings that He has bestowed on all of us in this great country.

It is our mandate that we do give thanks properly and that we do not become indolent and let these privileges be taken from us - that we are vigilant and never allow our precious way of life to end in the same fate as Plymouth's religious community - "Thus, she that had made many rich became herself poor."

I thank you so very much for allowing me to share this brief history, that is so important to me, with all of you as well!  And DataCom Inc., as a company, especially during this Holiday, says Thank You All, So Very Much, to all of our customers!


 
Where did Veterans start?
Veteran's Day • November 11, 2022
As the oldest branch of the U.S. armed forces, the Army, birthday: 14 June 1775, was formed before the U.S.A. even existed!  That group of citizens, under General George Washington, triumphing over the much-larger British empire, began to pave the way to our mighty military of today.

Joining the fray just four months later, on October 13 of that same year was the precursor to what would become the United States Navy – of which I am a proud veteran!  Long known that any superpower MUST have a powerful presence at sea, a Continental Navy was brought to the forefront when the British Navy was blockading the American coast from receiving vital supplies.  In the midst of hot debates amongst the congressional delegates, notice was received from General Washington that he had preemptively tasked three schooners to patrol off the coast of Massachusetts.  Finding the Colonies fiscally responsible for the outfitting of these ships forced the delegates to form a Naval Committee, and later, the actual Navy.  The first few skirmishes demonstrated what an advantage it was to be able to land troops from these ships!  Equally demonstrated was that it must be a force that, while linked with the Navy, this force must also be able to demonstrate land warfare capabilities.

On November 10 of 1775, the Continental Marines were commissioned; the U.S. Marine Corp. Devil Dogs were born.  It has been said that the History of the Marines is the history of the United States.  While this probably came from a USMC poster, it’s not far off.  The Marines have been involved, heavily, in every battle, war, skirmish, conflict, or any other U.S.-involved armed fight since this Country began.

General Washington wasn’t done; After his election as President, on 4 August, 1790, Washington signed a tariff act which authorized ten vessels, called “Cutters” be constructed to patrol our coast and help prevent smuggling.  They would enforce tariff and trade laws.  This was the precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Even though the USCG is not under the Department of Defense, it has served admirably in peace and war.  “The Coast Guard is both a federal law enforcement agency and a military force, and therefore is a faithful protector of the United States in peacetime and war. In times of peace, the Coast Guard operates as part of the Department of Homeland Security, enforcing the nation's laws at sea, protecting the marine environment, guarding the nation's vast coastline and ports, and performing vital lifesaving missions. In times of war, or at the direction of the President, the Coast Guard serves under the Department of the Navy, defending the nation against terrorism and foreign threats.”*1
*1https://www.gocoastguard.com/about-the-coast-guard/learn-the-history

In 1926 a law was passed that allowed the formation of The Army Air Corp.  Proving its’ merit during WWI and WWII, it officially became the U.S. Airforce 26 September, 1947.  On the internet today you may easily find videos of the USAF being called into some of the hottest zones of conflict.  These amazing pilots and aircraft were called in from ground troops, pinned down by enemy fire and in need of help.  As the full effect of American force is brought to bear on our enemies with amazing power and precision, the triumphant yells from our forces on the ground are heard on the video.  It is a scene that has been repeated over and over from Korea to today.

In the 21st century, on 20 December, 2019, the U.S. Space Force was added to the honor roll.  In my honest opinion, whoever “owns” space will, in the very near future, “Own” the planet.  Simply put, the United States MUST be the first to establish proprietorship over this domain!  While a small force, this cadre of cadets are establishing the groundwork that will, hopefully, come to fruition as we venture into this vast arena.



 

"Standard" Questions for Standard Office IT Systems • October 28, 2022
After doing this job for nearly three decades, it is my honest opinion that one of the most difficult processes in the technology game today is the physical design of your systems; how to ensure that all of the various aspects mesh together seamlessly – or at least are perfectly able to utilize the same medium for connectivity and power.  One of the largest obstacles to attaining this goal is that it is an extremely thin line that the designer must navigate in order to match your desires with your budget.

It is mandatory that you begin your design by configuring a really tight, smart infrastructure.  I could bore you here with the advantages of choosing Cat-6 and Cat-6A over the less expensive C-5e but let me just say that I would install C-6 to the desktops, displays/tv’s, and printer areas, with C-6A being installed to items that we already know require electricity via Power over Ethernet (PoE).  Currently these would be camera and Wireless Access Points; but there are other appliances in your ceiling that may very well require electricity via PoE in the very-near future.

I’m talking about your overhead lighting.  LED lighting can be powered through your network and is more economical and more aesthetically pleasing than your current fluorescent bulbs.  Even if you are not replacing your lights today, it would be prudent to prepare for this eventuality by installing a “data” cable here as well at today’s prices.  Another area that is often overlooked is your HVAC environmental control panels.  Today, these are often on the network and controlled either automatically or manually via an app.  Many offices have electric blinds controlled in a like manner.

Just because we keep track of such things and in case you were wondering, I’ll say that C-7 is not yet an IEEE or TIA standard; it is a manufacturer standard and aside from requiring you to use hard-to-find parts, does not offer significantly higher performance standards than C6A does.  Cat-8 is now available, but is more expensive and, for the average user, not really applicable at ethernet’s 100-meter max distances.

If you’ve read some of my recent blogs, you know that one other choice for you to make in this area is what colors you want your jacks, faceplates, and cables to be.  I’ve got to go with white hardware in the telecomm closet due to the light-reflecting qualities and clean aesthetics over the standard charcoal hardware.  Please feel free to schedule an appointment to come see these new offerings in our showroom in North Lima.

Once you have addressed these issues and as long as you have an environmentally-controlled, dry, well-lit, easily accessible area to pull all of your cable to - and to install your switchgear and control panels into - with dedicated, isolated power and battery back-up, the physical layer of your new install is now, primarily, taken care of.

Cameras come in virtually any configuration you can think of.  For many, your first choice is whether they will be analog or digital, or a mixture of the two.  While analog has come a long way in picture quality, if your budget allows, digital is really the only consideration.  Will they be indoors or out?  Do you want the ability to Pan, Tilt, or Zoom the cameras or will they be stationary or multi-lensed?  Will they be installed into a well-lit area, or do they require night-vision/IR for low-light conditions?  Do you want them plainly visible to deter certain actions, or hidden because of aesthetics, or because you don’t want anyone knowing they’re being surveilled?  Will the video be recorded locally or in the cloud?  Is it  monitored by alarm personnel off-site?  Will said recordings be continuously gathered, or only when certain scenarios take place.  Who has access to monitor this video and where are they viewing it from?  Are any actions controlled through analytics?  Is the CCTV system interfaced with any other ancillary systems like alarm, HVAC, or water systems?

Telephone systems are another area to consider.  Do you want direct access to the system, or do you want it controlled remotely and you just pay someone else a monthly stipend for them to maintain it?  Are all of your workers in one building or are some of them remotely located?  Will you be needing a speakerphone in your conference areas?  Is there external paging?  Will any of the keysets be restricted to local or toll-free numbers only?  Are there any American Disability Act considerations that need to be addressed?  Again, and I hate to keep bringing it up, what colors would you like? (Although I admit that in this case, white or charcoal are pretty much the only two choices.)

Speakers are relatively easy today.  Still, though there are questions.  Are they analog or VoIP?  If analog, are there zones that need to be considered for cabling?  Are there any power considerations for how many speakers go on one run?  If they’re VoIP, they each get their own LAN cable and zones, broadcast, or individual traffic is set up by whoever sets up the Paging Server.  (Trust me, there could be a “ton” of questions regarding that.

Access Control: Now that’s a hive of quandary’s that can be simple or very complex.  Is this a Panel-based or a Cloud-based system?  How many sets of access control are going in?  Do they get Card or Fob Readers, Keypads, or are they simply manually controlled?  What’s locking the door; Push bar with electric dogs, electric strikes, or mag locks?    Is the door a “fire” door?  Is there a motion sensor to exit, or a Request-to-Exit button, or does a push bar work?  Does anyone have manual control of the door?  Do any of the doors require a delayed egress?  Which doors get what level of security?  Do any of these factors change with the time of day?  Is the system linked to your fire-alarm system to automatically unlock emergency egress doors if needed?

I’ve kept this blog short with a purpose.  If you’ve gotten this far, I’d say it’s a safe bet that you actually are in the market for some upgrades or new-installs of your IT infrastructure or systems.  I hope that these questions give you some idea of the colossal amount of information that is needed in order to achieve a stress-free installation.  When your network and related systems are professionally installed and taken care of, the ease that you experience as you begin using them is much more pleasurable with a greatly-reduced learning curve.  Our goal is to do as little or as much as you need to install a fast, reliable, future-proofed, data network and IT systems at your facility at an economical rate.  We want any future adds, moves, & changes to be plug-and-play for you the first time, and every time.

Give us a call – We really are the very best in the Valley when it comes to this kind of work and answering these kinds of questions!



 

What - exactly - is Spam? • October 07, 2022
Well, depending on several factors, not least among them is your level of technological expertise, it could basically be one of two things.  First, it is what many (myself included) would describe as a processed meat product that, when fried to a crisp, sandwiched between two slices of toasted sourdough bread, fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, crisp, cold lettuce, and slathered with mayonnaise, becomes a very tasty sandwich in deed!  Of course there are those that would vehemently disagree with this particular assessment of our initial offering…

The second item that carries the moniker “Spam” is actually a whole host of practices conducted over an array of technological mediums ranging from email to vmail to actual voice calls; most, if not all, of which may not have the intent of but still completely harass and annoy the recipient.  These are the telemarketers who glom onto you in the vain attempt that they can sell you something that you invariably do not need; normally calling at the most inconvenient times.  They are also the politicians who, oblivious to the fact that you are already unceasingly inundated every two years with empty promises to somehow enrich your life if you will but vote for them, that are bothering you at all hours of the day or night with yet again more empty promises.  (Have you noticed that few, if any, of them tell you exactly how they are going to pull off this feat?)

Also, Spam may originate from a company that you have recently made purchases from and their allies in business.  The company that you bought your auto floor mats from has sold your contact information to all of the other vendors who offer after-market auto consumables.  They in turn have flooded your email inbox (Spam!) with offers of their product at what they claim to be highly reduced prices.  A quick internet search almost always reveals the fallacy of that claim!  Still, a very thorough search of your purchase of the floor mats will reveal that they told you that they would be sharing your information.  It might be well hidden, but it will be there.

DataCom Inc. does not sell floor mats.  Neither do we share our customer's contact information.  So the impetus to my writing today is to reveal another aspect of this that I had not thought of prior to today.  Let me set the stage; Like many of you, I check my caller ID before answering the telephone.  More than once, seeing a local number or caller, I’ve answered the call only to hear a telemarketer with a decidedly out-of-Country accent.  This copying of another’s telephone number is known as “Spoofing”.  This morning a customer of mine called to complain that their main number had been spoofed enough for the local carriers to now list their number as Spam.  This company is a medical facility that sees patients on a daily basis.  Like most Dr.'s offices, they routinely call their patients for a multitude of legitimate reasons with questions or concerns that need addressed before their appointment.  The problem that they’re currently experiencing is that their patient’s, upon seeing “Possible SPAM” on their caller ID, are ignoring or even blocking the calls.  If your solution is "just use one of your company's other telephone lines", that would work - but without going into it, as a rule, every one of the lines push the "main" number as the caller ID.  That gets them right back to the problem that this number has been flagged as Spam.

After hearing my customer's complaint, and discovering that I really didn't know much about it, I dug into Spam on the internet.  This search yielded that the Spam designation originates with the individual carrier of the line.  Said carriers use their own proprietary algorithms and other deciding factors to decide which numbers are Spam or not.  Some of these are stringent, others are lenient and the carriers typically treat this information as sovereign and do not share their final outcome with each other.  If you are using Carrier “A” as your vendor, and they have not determined you to be Spam, you might believe your number to be safe.  However, once the call leaves your local area (LATA), the information will be carried by another vendor who might very well have decided that you are Spam.  When you take into consideration that many, many calls today are to cell carriers, and the sheer number of carriers involved with that, it quickly becomes apparent how many chances your number has of picking up this nefarious designation in any one call.

So what’s the answer?  The web sites that I saw offered several links where a company can go and register their number as “Safe”.  While not an ideal solution, they touted that this would get your information to the “Big” “Main” carriers that your call would be likely to traverse through.  They also made mention that this was not an expedited solution; often taking months to get through all of the carrier’s networks.

This is far from acceptable.  And it makes me sorry that I cannot offer you a better solution.  I have a feeling that this is only the "tip of the iceberg".  The problem is going to get larger as time goes on.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the vendors would begin to offer “safe” lines in the very near future that somehow combine an “unbreakable” code with the number.  Of course they won’t be doing this out of the charity of their hearts – oh nay nay!  It will come with a hefty price tag that will quickly get folded into the accepted “cost of doing business” in the 21st century – which will, of course, seamlessly get passed along to the consumers!



 
Happy Birthday America
• July 01, 2022
Happy Independence Day to customers and friends alike!  July 4th is, justifiably, our Nation’s greatest holiday.  And while I certainly expect that each and every one of us will enjoy our time off, I hope that at least a modicum of time is spent in reflecting on the sacrifices and amazing courage of our forefathers and their families all of those years ago.  This was a long, hard-fought war over an incredibly superior force.  Fortitude and ingenuity at extreme levels were employed and America’s victory warrants this day of celebration.  Amazingly, this holiday commemorating the 246th anniversary of our ratification of The Declaration of Independence was not officially declared a Federal holiday until 1941!  (Think about this: from that date it would be only 5 months before we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, and declared our entrance into WWII – a 4-year battle for Independence of another sort!)

The American Revolutionary War waged from 1775 to 1781 (British Surrender) to 1783 (Formal end of War).  The many causes preempting it had been building for the preceding decade.  Some have become famous - like the Boston Massacre in 1770, but others only caused problems for certain sects of society.  These problems were so diverse, and affected so many people in such different manners, that the desire for armed warfare among the citizenry was actually quite low.  I’m guessing that the term “Rebel Rouser” may have come about during this time frame.*1  Another impetus to war came about in the form of a 47-page pamphlet with the title “Common Sense”, written by Thomas Paine.  While known, I’ve never seen him cited sufficiently for his contribution to this worthy cause.  At the time, he was noted as an author who wrote using the common man’s English.  Even after armed hostilities had broken out, the colonists were loath to take up a weapon.  He beseeched his country-men to join the fight for a greater cause: “We have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth,” Paine wrote. “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”*2

Thomas Jefferson was asked to draft the document to be voted on: “As he wrote in 1823, the other members of the committee “unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught [sic]. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections….I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress.”"*3

“…on July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress ended its debate and approved the resolution proposed on June 7 by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and seconded by Adams:
Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”*4

While the Congress had approved the document on July 2nd, the debate and revisions continued July 3rd and 4th, with the final document finally being adopted that last day.  In August of that year, Timothy Matlock, a beer bottler (I like him already) noted to have “fine penmanship”, transcribed the document over to parchment.  (This is the original document that is displayed at The Smithsonian.)  On August 10th, most of the delegates attached their signature to the document with the final signatures being affixed later.  Eventually (56) extremely brave men would attach their name to this declaration.*5  A quick internet search of the after-effect regarding virtually all of these men reveals financial ruin – at least, or early, often tortuous, death.

Following adoption of The Declaration, John Adams was so elated that he immediately penned a letter to his wife, Abigail:
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”*4  Kind of makes our cookout seem paltry.

On a more somber note:
“…an estimated 6,800 Americans were killed in action, 6,100 wounded, and upwards of 20,000 were taken prisoner. Historians believe that at least an additional 17,000 deaths were the result of disease, including about 8,000–12,000 who died while prisoners of war.”*6

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”*7

DataCom Inc. is proud to operate in this Country, home of the free, land of the brave.  We are honored to be able to afford our employees a day off that they may pay homage to the forming of the U.S.A..  We continue to endeavor to produce quality American craftsmanship using American-made materials (as much as we are able) in all of the jobs we do as proud citizens.  God Bless the U.S.A.!!

*1 Yes, I know that it's actually "Rabble" rouser

*2https://www.history.com/news/thomas-paine-common-sense-revolution

*3https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/declaration-of-independence

*4https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2014/07/02/john-adams-vision-of-july-4-was-july-2/#:~:text=He%20was%20so%20excited%2C%20he%20wrote%20one%20of,by%20succeeding%20Generations%2C%20as%20the%20great%20anniversary%20Festival.

*5https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2014/07/02/john-adams-vision-of-july-4-was-july-2/#:~:text=He%20was%20so%20excited%2C%20he%20wrote%20one%20of,by%20succeeding%20Generations%2C%20as%20the%20great%20anniversary%20Festival.

*6https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/american-revolution-faqs

*7https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/675958-we-hold-these-truths-to-be-self-evident-that-all-men



 

Don’t like that tickle… • June 07, 2022
In the May 2022 issue of Safety Leader, The Magazine for Electrical Professionals, the very first article carries the title: “Electric Current Through Tissue and Air" by Jim Phillips.  It was that “… through tissue … “ part that induced me to read the article. Writing about the lack of understanding of this phenomenon into the 1950’s and 1960’s Mr. Phillips relates how the 1953 edition of the American Electricians Handbook contained: “Electricians often test circuits for the presence of voltage by touching the conductors with the fingers.  This method is safe where voltage does not exceed 250.”

While this seems ludicrous, and rightly so, to us today, I personally witnessed my own Grandfather working on live 120V lines years ago.  He did not see the need to bother to secure power and merrily trembled along with each shock as he completed whatever task he was working on.  Grandpa was employed as a lineman working at Ohio Edison in Warren, OH.  These were the days of many steel mills and other factories operating in the Valley.  They required massive amounts of High Voltage electricity and he was one of the men who got it to the mill’s property.  He retired as the senior foreman at Edison after 40+ years.  So, despite his penchant for working unprotected on what he considered to be Low voltage, he knew what he was doing.

Though Grandpa was definitely of a hardier stock than most modern workers today, the only excuse I will allow for his abhorrent techniques of yesteryear is ignorance.  He and his coworkers simply were not aware of the damage that electricity passing through the human body is capable of.  Thankfully, experiments have been conducted and the possible danger is very well known now.  Safety programs at all levels of the workplace are in place; some by Federal mandate, some by State, and others by individual employer's and customer's sight rules.

DataCom rarely works with anything other than approved low voltage levels of electricity.  That doesn’t mean that we aren’t exposed on a daily basis to lethal levels of power.  On new construction sites, electrical panels in the middle of being populated are typically haphazardly shielded.  This, to the inattentive, brings an open source of 220V or even 440V within easy reach.  Log out/Tag out procedures concerning power supplies to crane rails must always be adhered to before elevating a lift around these sources.  Another problem is that several of the machines located within the industrial world in which we work normally require higher voltage levels.  Their power cables are often in the ceiling near where we are running our communication cables.  Though not a normal occurrence, over the years I have received minor shocks from grabbing improperly grounded steel girders in the ceiling that have inadvertently had a current induced onto them.  Power wants to go to ground.  If you happen to supply that with your body, then so be it.  Junction boxes mistakenly left open or improperly secured are another source of potential problems.  The list goes on and on.

Thankfully, most of these occurrences are not common; but they’re definitely not uncommon either!  For this reason, DataCom Inc. conducts periodic refresher training to our employees in an effort to supersede any complacency regarding Safety overall - but life threatening events foremost.  With the current price of fuel, many of us probably can’t afford to do much this summer.  So please allow me to encourage you to do it safely at least!  Keep any tickling to the "fun" variety.


 

Sweat Shops and Cordless LED Technology • June 03, 2022
While very much existing to this day in other countries, contrary to “some” worker’s opinions, sweatshops do not continue to survive in the U.S.; at least in any legal sense.  But not all that long ago they absolutely were accepted as above-board places of employment.  My own Mother often recounted how, as a young woman in eastern PA during the 1950's, not presented with many opportunities for what might be termed "gainful" employment, she was able to earn what she considered to be a decent salary sewing zippers into dresses at a sewing factory.  Employees were paid per item only if sewed correctly.  Zippers apparently being one of the more difficult items to sew into clothing, were rated at a higher premium than the rest of the items.  That, and the fact that, after a time Mom became an extremely fast seamstress, coupled to earn her a very nice remuneration.

While not exploring the political reasons why, (I will interject that the abundance of lawyers winning law suits against companies for events that were previously thought of as inevitable accidents might be one reason) but suffice it to say that Safety in the Workplace in the last 20 years has attained a much higher status than ever before.  At DataCom Inc., we have several enterprise level companies as customers to whom we are required annually to submit documentation showing we have complied with different aspects of safety training.  Among these subject areas are: “Every NECA-IBEW Electricians contractor is required to cooperate with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and enforce the standards of our Drug Free Work Place Program, which is an incentive-based program that assists contractors in establishing a safer and substance-free workplace.”*1  Also, OSHA's annual paperwork and training on several key areas to include: PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), Ladder safety, lift safety, confined space safety, fall protection, etc., as well as any required training that is site-specific to the customer.  We maintain individual employee safety training files as well as company-wide files.  The paperwork side of it alone has grown into something of a gargantuan task that requires non-billable man-hours being spent.  In the era of the 2020’s, it is just the price of doing business!
*1http://necaibewelectricians.com/why-union/drug-free-workplace/

Most of our industrial customers have mandatory PPE requirements.  While long pants, hard-soled, leather (at least, if not steel-toed) work boots, hearing protection, hard hats, and eye protection have long been a requirement, many are now adding long sleeve shirts and high-visibility clothing.  I would have to say that the fluorescent green color is more predominant than the hunter’s orange these days, and I witness almost zero people wearing red.  Another facet that was added in the last few years is the addition of reflective strips being sewed onto the high-vis clothing.

Researching this, I found the most banal, useless, and boring information available.  At least, I think it’s so… Now, you might not like it, but please allow me to share just a tad… Turns out that there are two types of reflective strips.  If that isn't enough - one of the types is actually made up of tiny glass beads!  And then there are the different classes of vests; These classes mandate what percentage of the garment must be made up of high-vis material and what percentage made up of reflective tape.  (Someone at ANSI, the folks who govern this section of Safety, has way too much idle time on their hands.)

So what’s truly new about any of this?  Well now they’re incorporating battery-powered LED lights into the vests.  As everyone that’s witnessed LED lighting recently can attest, these can be quite bright and obnoxious while requiring very little power.  I’m guessing that once you acquire one of these things, at coffee break &/or lunch, you will not only recharge your cordless drills and drivers, but your safety vest as well.

Happily, there are several Made-in-the-USA manufacturers of these items of apparel.  I didn’t look into the conditions at their facilities, but I’m confident that they would not qualify for the description of “sweat shop”.  As a bonus for our employees, we’ve begun looking into the company supplying this item of PPE.  I don’t think we’ll get the “lit” variety, but I do know that we’ll still be highly visible.

Give us a call and we’ll come over to your place so you can watch us shine.  (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)  Stay Safe.


 

Who are they talking to??? • May 20, 2022
Suffice it to say that I enjoy watching the game of professional football.  Is that the only thing I want to do on any given Sunday during late fall and Winter?  No.  But the displays of amazing athleticism during most games is inspiring and a ton of fun to watch.  Many folks wonder at the obscene amount of money that some of these superstars earn, but when you realize the relatively tiny number of people who are able to pull off some of these feats, it becomes apparent why they’re paid the exorbitant sums that they are.

So, no, I don’t watch every game every single time one is on.  In my youth, I did not play the game in any organized kind of way.  The public school that I attended didn’t have a team.  What I’m trying to get to is that my academic knowledge of the game is somewhat lacking.  I don’t know the difference between a full back or a half back.  I’ve got the Center, Quarterback, and Running backs down, but that’s about it; and I’m ok with that.

So it’s no wonder that I was unaware that in today’s NFL; there are radios in them there helmets!  They are for communications between the coaches and the team.  If this is not news to you, I should warn you that you might want to stop reading here.  For the rest, I’ll share some info that I would bet that you are unaware of, but I could be wrong.

The communication is only in a very minimalist way, but it’s still much improved over easily-stolen, archaic hand signals.  For those like me that were unaware of this feature of today’s games, allow me to elucidate.

Why did this come about?  Well… put simply, to cheat.  Ok, maybe originally it was done for no other reason than to gain whatever advantage they felt was available.  But in the long run, it was an unfair advantage.  It was 1956 and two Cleveland Browns fans - What?  Cleveland Browns fans?  Say it aint so - season ticket holders George Sarles and John Campbell developed a radio that would fit inside of the helmet of their favorite team’s quarterback.  Prior to this, the Browns’ Coach, Paul Brown had invented the “Messenger Guard System” whereby alternating linemen would run the play into the huddle.*1  The system somewhat worked but it delayed the game and was not liked by Quarterbacks who were used to running the offense without the coach's constant input.  Brown immediately liked the idea of radios and agreed to use them provided that the two inventors kept it a secret.  After a couple of refits, the device was used for four games.  At a Detroit Lion’s game the shenanigans were spotted and once the transmitter was discovered, protestations to the NFL began.  The last game in which the radio was used was against the New York Giants.  Offensive Coordinator, Vince Lombardi, was smart enough to use the Brown’s weapon against them; he eavesdropped on the conversations.  He relayed that info to Giant’s Defensive Coordinator, Tom Landry, who then used normal signals to let the Giant’s defense in on the upcoming play. Final Result?  NY 21, CLE 9.  Days later, the commissioner ironically agreed with the reports of unfair advantage, despite Cleveland's loss, and outlawed the radios.
*1https://www.cantonrep.com/story/news/local/canton/2019/09/22/paul-brown-birth-radio-helmet/2725976007/

So let's move forward to more recent times.  In 1993 the Play clock was shortened from 45 to 40 seconds.  This brought requests from the teams for radio re-instatements and again, the league agreed.  Since then, the NFL claims that, on average, between 8-15 seconds are shaved off of every play.  The rules are that each team is allowed up to 10 radios.  Only one player from each team can have a radio on the field at any given time.  The Quarterback is the offensive player allowed this feature, and the Defensive player varies from team to team, however both of the players equipped with the radio are designated by a small green sticker on the back of their helmet.  These players can only get info from the sideline coaches – not the upstairs booth – and comms are automatically suspended for the last 15 seconds on the play clock.  Each team is issued radios on game day from the NFL coordinator.  These have a special frequency set up by the FCC that does not interfere with local radio traffic and is especially hard to “hack”.*2
*2https://www.sportsnet.ca/football/nfl/insider-knowledge-nfl-coach-to-player-communication/

Hacking.  Hmmm.  Had anybody else ever listened in on a radio before?  Rumor has it, that prior to presenting their idea to Coach Brown, the two inventors had been testing the range of their new design.  Sarles had gone into the woods surrounding Campbell’s house to conduct the test.  Contact was eventually lost between the two.  When Sarles did not return, Campbell, fearing his friend was lost, went to look for him.  He eventually found Sarles being heatedly questioned by a local policeman.  The radios had bled over to the Police band and the PoPo  had come to investigate the strange chatter that they were hearing, only to find that it was coming from a guy talking to what appeared to be himself, wandering, apparently aimlessly, around in the woods.  And get this - he's wearing a Cleveland Browns football helmet!!  This was 1956 - Send the straight jacket.  With Sarles' confirmation of Campbell's dubious explanation, and the officer, being a "huge" Cleveland football fan, the police agreed to let them go and to keep the secret.*3
*3https://rugbydome.com/history-of-helmet-radios-in-the-nfl/

This may seem like an “off” subject when it comes to DataCom Inc., but when it comes to wireless communications, this fits exactly in Datacom’s bailiwick!  Many of today’s telephones transmit wirelessly.  Much of today’s alarms and Access Control equipment is also wireless.  The signal has to be clear and, even if it is intercepted, not easily hacked.  At DataCom Inc. we’re heavily vested in the world of WiFi 6E.  There, they’ve added channels and ways of wirelessly communicating to rival 5G and make inter-office communications work fast and flawlessly.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.  We would be happy to furnish a quote for us to rehab your office infrastructure to help bring you access into this fascinating world!


 

Please help with this worthy cause • May 10, 2022
At Datacom Inc., we value training as one of our top priorities in our day-to-day operations.  It’s how we manage to stay abreast, or even ahead, of the ever-evolving technological marvels that we install.  That’s why we are especially impressed with the local Police department in Salem, Ohio.  In the mid 2010’s a need was seen for a specialized unit.  Unfortunately procuring funding for this proved to be insurmountable.  Instead of giving up, these diligent officers started a voluntary fund-raising program and managed to put together enough money that in 2016, the first officer was brought on board.  With the addition proving its worth to the force almost immediately, a second officer was hired the very next year - and without any taxpayer funding!  

The worth of these two officers cannot be overstated.  On average, police officers receive 21 weeks of training before they begin their first patrol.  The training that these two received lasts between 8-12 months before being paired with an officer at whatever locale they’re hired in.  This new pair, then conducted additional in depth training for 3-6 months in order to form a true partnership; where the two are completely in sync and work together without undue explanations.  In the military, these relationships usually form among tight knit groups having to endure many hardships together over quite a long time.   In the civilian world, it is this specialized training we're talking about that instills the beginnings of symbiosis in this duo, and their subsequent high-stress work environment that quickly cements the relationship in place.

The elder partner, already familiar with the local area and what might be encountered, is in charge.  On arrival at a scene, they assess the situation and give direction.  The younger officer is then free to put their specialized training to use.  This isn’t to say that they are strictly reliant on the more experienced officer in all cases.  They’re skill set also covers protection of their partner, and they are authorized and able to use their training on their own.

Having heard of this training, I went to their website to learn more.  I particularly enjoyed seeing pictures of them training on the Agility and Obstacle course.  While this course is to ensure limberness, agility, and conditioning, from what I saw of them, they are doing just fine in that regard.  They had no apparent problems, and exhibited a smile throughout.  Also shown was training of a very aggressive sort.  The "bad guy" was quickly and effortlessly subdued and restrained.  It was explained that this training was for both partners, and actually made for a much stronger team.  Very impressive.

Both of the newly-hired officers have their familial origins in Belgium.  Their appearance is exemplary with squared away haircuts.  They typically weigh between 55-75lbs, and stand 24-16 inches.  “…hardy dog(s), accustomed to living outdoors with a coat built to resist the damp Belgian climate.”*1  “The Belgian Malinois excels not only in herding, but also in protection and law enforcement; drug, bomb, and gas detection; search and rescue; tracking; obedience; sledding; agility; and therapy assistance to disabled, ill or elderly people. This dog is demanding and needs an experienced owner.”*1  All of these traits make them an excellent choice for being selected for exactly this kind of work on the police force!  I already mentioned that they are Police dogs, didn’t I?
*1https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/dog-breeds/belgian-malinois

The dogs and their handlers are both subjected to continual training and it's not cheap!  As already stated, this K9 program is entirely funded through donations, fund raisers, and charities.  Please allow me tell you about an upcoming opportunity for them to raise this much-needed funding:

On August 20, 2022, at Salem Golf Club, The City of Salem Police Department K9 – along with Columbiana K9, Columbiana County Sheriff’s K9, and St. Clair Township K9 - have teamed up to present the “1st Annual K9 Golf Outing” to raise money for this worthwhile cause.  Every penny raised is put toward the K9 program.  

DataCom Inc. is very proud to be a  Platinum sponsor of this event and we hope you will donate as well.  Please visit SPDK9.com and sponsor this incredible program.


 
Cinco de Mayo
Should we celebrate it? • April 26, 2022
The American cities of Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago, are home to some of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations on the planet.  Though reveled by all nationalities country wide, it is, naturally, most proclaimed in the predominantly Latino sections of these cities.  I am honored to count myself among the few who pay homage on this day in Northeast Ohio.  But like several other “holidays”, I recently realized that I don't really have an in depth knowledge of what the significance of this day is.  Looking it up, I see that it had a very direct influence on which side won the War Between the States here at home.

In 1860, a bankrupt Mexico declared a 2-year moratorium on payment of debts to Spain, Britain, and France.  The three sent representatives to Mexico to express their disappointment in that stance and to demand immediate payment.  Newly-elected Mexican President Benito Juárez, was able to secure compromises with Spain and Britain.  French Emperor Napoleon III wasn’t having any of it.

This was more out of a desire to fulfill a military strategy than an example of plain old stubbornness.  In 1861,with the advent of the United State’s Union blockade of Southern seaports at the beginning of our Civil war, France was experiencing a large shortage of, among other things, cotton in their textile mills.  If Napoleon could conquer Mexico, located that close to the cotton-rich southern states, he could supply the south with weapons in exchange for cotton.  French forces arrived for war in Mexico in December, 1861, and by 1862, cotton prices had doubled in France.

That brings us to the Battle of Puebla.  To begin, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over France at Puebla on May 5, 1862.  Mexican forces under General Ignacio Zaragoza of Texas, numbering only 2000, had in a very short time, fortified the city and built quite a stronghold.  Napoleon may have been unaware of this, and sent General Charles de Lorencez to lead 6000 French soldiers against the city.

The battle is documented to have lasted from daybreak to dusk and despite the overwhelming odds, ended with French losses exceeding Mexican at more than 5-to-1.  France retreated. (Though they did return to Puebla just over a year later to victory.

So despite Napoleon's designs on supplementing Confederate forces, the politicians at home were able to convince him that earning the ire of the Union, with her Government and purchasing power, just wasn't worth a few bales of cotton. After the Puebla victory, the Mexican people and her army were fighting with renewed vigor and the war was not going the way that had been thought.  The French people were applying pressure on Napoleon to end the seemingly fruitless expenditures.  He didn't have enough goods to share with the Confederates even if he wanted to.  This is how May 5, 1862 may have directly benefitted all of us here in America as well.

The American Civil war ended on April 9, 1865.  The blockade was over and normal trade between the U.S. and France had resumed.  While that pressure point was freely flowing, the U.S., not really wanting French forces located quite that geographically close, exerted no small measure of political pressure for France to secede and leave Mexico.  It was  over two years later, June 21, 1867, that the Franco American War was over, and France retreated from North America.  So why should this date, the anniversary of victory at Puebla, be considered by Americans to be a date that deserves a holiday? It was, after all, a minor, not long-lasting, victory at best.  It wound up not significantly affecting us here at home at all.

While it might appear that way on the surface, this date marks a time where the vastly outnumbered, out gunned, less-supplied, Mexican army was able to defeat an army from a much-superior force for the first time.  France was a known war-power at that time; Mexico was not.  It is this date where the people of Mexico were given a ray of hope.  On May 5, it was graphically demonstrated that - while they may have been less wealthy, they may have had less large-scale war experience, they may have had a whole host of inadequacies compared to their attackers - they were a great people with a great spirit and determination to win.  Their willingness to sacrifice for the “greater good” was unrivaled as the primary impetus to fight.  And this, coupled with an undying courage and belief system, would sustain them through the long dark days and nights; and it did.  And quite possibly, because it did, we in the U.S. continue to list English as our principle language instead of French.

To compare; one might argue that the U.S. should celebrate Apr 19, 1775 as the day that the United States came to the same realization that Mexican citizens did on their May 5th.  This is the day of “The Shot Heard Round the World” as the U.S. won victory over the British at the battle of Lexington and Concord.  But the circumstances were very much different.  Ours was much more evenly matched with the U.S. forces, though principally made up of untrained civilians, enjoying a force superiority of 3,960 to 1,500.  As on any battlefield, I’m certain that there were doubts over the outcome on both sides, but the Americans were there to fight; the British to seize weapons and powder stored at Concord.  It isn’t entirely certain that they were ready to wage a battle.

On May 5th, 1862, courage, honesty, integrity, determination, and self-esteem were all reinforced to an entire country.  It is only right and proper to pay homage to the Mexican people who recognized this, particularly the combatants at Puebla who demonstrated this amazing human spirit, on that glorious day!

On May 5th, 2022 DataCom Inc. shouts to our southern neighbors “Feliz Cinco de Mayo!”


 

College - It's not for everyone • April 14, 2022
The topic on the radio yesterday morning concerned the value of going to college.  The assertion was made that it does not make financial sense to put yourself into significant debt to attain a degree in a field that you cannot: A. Find work, or B. Having found work, earn enough to not only support yourself, but pay back your aforementioned debt.  It was touched upon, that there are many fields which, require a degree, and will indeed earn a serious salary if hired, but have a glut of qualified people already in line for these jobs.  I was too close to work for me to call in and be put on hold so I did not call to chime in with my two cents.

What I would have said is that today’s youth, and their parents – and their guidance counselors(!) – MUST do the research into what will be the hiring climate in their field of choice at the time that the student will be completing their education and available for employment.  What salary is forecast for that time as well?  What kind of tuition can I expect to pay in order to attain a degree in this field?  What can I expect the slope of advancement to be once hired?  And yes, I am aware that I will have to start at the bottom and do my due diligence to advance. (You are aware of that fact, aren't you?)

I graduated Summa Cum Laude with an A.A.S. in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Bio-Medical Engineering.  I was 31 years old when I started college.  If, at the tender age of 18, I had even entertained the idea of attempting this feat, I KNOW that it would have resulted in an inevitable, dismal, failure.  This life-lesson has lead me to believe that my convictions regarding career paths for most young people are correct.  Yes, there are exceptions; happily, I know that to be true.  But for the majority of others, here’s what I believe you should do:

Do the research mentioned above – but not only into college degrees; expand your research to include the Trades as well.  Trade schools are, most of the time, a less expensive education path, and simply by their very nature, provide a more hands-on approach to learning than what college typically offers.  There might even be a mandatory internship which will introduce you to the actual world of work that you are endeavoring to join.  If Trade school isn’t an option, then it would be time to really dig in and get on-the-job training.  You might have to begin your employment as a simple Laborer, but it will give you an opportunity to impress your boss with your attitude and work ethic and convince them that you are the obvious choice for the next promotion or to give you a shot at that job that you were originally asking for.  If we’re talking about a Union position, then your chance to shine will be in the apprenticeship class.  Pretty much all of these ideas will not only earn you a paycheck while you learn, but will ultimately lead to a skill that you will always have and can be quite lucrative.  Also, I cannot think of a Trade job where what you do can be replaced by a less expensive import.  

After you have been on the job for a few years and have achieved what you wanted, then it might be the time for you to attend college.  If you’ve worked as hard as I’ve talked about you will have matured; in addition, this path will have given you a chance to not only observe real-life work places and people, but to have saved some money for a college fund, and has  provided a financially viable fallback position should you ultimately find that college just isn’t for you.

One last thing.  Allow me a blanket statement: “Based on an Economic News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees with wages and salaries have worked for their current employer for an average of 4.6 years.”*1  This would seem to infer that after just less than five years of employment, people, on average, are changing jobs.  Don’t allow yourself to believe that, after only this short amount of time, if you have not achieved everything that you want, it must be time to move on.  Sure more money is nice, but at what price?
*1 https://www.beresfordresearch.com/age-range-by-generation/

Ok, two last things.  I have personal knowledge of single-income households in days gone by where the father worked at a gas-station as a service attendant and the mother remained at home to raise the family and maintain the home.  While the pay may have been less than substantial, the position was never looked upon as sub-standard and provided the family an honest existence.  Many of these service-related  jobs have fallen by the wayside and no longer exist – at least not in the form we remember.  How many of today’s “marts”  are transitioning to self-checkout?  How much of today’s shopping, for whatever item or items, is conducted over the internet and the product then shipped or delivered to you sight unseen.  There are delivery services that will bring you your fast-food orders.  I’m not talking about this to belittle the laziness that brings this about.  I’m talking about it to give a graphic demonstration that EVERY job has worth.

DataCom Inc., like most small business’ after the last two years, is making every effort to grow.  We are a contractor that looks for employees with certain sets of skills.  This can make it more difficult to find qualified employees – but we also believe in the worker that shows up early, never complains, and is more than willing to learn on the job.  A worker that takes on more responsibilities without question is just as crucial to our success as the one with technical knowledge.  There are plenty of contractors out there who do what we do.  Our edge, as the Best in the Valley, is our commitment to quality and customer service; from the superlative products that we install to our rapid, consistent, response times regarding service calls.



 

Who's allowed in? • March 30, 2022
After working in this industry for over 25 years, it continues to astonish me how many questions we require answers to on any given day.  While it has always been a substantial number, it is increasing exponentially as IT tech gets smarter and does more for us.  Basically, just 15-20 years ago, prior to beginning the installation of an analog telephone system,  all we needed to ascertain was: Where do you want your phones located, how do you want them to ring when you have incoming calls, do you have an alarm system, a fax, an answering machine?  After we got this information we installed the cables to the locations and connected and programmed the system to accommodate your needs.  I won’t bore you with today’s ‘phone system needs, but when I gather this info today vs then, a similar-sized installation has gone from about 3 pages of information to over 10.  Let’s switch to Access Control.

Before I really get rolling on this, please allow me to get one acronym out of the way; Access Control System (ACS).  Thank you.  I promise, that's the only one.

Just a short time ago, access control was taken care of by security guards and/or keys.  Back then, if, after you walked through the door, "Buck" (I don't know his real name) from Wells Fargo gave you the once-over and stated: “you’re ok” as he waved you through, well then your only response was “Thanks, Buck" – and "Good morning!”  as you ambled on into work.  If you happened to arrive early, before security was open, your only hope of entry was if you happened to be one of the chosen few who were lucky enough to have been graced with the bestowment of a key; just unlock the door and go on in.  But hey! Don’t forget to re-lock the door after you enter.  Now, if your parking spot happened to be clear on the other side of the lot, and it is a typical February morning in northeast Ohio, I.E. mighty cold and blustery, well then either wait for security, or else enjoy that endless trudge around the building to that door where your key works.  Maybe try and remember tomorrow to bring doughnuts for Betty over in H.R.  Maybe she'll be nice and will put in a request for security to issue you a “Master” key for all of the doors so you won't have to walk quite so far.  It's worth a shot.  At a decent bakery you can get day-olds for half-price and I defy anyone to tell me the difference.  The trick is to put them in the microwave for 10-13 seconds before you eat them.

And except for just a touch of “stretching”, that’s the way it was; still is at some locations.

And today it’s changed?  I should say so.  Today your car might have been scanned and the security gate lifted as you drove into the lot.  A text or email was sent to your assistant that you are on the property (you must be a bigshot; Bless your heart.).  The HVAC kicked on to warm your office from its night time, cost-saving 55° F to a comfortable 68° F work-day temperature.  In the summer the a/c would like-wise engage to cool your office space.  Your coffee pot would begin to brew that first pot of life-affirming elixir, your door unlocks and  last, but not least, your office lights automatically illuminate.  Meanwhile, outside, as you exit your vehicle and approach the closest building entrance, a quick swipe of your key fob, or a keypad entry if you choose, lets you in.  You idly wonder when IT will get around to installing those retina scanners that were just delivered.  Lucky for you, your credentials work on any door on the property.  Of course while the ACS allows you entry to the building 24/7, all of these lovely amenities inside your office are only "automatic" on Monday-Saturday, 7:00a.m.-5:00p.m., and not on holidays.  (Now wait just a minute.  Did I read that right?  12 hours a day?  6 days a week?!?  Take it easy.  I told you – you’re a bigshot, and bigshots work some serious hours.  Get used to it.)  Regardless, a record of your using your ACS credentials is also logged.

Can you even imagine the number of questions that would need to be meticulously answered before everything in that last paragraph would function flawlessly?  Yeah!  And  we’re only talking about one employee.  At a large facility we could be talking about hundreds of folks.  Yes, I agree, the case can be made that access control requirements for the vast majority of them would likely fall into one of a small number of "groups".  Maybe in one group they're allowed in all of the doors in their building but only the front entrance at  the main building.  That credential-group might take care of the programming for a large number of your employees, simply enter their info into that group and you're done.  But if the employee works multiple shifts that complicates matters as well.  Are their credentials allowed to work 24/7 or only the shift that they're scheduled?  If only allowed during their shift, who will be in charge of changing the ACS programming to reflect this change of schedule in order that this employee’s credentials function properly when they show up to work on their first afternoon or midnight shift?

I realize that reading this might lead one to possibly shy away from purchasing an Access Control System.  Don’t.  I hope that this short missive might simply serve to make you aware of the myriad of choices that are available to you with today’s modern ACS systems.  Customers rarely use more than a fraction of all of the features that are offered with their system.  One of my favorite features is that ACS can send the badge-in time and badge-out time data base straight to payroll’s computers and time sheets are automatically completed, no fuss, no muss.  (Whatever a “muss” is.)  (Actually, I looked it up and was reminded that it is when someone "Musses" your hair up.)

One last entry (I did promise to keep this short).  I’m gradually making my way through a manual on Access Control Systems.  I’m reading each page and culling out pages that I feel our technicians need to add to their “general knowledge” about ACS.  I send them these pages during the week and write a short test that is issued to everyone on Monday mornings.  The book is written by IPVM “IPVM is the world's leading authority on video surveillance, delivering unmatched reporting, research, and test results.”*1  While long regarded as the #1 go-to for info pertaining to all things video, they have branched out into the ACS world.  As such, they released the “IPVM 2022 Access Control Book”.  This is the volume that I’m perusing and testing on.  It is 653 pages long!  One book among many.  Gives you some idea just how much data there is on Access Control.
*1https://ipvm.com/about


 
A Pain in the...
And how to manage it • March 17, 2022
Datacom Inc. is very proud to be a participant in The Mahoning Valley NECA/IBEW “Electrical Industry Substance Abuse Program”.  We have been affiliated with this fine program since its inception.

Every employee of signatory contractors agrees to abide by the standards of the program which include: Initial hire and then random drug and alcohol testing after that, as well as once-yearly refresher training.  In addition, a drug and alcohol panel following any on-the-job accident or if there is valid suspicion of an employee being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Following a few years of demonstrated, successful, implementation of this program, the Ohio Bureau of Workmen’s Compensation has recently made inclusion in this program mandatory to any contractor that bids State jobs, and retains the right to deny future medical claims if the procedures are not strictly followed.

While I do not profess to have extensive knowledge of the pharmacological arena of life, I did grow up in the 70’s.  Okay?  ‘Nuff said?  Well its all you’re going to get out of me for now.  Let’s just say that I have “some” experience, though years have gone by, of what I’m writing about.  One thing I can say is that, at our refresher training, I learn at least one new thing every year.  Last year, the statement was made that, and I’m paraphrasing here: “Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen do a better job at fighting pain than opiates.”  My first reaction was “Well then they’re not doing the right opiates.”  I’ve been taking Tylenol and Advil for my entire life.  Why, in my youth, following excessive physical training in the military, I would eat 2-3 500mg tablets of Orudis KT daily if not more!  On moving back to Ohio and attempting to purchase that fine product here, I was informed that it was not an over-the-counter product, that it required a prescription.  I do not believe that I was successful in convincing the pharmacist that it was indeed offered over the counter in FL.  Regardless, that stuff worked and neither I, nor anyone else that was taking it, “spaced out” or behaved as if we were intoxicated in any way.  (I couldn’t help but notice in researching today’s blog that they’ve taken Orudis off of the market due to possible side effects.  Yeah right; they just didn’t want anything that effective in the market.  Also, the drug in it is Ketoprofen.  Apparently it’s quite powerful and not entirely good for you.)  Enough about my history.  What are these people giving the training talking about?

“Acetaminophen is an analgesic and antipyretic drug which is used to relieve pain and fever. Acetaminophen blocks pain by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandin, a natural substance in the body that initiates inflammation.”*1
*1 https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=APq-WBsSK8oz4b3brIfGu7ONS5psSHmUkQ:1647452032829&q=www.rxlist.com+%E2%80%BA+how+does+acetaminophen+work&spell=1&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiV4M2Jlcv2AhXrpXIEHWzpCyIQBSgAegQIARAy

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen work in incredibly similar fashions with the exception that Ibuprofen’s chemical makeup is more geared towards inflammatory pain like the arthritis-oriented variety.  “You should use acetaminophen for pain, but if you also have inflammation, consider taking ibuprofen instead. You can also take both of them together if you have pain and inflammation. However, never take more than the recommended dosage.  If you are confused between ibuprofen vs. acetaminophen usage, choose ibuprofen for inflammatory conditions and acetaminophen for "just pain".”*2
*2 https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/difference-acetaminophen-ibuprofen#:~:text=They%20act%20differently%20in%20the,like%20arthritis%20and%20menstrual%20cramps.

The training also stressed that there are verifiable distinctive changes in the way that a human brain behaves the very first time that opioids are introduced to the human body.  Not only to the neurological pathways that are damaged, but to the actual chemistry within the organ.  With the expanding U.S. Opiate crisis there have been a vast number of studies released that show these changes are the precursor to a brain that is indeed “addicted”.  This is why even a very short exposure to these drugs, though warranted for prescribing, vis-à-vis pain, are inevitably a poor choice.

In the studies that I read just now concerning the pain-alleviating effects of Tylenol and Advil, they were exploring all manner of pain management; from musculo-skeletal to hand surgery, from in-depth dental procedures to post C-section births, etc..  Seemingly very thorough studies, they appeared to be testing a wide gamut of pain-associated scenarios.  Even with these extensive varieties of agony, every one of these articles came to the conclusion that the use of these two very inexpensive, easily obtained, over-the-counter, drugs were the best “fit” for easing pain as well as, for the most part, doing no harm.  It was not expressed, but was implied in more than one article, that a small amount of pain endurance is preferable to a lifetime of opiate addiction.

"What about Cannabis?"  We’ve all heard that it is a wonderful pain reliever.  Of course, it is normally prior to a vote to legalize Medical marijuana and put out by some associate of whoever is going to profit immensely by passage of said vote.  “The association between cannabis use and the development of a psychotic disorder is supported by data synthesized in several good-quality systematic reviews. The magnitude of this association is moderate to large…”*3
*3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425748/

If you need to reread that sentence, go ahead.  I’ll wait, and it is definitely worth it.  To move on.  "But what about THC’s ability to ease pain?"  From a 4-year Australian study: “Interpretation: Cannabis use was common in people with chronic non-cancer pain who had been prescribed opioids, but we found no evidence that cannabis use improved patient outcomes. People who used cannabis had greater pain and lower self-efficacy in managing pain, and there was no evidence that cannabis use reduced pain severity or interference or exerted an opioid-sparing effect.”*4
*4 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29976328/

Ok, so Cannabis has an extremely narrow sector of pain management that it is effective in.  "But still, wouldn’t it be better to be hooked on weed than on opiates?"  That’s a decision for someone who resides several pay-grades above me, but I learned that another outcome of the same study was: “Conclusions: Cannabis use appears to increase rather than decrease the risk of developing nonmedical prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder.”*5
*5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756122/

So I’m thinking that the best idea for any of us that might need a little pain relief would be to raid the medicine cabinet and find the Tylenol, or Advil and then try to relax in a dark, quiet, temperature controlled area until the pain subsides.

I always say how lucky I am to be working for a company that cares not only about its customers, but about its employees as well.  Membership in the NECA/IBEW drug program does afford the company a minor easement on our Workman’s Comp monthly premium, but it also affords us, the employees, valuable, factual, information on one aspect of our daily lives.  Thank you Datacom Inc. for caring about me.



 

Have you ever submitted? • March 09, 2022
I don’t know why it hasn’t taken up permanent residence in my memory, but for whatever reason, my Hire Date constantly alludes me.  So, once again, I had to look it up.  Not quite believing it myself, it is: 12/1/1994.  Seems like I’ve been here for quite some time.  Some of you reading this might agree, but I hasten to add that while this is definitely the longest duration I've been employed in one place, this little venture is actually the second of my “adult” employment pursuits.  Following what I would term as a spate of “juvenile” jobs - Summer help on the Road Department of the Village I grew up in, Pumping gas, Pumping Diesel Fuel, Mechanic’s helper, etc. - I went on to join the United States Navy.  Following 2.5 years of training was 7.5 years of being an Aviation Anti-Submarine Warfare Operator.  I was Aircrew, and flew on the mighty P3C “Orion”, an airplane with the primary role of surveillance.  That ten years contained some of the best times of my life and I met many wonderful people, a few of which I’ve managed to stay in touch with.

So why the history lesson?  I just wanted to brag about serving my Country.  Well sure, but not really.  It was to flesh out the idea that I’ve been working for a living for a decently long amount of time.  My employer, DataCom Inc. started as an IT infrastructure company that installed telephone systems, but has morphed into being more of a Tech Company than anything else.  We still do cabling, better than anyone else I’m aware of, but we’re installing and servicing all manner of Cameras, Alarms, Access-Control Systems, Audio systems, and other tech more than ever before.  I’ve been promoted to the position of Project Manager and spend more time in the office now.  Recently, due to the GM being overloaded, I was tasked with completing the ”Submittals”.  I’d never done this before and so had to learn from scratch.

One more bit of history.  Installing voice and data cabling into office spaces more often than not involves fishing cables into and through cubicles.  We’ve all seen them.  Other than one set we witnessed years ago at a “360 Communications” (the precursor to Verizon) call center, they’re all basically the same.  Some may be fancier than others, but they all fulfill the same purpose.  If you’ve ever occupied one of these special “cubes”, you know that a major drawback to them is the foot room below the counter top.  They’re small, but normally made to accommodate at least one set of drawers as well as your computer.  With smaller components, today's computers are not as large so this isn’t as big of a pain as it used to be, but they still require cables.  Before the wireless devices came on board you had the data cable, power cable, mouse cable, monitor cable, and keyboard cable.  They all had to be routed under the desk top down to the cp.  It usually made for a heck of a mess.  Under the desk also seemed to be a wonderful spot for everyone to store their 'stuff' in as well.  “Happy Birthday Margaret, From: Your fellow office workers” from two years prior was one of my favorite finds of years ago.  Here in Northeast Ohio in the winter, it wasn’t uncommon to find coats, purses, blankets, or a space heater under there as well.

It was not easy, comfortable, or fun to add, or work on cabling under those things.  At every seminar that we attended concerning our job, when it was asked if there were any questions, my hand would shoot into the air.  On being called, I repeatedly asked: “When are the manufacturers of cubicles going to make these things easier to run cable into?”  (That was often interchanged with: “When are the architects going to start learning how we do our job?”)  I was assured that the powers that be were working towards that end, but, with the occasional rare exception, I’ve seen no changes in cubicle design since that time.  This brings me to now and the task of writing submittals.

A submittal must be sent to the customer after you win a bid for a job.  Basically, very basically, even though they have accepted your bid, and for all intent and purpose you have the job, now you must prove that you are not only capable of doing the job, but you must submit information regarding the material that you are going to do this job with.  How does this work?  First, before you entered your bid, you consulted a Spec sheet – supplied by the customer’s architect who designed the job – which has EXACTLY what the job entails.  It lists acceptable parts and materials with drawings showing exactly where they want you to install said parts and materials.  Now your job was to figure out from these drawings the exact number of parts and materials that are needed to install them where they tell you to put them.  You then calculated a labor number that you believed you needed to charge in order to do this and still make some profit.

Ok.  With me so far?  The Spec's, written by them, give you EVERYTHING.  The only areas of your bid that might be different is if you can somehow get these pieces/parts for less than other contractors, or if your labor number is different, or if you require more – or are willing to accept less – profit.  Let's move on.  We did all of this, our bid was accepted and DataCom Inc. was awarded the job.

Another item that the Spec Sheet has is EXACTLY what they want for you to include in your submittals.  So I spent the last 6 work days cutting and pasting THEIR Spec sheet, so that I could include it in the submittal so that they could see that we plan to install WHAT THEY said, and WHERE THEY said.  I also marked up their print with a PDF program so that they could see how we plan on labelling the job.  Again, EXACTLY as they asked us to in the Spec.  I also included “Manufacturer’s Data Sheets” for each and every piece/part that we are planning to install.  Don’t forget; this is information on the EXACT pieces/parts that THEY Spec’d.  About the only information that I included in there that they didn’t necessarily have is data sheets on our testing equipment.

One last item I’d like to talk about.  Often the Spec sheet will say one thing in one paragraph, and then directly contradict it two or three paragraphs later.  These Spec’s are often hundreds of pages long.  So this faux pas occurs when the architect, not wanting to completely rewrite the Spec, cuts and pastes from an old project and changes it to the new one.  They change one item and are unaware that the contradiction even exists later in the document.  In these instances the unwritten rule for contractors is to comply with the drawing.  These drawings are often very intense and loaded with information.  It isn’t difficult to miss one tiny little symbol after staring at one of these for an afternoon.

To say that I’ve suffered brain fog for the last several afternoons would be an understatement.  I am not a cold-weather person, but after getting off of work yesterday the walk to my work van in that cool air with the sun shining was exhilarating!  I soaked in the Vitamin D and stayed in the chilly air for more than a few minutes.

If you’ve made it this far, I’m sure that you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about.  Well… it’s somewhere between a vent and arrogance.  Yes, submittals are not fun.  But not everyone gets to do them.  I’ve worked long and hard to get where I am, but I’m still lucky to work for a contractor that not only “does the job right”, but is a part of this “brotherhood” of contractors.  These are big jobs; this one is for a 3-story Medical Office building soon to be built in nearby Salem, Ohio.  I expect we’ll start working in there sometime this fall.  Sometimes bigger jobs require bigger hoops to jump through.  I am happy to work for DataCom Inc., and if you ever need a submittal from us, just ask; I’ll be happy to generate one for you.


 
Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP)
THAT ought to make you want to read this! Two'sday 2/22/22 • February 22, 2022


And if it doesn’t, then I guess I just don’t know what will!  Ok, I’ll admit that this shouldn’t be the first time that you’ve read of this product.  You just didn’t know it as I only alluded to it last October when I wrote about Anti-Bacterial cables.  What I wrote then was that a Plenum-rated cable contained Fluorine.  FEP is the product that is added to PVC prior to forming it into the outside jacket/insulation on IT cabling.  To quickly recap, PVC gives off a noxious, invisible, odorless gas when it burns.  This is what can incapacitate you before you even know that anything is on fire.  Adding chemicals to the PVC makes the smoke visible, quite pungent, and less noxious.  As anyone who has smelled this stink knows, you quickly become aware that there is a problem and quite possibly should evacuate!

So outside of a quick chemistry lesson, why are we writing about this today?  First let me revisit another blog (or two) from last year.  I wrote about ships backed up from coming into port in California and thereby delaying the delivery of many goods to our Country.  How is it today?  An article from February 10, 2022: “The number of container ships queuing to enter the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach declined to 78 vessels on Tuesday, down from the peak of 109 ships reached a month earlier, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.”*1
*1https://www.wsj.com/articles/container-ship-backup-at-southern-california-ports-is-receding-11644523945

They say the backup is receding and give the numbers to prove it.  I read this to say that it only declined 28%; meaning that day’s number of ships was still almost ¾ of the worst day’s tally.  That, to me, is not a significant improvement!

To tell the truth, the set back emanating from the west coast, for those of us on the east coast, probably will not compare to the drought that a possible trucker’s strike will bring.

But that’s not the gist of today’s writing.  Today, I want to make you aware of the coming shortage of Cat-6, Plenum, 4-pair, cable.  Not all cable mind you; just specifically the blue and the white varieties.  You know – the two most popular cable colors when it comes to Cat-6, Plenum, 4-pair, cable.  We were recently made aware of the fact that one of the two, let me repeat that; one of the two companies in this entire Country that manufactures the chemicals to turn PVC cable into Plenum cable has  inexplicably decided to shut down for a time.  No reason known, and the vague time period expressed is: “at least a month”.  Originally we were told two months.  I’ve written about “time” recently but I have direct physical knowledge that sometimes “only two weeks” can mean upwards of two years depending on who is declaring this limit to a duration.

I learned yesterday that the other company that produces this chemical has made the grandiose gesture of volunteering to take on the monumental task of producing product for both their own, as well as the shuttered company’s, customers.  Anyone who follows tech knows that millions of feet of Plenum cabling is pulled every day.  Yes the advent of 5G has taken an immense share of the data stream burden off of the physical infrastructure, but cabled connections vs wireless ones in the workplace still ranks as #1.  It procures better control over the network for the customer, while providing reliable, fast, trustworthy connections for their workers.  While I’m sure it will be a boon for the company that stepped up and took on these added orders, making themselves and their workers substantially more money, it also means that the lead-time for ordering the aforementioned cable has increased exponentially.

On being informed of this coming dilemma, we immediately ordered, and received, all of this vital product that could be found in our local area.  When we reached out to other locales, we were informed that someone else had beaten us to the prize.  There is no more to be had for the foreseeable future.  I am proud to work for a company that has the wherewithal to be able to make a purchase like this in today’s market.  We have worked hard, have earned and enjoy a great reputation, and deserve to be in this position where we can pre-order/purchase large amounts of the cable that we know our customers and the industry mandate.

Datacom Inc. is staying ahead of this trouble as best as we know how.  One thing I would like to assure you is that we will do everything in our power to satisfy our customers.  It isn’t really my place to speak for electrons but they, and the magnetic fields that they induce pushing the energy in the cable are 100% unaware of what color cable they are occupying.  And they are happiest when oscillating in a cable professionally installed by DataCom Inc. and her fabulous Installers & Technicians.



 

Customer Service is vital • February 02, 2022
One of the oldest manufacturers of agricultural equipment, John Deere, the well-known moniker of Deere & Co. is under fire from both the public as well as the private sector.  In a nutshell, folks aren’t happy with their own supposed inability to easily repair the larger farm tractors; specifically, those systems that reside on the more technological side of the equation.  The tractor's computer is proprietary and contains code and programs that not even the dealers are able to modify. “Proponents of right to repair are really seeking unfettered access to onboard software and source code, efforts that C & B,..." (a John Deere agricultural equipment dealer) "...AED..." (Agriculture Engineering Department)  "...and the broader industry vehemently reject. The only reason customers need access to the source code is to enable them to modify safety and environmental protections on the equipment to improve performance.”*1  “Even the dealers can’t change the codes,” Burwell explains.”*1 

Seems like an open-and-shut case until you read into it a bit more.  #1: The large-farm owner operates on very strict time constraints.  They cannot afford to be delayed in their pursuits by having to wait for a “certified” mechanic to show up to repair a broken tractor the next day or later, only to be told the tractor will be down for a week while waiting for a vital part – that cannot be repaired - to show up.  While today’s modern machines have increased yields across the board – up 40% in average wheat fields – the sophistication in technology that brought this about comes with a price!

#2 The politicians, in their normal overzealous manner, have completely blown this problem out of proportion.  “The so-called “Right to Repair” movement, which is pushing legislation at all levels of government,” (“Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced the “Agricultural Right to Repair Act…”*1) “is based on the false narrative that equipment end users are denied the ability to repair and maintain their own equipment.  The truth is, unlike the consumer electronics sector and other industries targeted by right to repair proponents, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and authorized distributors of heavy equipment already make diagnostic tools, parts and repair manuals available to their customers.”*1  “What they are prohibited from doing is modifying their equipment, particularly to circumvent important safety and environmental controls.*1
*1 https://www.farm-equipment.com/articles/20002-deere-hit-with-class-action-lawsuit-over-right-to-repair

As, hopefully, all of you are aware DataCom Inc. is a Technology Company first and an IT infrastructure Company second.  Day-to-day we work with existing high-end tech while simultaneously researching what is coming tomorrow.  Recently, our General Manager remarked that, to him, working at DataCom is like Christmas morning over and over.  He’s the first one to open the box of new equipment and gets to put it through its paces.  I just walked through our show room and observed that he has attached a new camera that we will install in a nearby city.  It looks remarkably like a UFO.  The spherical body contains (4) 5Mpixel cameras with auto-tracking.  When they detect motion, they direct the 2Mpixel PTZ camera in the dome to that spot and it begins following whatever was detected.  It also has an 850’ IR range for low-light conditions.  He’s exploring its capabilities alongside of one of our temperature sensing camera.  (We use that one for daily Covid screening.)

Without going into more detail, I think I’ve made it clear why the JD situation bothers me.  Datacom, like John Deere, sells technologically advanced systems that the consumer cannot repair.  We typically install our systems, and then turn it over to the customer to manage as little or as much as they want.   While the systems we work with do not typically require full-time monitoring like a tractor does, they ALL are capable of much more than the average user is even aware.  And why would they be?  As long as the system is doing what they want it to, why would anyone concern themselves with the notion that the system can perform other functions that are not needed?  We do not hesitate to instruct our customers on ALL of the aspects of their new system that they require, or enquire about.  If we are aware of a feature that we feel would enhance our customer’s experience with what we have sold them we make that information known and explore it further if it should interest them.

As regards repair of a system, this usually happens on the “physical” side of the equipment.  We are not code writers, and beyond replacing a card, do not rebuild equipment.  Admittedly, today’s IT equipment does not endure like that of yesteryear; but in all honesty, this is due more to the speed at which tech is advancing than to any lack of integrity concerning physical parts.  It seems, generally, that at about the 5-year birthday of any tech device, the owner will have become used to the features that their infant device brought to them initially when they installed it.  They become aware that they would like something new; something shiny.  Cooler, more rational heads prevail as they determine that they have not yet attained their full Return-On-Investment and can wait just a bit longer before replacing it.  Then, about 2-3 years later, they decide that they simply cannot live without the enhanced bells and whistles that come with that shiny new item and they spring for the cost of replacing it.  Thus, repairs are statistically a very small part of our revenue.  However if we were to fall prey to anything like what is currently facing John Deere?  In the article sited, the legislation proposed could force some dealers to supply replacement parts - AT COST!  Why would any dealer even consider this?  Though I consider it unnecessary, I can tell you that no company shall remain in business by simply covering their costs. 

I guess that I don’t truly visualize a lawsuit like the one that John Deere is currently facing coming our way after all.  Thank you for allowing me to talk this out with you.

One thing is for sure;  It has always been true, it remains true today, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that it remains true: DataCom Inc. sells High-Quality, High-Tech equipment.  And you may be sure that we will install and service it - as well as train our customers on the service/maintenance of it - to the very best of our abilities!



 
The robots are coming, the robots are coming…
In a manner of speaking • January 24, 2022
”As industrial manufacturing moves towards total automation (emphasis added), the same degree of compatibility is needed for the equipment that makes up the complex manufacturing machine.” *1

The title says it all; Even if I was to declare it from horseback as I rode through the town at night, it probably would not come close to drawing the attention that Mr. Revere’s cry did on April 18, 1875.  I doubt if it would be accepted as true; Though, this trend in automation is indeed coming.  

That’s a bit of a misnomer as it’s been coming for quite a long time.  I’m sure that with each renovation to modernize the assembly lines at his factory in Dearborn, Mr. Henry Ford’s employees were heard to complain about being replaced by a machine.  But look what this incredible marvel has brought us.  The first cars were pushed via actual man-power through the first line’s prototype.  That time wasted meant a higher price tag for the car.  While the first Model T’s were still an expensive proposition, they were quickly found to be a necessity and the average working family, with just a touch more scrimping and saving than what they were used to, were able to make the purchase.  As automation improved, the line performance improved.  Just like today, the price for the Model T did not go down, but unlike today, it also did not increase - at least not immediately.  Wages for working on these more technical lines did increase.  That, of course, trickled down to the spiderweb of manufacturing involved in producing an automobile.  In essence, the car became more economical.  As other factories witnessed this revolution, they adopted the practice of an assembly-linesque model. (Yes, I made up that word.  Not really sure of the spelling just yet; it doesn’t look right no matter what way I type it.  Ah, well it’s new.  Remember – you saw it here first!)

Where this is heading is anybody’s guess.  Totally automated assembly?  Possibly.   In some regards, it is being instituted here in Northwest Ohio right now.  More on that in a bit.  Why am I writing about this today and what does it have to do with DataCom Inc.?  We’ll get there as well.

 “Solutions for industrial and process control applications do not need high-speed data transmission, but they must support a considerably longer reach.  Data rates as low as 10 Mb/s are sufficient, but for lengths as high as 1000 meters.” *1

Since the concept of ethernet was introduced in May of 1973, every aspect of R&D into data transmission via this medium has been geared towards making the data exchange faster while maintaining its integrity.  Recently, the first part of that trend has been reversed.  As mentioned in the White Paper that is referenced, incredibly fast speeds are simply not needed when it comes to some parts of the industrial world; 10Mb, long thought of as being slow, is sufficient for this application.  What is needed is a longer range.  Ethernet rules and standards do not permit the channel to exceed 100 meters.  Building sufficient data closets to fulfill this requirement in today’s mammoth factories can be cost prohibitive – especially when you consider that said closet is, in this instance, delivering more than is required at the remote location.   Those high speeds have to be paid for.  Fiber-Optic cable is more expensive than copper, fragile, and difficult to terminate requiring equipment much more expensive than ordinary hand tools.  The interface between the fiber cable and the switch gear carries a higher price tag than that of its copper cousin as well.  Wasteful spending does not equate to efficiency.  So if fiber is too expensive, and 4-pair copper cable isn’t “allowed” due to distance constraints, what then is the answer?

This very specific need has been addressed through a different cable.  What we’re talking about is a Single Pair Ethernet (SPE).  This makes the copper cable lighter, smaller, less expensive, and easier to install.  It is still capable of carrying PoE except – and get ready for another acronym – it is known as Power over Data Lines (PoDL (pronounced “poodle”)), delivering 0.5-52Watts of power.

Now, the telephone patent was approved in March of 1876.  It turns out that SPE actually came about remarkably soon after that to interconnect them.  Very quickly the benefit of twisting the pairs together to help ward off unwanted “noise” on the line was discovered.  This technique continues today.  The vast majority of modern ethernet traffic is conducted over twisted 4-pair copper cabling.  In the 1980’s some protocols were proffered over SPE, but they were all proprietary with no standardization among them.  Due to the various manufacturer’s unwillingness to cooperate, and other factors, achieving an actual standard proved insurmountable – until recently.  Though still evolving today, SPE standards began to be discussed in 2013.  Why?  Allow me to share the largest reason, in my opinion, behind this push.

“A key driver for SPE in the industrial market is an emerging megatrend called Industry 4.0…” “…is the trend towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes include cyber-physical systems (CPS), the internet of things (IoT), industrial internet of things (IIoT), cloud computing, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence.  To achieve this level of autonomy and intelligence will require an increased level of machine-to-machine bi-directional communication.  In addition to end devices receiving instructions, they will need to return information in the form of diagnostic data and status reports.” *1  Remember my earlier sentence about this very trend occurring in NW Ohio?  A friend of mine works in the Jeep plant at Chrysler’s facility in Toledo.  He started on the line in the late 70’s to early 80’s; except for a 4-year vacation, during which time he served in the United States Navy, he has worked his way up the chain to his current position in the QA division of the maintenance department.  After learning of it as I did research for this blog, I enquired of him if he had heard of Industry 4.0.  Admitting that he had to look up that particular phrase, he explained that it sounded remarkably like what Chrysler is trying to accomplish at the facility he works in.
*1Leviton White Paper: The Advantages of Single Pair Ethernet, Mark Dearing and Jeff Poulsen 2021

Please don’t think this only applies to the automotive industry.  The White Paper lists the top three market segments that need to employ this as: Industrial Manufacturing, Building Automation, and Automotive Technology.  With those three already encompassing a large portion of the total, I find it easy to speculate that there won’t be a single segment of industry that will not employ aspects of this in the very near future.

I watched a home improvement show last evening.  In the show a home was renovated into a Smart House in order that the owners could use several devices to help them care for their handicapped son, who is in a wheelchair.  The entire home is now geared toward making this young man more and more independent as he grows and gets older.  SPE run throughout this home would not only enable today’s devices to operate and communicate, but would ensure that tomorrow’s will be “plug-and-play.

Also, please don’t think that SPE is a replacement for today’s cabling.  Like the two varieties of fiber (Multi- and Single-mode), Hard-Clad-Silica fiber, the various grades of 4-Pair copper cable (C-5e, C-6, & C-6A), and multiple types of coaxial cable (RG-6, RG-11, and the older RG-59), SPE is its own entity and has its place for unique applications.  This plethora of “tools” for network designers to use only serves to make it better for the end users and customers.  

At DataCom Inc., we spend the time and energy to keep up with everything that is offered in today’s modern world of ITS.  Though SPE is a newer form of a very old cable, DataCom is staying proficient in the installation of this product.  It is but another step we have taken to maintain our reputation as the best cabling contractor in the Mahoning Valley!


 
Sound over IP
It's not just for computers (or telephones) anymore... • January 12, 2022


While DataCom Inc. began life as an Interconnect Company – I.E. someone that installed voice and data cabling to be used for telephones, computers, faxes, modems, Point-of-Sales, cameras, etc., now we have prudently morphed into a Technology Company.  We still install the cabling infrastructure that is needed for these systems to work – in fact, we do it better than any of our nearest competitors, offering a lifetime warranty – but we also design, install, and service the “systems” that are involved to bring you access to all that is available in 21st century telecommunication, security, and informational systems.

Our latest endeavor is an IP-based Public Address/intercom sound system. To facilitate this, we’ve turned to Axis Networks. Our #1 supplier of high-end camera and video recording equipment and software, they are typically known as a leader in the security sector of technology.   Already acknowledged as setting the standard when it comes to cameras, this trend is being continued in the production of their IP sound equipment.

IP-based simply means that each device resides on, and is powered through, your existing data network.  The speakers, microphones, and other terminals each contain both hardware and software to act alone or as part of a group.  Axis’ system is completely compatible with most SIP devices, so your favorite brand of device may easily be made a part of your new sound network.  Obviously the system interfaces with Axis cameras seamlessly.

Besides ease of use, the adaptability of this system is amazing.  Repetitive announcements are a breeze to program, add to, or change.  These announcements can be programmed to occur only during normal business hours, 24/7, or some other customized schedule.

Putting different speakers into a group for a one-time paging event is simple and fast.  Another aspect of the system residing on your network is the ease of troubleshooting in the future.  Instead of a faulty speaker or cabling disabling either a group of speakers, (or possibly the entire system) only the speaker in question will be affected; Fix the affected cable, or replace the speaker and you’re back in business.  Each speaker contains its own amplifier, so there is no need to purchase – and pay the utility bill each month for – a high-wattage amplifier whose single failure means complete disabling of your entire intercom system.

It can be programmed to be used as an ad-hoc intrusion alarm system.  For instance: during published business hours, operation is normal.  However, outside of those times, if the self-contained microphone on a speaker in a certain area hears noise, the software in that speaker can send an alert to either your Axis alarm or the Axis App on your cell phone.  You’ll be logged in so it will only take a second for you to bring up the camera in the room where the noise was reported and see if it is a false alarm or not.  Another option is for a pre-recorded “greeting” to be played following this occurrence; “Stop, You have been detected in a restricted area.  The authorities have been notified!”

Speakers are offered in standard configurations as bull horns, wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted in both indoor and outdoor models.  Once the speakers are installed and connected to your switchgear, there are two ways of “running” the system; A stand-alone server, or an App.  While the App does a fine job, and would be more economical for smaller, simple paging applications, using a separate server affords you access to ALL of the functionality versus using only an App.

We are looking forward to offering the option of this fantastic system to all of our hospitality, educational, and industrial customers.


 
Wireless Tech status
What’s coming regarding wireless technology, and how fast will it get here? • January 04, 2022
Hmmm, how “fast” will it get here?  Are  you trying to say something with that question?  Here, let me help – No; it’s just a question about time – but I like the way you’re thinking.  Allow me to elaborate; What we have to remember is that Time is Relative!  Before proceeding please note that the numbers supplied in this blog are very general in nature.  In Stephen Hawking’s book  “A Brief History of Time” he writes:  “Someone told me that each equation I included in the book would halve the sales”.*1  I'm not equating my intellectual level to Mr. Hawking's, but I like to think that this idea does apply somewhat to quoting numbers as well.
*1 A Brief History of Time. Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-38016-3

7G and 8G have been on the fringes of internet conversation since before 2019.  Remember, that was before 5G was even euphemistically released.  I say euphemistically because I’m not entirely certain that it has truly been released even yet; at least not everywhere.  Though something of a relatively-late-arrival to the party, I remember the spotty coverage that was available when cellular telephones were first being introduced.  One relative of mine lived in an area that required them to carry a phone that required a satchel to house its transmitter.  You probably remember them by the slang name, “Bag” phone.  The transmitter of my relative’s had 5 watts of power!  (Today’s cellular device typically transmits at roughly 125mWatt (0.125 or 1/8 of a Watt).)  Also, while today’s cellular towers transmit at between 20-60W, towers of yesteryear peaked closer to their max of 100W for an omni-directional antenna.  The tower’s giant antenna as well as the larger space housing the facility means they can receive our cell’s lower power signal, and have room for much larger and much better receivers that can make use of this tiny signal.  So that’s how it worked originally, and, in many ways, now.

As the third generation (3G) and newer generations came into being, additional, improved towers were constructed.  As the purchasing of cellular devices began to proliferate, so too did the sheer number of towers and antenna farms.  The country, except for certain areas, was, for the most part, covered after 4G was released.  Possibly cooler heads at the cellular companies should have prevailed though as I cannot believe that the people making the decision to proceed at break-neck speeds to construct new towers were unaware that 5G was near to being released – AND – that for complete implementation of this new technology, 5G switchgear had to be retrofitted into ALL of these new farms.  I’m sure there was a certain amount of stockpile of 4G equipment already purchased just sitting waiting to be installed.  This represents a huge outlay of cash already spent.  This is where my disbelief of 5G ever being fully released comes into play.

I’ve read where the providers, wanting to save money, decided to “push” 5G technology across the existing 4G hardware.  Yes, it works, but do we really get the full experience that 5G provides?  Probably not, but it is enough of an improvement over 4G that we consumers just don’t seem to care.

Let's move forward.  Possibly those decision makers did eventually learn.  It seems that, knowing that 6G is getting closer and closer to release, they've "hedged" their bet regarding new construction somewhat.  Maybe they've learned from their past mistakes.  This is all conjecture of course, but they’ve probably run out of 4G switches.  While they have been installing the newer 5G switches into all of the newly constructed control rooms, they're not stock-piling them.  After all, as coverage is improved, there's less need of new antenna farms that would require this equipment.  They pulled off a feat by pushing 5G across 4G switches, why not push 6G tech across 5G gear?  Makes fiscal sense.  4G was the first truly “fast” connection.  Obviously 5G improves on that, and 6G will take it even further.  And while 5G definitely carries many innovative technologies encompassed within its system the speed at which it operates is a main component of these being able to function.  6G promises to improve these even further.
 
Now when it comes to innovation, 7and 8G is where its at!  Like 5 and 6G, higher speeds will be mandatory with 7 and 8G; but they already exist, even if in only experimental forms.  NASA uses their own network called ESnet, short for Energy Science Network, a set of private pipes that has demonstrated cross-country data transfers of 91 gigabits per second.*2
*2https://www.google.com/search?q=how+fast+is+nasa%27s+data+network&sxsrf=AOaemvKyJ_J1fIDEWKFihfhaHI043qS5Sw%3A1641309146309&ei=2mPUYYakEqiE9PwPgrewyA0&ved=0ahUKEwiG-YaFsZj1AhUoAp0JHYIbDNkQ4dUDCA4&uact=5&oq=how+fast+is+nasa%27s+data+network&gs_lcp=Cgdnd3Mtd2l6EAMyBQgAEM0CMgUIABDNAjIFCAAQzQI6BwgAEEcQsANKBAhBGABKBAhGGABQihFYkR5gozZoAnACeACAAWeIAc0IkgEEMTAuMpgBAKABAcgBCMABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz

“With the terahertz spectrum now open for use, we’ll be normalized to ultra-fast speeds by the time R&D for 7G and 8G rolls around. We suspect we’ll start to see a shift away from an emphasis on faster internet speeds and towards the other emerging capabilities of later generations. This may include: 
First - Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things: Both of these have emerged as the defining elements of 5G and beyond.
And Second - Coverage: With 6G, we’ve begun to see discussions about comprehensive coverage, or coverage in novel environments such as undersea and in space.” *3  
*3https://whatis6g.com/6-early-predictions-what-lies-beyond-6g/

That last paragraph gives me pause as I am both thrilled and scared to death by what it might mean.

Now, how fast will it get here?  Well believe it or not there is a sort of time-table to this stuff.  Maybe it's driven by the aforementioned need for the providers to recoup the R&D money already spent as well as get the full usefulness and life out of the 5G equipment that has previously been purchased and installed.  By that schedule, we’re looking at 2030’s release of 6G and 7G is slated for no earlier than 2040.  Of course the schedulers are using 2020’s technology and data to prophesy when these “should” be available.  What that speculates is that if there is some monumental breakthrough, some amazing discovery or step forward in physics, electrical engineering, chemistry, etc., it may shorten the interval until we witness these amazing technologies being available to the public.

Having said that, I leave you with this bit of trivial knowledge.  How come time seems to go faster as we age?  I know that as I was getting our Christmas tree out of storage this past December, it seemed like just a very short time ago that I was putting it away.  And yet I remember as a child it seemed as though an eternity passed between the holiday seasons.  What gives?  The way it was explained to me - and it seems plausible so I’ll relay it - is that, to a child born on Christmas day, the time between their birth and the next Christmas is their entire lifetime.  Consequently the period between that day and the next Christmas day - ½ of their total lifetime - seems to them like forever; and so on and so on as they (we) get older.  Not that it has anything to do with Christmas, but that the interval of one year shrinks in significance when compared with the sum total of time you have experienced alive.  While I can imagine prehistoric times, or the Old West in days gone by, the only time period I can directly relate to is my own personal time here on this planet.  So, for me, it will only be 2/17th’s of my life by the time 2030 rolls around.  I’m betting it flies by!

Researching 6, 7, and 8G is not an everyday occurrence for any of us here at DataCom Inc.  What is an everyday occurrence is staff and management striving to stay on top of the technological marvels that we are experiencing.  The speed at which what we install is progressing is astounding.   I don’t know the physical toll that a completely wireless society will perpetuate upon our bodies, and that isn’t for me to decide.  What I do know is that Datacom Inc. has a mission goal of staying on the cusp of technological improvements and expansion.  Training of our tech's remains at the forefront of our daily plan of action while management remains vigilant for emerging tech to make what we do better, faster, or sometimes – and only if the quality remains – cheaper.

Stop by or schedule an appointment with our designer to see what we can do for you!

 
 
 
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