What do I hear quite often?
Does it come with a manual? • October 18, 2023
While many of the office telephone systems that we sell today are of the “Hosted” variety, DataCom Inc. also continues to provide “On-Premise” units when requested.  This system is defined where there is a controller (traditionally known as the PBX) that physically resides within your office space.  Additionally, I would have to say that most of my customers continue to prefer an actual keyset sitting on their desk, with a handset that they may lodge between their shoulder and their chin, freeing them to use both of their hands to type, or whatever, while they are conducting their telephone conversations.

Recently, I installed such a system at a mansion in nearby Leetonia, OH.  Sadly, the mansion had been completely destroyed by a fire about 6 years ago.  Getting the owner back into the completely-rebuilt dwelling has been a long, drawn out, arduous task.  You see, the owner mandated that the new house would be an exact replica of the old structure where physically able; built to modern standards with today’s materials and safety codes included.  Luckily, the drawings and spec’s of the original mansion were available.  What I’m trying to get across, is that the owner wanted exactly what he remembered – with a few selective niceties thrown in.  The owner was very happy with the VoIP system utilizing large-screen, LED displays on all of the new keysets.  I am not complaining, I am only explaining, that this customer is definitely “Old School”.

So it was no surprise when he called just a few days after the install to enquire if he might get a user manual sent out to him.  Now, like said customer, I also remember the days before “Google it” had any meaning beyond gibberish; and I do remember being advised to “read the directions” when faced with questions about a newly acquired device.  But working in the IT community for almost 30 years has taught me that “manuals” are, sad, but true, a thing of the past.

When I was in the service, I did my job from a seat on an airplane.  Each seat was a station with different responsibilities being assigned to it.  It was an incredibly technical job, using very complicated, precise equipment, in a vehicle that travelled above the earth.  That mode of travel carried its’ own responsibilities just to maintain flight – often involving dealing with emergency situations.  Each station/seat had a User Manual; It was about 3-4 inches thick.  While there were smaller supplements, for certain specialized items, this one tome held instructions and schematics for virtually every piece of equipment related to that station and job.  How?  How could one book possibly contain ALL of the information that was required?

Well, you’ve got to understand that there were only so many modes in which each those early-days pieces of equipment could operate.  Many devices only had one bit of info that pertained to it.

It seems that designers of today’s gadgets have made certain that every piece of high tech equipment performs on MANY different levels.  Consider that; all of the activities that your cell phone performs, probably least among these is using it as a telephone.  I’m guessing that internet access for checking your social media is, almost certainly, number one.  Texting, followed by taking pictures would be next; with checking emails falling into that “last” category of usage along with your phone calls.  And those are only the Major systems!  Let's not forget the tertiary systems; the alarm clocks, timers, calculators, bug & plant identifiers, etc.

Well, cell phones are not alone in this multi-tasking world we find ourselves in.  To stay on subject, be aware that today’s telephone systems are often coupled with your alarm, camera, or access control systems.  They may provide screen pops of video or other useful data while giving some control of these systems through your keypad.

Your voicemail, after receiving a message, is not only capable of lighting the little “Message” light on your keyset, but can be set up to send either an email or text alerting you to your message.  The email might even contain a Wave file of the voicemail itself.  With all of these amazing possibilities, is it any wonder that there are no manuals automatically provided with your new system?  If there were, they would be incredibly immense with pages numbering into the thousands.  Today, it is easier – and quicker – for you to ascertain the answer to your questions through the internet.  Just Google It.

We owe them a party!
They did it!! We're free! • June 30, 2023
For this short diatribe’s intent and purpose, we had arrived on North America in 1620.  Over the next 155 years, the original English citizen/colonists and their progeny would populate many areas up and down the eastern seaboard; but the local governing body would be comprised of 13 North American British colonies (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia).  We were a thriving, multi-faceted, cadre of folks.

Being located far from the English Monarchy, afforded the colonists several glimpses into previously unknown freedoms; independence was both encouraged and rewarded.  Among the officials back home, there was an inherent “out of sight, out of mind” attitude regarding the tiny group of folks here in this land.  It could be said that the Colonies were, for the most part, left alone to govern in a limited fashion as they saw fit.  Seemingly, as long as the taxes and liens were satisfied, goods were supplied, and demands for support from England were held to a minimum, the motherland was happy to allow the colonists to behave differently than they would have, were they back home.

By 1775, the “grand experiment” was obviously working quite well.  Mindful of this, the English Monarchy increasingly recognized the growing power of our small contingent and raced to quell it - but without stifling the supply of high quality, low cost, merchandise.  The British Army and Navy, that the colonist’s taxes were indeed supporting, was beginning to have more and more of a presence here on “our” land.  Often, instead of protecting the people, the martial forces were being tasked in such a manner that the people were  made to feel the increasing measure of imminent military power.

This pressure was more than evident and had to have been weighing heavily on the minds of our elected representatives, as they were contemplating an official act that wasn't universally accepted among the very people that they were elected to speak for.  They were about to construct and sign: The Declaration of Independence.  It was sure to not be a popular act; for many of the colonists were happy to "just get along".  It took an amazing act of bravery and an incredible act of marketing to, once signed, sell it to those colonists who were holding out.  But sell it they did it!

While our leaders discussed and planned for the separation from England, the other side was putting their plan into action in the form of boots-on-the-ground!  They outfitted and deployed a fighting force to America. Just months prior to our formal declaration of independence was the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back".  In an effort to bring resistance to a halt, British forces were assigned to remove a stockpile of weapons that was being built and stored by the Colonists.  We had had enough!   April 19, 1775, in Massachusetts, first in Lexington, followed by Concord, was where the the war began.  Incredulously, eight years later, in 1783, the British were done!  What was forecast to have been a brief skirmish, with England easily steam rolling over the American's, had dragged on much longer than ever thought possible.  While I’m certain that there had to have been some admiration towards our tenacity and fighting spirit, the vexation was duly felt by folks in England; that the war was simply taking too long with far too many losses in life and property among the British war machine.  We had won!!

Now, please imagine – virtually every man, woman, and child here in our new Country had suffered immensely.  Everyone knew someone, if not many people, that had been killed; whole families were wiped out.  Houses and entire estates were in ruins or completely gone.  Every single signer of the Declaration of Independence was either ruined, dead, or soon to be one of those choices.  But this surreal, fantastic sacrifice had worked.  We were FREE!  Earlier, on September 9, 1776, the Continental Congress had formally declared that the “United Colonies” would, as a nation, forever after be known as the “United States” of America. Now, especially after this hard-fought victory, this name had proven to be true and that the people truly deserved that majestic moniker be applied to their homeland.

It is only right and just that we pay homage to this amazing gift; granted to us by the simple act of our having been born here, that was so hard-earned by those hearty souls.  Their blood is still in the ground and we must never walk upon it without remembering, giving thanks – and celebrating!!

From DataCom Inc., HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to ALL of our customers, employees, friends, and acquaintances!  We’ll be back on the 5th to continue faithfully supplying superlative work and materials to all of our customers.


Installing AI today... • April 04, 2023
As I was researching ways for DataCom Inc. to “stay ahead” of our local competition as regards IT infrastructure, I was trying to ascertain, even if it was only a theory: “What is the future of IT cabling in order to facilitate the use of AI in the workplace?”.  That quickly evolved into the idea that it involves a Converged Network.  Ok, so what is a Converged Network?  Simply, it is a data network that is capable of carrying both data and power to and from all of your devices; those already on the network – your computers, laptops, Wireless Access Points, printers, copiers, faxes, telephones, and possibly even alarms – as well as the devices not thought to traditionally occupy space on the network.  These are your lights, appliances, etc.  Your HVAC is powered traditionally, but controlled through the network.

A prime example of this is the Sinclair hotel in Fort Worth, Texas.  At that location, there is one main Telecom closet which houses the voice and data services running in from the street, i.e. Internet and Telephone Service.  These are run through the routers and firewalls before being broken out and sent to the customer’s switchgear.  Using traditional terms, this is the Main Distribution Frame, or MDF.  From this location there is a single fiber cable dedicated to each of the 164 rooms and suites.  The fiber is terminated and connected to another, much smaller, switch above the ceiling of each of the rooms.  It is then a simple matter to install copper Cat6a cables the short distance between the ceiling switch and every location in that room which requires connectivity.  Everything else in the room, excepting only the clothes iron and the hair dryer, and the HVAC (already mentioned) is powered by and controlled through this small switch.  In the same manner as it has been for years, you gain access through either a key-card, or an app on your cell phone.  But now these not only unlock the door, but also tell the room's atmospheric and light controls that you are either in the room or away.  The mirrors are touch-screen.  The blinds are open and shut remotely from anywhere in the room.  The shower control is digital, allowing you to select the water direction, temperature, rate, and pressure.  The TV’s are 8K, receiving their power and signal from the network.  The refrigerator and coffee pot are both on the network and controllable by the consumer remotely.  Of course the lights are operated in this fashion as well along with your room heating and airconditioning controls.  All of this, while simultaneously providing you with WiFi and hard-wire data, and your in-room telephone.

In large scale applications, when running higher wattages of Power over Ethernet (PoE), care must be taken when installing the copper cabling.  Large bundles of cables must be avoided due to the heat generated within these smaller cables with each one possibly carrying up to 90Watts of power.  With the style of Converged Network installed in the Sinclair, the inherently smaller bundles make this a moot point – safety by design!

So this is the Converged Network.  This particular style of network infrastructure is a pseudo GPON, or Gigabit ethernet Passive Optical Network.  Now this handy little acronym is just a short way of saying that we, and I am completely oversimplifying this here, start out with a multitude of fibers and break it down the further we remove ourselves from the provider.  In this instance the large fiber bringing the service to the router and switch is broken down to a smaller fiber to another switch, which in turn is broken down to multiple copper cables homerun to the devices.

So, I guess my research only “sort of” answered my original question regarding AI implementation, but it was an interesting search regardless.  What DataCom Inc. is going to take away from this is that we are going to ensure that this knowledge remains at the forefront of our thinking today - and into our future designs.  This forward-thinking style of a data network definitely has applications beyond hotels.  In a very short time of looking I found a myriad of companies that are also offering these amenities to their customers and employees alike.  We will be introducing ourselves to several of them very shortly that we might establish a relationship where we will learn how to design these systems, as well as properly install them.  It’s always a good idea to have as many arrows in your quiver as possible.

We can’t wait!

BICSI Winter Conference
We're Running out of Prefixes • February 14, 2023
So our beloved General Manager, Brandon Simms, has just returned to work after spending last week in sunny Tampa, Florida.  How nice.  What, pray tell, was he doing down there – besides running a 5K race which included a lap of the Daytona 500 race track?  (BTW, that's where that picture on the Facebook post was taken and the event it was concerning.)  He was attending the BICSI Winter Conference & Exhibition.  This is an annual conference where members of BICSI – which DataCom Inc. is – as well as individuals carrying BICSI certifications – which Brandon does – can meet for training via seminars on all aspects of IT.  Also, there are numerous exhibitions of current and future practices and materials for those of us in this industry as well.

At one of the lectures, it was made known that data transfer speeds will be increasing in data centers, and very soon.  Us old timers remember when 10Mbit/sec was considered fast.  (I once sat and argued with a vendor about the speed of my dial-up modem.  They ended the conversation with “Mr. Cross, we only guarantee 24kbit speeds, and that’s plenty fast!"  Sheesh.)  Happily, it wasn’t long before 10M became 100M.  Today, 1Gbit is considered “ok”, but really everyone would prefer 10Gbit over their network.  Now, everyone that had 10G was looking forward to 40G and 400G, but it seems that we’re not going in that direction.  Nay, Nay.  At the conference, it was stated that 800Gbit speeds will very soon become the norm!

Hold on one second; I’ve written blogs in the last year which detailed new cables that will reach out further than the standards allow.  These cables are for factory scenarios and carry communications between machines; they carry machine language in the form of raw data.  Why I’m mentioning this is that they are also designed to operate at the aforementioned, slower, 100Mbit speeds.  It’s confusing to me; if these machines are ok running at these lower speeds, why then do we need the blisteringly fast communications I’m writing of today?  But then it dawns on me that these are machines talking to machines - without any human involvment.  No video, no multi-application transmissions, no timing, and, probably, very little quality control of the signal.  Why not?  Well, today's modern machines have built-in intuition.  They "know" what to expect from their "brother' machines in any given situation.  With the advent of AI (Artificial Intelligence), and with that functionality being built into mechanization, should any event occur of which the machine was not previously aware, they will have the ability to "learn"; and between what they already knew, and what they have learned, even if they receive "garbled" signals they will then be able to piece the data together and make the correct decision.

So ok, I realize that we're not talking about out on the factory floor, but still, 400G seems awful fast.  Why the need for 800G in the data center?  Well, allow me this: “By 2025, IDC says worldwide data will grow 61% to 175 zettabytes, with as much of the data residing in the cloud as in data centers.”*1  That’s by the year 2025 – just two years from now!  So, at that crazy-high amount of traffic, data centers, especially those making up the cloud, simply must go faster to be able to commute that vast amount of data across the networks.

Mind blown?  No?  Well, at the conference, it was shared that: by 2030 that 175 number is expected to increase to over 2000.  2000+zettabytes!  Oh, sorry, what’s a zettabyte?  “A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes.”*1  With more and more offices, homes, vehicles, and just plain ol' people, joining the IoT (Internet of Things) each and every day, and the slow-but-sure takeover of all things on this planet by AI , these numbers - the sheer astronomical amount of data being transferred every day - will grow exponentially!


Until 2022, the Metric Prefixes topped out at "Yotta" (Pronounced: Yoda.  That's too funny).  With the increases we're talking about, they added "Ronna" & "Quetta" (1 followed by 30 zero's).  Will that be enough?  If we've been paying attention, we know that the answer is - No.  As for myself, my poor old mind, at this late stage, while able, quite simply doesn't want to contemplate that.

But this is why DataCom Inc. expends the time and expense to send our people to these conferences.  This is where we get to see what is on the horizon.  We’re thinking: “What part of what we learn can we bring back to the Mahoning Valley to share with our customers.  What training do we need to get for our technicians and workers, today, to prepare for the future.”  It truly is exciting, and while this old timer maybe won’t be working when it all comes to fruition, I’m happy it is more than guaranteed to occur for our younger workers; for them, and for DataCom’s customers, as they find out what portion of this future “fits” for their workplace.

The final result of what Brandon received from his attendance is Continuing Education Credits.  These are mandatory to maintain his certification as an RCDD.  This certification is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated superlative knowledge in all aspects of designing data networks and IT infrastructure.  So if the numbers that I’ve shared in this blog are daunting to you, give us a call and we’ll have Brandon sit down with you to discuss how DataCom Inc. can best install today’s fast, smart data networks and systems at your facility that you may join the coming revolution.

Stand by for this to continue when I share exactly what kind of cables will be carrying this enormous amount of data to you.
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