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Snagless RJ45 connectors – How To Make Network Cables Snagless

Patch Panel

Snagless RJ45 Connectors – the Odd Request

Snagless RJ45 connectors are that odd request that my department makes from time to time. Why do you need RJ45 connectors anyway, it’s the invariable answer from supervisors, and the typical reminder: “You have all sorts of patchcords, all dimensions…” Well, first of all, we sysadmins never have all the patchcords dimensions available. The IT racks should be something that should be kept as tidy as possible, and one way is to have custom length of the patchcords.

Depending on your infrastructure, you might want or might not want to use handmade patchcords in your racks; however, in many cases this is totally acceptable. You can probably make a Cat 5 patchcord, but you won’t be able to make a Cat 6 one. In other words your hand made patchcords will be able to run at Gigabit speeds, but not at 10 Gigabit speeds, even with the proper connectors and cables. Having said that, most of the equipment in a business server room is connected into a Gigabit switch or at lower speeds, so this would not be a problem.

Custom Patchcords – Always Broken Lokcing Tabs

The major problem with all the handmade Ethernet patchcords and cables is that the locking tab is breaking. I probably don’t have to explain why broken tabs are bad; they will not be secured into the equipment’s jack, resulting in intermittent data loss, or even disconnection.

There are two reasons for the locking tabs breaking so often. Firstly, the little locking tab is very fragile, and we can’t change that, it is fragile to keep the costs down. The other reason is the design, the locking tab sticks out, and it is very easy to get snagged and broken off. All store-bought cables come with a snagless boot; it’s the standard these days. All the cables with broken locking tabs don’t have the boots, because they are terminated in place, by either a datacom tech, or an admin.

These plugs from Panduit are the best snagless RJ45 connectors.

The connectors are meant for patch cords, and they are rated as providing Category 5e performance.

The patented tangle-free plug latch prevents snags, hence breaking.

They are easy release, unlike some snagless boots, and they save time on frequent moves, adds, and changes.

The design facilitates easy insertion and termination of wires

What Is the Solution for Broken RJ45 Connectors

One of the solutions to fix the snagging network cables is to install a "snagless" boot over the cable, before crimping the connector. After crimping, just push the boot over the connector and the boot will protect the little tab.

My preferred way to fix this is to use snagless RJ45 connectors, and a boot. This ensures the plug will not break ever, unless you purposely do it. You can also use just the snagless connectors, they are very good, and I do it very often, but if I have both the snagless connectors and the snagless boots, I will use both for optimization. The snagless plugs are slightly more expensive than the regular ones, but when you draw the line, and consider the troubleshooting needed on the long term, and the fact that sooner or later those RJ45 connectors will break and will need to be replaced, the additional cost is worth paying.

Like I already mentioned before, with the low prices for commercial made patchcords, and the quality ensured by a machine made ethernet cable, there is no need to make your own, it's just not practical.

This cables are made in a commercial facility, they are tested, and they come in a variety of lengths, just choose the one that is right for you. You can even get  to choose the color, so you can color code your patch panel connections, so everything looks tidy, and easy to follow.

How To Get Followers on Google+

Google+ Power Tip – How To Get Engaging Followers

Like any social network, Google+ works better to promote your content, if you have more followers. How to get followers on Google+ though, it looks like nobody wants to connect with your personal profile, or your page? Well, you have to take action yourself if you want more attention. It’s like socializing in real life, if you open the discussion, you can get anyone to talk to you, but most people are shy, and won’t There are two approaches to getting followers, very targeted, only add people who you know are in the same niche with you, or people who expressed interest in subjects in your niche, or add people who engage, regardless of the topics they are interested in.

Google+ is not like Facebook, where you only add people if you know them. You can add people even if you don’t know them at all, the platform is meant for that, and it is created to connect people with the same interests. You will get from time to time a message like: “I don’t know you, why did you add me?”. Just remove them from circles, and let them know you did, (always politely). But if you are a Facebook power user, with a lot of followers, you already know how that works. People follow your page, or even your personal profile, if your page seems interesting, and if you have many followers. It’s the authority that creates even more authority.

*These are my two methods of growing my circle with engaging people.*
I discovered these two methods, and I believe they are the best methods.

How do I find engaging people?

How do I find engaging people on Google+ is the next logical question. Search for hot posts with many pluses and many comments, ideally in your niche, and start adding people from that post. It is that simple. They usually add you back. Trust me this is very effective. The easiest way to add people from posts is with Circloscope.

How do I find people in my niche?

This is my newest idea on how to get more targeted circles. The idea is to filter a bit the people you add in circles, and to add only people who are sharing the same interests with you.
Go to Google, the search engine, and search for a keyword in your niche. In the search results, look for the rich snippets, where it shows an author. Simply click on the author’s picture and this will bring you to the Google+ profile. Add the author in your special/niche circle.
These will be the people you want to engage on your posts. They will bring the most authority to your author rankings for that specific niche. Don’t think of them as competitors, engage in their posts, help each other establish authority. Look at it as a synergy, and as a community work. You help each-other increase your authority. It is a social network, at the end of the day…

Why Not Just Add A Lot of People?

Well, you have a limit of 5000 people per account, in other words, you cannot add more than 5000 people in your circles. That sucks, isn’t it? No, not really. You don’t need to have in your circles more than 5000 people, normally, you can’t efficiently communicate with more than a few hundred people, unless you are a genius. So if you have 100.000 followers, is totally fine, but you can’t have more than 5000 in your circles. That means you need to be a little selective.

I have heard people who added indiscriminately people in circles, so that they could be added back. Then, once they were added, they removed everyone from their circles. This way they increased their followers number. I strongly advise you against this, if you ever thought about doing it. Even if you don’t care about ethics, you will be penalized by Google, and your following might end up useless. So, don’t.

Circle Sharing for More Followers

Circle sharing is very used by many authorities on the Internet. However, I believe that there is a lot to improve on the way it is presently used. The shared circles I’ve seen lately, are just a bunch of people who are considered engagers or authorities. There are a few ways to use shared circles to get circled more:

  • You add yourself to the circle, and share it on a new post. This ensures you are in the next circle re-share/re-post, but it doesn’t ensure any re-shares, re-posts.
  • You find a circle that has less than 500 people, and ask the poster to add you on the next shared circle version. Usually, you have to demonstrate you are an engager, so you will have to repost, comment, plus one, the respective circle. This ensures you are in a circulated circle.
  • The best way, and this is almost not used on Google+, is to create and share interests circles, and share them on communities. Let’s say you are an Internet marketer, you create a circle with all of your Internet marketer contacts on G+, ask them, (using a private message), if they want to be included in a public circle, and then name the circle “The Greatest Internet Marketers”, and share it on an IM Google+ community.



Compress files in Windows

As a Windows Network Administrator I always have to make space delete unneeded files, archive old files, compress files that we don’t need but we might need at some point.
I don’t use the same compression method every time, because the scenario is different. Here are a three compression methods for Windows.

Compress Files Using the NTFS Compression

Compress Contents to Save Disk Space

This method of compression only works on NTFS partitions. You don’t have the option for a FAT or FAT32 partition.
The most usual and easier way to do this is to use the Windows’ Graphical Interface and access the Advanced File Properties and select Compress contents to save disk space.

Compact – Compress files or folders from command line

If you would like to compress files from a batch file use this command line variant. Usually if you access the advanced file properties, (right-click => properties and => advanced) you have the option to compress contents to save space. Another good use of the command line is that it gives you a better view of the progress. The graphic interface sometimes hangs and you don’t know if the job is still active.

The command to compress a folder from within the folder is compact /c /s. It compresses all of the files within the folder and marks the folder as compressed so that new files are created compressed.

Why would you choose Compact and not Zipped Folder?

The main reason is that a compacted folder can be used by applications. In other words if the path of a log file points to a compacted folder this is transparent for the application that writes the log file. As a result your log files will be compacted. You cannot do this with Zipped folders or files.

Compress files using the Windows’ built-in zip archiving utility

Send to Compressed (Zipped) folder

Why would you choose Compressed (Zipped) Folder over the Compacted Folder?

The zipped Folder has better compression and better portability. The zipped folder has a slightly better compression rate, and you can copy the files to any other Operating System, send them by email and they will retain the compression. The compacted folders will only be compressed on the original location unless you compress the file again at the new destination. Note in the image below the difference between the two file compression formats. The Windows shell has the option to “show NTFS compressed files in color”, which is a great option. Note that the zipped file is slightly smaller than the compacted, (blue colored), one.

Compact (the native NTFS compression) vs Compress the send to Zipped Folder
Compact vs Compress click to enlarge

Is there a Compressed (zipped) Folder – command line variant?

Unfortunately, there isn’t any Windows built-in option. The good news though is that there is a free archiver that has a command line version as well. 7zip is a great free utility very flexible that manipulates all of the popular archiving file formats.

Compressing from the command line with 7zip is very simple, the simplest command is 7z a NewFolder.zip “New Folder” that compresses the folder New Folder into the archive: NewFolder.zip. For more options and switches type: 7z –h, note that 7z doesn’t understand the /? switch, usual on any Windows application.

Why would you choose 7Zip over the Windows’ built in compressing solutions?

The main reason is flexibility. 7zip has a lot of options/switches that control a lot of the compression aspects and it is very easy to use in a batch file.

An interesting application is to separately archive a lot of folders from a batch file. Let’s say you have 500 folders that you want to archive and you know you will be accessing those folders on a regular. It makes more sense to archive the folders separately and not in one big file. It is easier to access smaller zip files from the Windows shell and keeps the system responsive. To do this manually for 500 folders is a nightmare. Here is a command that runs from a batch file that will compress those folders separately, each folder one zip file:

for /D %%d in (*.*) do 7z a -tzip “%%d.zip” “.\%%d\*”

To run the command from the command line and not from a batch file the command is slightly different:

for /D %d in (*.*) do 7z a -tzip “%d.zip” “.\%d\*”

There are other great archiving utilities such as Winzip, Winrar, Pkzip, etc… They are not free, but you can get a trial-ware which in many cases is good enough for anybody.

A few tips on what to compress and what not.
Usually Installation files are already compressed so there is no benefit in compressing.
Digital photos in a jpg or gif format are already compressed using special algorithms.
PDF files don’t compress.
Text files, (plain text, log files, etc…) compress the best.
Word files can be compressed but not as much as the text files.