New 6 Point Checklist for Cables

A couple of weeks ago BASEC (The British Approvals Service for Cables) issued a 6 point checklist pre-empting the release of the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations in July. They are alerting cable installers that the need to ensure the correct specification of cables for major projects has now become critical.

Dr Jeremy Hodge, BASEC’s Chief Executive, said: “For any size of project, the last piece of news a contractor or specifier wants is that cabling has to be stripped out because the system is not working properly, there is a safety implication or the wrong cable has been installed.”

BASEC’s six-point Spec Check was designed as a quick-check guide to reducing the risk of things going wrong for specifiers and installers, the outlines are briefly:

  1. Get the installation design right. Good installation design reveals the technical specification for each circuit on the mode of use, accessories, current loading, physical protection needs, fire and smoke performance, operating temperature, future expansion and so on…
  2. Get the cable specification right. From the circuit specification, the cables should be specified by reference to the standard number and table / type
  3. Communicate specification. Use one of the standard specification packages or forms usable by quantity surveyors and procurement specialists.
  4. Check application of the spec. When changes are proposed make sure these are signed off by the designer to ensure continuing compliance with the design rules.
  5. Check product on delivery. This is important for both installer and client. When cable arrives on site check more specifically what has been purchased for you and inspect the product.
  6. Final check. Commissioning tests and inspections are the last opportunity to enforce the specification. Make sure these are rigorously carried out and if problems are found check what is installed against the original specification again. If there are problems found with or questions are raised about a cable, don’t automatically strip out the cable, but seek advice. If necessary get the cable tested – BASEC can provide advice in such circumstances.

If you would like to read the Full Alert, it’s available online at
The wiring regulation changes coming into force in July (BS 7671) are outlined at Voltimum.

How Green Is Your Valley?

Few have made the connection between IT efficiency and green compliance” so says Steve Nunn in The Green Room, BBC’s green issues series. But I’m not so sure. I have noticed a significant increase in awareness at least in the IT press of the need to reduce power costs particularly in the Data centre environment, no doubt aided by the introduction of virtualisation which can reduce a Data centre’s energy bill by as much as 60%.

Next week’s Data centre Power and Cooling Summit to be held in London is undersigned as “Responding to the Green Challenge” with presentation topics including solutions for the green datacentre, and how to use ‘greening’ to differentiate your data centre business together with tactics and strategies for energy conservation.

I know talk comes before action, before reducing power consumption and wastage, before design but when doing so satisfies both capitalist and ecologist alike — it’s a no-brainer!

A blog dedicated to greening the data centre has also been launched by a group of data centre notables.

Copper vs Fibre cabling costs


You might assume that because the technology involved in manufacturing optical fibre cable is more complex than copper, installation of fibre networks would inevitably be more expensive than using copper. However, with the advent of CAT6 cabling means that copper is getting faster — but at a cost.

There are environments where copper is at a severe disadvantage; take an industrial environment with a lot of electromagnetic interference; copper cable in this type of environment will need a lot of protection, incurring extra cost, fibre would be totally immune to such interference.

Environments requiring long cable runs of 180m or more can mean that the cost of repeaters and outdoor environment cabling will outstrip fibre costs. If you want to test this for yourself, an excellent resource is the TIA Fiber Optic LAN Section which provides a cost model (you need to give email details) to help you separate out the copper vs fibre dilemma.

What’s Up Rises to Top in Bake-Off

What’s Up Gold screenshot

CRN Tech put network management solutions up against one another and gave Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold Premium v11 first-place for its robust features, strong troubleshooting capabilities and comprehensive reports. Engineers were particularly impressed with its feature set, price/performance and integration capabilities, giving it top marks across those three categories. SolarWinds LANSurveyor 10 came second, with AdRem Netcrunch (personally I’ve not heard of this) third. The full article puts these solutions through their paces and is worth a read.

Green Everything

You know how hot carbon footprints, recycling and energy efficiency are right now, well Computacenter are introducing the Green Electronics Council’s EPEAT system, that stands for the snappily titled “Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool System” a tool designed to help identify the environmental friendliness of IT equipment. Based on a system of 23 criteria (I’ve just looked at this and it’s a little mind-boggling) it is designed to help both purchasers and manufacturers move towards more environmentally preferable products. Now I think this is a great idea but I know that in our company at least we sometimes find it difficult enough to implement very basic green practices like reducing paper usage, recycling paper, cardboard etc and helping our customers to dispose conscientiously by implementing the WEEE scheme I think it will take a while for this to become mainstream practice – no excuse really we should all have been doing this a long time ago!

Quantum Computing – Is this the Future?

Having dipped my toe into trying to understand quantum physics (in books designed to explain such concepts to the ordinary wo/man in the street) and ending up with not inconsiderable brain-ache, I don’t stand a hope of understanding the development announced last week by Canadian start-up D-Wave Systems of the world’s first commercially viable quantum computer, the “16-qubit” Orion. Apparently, it uses an analogue processor that uses the laws of quantum mechanics rather than utilising the rather more conventional laws of physics.

Please tell me if I’m wrong but I think it works like this. Digital computer bits switch between either a 0 or a 1 state, but the quantum processor can be in both a 1 and a 0 state at the same time. In the demo D-Wave Systems gave the computer 3 problems to solve; searching for molecular structures that match a pre-selected caffeine molecule, create a complicated wedding seating plan and successfully fill in various Sudoku puzzles.

Oh and BTW the Quantum computer runs at 4 millikelvin (or nearly minus 273.15 degrees Celsius)-not much danger of over-heating then!

For further reading take a look at the following sites:
CNet News
D-Wave Systems

How To Get A Windows Refund

If you buy a computer, you can find yourself paying for a Windows licence even though you don’t want it and aren’t going to use it. If you ever find yourself in this situation and decide that you have the time and the energy to get a refund Serge Wroclawski can show you how. He tried and eventually succeeded in obtaining a refund from Dell and shares his experience at…..he also stirred up some impassioned comments!