Tidbits: Small things that make SOHO life just a little better

As I’ve been doing a little tidying up hereabouts I’ve stumbled across a few little things that have become part of how I do things. These are little items that make life in a home office just a little better.

Flat Cat 6 Ethernet Cables

Flat ethernet cableMy wife doesn’t like the fact that I occasionally have network cabling strewn across the floor. However, in my home office that’s just part of the package. However, I have found that I especially like the new flat Cat 6 Ethernet cables. I like them because they stow away smaller than most others. Also because their flat profile lets me pass them through places where bulkier cable just cannot go.

For example, we recently noted that our younger Labrador was getting agitated about something around the corner of the garage, near the trash cans and our tangerine tree. At first we didn’t make much of it. Later we discovered some nearly ripe tangerines way across the yard. This lead us to think that we might have a critter partaking of the fruit after dark.

To investigate I took a Grandstream GVC3672 surveillance camera that I had yet to permanently install and mounted it temporarily on the wall just outside my office door. From this vantage point, and given it’s narrow field of view, it had a clear view of the trash cans and most of the tangerine tree.

Since it’s a POE-capable camera I ran a flat Ethernet cable to it, literally running the cable through the door frame. The cable was slim enough that the door could still close, but the camera was both powered and connected. The cable wouldn’t be damaged even if this temporary installation lasted a week or two.

Now we have that view being recorded to our NVR. When next Gwen decides that something is amiss near the tangerine tree we can examine the video to hopefully see what or who is paying us a visit.

Short IEC C13 Cables

Short IEC cablesSo many times I have a number of power supplies, each with a long AC cord. I’d like to lace the power supply brick directly to a long outlet strip, which makes the long AC cord basically pointless and messy.

In such cases I’ve started to use short (1 foot) IEC leads. They’re only about $2 each and they reduce the amount of wiring clutter, which is great.

Short Extension Cords

There are never enough outlets, which makes outlet strips a must. We have quite a few around here. Some are long, with widely spaced outlets. Others are short with more closely spaced outlets. One is even even rack-mounted.

Short extension cordsBulky “Wall Wart” style power supplies are a problem. They are large enough to block the neighboring outlets when plugged into a common outlet strip. I’ve found that I can get around this by using a 12 inch extension cord. This short “pigtail” removes the bulky PSU from the outlet strip so that I can use every outlet. They’re only $2 each.

I especially appreciate these where front-facing, rack-mounted outlet strips are concerned. The pigtails can be used on the back side, where they are hidden from view, but allow me to use any combination of power supplies I need…without losing access to any of the outlets.

rack mount power strip

Zombieland was IMHO, a cinematic masterwork. I especially liked that way the lead character had concocted a series of rules by which to live in the post-apocalyptic reality. Rule #32 was, “Enjoy the little things.” These relatively little things make operations here a little nicer.