Lights, camera, action!

This month, Cabling Installation & Maintenance debuts Installer Tips Videos, a series of four training videos based on the magazine`s popular Installer Tips section. The videos are advertised elsewhere in this issue (page 52), so I won`t plug them here. Instead, I want to talk about what I learned while we were on location shooting the videos this summer.

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Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.

Senior Associate Editor

This month, Cabling Installation & Maintenance debuts Installer Tips Videos, a series of four training videos based on the magazine`s popular Installer Tips section. The videos are advertised elsewhere in this issue (page 52), so I won`t plug them here. Instead, I want to talk about what I learned while we were on location shooting the videos this summer.

The first thing I found out, being the propmaster for the video shoot, was that many of the props we were looking for were difficult to find. I believed, perhaps naively, that we could go to a single source to get all the test equipment, cable, connectors, tools and consumables that we needed. However, even the branch office of a major telecommunications distributor located in a large city could supply us with only half of the necessary props. I ended up ransacking electrical suppliers, hardware stores and art supply houses for the items called for in the script. Why should you care about this? Because our props are the tools and supplies you work with every day. Trying to locate an extensive and inflexible list of such items gave me a much greater appreciation of the logistical problems cabling contractors face daily at the job site.

The second thing that became clear to me was the "ease-of-use" factor. As test equipment has become more sophisticated, it has also become more difficult to operate. When you`re getting ready to shoot a take, you don`t have time for your on-air technician to read an instruction manual. I suspect the same thing is true at the job site. Installers we talk to often mention the ease-of-use factor, but I only realized how important this is as we demonstrated testing tips from the magazine.

What I also learned was just how complicated this business can be. The variety of installation situations, the many tools needed for them, and the sophistication of testing equipment and procedures definitely make this a high-tech occupation. People who think otherwise should try their hand at making up a Category 5-compliant patch cord, or attaching and polishing a fiber-optic connector, or any number of other cable installation procedures that require both manual skill and technical savvy.

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"Look what Daddy brought you-- your first set of connecting blocks."

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