Hope springs eternal

Spring officially begins this month, and not a moment too soon as far as I am concerned. As I write this from my office in New Hampshire, we have just dug out from another winter storm

Th Pmclaughlin
Th Pmclaughlin
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Spring officially begins this month, and not a moment too soon as far as I am concerned. As I write this from my office in New Hampshire, we have just dug out from another winter storm. This one dropped about two feet of snow in some places. My back is sore from shoveling and I am cranky. I find it kind of ironic how the same scene that is described as a "winter wonderland" in mid- to late-December is rather passionately denounced by the time February rolls around.

But now we're into March, the official start of spring is no more than a few weeks away, and it's time for me (and everybody else who can relate to what I'm saying) to shake off those winter blahs. Time to look forward to new beginnings and all that. In fact, just by envisioning springtime I have already turned a corner. Things aren't as bad as they seemed just a few minutes ago. Shoveling snow isn't torture; it's a good workout. And spinning my Toyota out of control on slippery roadways only serves to sharpen my driving skills. I'm better off for it. Things are pretty good, and I'm sure they will only get better.

In that spirit, here's my wish list of things I'd like to see as the cabling industry enters another season:

  • Peace of mind for all those cabling-system managers with installed dark fiber. I'm thinking particularly about those who, years ago, included FDDI-grade fiber-optic cable in installation projects because they knew they would need it sometime down the road. And at that time, the commonly held belief was that fiber's information-carrying capacity was virtually infinite. We are now "down the road," and many network managers may be considering implementing gigabit-speed systems over that fiber. But they may not rest very easily because of concern over FDDI-grade fiber's performance at extremely high speeds. Over the past couple of years, the industry as a whole has learned a great deal about fiber's capabilities. So, to those with dark fiber: the truth is out there... somewhere.
  • A fully balloted, published, ratified, I's-dotted, T's-crossed 568B.2 document from TIA specifying copper-cabling components. Optimists say that by the time we all read this, we could be just days away from a final specification. But others say it might be closer to the end of this year before we see it. On my official wish list, it is worded this way: "a settling of the philosophical differences among members of the group that is hammering out this standard." Consider that the 568B.3 document, specifying fiber-optic components, is published and now collecting dust. Also consider that the 568B.1 document, specifying system performance, has already gone through balloting and is ready to go, but realistically cannot because it references B.2. Here's hoping for some common ground that will allow the TIA and the industry as a whole to move a step forward.
  • Good health and good tidings for a personal friend of mine, Joe O'Brien of Nelson Firestop Products in Tulsa, OK. Joe recently received BICSI's Harry J. Pfister award for outstanding contributions to the telecommunications industry. This isn't a plug for Joe's company or its products. In fact, if you ask anybody in the firestopping industry, they will tell you there should be enough business to go around. Joe has made it a personal campaign to save lives since he survived a kamikaze attack aboard the U.S.S. Bunker Hill in World War II. Though he survived, about 400 of his shipmates did not. He has carried out his campaign ever since. And we will never know how many lives have actually been saved because Joe O'Brien walked through a building, identified firestopping needs, and then helped the building owner meet those needs. Spring, summer, fall, winter... it doesn't matter to Joe. It's always firestopping season for him.
  • Of course, no springtime wish list that comes from New England would be complete without a request to end the 83-year drought. I'm not sure whether to direct this one to a higher power, or Babe Ruth, maybe Ted Williams? Perhaps I should just plead for George Steinbrenner's mercy. Please, please, please let this be the year for the Red Sox.

Patrick McLaughlin
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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