Listening, learning, and growing

As the articles in this month’s issue were going through the editing process, two of them stood out to me because they are particularly meaningful...

Mar 1st, 2006

As the articles in this month’s issue were going through the editing process, two of them stood out to me because they are particularly meaningful as a reflection of the way this magazine presents information to you.

First is Brian Milligan’s article “Copper cable surfing: Television meets UTP” in which he discusses the technical feasibilities of transmitting cable television over unshielded twisted-pair cabling. The article carries a decidedly favorable tone about the possibility.

Why does that topic keenly exemplify the manner in which this magazine presents information to you? Exactly one year ago, I mocked a cabling-system vendor for a tradeshow display that prominently featured video signals running over their end-to-end UTP system. “Where’s the
RJ-45 port on the back of my TV?” I wanted to know, and wished the display had featured something more relevant to end-users’ needs.

Well, apparently TV transmission really is relevant. This month’s article comes on the heels of a technical presentation entitled, simply enough, “Television distribution on UTP,” that Gregg Kelley made at the most recent BICSI conference. Milligan quotes Kelley in his article. While the viability of this technology doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find RJ-45 ports on the back of new televisions, it makes it clear to me that there are ways to use an installed base of UTP for this purpose. That shapes up as a possibility worth considering for the end-user who, for one reason or another, faces complications trying to install coaxial cabling.

When I made that stink a year ago, I never used the vendor’s name because, as I said then, they know who they are. I won’t name them now either. Unless they want me to. My message to them is: If you think a public acknowledgement is in order, just let me know.

Climbing back on my high horse for a moment, I’m satisfied that the magazine is presenting an optimistic viewpoint on TV-over-UTP this month, when its know-it-all chief editor could have dug his heels in and continued to cast doubt on the technology. Over the past year, that chief editor (whose name I won’t use here; he knows who he is) listened, learned, and maybe even grew a little bit in the process.

With that as a backdrop, I present another article from this month’s issue. In “New wireless guidelines promote more cabling,” (page 38), Betsy Ziobron talks a lot about the wireless access point (AP). Or, is it the wireless access point (WAP)? I’ve seen the term abbreviated as AP, which is how we do it within these pages, and as WAP.

Maybe the worst excuse in the world for doing anything a certain way is, “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” So, that’s no reason to stick with AP as opposed to WAP.

But two other facts cloud the issue for me. First, WAP is also an abbreviation for wireless application protocol, a term used mostly in the arena of mobile phones, pagers, and wireless communications devices of the like, not in wireless local area networking. And second, every time I see the term WAP, I think about a fight scene from the old Batman TV show starring Adam West (which was never delivered to my home via UTP cabling, by the way). If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. Every time someone got hit, a nonsense word like BAM or ZOW (or WAP) would appear on the screen. And I don’t think I’ll be able to handle reading an article that makes me recall that show a dozen or more times.

But it’s not about me, I have to keep reminding myself. And in the spirit of listening, learning, and growing, we’re going to let you decide whether we use AP or WAP as an abbreviation for wireless access point. From March 17 through March 30, the magazine’s Web site will conduct a poll to determine which abbreviation we should use. And whichever one you choose will be our official style.

As always, we appreciate you reading. And I personally look forward to the poll results. We’ll have them for you two months from now.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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