Saturday, March 21, 2009

What ever happened to standards?

Last week I had to go down to our plant in Ohio to run cable. While there, I found out that we didn't have an plugs for the face plates. These are the female ends that sit inside the wall for network cabling.

So we ran over to a couple of stores to find some. The first two stores didn't have any. The third one did. When we got back to the plant, I found that the receptacle that I got didn't fit the face plate.

Now this caused 2 problems. 1, it looked half-assed. Which I feel is a direct reflection on my work ethic (even though that is how I was told to leave it). 2, it left the cable too short for the need. I ended up putting a male end on the cable, expecting the equipment to be moved over closer to the wall, which it wasn't. I had only ran enough cable for the run to reach the wall.

What the problem really shows though is a problem with patents. They've destroyed standards. When I was younger, I could go into a store, and get a face plate, or a plug, or anything else, and know that even though they were from different manufacturers, they'd fit together no problem. As long as they were not meant to be decorative.

Even now looking at power strips, they all do the same thing. They all have roughly the same amount of outlets, but they're all shaped different and have their own patent numbers.

I thought the point of the patent was to make people create new things, not use it as a way to get rich, and lock the end users into one company's equipment.

Basically now if I want to replace a cable or outlet; I have to go and buy the part, the "proper" face plate, and maybe even a new outlet box for mounting the cable into the wall.

And if I'm adding cable to the existing box, but can't get the female adapter, that means I'll have to buy more, replace the ones ran previously (which could be a problem depending on how many times they've been cut back to replace the adapters, and how much extra cable length was ran), and then buy the proper parts to make it fit and be presentable.

Maybe it's just me but I think there is something wrong with this picture.


Jennifer said...

Oh, it's not just you..

Chris J said...

I don't know how it is in other fields of study, but it's pretty bad in Information Technology.

The cable was just the most recent version that made me think of it, but there are issues with hardware by the same manufacturing not working with other hardware. Software not working with other software, etc.

I really do blame patent trolling though. The creation of patents, just to control what others can do.