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Speedcabling - Untangling For Fun and Profit 138

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you-gotta-be-kidding-me dept.
ibnsuleiman writes "A new competitive sport is emerging amongst IT professionals and hobbyists. Speedcabling tests the ability to untangle the rat's nests that grow inside and outside of the beige boxes that pervade todays homes and workplaces. The first public competition was held in an LA gallery for a $50 gift certificate to a local Italian restaurant. The winner, LA web developer Matthew Howell, had to untangle a dozen ethernet cables in record time leaving them in working order to win."
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Speedcabling - Untangling For Fun and Profit

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  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by hbean (144582) * on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:31AM (#22405536)
    finally a sport where steroids wont help you!
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:33AM (#22405548)
    Apologies to my Scottish and Canadian friends. But, really??
  • Next on... (Score:5, Funny)

    by airedalez (743328) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:34AM (#22405568)
    ESPN 8 the ocho!
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:37AM (#22405600) Homepage
    The trouble is, the techniques that help you disentangle a bundle of cables not attached to any equipment are not applicable when some of the cables are plugged in and need to stay plugged in, as usually in real life. They need a variant of the sport where there are thirty cables, some plugged into various patch panels at both ends, some at one end only, and some free; your task is to extract the loose and dangling cables and leave the working ones.
    • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:53AM (#22405810)
      They need a variant of the sport

      What they really need is a life.

    • The cables will be plugged in when this game reaches the X Games.

    • by MT628496 (959515) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @11:17AM (#22406140)
      You mean that you don't just rip the switch out of the rack and throw it up in the air? I thought everyone untangled like that!
    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @11:57AM (#22406726) Journal
      Some of the cables will be live and have shorts in the insulation.
      • by Grrreat (584733)
        Yeah, that would be more realistic. It makes it much more challenging that way. It takes a steady hand(Operation TM).
    • by timelorde (7880)
      Isn't this part of Cisco's CCIE exam?
    • by nmg196 (184961) * on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:39PM (#22407410)
      > They need a variant of the sport where there are thirty cables, some plugged into various
      > patch panels at both ends, some at one end only, and some free; your task is to extract
      > the loose and dangling cables and leave the working ones.

      It's called Network Administration.

    • I concur, the event needs real routers and it has to stay working at the end to be a real "sport"... as much as it could ever be a real sport.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      The trouble is, the techniques that help you disentangle a bundle of cables not attached to any equipment are not applicable when some of the cables are plugged in and need to stay plugged in, as usually in real life.

      If they must stay plugged in, then there will be situations where the cables cannot be untangled, especially if connected at both ends to equipment you can't move.

      They need a variant of the sport where there are thirty cables, some plugged into various patch panels at both ends, some at one end

      • If you're untangling them loose, you might as well just yank them all, cut new wire, and untangle the original nest later

        Yes, but I'd add a recommendation to switch to structured cabling with Krone blocks and patch-by-exception panels. I had the job of straightening out several thousand Cat-5 rats nests for a retail chain a couple of years ago, and the Krone stuff worked a treat. Recommended.

        • I just looked up Krone blocks [warwick.ac.uk]. They do sound useful... effectively a patch bay is to audio as a disconnection block is to twisted-pair communication?

          A tip I learned for Cat5: Some cords have rubber pin protectors (little hoods over them, on the ends of the cable), so that if you yank the cable while untangling or pulling it out of a pipe or whatever, the little plastic pin won't get caught on something and snap off. However, the extra cost isn't justfied, because you can just take 4-6 inches of black elec

  • Geeks untangling ethernet cables is not new.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Overzeetop (214511)
      Yes, but as a spectator sport? That takes innovation. And a lot of really easily-entertained spectators.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Igarden2 (916096)
        It can't be any more boring than most 'reality TV' we've been seeing since the writers' strike started.
  • by GodCandy (1132301)
    Where was this contest when I worked in web hosting. We had one cabnet with over 1000 cables comming into it. It was a mess. I dont think there was a way to fix it...

    On another note... do we think that this will make the summer olympics??

    • On another note... do we think that this will make the summer olympics??

      Maybe the specialolympics.

  • by east coast (590680) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:40AM (#22405642)
    From the blurb: The winner, LA web developer Matthew Howell, had to untangle a dozen ethernet cables in record time leaving them in working order to win.

    Working order? Man, there's a catch to everything. I guess I can put my weed whacker with it's steel blades back...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by afidel (530433)
      When we did our computer room expansion several years ago we literally used hedge clippers to cut out the old cables from the raceway. We went from having 3 random colors for cables to having one color per cabinet with pre-labeled bundles. It makes it MUCH easier to maintain and I have some fun photos for a portfolio =)
  • by hedley (8715) <hedley@pacbell.net> on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:41AM (#22405648) Journal
    My normal failure mode with a cable jumble, that reassuring crack as it breaks off ensuring a lurking connectivity problem when its used in the future. I suppose those tabs need to be maintained in the contest FTW no?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by wc_paladin (989918)
      wrap some tape around all the cable ends, holding the tab down. I used to have the same problem. I was wasting time and money putting new tips on cables, until a friend of mine showed me this.
      • by LinuxDon (925232)
        Perhaps you would have been better off by investing in some protection caps ;)
        • by adolf (21054)
          That doesn't do any good for cables which are both already tangled, and already terminated.

  • by binaryspiral (784263) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:42AM (#22405670)
    I'll bet the national championships will end up on ESPN2 during the middle of the night... just like those tweens stacking cups.

    Another sport that deserves a WTF? award.
    • by mbourgon (186257)
      Can't forget the Magic: The Gathering we saw late one night. Complete with color commentary, whiteboard, instant replays, etc. It was both hysterical and sad at the same time.

      After that was marbles. One cool thing was that a 10-year-old beat out all the 40-year-olds.

      I suspect Mike Judge saw that too, and that's where The Ocho came from.
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:43AM (#22405676) Homepage Journal
    This is what one of our wiring closets looks like [earthlink.net]. Untangling cables to have some sense of order is just another job duty.


    And in case anyone is wondering, yes, those are punchdown boxes you see. It would be horrible to run the cable directly to the switch without having boxes and patch cables on each end.

    • by Ctrl-Z (28806)
      I wouldn't want to claim ownership of that in a public forum. Are you looking for pity?
      • by xSauronx (608805)
        he certainly isnt looking to impress prospective employers.
      • It's better than this [networkboy.net] (not mine)
        This [networkboy.net] is one of mine as is this [networkboy.net]and that [networkboy.net]

        -nB
      • It's not mine per se. It's where I work. That's the way it looks after I've done a small amount of organization to the cables.

        One of the first things I asked if could be done when I started here was to go through each closet and try to get them organized. Make sure they cables were wrapped around each other, each cable was labeled, etc. Obviously my request hasn't been acted upon.

        At least I've been able to document what device is using what cable number connected to what port on a switch. Granted, other
    • You fool! You've exposed His Noodlyness for all to see!

      You're in a heap of trouble, boy.

  • But how can it be fair if somebody gets a worse ball of clutter than another? Or do they do best x out of y?
  • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:45AM (#22405696)
    Throw in power cables, phone lines, and mice to make it more realistic.
    • And it doesn't even really matter which kind of mouse, I've seen both. . .
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sjbe (173966)
      Not to mention that it should be done under a poorly lit desk with insufficient room for more than one arm at a time while someone tries to do work around you during the contest.
    • Throw in power cables, phone lines, and mice to make it more realistic.
      And dried up cola stickiness...
  • Are there rules? (Score:5, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:48AM (#22405756)
    I mean, is this legal [polywater.com]?
  • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:48AM (#22405758) Journal
    The Japanese still have us beat on wacky game shows.
  • I like the way that they set them up for the competitors - shove them in a clothes dryer for 3 minutes and let them tangle naturally. That explains my girlfriends socks and stuff after each wash around my house.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ImpShial (1045486)

      That explains my friend who is a girl's socks and stuff after each wash around my house.


      There. Fixed that for ya' This is Slashdot, after all.


  • More like, people with too much time on their hands.
  • his secret? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sidlon (103096) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:55AM (#22405834)
    I hear he spent a lot of time training with this [nonoba.com].
  • Stick to chess, four-eyes.
  • You should have to untangle the cables with a minimum of down time.
  • Oh noes (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When you unplug the cable to untangle it in the game, you unplug it IN REAL LIFE!
  • by rickb928 (945187) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @11:09AM (#22405996) Homepage Journal
    ...since this is precisely what I do in my sleep, after all the MCSE weenies who weren't allowed to touch the cables in class have left for the day.

    Now, a hunt for the loose terminator in a Thinnet network, or the forced-duplex port in your Cisco stack, or the one Linksys VPN router with different firmware out among the 50+ telecommuters, or even the splitters over the ceilings in your Localtalk network at the elementary school, or any number of real-world-ish scenarios.

    Bah. Like playing pool for money. Too much like real work. And playing for beer makes you pee too much.

    • by qoncept (599709)
      Looks like the countersink flange went out on the CD-7 unit multiplier, knocking out hydraulic torque to the electric heat riser. That's right. Loser.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by EtherMonkey (705611)

      Thinnet? LOCALTALK??? Are you stuck in the '80's?


      Next thing you know, you'll be talking about memory optimization for Win3.11 with QMM, filtering SAP advertisements on the WAN, or configuring TCP/IP packet drivers so you can use this new Internet program called "Mosaic."

      • We just installed a new POP in Elbonia. It was either thinnet or a very sad-looking donkey.
    • >a hunt for the loose terminator in a Thinnet network

      Aaaaaagh! You've triggered my PTSD again.
  • It's changed its logo.. it's no longer 'news for nerds' and the look of the entire story has changed. Just seemed to happen with this story - previous ones come up normal.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by vtscott (1089271)
      The change only seems to be on stories in idle.slashdot.org [slashdot.org]. Maybe taco is testing it out before letting it loose on the rest of the site... I hope not though, because I'm not a fan of the new theme.
    • its cause this is idle.slashdot.org
    • by u38cg (607297)
      Don't worry, Idle has been like this for a while. We agree it looks hideous; complaining about it is a recognised spectator sport.
  • It's not speed cabling, it's wireball.
    Speed cabling (hooking the wires up) would be round two of the geek triathlon.

    Round three: ???
  • One of the first things you learn on a sailboat is any line left unattended will soon tie itself into a knot - usually at the worst possible time.

    I've noticed the same thing with networking and power cabling both at home and at work.

    • As much as I love a good round of detangling the ether.. I'm not exactly doing that everyday. Every sound gig resembles the following: Find the boxen/buckets of mic/power/adapter cables, untangle the mess left by the wank the night before, make a bad band sound good then untangle all those same cables from their gear and the beverages they have spilled throughout the night and just early enough that it has begun to congeal and stick and properly wrap to try to be nice the next shmoe unlike said wank from t
      • by kent_eh (543303)
        Not just spilled beverages either. I had a cable heap (containing mic, speaker, lighting and god knows what else) to untangle which had been polluted by both beverages and the inevitable result of massive overconsumption of beverages... Good thing I was able to raid some surgical gloves fro the first aid kit.
    • I call this 'Friendly Snakes Syndrome'
  • A contest based on cables and speed would have to be held in the Valley.
  • by RealErmine (621439) <commerce@NOSpaM.wordhole.net> on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @11:26AM (#22406272)

    that there is finally a story where my following formalization of the process of wire entanglement is on-topic.


    Kevin's First Law: For any number of wires, strings or similar objects, the probability of complex entanglement between them increases exponentially with the inverse of distance. Time required to entangle is also affected in a similar fashion. This phenomenon can be observed in consequence, but not in action.


    Also, for those who are interested, my second law is formalized thusly:


    Kevin's Second Law: There exists no robot that cannot be improved in form or function by the addition of a flamethrower.

    • by orielbean (936271)
      I found these great Velcro tie wraps at Home Depot the other day. You get like 50 of them for about 5 bucks and they stay tethered to the cables. They are great for cabling.
    • by roman_mir (125474)
      Roman's corollary: Those robots that already have 1 or more flamethrowers can always use another one.
  • ..but wait until some Geek called Alexander takes out his light sabre and just cuts all the cables in one go...
  • In my younger days, before they finally figured out what the issue was, I would spend hours untangling knotted balls of string. I got very good at it and still derive a certain pride from turning a tangled mess of cabling into a cleanly laid-out network system.

    The focus required to see which cables are tangled up where and to identify the loops that, once pulled out, will free up a myriad of other cables is just the type of ability you see in Asperger's and other high-order autistics.

  • The first public competition was held in an LA gallery for a $50 gift certificate to a local Italian restaurant.
    I'm going to guess that after a day of speedcabling, the winner probably won't order the spaghetti.
  • "To get them to replicate the conditions of the wires found snaking and choking their way around hard drive units, monitors and printers in offices worldwide..."

    Hard drives, eh? So your ethernet cables are inside the case, or what?
  • Ever been on a fishing trip where you had to wait a couple of hours of sailing with nothing to do and no tech to distract yourself with? Try and tie a knot in a rope that your mate can't untie. This ethernet cable game is just a newer version of the same old thing.
  • "Ethernet Cables"? (Score:3, Informative)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:49PM (#22407578)
    untangle a dozen ethernet cables

    What the hell are 'ethernet cables,' anyway? Ethernet is a protocol. Back in the good ol' days I set up Ethernet LANs with 10BASE-2 coax cable.


  • lol, we used to dye rolls of stockinette for a customer. Do you have any idea what happens when you put a 75ft long sock in the washing machine? in the dryer? you really have to see the knot it makes to believe it ;) 30 min in washer and 30 min to untangle it, rinse and repeat...err repeat to rinse actually.

    I like the idea of having some live and having to remove the free ones tho :)

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