Anyone who sticks sticky labels on PVC insulated cables needs to be shot.

It may seem like a good idea to put the label on, and it may seem like it sticks just fine, but in less than a year’s time the glue will have degraded to a slimy goop that causes the label to slip down the cable and leave a veritable filth-magnet in its place. I have actually thrown away otherwise perfectly good network cables rather than try to clean the muck off — and I’m someone who will happily re-terminate busted UTP connectors.

If you need to mark the cable in some way, by all means mark it. Permanent markers are fine, as is heat-shrink labelling. But if you use a sticky label, sellotape, electrical tape, or anything else self-adhesive, do so in the knowledge that one day, I will inevitably shuffle off this mortal coil. And when I do, I WILL HAUNT YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAYS.

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

11 responses to “Goop”

  1. Terry says :

    A spray of furniture polish is good to remove the goop should you need to. Also Lynx deodorant is good to remove dirty marks from plastic too (especially promethean boards)

  2. Gerard Sweeney says :

    Lynx on Promethean boards? Really? Top Tip!

    It’s got to be worth a crack at that before giving Promethean 45-odd quid for what appears to be effectively a bottle of Mr Muscle.

    As for the labels on CAT5 cables – most of our schools have red/yellow electrical insulation tape on them to signify the 2 main VLANs. These have been on them for about 5-6 years in some cases with no issue at all in terms of gloop and that’s in some of the most poorly-organised spaghetti-type toasty-hot messes out there. Maybe we’re just lucky.

    (I do realise I’ve just set the ball rolling for a “gotcha!” type jinx to hit me right in the face)

  3. Tim says :

    PAT labels on IEC leads are my pet hate. The thing I don’t understand is why a label that is essentially designed to stick to electrical cables does such a bad job.

    Oh, and you can get special cleaner for Promethean boards… you don’t want to invalidate your warranty by using unsupported deoderants!

  4. Kev says :

    I tend to wrap a bit of paper around the cable with enough left over for a tag and put tape on the paper. That way, if the need arises in the future to recrimp or something I can just slide it down a touch.

  5. ScottishTech says :

    Grr.. PAT labels..

    3 guesses what is the one of the more common things found crammed into a CD or floppy (yes, we still have ’em) drive?

    They don’t stick to the chasis, but they sure as hell can stick to the inside of a CD drive!!

    As for the Promethean thing – we’ve had the boards for 5 years now and there hasn’t been any form of warranty on any of them for about 2 years – something which has proven fun when spiking happens.

    Promethean apparently won’t supply the motherboards direct to us. So we have to use an authorised 3rd party company. The costs involved in getting a replacement are… Interesting. For what is effectively 2 minutes work in unscrewing a few screws, popping out a board and popping a new one back in, I could just about buy myself a shiny new 32 inch LCD.

    Promethean did contact one of the high schools a couple of years ago with the cost for extending the warranty on all of their 100-odd boards for 1 year. I won’t say the exact cost, but let’s just say I could easily have bought a new car. And not a remotely crappy one, either.

    Multiply that by 10 to total up the number of boards in our local authority, and you’ll see why the Powers That Be balked and have said it’s up to the schools to fix them themselves.

    I realise this has moved on from the original subject a tad(!!), but is my local authority really the only one to be in this situation?

    • Tim says :

      Re Spiking – we get this problem and whilst replacing the board electronics will usually fix it, it’s not always necessary. You may want to try this first:

      Upgrade the firmware on the board to latest version from Promethean.
      Upgrade the drivers and the software to latest versions.
      Delete all the settings files from My Docs \ ActivStudio or My Docs \ActivSoftware \ ActivInspire
      If roaming network profile, renew profile at the same time as deleting the settings files.

      • ScottishTech says :

        Thanks for the suggestions, Tim..

        Unfortunately, that’s the first 3 things that we try along changing pens. After that comes bringing round a known working laptop, changing serial cable, power supply, running from USB, sacrificing unsuspecting humanoid-filled planets in the name of the great God Dyzan. Then comes announcing it completely gubbed to the teacher with the trembling lip.

  6. TheCrust says :

    Are those little cable-ties with a tag on them that you can write on not an option?

    I don’t currently use these, but have used something similar in previous roles and they were quite neat. Beats the insulation tape approach hands down.

  7. Gerard Sweeney says :

    TheCrust – They look pretty handy… I’d seen similar things before, but I wasn’t sure if they were designed to be re-usable.

    By that, I mean if they were wipe clean – which is handy in one regard, but a blummin’ pain in another in that you can end up with ink all over you if you’re moving cables about.

    Looking at them, I see you can order a fine permanent marker, so presumably the ink will stay put.

    The only drawback I saw to those was that I’d need to keep a pair of snips/scissors in each cabinet if I had to repatch anything.. Which doesn’t happen THAT often, to be honest.

    TheCrust – When you used them (or the similar things) – what kind of layout/info did you use… For example, was it:

    Switch end – label has patch panel number
    Patch panel end – label has switch port number

    Or perhaps:
    Switch end – label has patch panel number
    Patch panel end – label has info on device/VLAN connected?

    Something like that?

    I’ve got about 600 PCs and umpteen other networky things in the school, so I’m quite keen to order a chunky bundle of these, but I’d prefer to approach what’s potentially an initially time-consuming task with some idea of how others might have used them.


    • TheCrust says :

      Gerard, you’ve got the idea – at the end of the day how you use them is up to you and your particular needs.

      I’ve used them to identify patch leads in crowded server cabinets so I know which bit of kit is on what cable, used them on cables running between patch panel and switch, even used them on IEC mains cables – especially in the back of a UPS where it can get very crowded.

      They’re just cable ties with an extra bit at the end of the day and as such not that reusable – I find a decent CD-R pen is all that’s required to write on them. Then you can move into the realms of colour designating purpose too. ;-)


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