ISC   Information Support Concepts, Inc
A Certified Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE)

Issue 31

Publisher:  Jack Burlin                                Editor:  Patti Hammonds

January 3, 2008

Your success story            Monthly featured product            Kevinisms            Trivia         

Articles of Interest:  Are LAN Racks Dead?                      Indonesia Invades Santa Maria, California

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Your Success Story

Dear Jack,

I just wanted to write you a quick, but heartfelt “Thank You" for all the fantastic support.  When we developed technical problems with rack mount equipment we purchased through you with an offshore vendor, I was very concerned about getting support.  The language differences and time zone barrier alone "could" have made this very difficult.  We really appreciated the way ISC instantly took responsibility, acted as our advocate, and played a fast and effective role as liaison for communication, shipments, attempted fixes, etc.  In this case, the vendor was not able to correct the problem and ISC even made it easy to return the equipment then provided other options for us to keep our price point and find a solution that worked for us.  All this was done while making every effort to minimize interruptions to our business.  In my experience, you only really find out who your best business partners are when things go wrong.  ISC was solidly “there" for us and I would recommend your company without hesitation.

 Many thanks again…

 Best Regards,

Mark Rayburn

Monthly Featured Product

Three unit LAN Rack with
Optional Side Panels and Storage



Information Support Concepts (ISC) has been providing four different widths in our modular open frame LAN rack series.  Due to popular demand, we will soon be launching a new line of four-post LAN racks.

The four-post design will allow placement of shelves or worksurfaces at any height, will not require the use of a fixed height worksurface, and will allow for the selection of different depth shelves.

This flexible design provides additional options in determining how the various components will be placed on the rack, and how different rack sections can be combined to create complete systems.

With four-post LAN racks, the shelves and worksurfaces are normally suspended between to sets of two-post uprights.  This configuration is ideal for adding LAN rack sections that share a common upright, and allows almost limitless configurations when combined with various rectangular and corner units.

As always, ISC personnel are ready to answer your questions, and to help you design the LAN rack configuration that will work for your specific application. If you have a question, just call us at 800-458-6255.


Are LAN Racks Dead?

Before answering the question, let’s define some terms.  A LAN rack is a series of shelves or surfaces with certain structural supports (legs).  The supports can be of varying styles like cantilever or four post, and the rack itself can be mobile or fixed in place.  Surfaces are suspended from the support legs, and although normally set at a particular height, the shelves or surfaces can be adjusted in height and depth.  LAN racks can do double duty as work stations or tech benches while providing additional shelves/surfaces for the placement of servers and peripherals.  In a LAN rack, most items are shelf mounted.

LAN racks are very different from computer cabinets.  Cabinets are usually fixed in position, and provide a frame which supports moveable rack rails.  In a cabinet, most items are rack mounted.  Cabinets are frequently called enclosures, because they can be fully enclosed with tops, bottoms, sides, and doors.  Fully enclosing the equipment in a cabinet provides protection for the equipment, security, and allows for precise control of air movement and cooling.

Each type of structure has advantages and disadvantages.  See the accompanying chart below to compare the capabilities of LAN Racks and computer cabinets.

Feature or Capability    LAN Racks     Computer Cabinets
Rackmount Frames
Limited Yes
Seismic Capability
No Yes
Environmental Control
Limited Yes
Cable Management
Yes Yes
Hybrid Configurations
Yes No
Work Stations
Yes Limited
Raised Floor Applications
Limited Yes
Yes Limited
Host Servers ?
Limited Yes
Host Towers ?
Yes Limited (shelves)
Reconfigurable ?
Yes Limited
High Density Applications
No Yes
Thermal Management
No Yes
Remote Management
Yes Yes
Rear Access
Limited Yes
Slide Out Access
Limited Yes

Note that the two “hottest" issues for data center managers today are thermal management and remote management.  The trend in data centers is to go with higher density, more power, and fewer people (and their work stations which take up space).  The amount of heat being generated in a data center is extreme, and keeping all the servers cool is a major challenge.  Cabinets are ideally suited to this environment as cold air can be supplied at the front of the cabinets (where most servers pull in the cooling air) while warm air is kept away from this area.  Regrettably, LAN racks have no provision for ensuring cold air is available to provide optimal cooling of servers.  In addition, LAN racks, while capable of hosting remote power and environmental monitoring, go against the trend of having fewer people at work in the data center.  Data center managers want to remotely control and reboot servers, while remotely monitoring critical environmental factors such as temperature and humidity.  This capability is not a LAN Rack strength.

So for data center applications, my assessment would be that LAN Racks are dead.  However, for smaller applications where a more efficient use of space is important, and where thermal management is not such a challenge, today’s LAN Racks can fit in perfectly.

by Jack Burlin AKA The Rackmount Ranger

Don't put your hardware in danger!
Call the Rackmount Ranger!


T-38 Landing (Gear and Flaps Down)

T-38s In Formation



A Kevinism is a funny or intriguing statement or idea from our Vice President of Sales, Kevin Hunt.  Kevin is a big fan of Sandra Bullock, Pizza Inn black olive pizza, The Washington Redskins, and Dr. Pepper (not necessarily in that order).  He is not a big fan of Chinese food, seafood, or other types of "dead" stuff.

Kevin is a lifelong Washington Redskins fan, so he takes a lot of criticism from people in the Dallas area, where most people are Dallas Cowboy fans.  Last year was tough on Kevin, and with the Cowboys’ success this year, it has been rougher.

When I say Kevin is a Redskins fan, you could more properly classify him as a Redskins apologist.  Usually a fan would know who coaches the team, or who owns the team, or who plays for the team.  Kevin cannot do any of these things.  Usually a fan would know when his team is playing, and who they will be playing.  Kevin doesn’t.  What Kevin does, is come up with elaborate excuses for why the Redskins can’t win.  Here is the first one, that he has gradually been elaborating on since last year.  He has just come up with a new one, which is mutually exclusive with the one described below, but that doesn’t keep him from staunchly support both!  I will go into part 2 next month.

Since Kevin is unable to concede the Redskins are not very good, he has to come up with reasons why they lose.  Most people unwilling to criticize their team will say something like, “they got beaten by a better team," or, “the other team got most of the breaks today."  This supports their team, even though they may have lost.

Here is what Kevin says is the Redskin strategy: 

  1. They are doing the altruistic/"Christian" thing by letting other (less capable) teams win.
  2. They want to have those teams build up their confidence and self esteem, so when they do lose to the Redskins (which they probably will do sometime in the next decade) the Redskins can feel good about having beaten a high quality team.
  3. Being altruistic and not concerned with wins and losses, the Redskins only want to beat teams that are worthy of being beaten.

Evidently the Redskins don’t play any worthy teams, so they lose on purpose to help build those teams up.  Then once the teams are “worthy," the Redskins will beat them. 

Kevin considers himself an expert in the grand Redskin strategy.  However, this intimate knowledge does not seem to do Kevin any good.  If he really knew the Redskins’ strategy, you would think he would be able to predict if they were going to win or not.  When you point this out to Kevin, he deflects it by saying the grand strategy is unchanged, although performance in individual games can vary.  What Kevin wants us to believe is that if the Redskins win, then they must have played a quality, worthy team, and showed their true abilities by beating such a team.  If the Redskins lose, it is because the opponent was not a worthy team, and the Redskins lost to help boost their confidence, with a look towards some future time when the same team will be worth beating.  Kevin is very excited that the Redskins made the playoffs, because he says it proves his theory.

Why Kevin can’t admit his theory is bogus is very aggravating.  Equally aggravating, Kevin is unfazed by the fact that no one else seems to be aware of the grand strategy, not the Redskins players, coaches, ownership, fan base, TV commentators or analysts, or ANYONE ELSE!


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Trivia Question

Q:  How many planets in the Solar System have a ring system similar to the more familiar one on Saturn?

All correct answers will be placed into a pool for a random drawing at the end of the month.  The winner will receive two free LBP-4A rackmount cable lacing bars, plus free ground shipping. Send your answers to: Jack Burlin

See next month's newsletter for the winner and the correct answer.

Answer from December's Newsletter.

Q:   The last time this event occurred was 11/19/1999.  It won't happen again for more than 1100 years.  What is it?

A:  When written in MM/DD/YYYY format, this date represents the last time all the numbers were odd.  This won't happen again until the year 3111.  In that year, 11/11/3111 will be the first occurrence.  01/01/3111 does not qualify due to the zeros in the date.

The winner was John Bojorquez .  Congratulations!




Indonesia Invades Santa Maria, California


From 1975 to 1978, I was a T-38 (see photos above) instructor pilot at Williams Air Force Base (Willie), Arizona.  Willie was one of the best training bases because it was just south of Phoenix.  This also made it possible to visit most of the other bases in the Southwest, or anywhere within an 800 mile radius of Phoenix.  San Francisco, San Antonio, Denver, and even Boise were within range.

One of the key skills an Air Force pilot needs is the ability to navigate from one location to another.  This training is usually accomplished on cross-country missions where the aircraft go from base to base to base and finally back to the home base.  Cross-country missions are usually accomplished over weekends, with a single flight on Friday, two more on Saturday, and the return leg on Sunday.   Students and instructors took a T-38 and went virtually anywhere within range, so long as they were back on Sunday.

After completing their cross-country missions, and before getting their navigation check rides, students had to make what was called a “solo out-and-back."  Instructors always hated the solo out-and-back.  Things always seemed to go wrong. 

A solo out-and-back was organized as follows.  A lead control ship with two instructors took off first.  Then at approximately 10 minute intervals, the solo students would take off.  There would be eight or ten students, then a tail end control ship with another two instructors.  All the aircraft were going to the same location, following the same route.  The lead control ship was there to check for problems with the route, and since they landed first, the instructors would go to the control tower to monitor the students in the landing pattern.  The tail end control ship was there to assist any students who ran into problems while enroute.  They could provide advice and assistance over the radio.  They could join up with an aircraft ahead of them, or they could divert to another destination, either in front of or behind a student who had a serious emergency and needed to land before reaching the final destination.

Once all the airplanes made it to the destination, everyone would refuel and return back home in the same order.  If any of the airplanes broke and could not be flown home, either the students would double up, or an instructor would fly back with a student.  Sometimes it was necessary to leave an instructor behind until the aircraft could be fixed.

This all sounds incredibly organized, and you would think a highly competent group of skilled aviators would be able to carry off such a simple, well organized mission, right?  Well, you would be wrong.  One of the things that seemed to always cause problems was foreign students.  Foreign students?  What are those?  Well, the US Air Force trains many pilots from allied nations.  At the time I was serving as an instructor, we trained Danes, Norwegians, Indonesians, Saudi Arabians, Iranians, Nigerians, and many others.  We trained so many Germans they designated a single Air Force Base as the home of that operation.

This story revolves around a solo out-and-back mission to Vandenberg Air Force Base.  The lead control ship and a couple of the students made it to Vandenberg just fine.  Vandenberg is up the coast from Los Angeles, and to get there from Phoenix you fly West over Blythe, Palm Springs, Riverside, LAX, you go out over the ocean, turn Northwest and then fly a really dazzling approach up the coast.  This approach to runway 30 (so named because it faces WNW, or 300 degrees out of 360, where 360 is North) at Vandenberg is a 60 mile long straight descent right off the California coast.  It is easy to fly and there are a lot of interesting things to see along the way.  However, on this particular day, the LA traffic control center (LATCC) lost their main radar.  Not being able to ensure radar separation for all the T-38s crossing over LAX, they started putting the aircraft in a holding pattern out over the ocean where the approach to Vandenberg started.  Soon they had six or eight students stacked up with 1000 foot altitude separation, and would only let one aircraft start their descent when the previous one had landed at Vandenberg (60+ miles away).  The students could see the base, but could not get clearance to fly over there.  So some of them were starting to run low on fuel.

One of the key things you like to do on a solo out-and-back is put a more experienced student in the middle of the pack.  On this day, with all the 2nd Lieutenants, there was a Captain who was a navigator training to be a pilot.  Once he realized what was happening, he told the other students to cancel their IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) clearances, and just fly over to Vandenberg.  Once you cancel IFR, you flew under what was called VFR (Visual Flight Rules).  Flying VFR, you can fly at any of a variety of altitudes below 18,000 feet, and navigate by looking at the ground.  Once you get within 10 miles of the base or airport, you contact the control tower for landing instructions.

So all the students started heading for Vandenberg at the same time.  Now the two instructors in the control tower were keeping track of the various aircraft, and helping the tower controllers get everyone down safely.  The students called the tower, lined up on the runway at the appropriate altitude, 1500 feet above ground level (AGL), and then executed what is called an “overhead pattern."

An overhead pattern is where you fly straight down the active runway (in this case, heading 300) and at the midpoint of the runway you make a 180 degree turn executed at 60 degrees of bank.  This is a high “g" turn designed to slow the aircraft down.  Depending on the direction of the pattern, you would either turn right or left.  The pattern at the base is usually designed to minimize the instances of aircraft flying over buildings and people working at the base.  At Vandenberg, the pattern on runway 30 is a right hand pattern, with a right hand turn over the runway (which is called the “break" or the pitch), and a right hand turn to line up with the runway again for landing.  There are radio calls made at various points along the pattern, and specific actions to take as well.  The first radio call is when you are lined up on the runway about 5 miles out from the base.   Being the first point in the pattern, the radio call goes like this, “Vandenberg tower, AWOL 21, initial, runway 30, full stop (or low-approach, or touch-and-go)."   Now the tower knows where you are and your intentions.  The usual answer is, “AWOL 21, report the numbers."  The numbers referred to in this case are the numbers painted on the end of the runway.  Hopefully you have noticed that runways have big numbers painted on each end.  This is so pilots can identify the runway they have been assigned to land on.  When the airplane is directly over the end of the intended runway, the pilot says, “Vandenberg tower, AWOL 21, numbers, runway 30."  The usual response is either “AWOL 21, continue" or “AWOL 21, report the break."  If the tower requests a radio call during the break, you would say something like, “Vandenberg tower, AWOL 21, break" to which they would respond, “AWOL 21, report gear down."  While on the downwind (going the opposite direction to the intended runway) and still at 1500 feet altitude, the pilot slows the aircraft down and configures it for landing by lowering the landing gear and the flaps (see photo below).  The pilot also looks ahead and to the side to ensure there is nothing between him and the approach end of the runway.  When the aircraft passes the end of the runway (the numbers) again, you can start the final turn and say, “Vandenberg tower, AWOL 21, gear down, full stop."  The tower will then usually say, “AWOL 21, report final."  The pilot now lowers the nose of the aircraft and performs a descending turn to line up on the runway.  In the T-38, the goal was to roll out of the turn at 500 feet AGL and 1.25 miles away from the end of the runway.  Then you slowed down another 20 knots (short for nautical miles per hour (1 knot is 1.17 miles per hour)) and established a 3.5 degree descent angle for the final approach to the runway.  When you rolled out pointed at the runway, you said, “Vandenberg tower, AWOL 21, final."  If everything looked good at this point, the tower said, “AWOL 21, cleared to land runway 30, full stop."

I hope this insight into how to fly an overhead pattern was relatively interesting and exciting.  It is very important to the rest of the story.

Our Indonesian student was named Lieutenant Kuki Slamet.  In my five years as a student and instructor at Willie, he was the only Indonesian student pilot to go through the program.  This was in 1976 or 1977, and for all I know, he may have ended up as the Commander of the Indonesian Air Force.  However on this occasion, his performance was a little weak.

As the various students made their way to Vandenberg to enter the pattern, the instructors in the tower were looking for them.  Lt. Slamet made his first radio call, “AWOL 21, initial, full stop" and many pairs of eyes were looking for him.  At that point no one had any visual contact, so the tower answered “AWOL 21, report right break, runway 30."  So people are looking for the aircraft and still don’t see it in the pattern.  Lt. Slamet reported the break, then gear down, then final.  At each point in the pattern he was told to continue, but no one could get visual contact with him.  Although the tower could not see him, he was given clearance to land.  However, since no one could see him lined up with the runway, nor could they check if his landing gear was really down or not, the tower said, “AWOL 21, report your DME."

Note:  DME is short for Distance Measuring Equipment.  Most modern airports have navigational aids (NAVAIDS) that will tell a pilot the bearing (direction) to the navaid, and the distance.  When you select the frequency for the navaid at the airport you intend to land at, you can tell where the airport is, and how far away, even if you can’t see it.

At this point, Lt. Slamet’s response was, “ten."  Since the navaid at Vandenberg and most other airports is within a mile of the runway, this meant he was ten miles from the field, which is why no one saw him in the pattern.  A quick command, “AWOL 21, go around!" was too late.  He touched down and taxied the aircraft off the runway.  However, he had not landed at Vandenberg.

Santa Maria municipal airport is ten miles Northeast of Vandenberg.  The main runway at Santa Maria parallels the main runway at Vandenberg (runway 12/30).  However, the runway there is only 6304 feet long, and the minimum length for safe operation in the T-38 is 8,000 feet.  Being lightweight (low on fuel) there was no problem stopping on the shorter runway.  But now the problem was how to take off again.

The instructors had to get a car from the base, drive over to Santa Maria, and pick up Lt. Slamet and his equipment.  Then he flew back to Willie with one of the instructors, while the second instructor had to remain behind with the airplane.  Since takeoff from a runway shorter than 8,000 feet is prohibited, there was quite a bit of consternation about how to get the airplane back.  The problem was not that the airplane could not take off in that amount of runway.  The problem was what would happen if the take off had to be aborted.  If the T-38 reached a certain speed and then had to abort, it could not be stopped safely on the runway.  

When taking off in an aircraft like the T-38, the first thing you want to check is that the aircraft is accelerating properly.  This is normally performed at the 1000 foot mark on the runway.  At 1000 feet, the aircraft should be at 100 to 110 knots, depending on the altitude and the temperature.  If all goes well, the aircraft takes off when it reaches 155 knots, usually about 3000 feet down the runway.

In the Santa Maria situation, once the aircraft hit 1000 feet and got up to 110 knots, if something failed at that point (like an engine, or something else less dramatic), the aircraft would be in “no man’s land" where it could neither stop on the runway or safely take off with only one engine. 

What finally happened is that a number of people did some calculations based on the aircraft weight,  combined with temperature and altitude.  It was determined that if the aircraft took off when it was cool enough (before 8AM) and with a minimum load of fuel, it could either take off or stop safely in the event the take off needed to be aborted.  So the remaining instructor had them off-load fuel from the aircraft, took off with a very minimum fuel load, and then flew over to Vandenberg and landed.  Once at Vandenberg, with a 10,000+ foot runway, the aircraft could be fully refueled for the trip back to Willie.

The incident is interesting for a number of reasons.  Lt. Slamet landed at a controlled airport, even though he was never in contact with the tower.  The people at Santa Maria never knew what was happening until he was down.  I am sure they had quite a shock when he walked into base operations, looking for the rest of his 13 fellows (nine students and four instructors).

It was undoubtedly the easiest and most surprising attack the Indonesian military has ever launched.  All without a shot being fired!

 Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter. 
Please direct your comments to Jack Burlin.



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