Now I know why I was having such fits terminating those Ethernet cables at the school. It was most definitely the RJ45 jacks themselves. This picture tells the story:

Cat6 vs Cat5e

Cat6 vs Cat5e

The Cat6 jack (which is supposed to be better) is on the left, and a Cat5e jack is on the right. Note the cavernous uh… cavity in the Cat6 jack, vs the rounded channels milled into the Cat5e jack. To use these, you’re supposed to strip the jacket on the cable, lay the eight wires out straight (and in the correct order), insert them into the jack, and then use a crimp tool to drive some tiny blades down into the wires. You can see the blades pretty easily on the left. Those pierce the insulation on the wire and make a connection. Unless the wires move out of place since there’s nothing to hold them there. As in the Cat6.

I went to Home Depot tonight and bought a pack of 50 Cat5e RJ45’s. I also looked that the Cat6 RJ45’s they had, but I could tell they were pretty much exactly like the ones I’ve already got – no channels to hold the wires in place. So I opted for the Cat5e’s.

So… now we know!

I got a call last night after the food drive. It was a woman letting me know that we “missed” a bag at her mother’s house. She gave me the address, and the first thing I thought was, “We didn’t distribute bags in that neighborhood!” That’s when the woman chastised me for not distributing a bag to her mother’s house. We had delivered one to her house, but not to her mother’s, so she called her and told her about it. Umm… that’s why we didn’t pick it up?

I thanked her anyhow and told her I’d drop by at lunch time today. And I did. She had filled a pretty large bag with groceries too. I really am glad that they took such an interest in our food drive, and it would sure have been nice if more people were like that. She probably thought we had about a hundred times more people than we did working the neighborhoods.