End To End — But To What End?

Network cable, two ends.

There are times when I wonder, from the depths of the depths of my heart of hearts, when you’re standing there with one end of a network cable in your hand, how it can be so utterly, hopelessly impossible to find the other end of the same cable. It works exactly the same way as finding the other end of a friggin’ piece of string, which anyone who is still breathing can easily do even when blindfolded, but for some reason, just because it’s computer related, it’s supposed to be insanely difficult!

Transcript from part of an actual phone conversation with a friend in need of technical guidance:

“So you managed to find both ends of the cable?”
“And they are both connected?”
“Yes, they are.”
“And it’s still not working?”
“That’s right.”
“And both ends of the cable are yellow?”
“No, just one. The other end is grey.”
“Really? Well, do they meet in the middle?”
“Let me check …” [thirty seconds pass] “… No.”
“I see. But you’re still absolutely sure that those two ends are the same cable?”


A seemingly innocent cable suddenly becomes a tangle of string theory, which is something that has kept the minds of some of the world’s greatest scientists merrily confused for decades. How does a mere tech supporter, who barely grasps the elaborate workings of nuclear fusion, explain to a distressed victim of technology what goes where, without going into advanced eleven-dimensional quantum physics’ jargon?

“Now, please listen carefully to what I say. That cable has two ends. One end goes into your modem, the other end goes into your computer. There is no third end that is supposed to anywhere!”

I occasionally get asked to use less technical language when I speak about computers and networks to laymen.

Marty, you’re not thinking fourth dimensionally.
— Doc Emmet Brown

And despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, quite a few internet users still claim to have wireless network cables.

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