REDBAND: AVademics by Joshua Stackhouse

AVademics by Joshua Stackhouse

 I’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately about certifications in the AV industry. Some believe they’re critical to the growth of our industry, some believe they’re a piecemeal  solution to a bigger problem, a lack of formal academics. It is my belief that both parties have a lot of merit to their respective views, but both fall short of the big picture.

The future of education in our industry will look very similar to an electrician or engineer. Formal academics will become increasingly more common as the systems which we work with become increasingly more complex. Installers will go to school to learn their trade and then get certified just as electricians do. System designers will have formal degrees not entirely unlike a traditional architect in “AV Engineering”, a mixture of both structural and electrical engineering.

I’d like to take just a moment to point out that in less than one month I’ll be graduating with an Associates of Applied Science in Electronics and Audio/Visual Systems. Upon graduating I will have spent an intensive 18 months of my life learning everything from principles and methods of building construction to electronic circuit analysis and every basic AV principle in between.  So when I make this prediction I speak from an understanding of how powerful formal AV education is and how it will shape the future of our industry.

Which leaves me pondering, if very few other people in the industry have formal academic training in AV, what then is the value of my degree? Mind you this is not a judgement of the quality of my education, but rather a question about the recognition of its value by industry professionals. Since many in the industry have not yet heard about such a thing, then what does that mean for me as a professional? Does my degree mean anything to people in the industry?

As it turns out, yes…yes it does have meaning. However, that meaning isn’t exactly obvious. To really understand requires a bit of explanation.

I have dedicated 18 months of my life to learning the science behind AV, the electronics that makes them tick, how these systems are installed, and how to design them.  The depth of my knowledge surpasses that of an average apprentice. I could walk on to any of a dozen different AV or Low-Voltage job sites and easily follow the instruction of a veteran with little guidance.

The simple fact remains, however, that my actual hands on experience with many of the things I have learned is somewhat limited, which places me in this awkward position to be more than a noob but less than an expert.

Which is precisely where I want to be. You see I’m not actually following in the traditional path of career development. While many, indeed if not most, AV guys and gals started with an interest in AV and learned as they went along, I went to school first and have a rich understanding of not only the systems themselves but also the industry  before even making my career debut.

Which leads me to this conclusion. The days where just any guy with a van can pull up to your house, pull some cable in your home and call himself an installer is gone like the dinosaurs. For this industry to continue its growth the level of skill necessary for installers and designers must grow with it.

This is not an easy task, and companies who want to succeed will need to increase the knowledge of their employees to beyond mere certifications.  They will need people who are highly trained professionals, no different from a doctor or master electrician. It is here where our esteemed industry veterans must step up to the challenge of working with institutions of higher learning to create formal academics.  This is how my program was created and only by doing so can the next generation of AV professionals be born.

This second generation AV professional, or AV Pro v2.0,  isn’t coming, he and she are here already. Which is precisely where persons such as myself with a formal academic background come into the picture. It is my hope that this blog post serve as a wakeup call to the veteran AV professionals. Look to programs such as the one I am graduating from as inspiration and source material. Take your own approach, talk to your local higher-ed institutions and make something happen. Combine this with the efforts of organizations such as InfoComm and it’s certifications and I promise you that our industry will flourish. So, what are you waiting for Mr. Veteran AV Guy, don’t you have some phone calls to make?

Check out Joshua Stackhouse profile on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter: @StackhouseAV

REDBAND: Pandora Boxed In: Fixing an Internet Radio Service Disruption by Todd Anthony Puma

Pandora Boxed In: Fixing an Internet Radio Service Disruption by Todd Anthony Puma

Every custom integration business owner wants to start their day off strong, anticipating all the good things and big sales to come. You listen to your favorite song in the car on the ride into the office, whistling the tune as you sit behind your desk and hit the “play” button on your voice mail. Then your great day is stopped dead in its tracks as you hear message after message from angry clients who can’t play music through the system you installed. You spend half your day on the phone troubleshooting and the other half running to as many of their homes and businesses as you can to try to fix these problems. It’s not until late that night when you finally receive an email informing you that Pandora had performed an update that many receiver manufacturers could not support.

When Pandora’s most recent update went into effect, some manufacturers were on top of it, coming up with a solution (even if it was just a temporary Band-Aid), while many others are STILL looking for a solution…

Click below to read the entire article originally posted on Residential Systems:


REDBAND: Retrograde, in Reverse: Looking Back at Past Innovations Leads to the Future By Tucker

Looking back at past innovations leads to the future.

The innovations of the past are more than examples of wrong turns or outdated methodologies and they are more than modern entrails readings. What the study and working knowledge of past technologies are is inspirational. One prime example is how telephony engineers re-examining the process and patent for a frequency jamming resistant torpedo controller developed by ‘the worlds most beautiful woman’ just prior to WWII lead to our modern smart-phone communications – a process called CDMA. The fact is that nothing is built out of the blue but is based on processes that came before, something akin to Broca’s brain.

If you are a fan of Scientific American magazine you might recall that some of the most thought provoking articles were not the five page with pull out centerfold on DNA mapping but were located near the back of each edition. Just before the ads selling Name a star services and other science fandom accessories were the magazines anti- agitprop agitators such as James Burke and his ‘Connections’ articles. Mr. Burke’s column took the reader on a delightfully wandering path to discover how things actually came to be, like how the water wheel lead to breakthroughs in modern computing. The BBC series based on his writings only added to the wonder and prodded one to never take for granted any common device – each has so much history and wonderful things to teach us about why our modern world works the way it does.

I was re-reading  the fantastic AV shout article ‘What Goes Around, Comes Around: A Historian’s Response to Unified Communications’ By K. Daniel Armstrong recently  and it got me to thinking…


When asked to recap his career and life Tucker responded “Me? I am just a figment of your collective imagination and let me tell you that living this life has taught me one thing- you people are twisted Mofos”   You can follow Tucker on Twitter @Tuckertues or his personal blog on tech and tech culture at

REDBAND: Epson Projector Opens Budget Opportunities by Todd Anthony Puma

Earlier this week I visited the headquarters of Screen Innovations in Austin, TX, to view the company’s full line of projection screens. Screen Innovations had carefully chosen projectors to best illuminate video images on their screens. When I asked what projector model they were using, I was shocked to find out it was the Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 6010.

As an integrator, I have a very narrow definition for what I consider a “high-end” projector. There are certain lines that I use on a regular basis, and Epson has not been one of them. I have installed many Screen Innovations Black Diamond screens and never thought to pair one with what I consider a mid-range projector like the 6010. After what I saw in Austin, however, my opinion definitely changed.

To read more click HERE

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

Originally Posted in Residential Systems

REDBAND: Future AV…Hello my name is Joshua Stackhouse By Joshua Stackhouse

Future AV – Hello my name is Joshua Stackhouse. by Joshua Stackhouse

 “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”– Ken Olson, CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977.

Olsen was wrong; I need technology like a zombie needs brains!

I’ve been around computer technology my entire life, exposed at every turn as a child. My mom was an electronics repair technician and it was common for me to watch my mom take apart and fix everything from VCR’s to arcade machines to animatronic robots. I watched her control industrial robotics and design software. My earliest childhood memories involve playing with robots she constructed. Watching her solder them together component by component, I was completely fascinated. As time went by, I quickly discovered that I was a “digital Doolittle” able to just understand anything computer-based with very little effort.

As I got older, watching became doing. I used computers in school and computers at home. Heck, I was programming in BASIC on a Commodore 64 my grandmother gave me when I was just ten. In high school I was a computer geek hanging out with other geeks doing stuff like building online game worlds for early MMORPG’s and hacking game consoles. Leaving home at 19 to join the U.S. Navy, I then professionally worked as an IT administrator for a network that spanned a fifth of the country. Tech had been with me all along, and had become a career.

I burned out after a few years and left tech for a little over half a decade. I didn’t stop being an end-user, but the notion of certifications and academics being more important to hiring personnel than actual experience had left a bad taste in my mouth.

Eventually, however, I got over myself and enrolled in a high-tech trade program at Madison Media Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. It has been there in the Associates of Applied Science in Electronics and A/V systems (EAV) program that I rekindled my passion for technology. Adding to my IT background and lifelong passion for tech, I learned everything from methods of construction to electronics at the component level to project management and a slew of systems including life safety systems, home theater systems, CCTV, distributed audio/video and more.

My instructors went above and beyond the role of instructor and rose to the status of mentors. During my tenure as a student at MMI they molded and shaped me into a professional ready to reenter the tech world and take it by storm. To my instructors, my kids, and loving fiancé who have supported me through the process, I am truly grateful.

My time at MMI is nearly over. In just ten weeks I will graduate with my degree, ready to charge into the A/V world and shake it up. My time spent there has reinvigorated my inner geek inspiring me to go beyond a career to build and play with electronics and computing as a hobby with tools such as the Arduino and to take former Harvard Professor Shimon Shocken’s NAND2Tetris course. It has given me a desire to become a LEED Green Associate, pursue my Cisco CCNA, and to obtain my Certified Technical Trainer certification from CompTIA. All of these are, of course, in addition to industry certifications like ESPA and CTS.

Olsen was wrong. The AV systems designed and installed by AV integrators empower us to have more enjoyable lives and therefore are desirable. We rely on them so much that I believe that IT and AV are beyond merging and are now irreversibly intertwined.  The symbiotic nature of this business relationship is so significant that only the integrators who understand this vision of the future will remain relevant.

I am “young” AV. My name is Joshua Stackhouse and I am what the future of this industry looks like.

Check out Joshua Stackhouse profile on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter: @StackhouseAV

REDBAND: iPad mini Opens Up Home Automation Opportunities By Todd Anthony Puma

iPad mini Opens Up Home Automation Opportunities By Todd Anthony Puma

Friday morning I woke to the sound of my doorbell ringing. I raced downstairs to greet my new iPad mini at my front door, excitedly ripped open the box, pulled off the plastic, and turned it on.

And I have to admit, I was severely disappointed with my first go at the iPad mini. I was so disappointed that I almost fought with my 6 year old son for my old iPad back that I gave him when I ordered my mini. It wasn’t until I dug deep and played with it for a few days that I saw all the benefits the iPad mini had to offer.

The first thing that initially disappointed me about my iPad mini was that the screen was not the new retina screen of the iPhone 5, but of the old generation of Apple product. From the knowledge I gathered watching all the Apple events and press releases; Apple did not inform the consumer that the screen would be a lower resolution than the iPhone5. In efforts to really experience the difference, I pulled up a hundred different websites to compare them on my new iPad, my old iPad and my iPhone 5…

To Continue Reading Click HERE.

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

Originally Posted in Residential Systems

REDBAND: Scammed…Not on My watch! by John Sciacca

Scammed?! Not on my watch! by John Sciacca

Long time readers may recall our rather unceremonious parting of the ways with They Who Shall Not Be Named. Well, part of the fall-out of said ways parting was that we were left with quite a bit of inventory for which we were no longer a dealer. We’ve decided to get proactive in trying to clear out this old gear and have been advertising it on some Internet sites including Craig’s List.

(A quick Craig’s List FYI: apparently anyone for any reason can decide that your ad violates some nebulous terms and agreements; flag your ad and then it is removed for literally no reason. There seems to be no recourse for this and no one responds when you send a follow-up, “WHAT THE HELL?!?” message. We posted about 20 ads and had like 15 of them promptly flagged and removed. You have no way of knowing by whom or for what reason. The old adage is true…you get what you pay for. (That adage makes more sense when you realize that Craig’s List is a free service…

Click HERE to continue reading or click the image below…

John Sciacca started a personal blog back in 2010 which dared to ask the hard questions like, “Huh?” and “Whaa?” all written in a pithy, deliciously witty and uproarious manner. His blog likes to make new friends and would love to have you over for some caramels. You can follow John Sciacca on Twitter @sciaccatweets  and at his personal blog

REDBAND: What Goes Around Comes Back Around by K.Dan Armstrong

What Goes Around, Comes Around: A Historian’s Response to Unified Communications

By K. Daniel Armstrong

During my years of teaching 20th-century American history in college, I would inevitably encounter an information technology student who would come into my class and tout the wonders of the computer and how society could not survive without it.  To his or her chagrin, I would offer the counter argument that everything we do with a computer we’ve done before.  Modern technology has simply enabled us to perform certain tasks with greater speeds and over greater distances.  I was always amazed at the anger my position engendered.  The offended student would then provide numerous examples of technological prowess including the creation of complex algorithms, desktop publishing, email, etc.  To which I would respond that mankind has been engaged in complex mathematics for thousands of years.  Look at Egyptian society in the pre-Christian era.  My favorite example was the Tom Hanks film “Apollo 13.”  There is a scene after the mission altering explosion in which NASA scientists are sitting at their consoles using slide rules to calculate flight path trajectory, power consumption, etc.  Many of my students had never even seen a slide rule.  Of course, I added that the ancient Chinese invented “block printing” unto silk cloth before 220 AD instead of copying by hand.  The technique was eventually mimicked by the Europeans (circa 1300 AD).  Regarding the advent of email, I would remind my impetuous students that pre-colonial Native Americans and Australian Aborigines used smoke signals while various West African tribes used drums to communicate over long distances eliminating the need to travel.  My message was simply that humans have done it all before.  My IT students, believing they had discovered something new, unique and exciting, had instead found something faster.  History does indeed repeat itself.

The next chapter of audiovisual / information technology evolution is the implementation of unified communications (typically referred to as UC).  UC combines existing technologies (e.g., internet/intranet, teleconferencing/videoconferencing both room- and PC-based, email/chat, etc.) in a way that creates a “work at anytime from anywhere” solution for many businesses that operate across regions, countries and/or continents.   The promise of UC is that companies will produce operational savings by working from home thus reducing costs related to transportation, real estate, etc. while providing employees with greater flexibility.  The technology maybe new but the concept, in practice, is not.  In fact, UC is poised to usher modern society into a re-emergent “cottage industry” business model and a redefinition of suburbia.

Between America’s colonial era and the early 19th-century, local economies supported small-scale cottage industries in which individuals produced goods in their homes while simultaneously supervising their farms and families.  Typically in this model, the “factory” or business owner distributed raw materials door-to-door to be completed in the worker’s home.  This type of industrialization came to be known as “outwork.”  Finished items which included cloth, clothing, hats and shoes would be retrieved in the same manner and then sent off to market.  By mid-century, the American economy had become more factory-centric and urban and the home no longer served as the hub of production.

In early 21st-century America, we are witnessing a return to a non-factory centric operational business model.  Confronted with rising property and facilities costs and the advent of multi-functional and relatively inexpensive technology, large corporations are sending many of their employees home.  In the same way that a business owner in 1812 delivered packages of raw materials to the farmstead, the modern company in 2012 delivers data packets in the form of email, files, collaboration tools, audio/video, etc. via a much faster horse and wagon – the company intranet.  Such a trend has the potential to redefine the nature of work, the interaction of the family and the scheme of suburban life.  In other words, if I can get to the internet then it doesn’t really matter where I live.  I am no longer bound to my proximity of the factory.  Don’t get me wrong, I love technology.  I’m fascinated by it.  I enjoy it.  It has allowed us to do things faster and over vast distances.  But don’t argue with me that it’s something new.  We’ve done this all before.

K. Dan Armstrong

Dan Armstrong is the principal of Invictus Consulting which provides project management and process improvement services. Dan holds certifications in project management (PMP) and Six Sigma (CSSGB) as well as a Master of Arts in history. He has done project work for Fortune 250 companies such as AIG, eBay and Merck. Dan is a published historian and former instructor of American and European history at Delaware Valley College (Doylestown, PA). He can reached at

REDBAND: Pump Up the Community by Tucker

Pump Up the Community by Tucker

We talk a good deal about community these days, in building connections, social graphs and connecting via social media.  The Politicos talk about rebuilding the economy by communities coming together but the actuality is a rare sight indeed.

One of the places that actual communities come together is via a remarkable radio station – WLNG of Sag Harbor Long Island.  The place is almost an anachronism in the radio business at  5,300 watts the station should only be a footnote yet its reach and influence is that of stations with 10 times the power.  The Station is a marvel that honors the years of relentless promotion and guidance by the remarkable Paul Sidney.  When Mr. Sidney died it brought forth an epiphany on just how much the station has meant to me and the town I grew up in – you can see my ‘eulogy’ here.

Stations like the Uber local WLNG have been the subject of ridicule and praise since their inception and, to be honest, the station has been worthy of both. It is one part the radio show in ‘One Crazy Summer’ and one Part “Pump Up The Volume’ providing oddball shows like Swap and Shop while catering to the tourists expectations of a “Beach Community”  broadcaster.  Which makes the actions of the WLNG staff during hurricane Sandy all the more remarkable – or should I say commendable for I could not imagine them NOT being so dedicated.

The Stations broadcast facilities are not in some high-rise building or even in the main town but sits precariously on the edge of a bay.  The location is part of the charm but it has its dangers as Sandy’s fury demonstrated.  During the height of the storm the station kept broadcasting even as the water began to creep steadily toward the building eventually breaching the floor and walls.  Still the staff kept broadcasting. Doning fisherman’s boots (which hopefully prevented them from grounding) they continued even as the water rose to ankle high depth.  Only when it became evident that things were about to get a lot worse did the staff (I believe) reluctantly leave their posts and suspended their outreach.  As soon as the waters began to hint at receding , WLNG was back on air.

What is even more remarkable is that this is in line with a long-standing tradition at the station – to ride out the storms and provide a comforting and familiar voice in times of natural disaster.  It is remarkable not for WLNG as their entire existence has been to serve the community, to bring it together.

Many are already mourning the death of radio but long after the Clear Channel cookie cutter stations have long been forgotten WLNG will still be transmitting and serving with a purpose.

Are you as dedicated to your clientele?  If you are they will be.


When asked to recap his career and life Tucker responded “Me? I am just a figment of your collective imagination and let me tell you that living this life has taught me one thing- you people are twisted Mofos”   You can follow Tucker on Twitter @Tuckertues or his personal blog on tech and tech culture at

REDBAND: 2 New Bloggers Join REDBAND!

Introducing 2 new Bloggers to the “BAND”.

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. He brings an unmatched passion for the AV industry along with  musical and art inspiration into his views.

Joshua Stackhouse is a unique individual who currently is earning his A.A.S. in Electronics and Audio/Visual Systems from one of the only colleges to be both ESPA certified and an InfoComm training partner.

Do not mistake Joshua for a rookie. His time spent in the Navy coupled with his IT background and his love of all thing tech make Joshua a great example of what future AV talent will look like. His writings bring the perspective of the individual breaking into our industry.

For more information on Both Todd and Joshua please click the images below…. MORE TO COME.