Check it out: “Advanced Planning and AV Assist in Sandy Aftermath” By Kirsten Nelson

“Advanced Planning and AV Assist in Sandy Aftermath” By Kirsten Nelson

I was recently interviewed by Systems Contractor News (Lindsey Adler contributed to this report) for this article.
As a resident of Monmouth County NJ I witnessed the fury of  Hurricane Sandy but walked away without any major damage. There are thousands of people who were not that fortunate. Here is a direct link to the article and how the AV community was affected:

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

AV Helpdesk Profiled in Commercial Integrator Magazine November 2012 edition

I am extremely excited and proud to announce that AV Helpdesk Inc is featured on the cover of the November 2012 issue of Commercial Integrator Magazine. To View please follow this LINK .

Visit for more information and be sure to check out


Sandy Strikes!

The Battle with Hurricane Sandy continues…Be Nice!

Today is October 29th.  For those who read my post yesterday… I am (unfortunately) in the middle of the Hurricane Sandy’s path. New Jersey is officially under state of emergency. We have been told to stay home and off the roads. Coastal communities have been emptied out since yesterday afternoon and now towns inland are beginning evacuation.

Hurricane Sandy and her angry disposition will hit NJ full force later today. The winds have picked up which is a sure sign that my time online is coming to an end as internet & power will surely go out.  As I wrote yesterday the even the weatherman disposition has changed. They are now angrily pleading with people to save themselves and not put rescue personnel into the same perilous situation.

As I am writing this I am watching the large oak trees on my property bend and sway with these sneaky gusts! The wind is strange. It comes, it comes goes in quick bursts. It’s not a sustained wind that is what is strange. Everything is quiet until this huge gust comes out of nowhere and bends these trees like reeds in a marsh.

I am fortunate enough to have scored a generator during Hurricane Irene. A generator that I received, unpacked and pulled start handle only to watch my city power come back after 4 days of nothing.  So I packed the generator up and stored it for the next time.  So here  is….the “next time”. Sandy will undoubtedly knock my power out.

Part of my preparation was getting some gas for the generator. I grabbed my red gas cans and headed out to gas station with my cousin and his son who happened to be over my house helping me with a small project in my garage.  The three of us decided to head out to gas station to fill up on gas and grab a soda. My cousin filled up his  truck and a 5 gallon then went inside to grab coffee. In the meantime I grabbed my 3 red gas cans and began filling each.  The gas collection was not the fun of it….the lady in the Black german V12 import was.

Before you say it…yes its NJ and we are typically impatient. Now to paint the picture… There is 10 Fill up bays at the local gas station. Each lane is about 3-4 cars deep with everyone doing the same thing I am filling cars and cans. As we are filling the truck and cans this lady had chosen to pull up behind us to fill up her car. I went about filling the truck and cans not paying attention to the car behind us. My godson Michael must have notice this lady growing impatient.

Go figure…She was in a hurry and did not want to wait. As if there isn’t enough stress on the people who are there filling up. As i proceeded to pump gas she “lost” her cool. Angrily she exclaimed “You could have said something!” after I had pulled out another 2 cans. Really? We now have to declare our intentions while at the pump? Oh Did i mentioned that she added few choice words that would make your grandma blush. What a Class act! She worked with profanity like Picasso worked with Oils.  She then peels out from behind us, jumping out of line and cutting off  an incoming car into an open pump.

I’m never at a loss for “choice” words but considering the situation and the company I’m with I decided to mind my tongue. I grumbled and went about filling my 5 gas cans but the best part of the whole episode was the following exchange with the gas attendant

As I pulled into the gas station I had asked the gas attendant … “How crazy has it been?”

He responded “You have no idea sir!”.

I did now.

I filled my gas cans handed him my credit card and thanked him for his help and told him to “Stay Sane”

He smirked before running to the furthest lane away from the lady’s Car. Did I mention he was the only one working that Bay.

Stay Safe and be nice to those working hard to help us.


Check out AVweek Episode 63

Click the image to Listen to the Podcast

Great Conversation with some of the best in AV!

Stop by the AV Nation website or listen via iTunes!


REDBAND: Clear Communication is Key by Todd Anthony Puma

Clear Communication is Key by Todd Anthony Puma

Sometimes, during a consultation, a client will review work with you that they are looking to have done that falls outside your scope of work and a subcontractor needs to be brought in. It is so important that the sub contractors you choose are people of integrity and will work just as hard as you for the client. You should not only have the same business ethic, but similar practices as well. The client tends to get used to how you work, bill and your level of customer service so it is important that the people you sub in provide them with the same levels of service that you do because they are tied to your name. If the client is unhappy with them, they are inevitably unhappy with you.

Different people work better or worse with certain personalities so you want to make sure that your subcontractors are similar to you in personality as well. I am currently working on a job where I contracted in my IT team so do network and computer system integration. The IT team I work with is a team of brilliant guys who know their stuff and are always available for over the phone tech support. My client was working directly with them for a few months now. I just found out that my client has been completely frustrated because he had an issue with his system and while trying to trouble shoot over the phone, could not understand the technician at all. On top of that, the team came out a number of times to address the issue to no avail and sent him a large bill for the numerous trips without letting him know that there was even a charge.

As smart as my IT team is, this is one client that they just cannot connect with because of their lack of communication and clarity. Now, I have to resolve the issue for my client as this whole situation reflects back on me even though my portion has been executed without a hitch.

As I have always stressed, you can never be clear enough with the client from beginning to end. The contractors you hire in have to be the same way because they become used to one method and are not always going to be accepting of another method. Make sure the business relationships you build between clients, yourself and the contractors you bring in are compatible on all levels so that process is nothing but smooth sailing and the end result spectacular.


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 .

REDBAND: The Shock & Awe Playlist By Christopher Neto

What you will read may shock you. 

Chances are it will appall you. 

But the fact is we all do it when no one is looking.

Admit it!

We all play our music on someone else’s soundsystem.

Typically you try not to bring your musical stylings into the mix. So we find ourselves buying Smooth Jazz CDs or Bland Music that may/could be technically solid  to play while at a customer location. But Every so often we get a window of opportunity to put our own tunes into that freshly installed soundsystem. To tag it with “I was here” !

So Last week I put a call out to REDBAND to send me a playlist that they would use to drive a soundsystem (sans customers) and leave it gasping for air. It’s a new system and let’s see what it can do. It’s like test driving an italian sports car in at rush hour. You know what you’re working with and you want to go full throttle.

You kindly and professionally wait till none is around. You check the halls and the parking lot and rush back in to get your MP3 player connected. You file through your playlist and find that Special Mix and not the mix tape you made in High School for your sweetie. No disrespect to your  Sweetie, your formal audio training or your well-trained ear. This is unadulterated Ear Candy so hit the gas!


Underworld – Born Slippy (Single)

  • From the Trainspotting Soundtrack will build into a 100 mph Dance Anthem. Searing describes it well.

Rage Against the Machine – All 4 Albums.

  • Songs like “Killing in the Name“ , “Bulls on Parade”,  “Pistol Grip Pump”, “Renegades Of Funk” will make want to keep an eye on the speakers and their warranty.

Guns N’ Roses - Appetite for Destruction

  • Start to finish it’s one of the greats.

Gipsy Kings - The Best of the Gipsy Kings

  • A change of pace and a personal favorite of mine . Anyone who can appreciate Spanish guitars plucked away with a pulsating beat will enjoy their music.


  • I love everything this band has put out. The rhythm and the horns are infectious.

The Cult

  • Electric and Love Albums are 2 of the best and very high on my most played list.  The Riff just flood the room with sound.


As I have gone back to my roots and re-entered the  Event Staging world I do not have many opportunities to tune up and perform test drives on media room systems these days.

I do not hate surround sound  -(regardless of the fact that I once caused a virtual right in 1992 on a BBS board by calling it “… Quad without the thrill nostalgia…” ) – but I am ostensibly a two channel guy with romantic tendencies toward the lo-fi genre.

Still there are times I am asked by a friend to help out for a few beers and dinner and when the manufacturers bring over a new system to test I have a few discs that I know all too well and provide a means to show off the capabilities:

The Creatures – Boomerang

  • Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie from Siouxsie and the Banshees side project of evocative middle eastern rhythms and instruments all bundled into a post punk tent revival.  The ,music swirls up into crescendos only to build up again and again  layering in goth inflections with dance beats, electronic pace and arabic prayer like calls.  While this does have a rock bottom heavy sound it is not so deep as to overwhelm the intricate sub melodies nor counter the subtle lilting opposition beats that crash around the songs like a tipsy musically adept  conductor stumbling his way around the brass section.  This is my go to desert island disc.

Black Pearls

  • John Coltrane – Hackensack NJ 1958.  While not considered one of the best Coltrane records it is  remarkable for the space and presence of the pieces.  Long before surround sound was a pipe dream and Quad was losing out to the long play records, Black Pearls achieved a sense of transporting the listener into the room.   The album, recorded by the renowned Rudy Van Gelder -(if you do not know of this gentlemen I suggest looking into him, his work is a revelation)- on a three track wire recorder dubbed ‘bandsaws’ by engineers at the time. A quartet Be-Bop band recorded live with three microphones onto a three track wire recorder -  If this cannot be called F’n brilliant then nothing can.

Tori Amos Crucify: Smells Like Teen Spirit

  • Tori Amos’s cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’  is what will make the original stand the test of time.  The cut from the limited EP ‘Crucify’ lifts the veil of noise from the song and exposes the sheer craftsmanship of songwriting – the lyrical playfulness and dexterity Kurt Cobain had.  Recorded with only Piano and Voice the song is all about the quiet, the space.  Ms Amos’s version can give me chills each time I hear it but in a good room my skin flashes into goosebumps and knees literally grow weak.  Audiophiles may rave on about capturing transients of the strings but I thrill at how a system handles the empty spaces just as well.

Gogol Bordello

  • Crazy gypsy dance music – crash, boom, bang music.  but that voice is recorded BeAuTiFulY!  Modern rock recordings tend to subdue and strangle the vocals. Granted this could have a lot to do with the quality of modern singers (need I say more than Auto-Tune?).   The vocals in the Gogol Bordello songs are pushed right up into the forefront with a sound that I have only heard on the great Frank Sinatra albums.

Lucero – Nobody’s Darling

  • Think of a genetically modified love child of Hank Williams junior and John’s Children and you might come close to describing the sound of this band. The sound is raw and jangly with harmonies and harmonics that shift from Sonic Youth squeals to the band X channeling Patsy Cline.  Nobody’s Darling starts hard and flirts with being swallowed up in a rain of distortion but keeps the breakneck pace. Ben Nichols raspy voice is so present cutting through the chaff and providing a steady hand to the music which fills the room and leaves no corner untouched.

Metallica – S+M with the San Francisco Symphony (DVD surround)

  • I have to admit that I am a secret Metallica fan.  Despite some of the anti digital rhetoric  from Lars Urlich the band knows how to nail down the accelerator.  Metallica has always had fantastic production of their material, sometimes running right up to the line of too much but never over.

Sitting down to listen to S+M is a good surround system is an experience not soon forgotten – When Phil Spector talked about the ‘Wall of Sound”  I am dead sure this is what he was hearing in head.  (the disconnect between what he created and what he wanted may very well be what unhinged him.  It’s a personal theory at least).    This concert DVD does not envelop you in the standard sense but brings you right into it. The sound is raucous but never shrill , it is warm without being cuddly.  The Strings pop right out, the vocals are direct and clear,  the audience is with you.   Play this loud and no one will be free of its draw.

The Video Vandal

The Sugarcubes – Birthday
Massive Attack – Exchange
Neil Young and Crazy Horse -  Oh Suzanna
Frank Zappa -Watermelon in Easter Hay
Jefferson Airplane -Embryonic Journey

Play’em if ya got em. Rock on!

John Sciacca

The Crystal Method - “High Roller”

  • Has an awesome bass line that can be completely missed or turn to mush on poor systems.

Talking Heads “Love (Building on Fire) – Live”

  • I just love the energy of this song and the horn section

Fiona Apple “Get Gone”

  • Soft, brush strokes on cymbals, piano and Fiona’s great, sultry voice…

REM “Nightswimming”

  • I just love the lyrics and pain in Stipe’s voice

John Mayer “In Repair”

  • Awesome.

What’s on your personal Playlist? Share with us your personal mix in the comments below!


Since you got this far into the Post let’s commend your patients and provide a well deserved bonus.

Utah Saints – Something Good 2008 (Single)

  • I  included this song in the list not so much for its sound quality but its funny video that surely will give you a good laugh or have the song echoing through you head all day. ENJOY! … Click Here - Chris

REDBAND: The Video Vandal leaves his mark – The 10 spot

The 10 Spot

  • The display designed for the application will never be better than “that guys” TV at Home…you know who you are.
  • “It’s not loud enough” & “it’s not bright enough” are now both universally accepted technical terms.
  • All AV equipment is unsightly and will always need to be hidden in remote areas where unsightly devices go to be forgotten. Thank goodness distance limitations do not exist.
  • AV drawings that have device locations labeled as “future” is code for “not happening”
  • The true value behind the art of Value Engineering is to kindly tell you that your site survey and needs analysis were never really necessary.
  • AV equipment is always at fault regardless that the presenter was presenting while on a  “pay as you go” Mifi connection and on a moving train in Eastern Europe.
  • IT “speaks” three distinct languages…PC, MAC & IP. While AV is more like a Nomadic tribe with over 100 distinct languages & dialects and few dead languages. Rabbit Ears, Cassette Tape & Reel to Reel Rest In Pieces guys!
  • Audiovisual can really impact a Presentation, Meeting or Conference so expect your first introduction/meeting to start 10 minutes into the event.
  • Using bigger fonts and more slides in a presentation is much more costly than re-engineering the presentation system.
  • 10 remotes on a table is a great alternative to a control system. Even the end-users would agree with the savings.

Video Vandal.

Updated Audiovisual Training Links Page Audiovisual Training Links

I updated or added the following links on the Career Training Links Page:

  • Crown
  • Heil Sound
  • Sachtler
  • Gitzo

Please note the new address.  The Link above is the correct address.

Thanks Again,