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 armstkar@comcast.net

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.

Tucker

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 http://tuckerstuesday.typepad.com

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 www.commercialintegrator.com for more information and be sure to check out www.avhelpdesk.com

Chris

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.

Chris

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!

Chris

I battle the Hurricane

Today is October 28th 2012 and New Jersey is under state of emergency due to Hurricane Sandy.  I have been following this news since early this week. There was never a question that New Jersey would be hit with the storm it was a matter of how bad it could become.  I have been through hurricane and storms before so these warnings are nothing new but as the week went on you can see the weatherman on TV change. Their curiosity of the storm colliding with 2 more “storms” was making them giddy with the “what this could become”. The giddiness comes from the fact that these monster storms are rare. So rare in fact that a book and movie was made about the last one. Their giddiness changed as the week progressed. That same weatherman this morning is reporting with stern warnings and a tone of dispar in his voice.

As someone who recently went 4 days with no power during Hurricane Irene I know what I could be in for. My neighborhood is fairly safe from flooding though we are near creeks and streams that make up the Manasquan River. Another comforting thought is that my house is located at a high point so most of the water runs away from the house and down the street. The biggest drawback is that the water has to go somewhere and that somewhere is the road leading into my development as seen here.  My biggest lesson learned during Hurricane Irene and the aftermath is that I need power. After 4 days of no power my refrigerator began to leak. Needless to say that the picture began to look bleak. More so that I have a fridge full of food that would go bad. Just as the first drops began to emerge from the freezer door a friend of mine sent me a text that generators would be arriving at a local hardware store. I was fortunate enough to nab a 5000 watt “portable” gas generator. It’s a beast! Big, Heavy and perfect in every way! That is plenty to run many of the necessities in my house but a bit extreme to take camping….well maybe not for a guy with power needs. So for the impending Hellfire and Brimstone that “Sandy” will bring I will be ready with power. The comfort in knowing that I will have power is unreal, hell it make me sleep better at night. I am fully prepared and ready to take on the challenge.

Like every other person in NJ on Saturday I was cruising around shopping for supplies. I have nice stock of goods ready just in case. Your basics water, milk, eggs and bread can be found in my fridge. By the way that’s the ongoing joke is that in bad weather the shelves in NJ become cleared of these good quicker than any other. I guess French toast is “comfort food” for bad weather. Aside from the great breakfast foods I do have items that will not perish in a couple of days. Canned goods, dry cereal, Parmalat and plenty of drinks. Now what sets me apart in my store visits was my inner tech side. While at the stores I searched for , what I thought was an elusive item. On a side note I had to stop and play with a touchscreen pc with Windows 8 … pretty nice.

Back to my mission…

I was probably the only person in the store looking for “rabbit ears”. Rabbit ears are no longer used but i refer to the term so that the Analog man working in the electronic section of “Big Box & Stuff” could point me in the right direction.

I made my way to the isle where I could find my modern-day “rabbit ears” the Amplified Indoor HD antenna. I figured if I have power I might as well watch a some TV. After much debate i picked up a basic HD antenna to help me catch some local channels. And by the way there was plenty of HD antenna on the shelves, I guess plenty of people have them already. As I made my way home with my secret treasure I thought to myself this will be key especially since my local cable provider has a hard time handling overcast days let alone the “perfect storm”.

I should have pulled out the camera unboxed the antenna on YouTube just to see my reaction. I tear through the packaging like a kid on christmas. I throw the instructions to the side (I am a trained AV person so do not try this at home) and begin working with F-connector like its 1999. So here it goes…I set up the antenna and ceremoniously plug-in the power adapter. Drum roll please….Actually I really felt like Ralphie’s dad in “A Christmas Story” when he plugged in the infamous “leg lamp”.

LET THERE BE FREE TV!

nothing.

This can’t be. I redid the channel search and repositioned the antenna.

nothing.

HOW CAN THIS BE?

Choosing not to be beaten by this cheap antenna I began running through the house unplugging the cable boxes and connecting the antenna. While I in the process i received a call from my cousin Pete ,who had purchased the same antenna. He called to tell me that he was only able to pick up a single useless channel. Not what I wanted to hear. As a matter of fact it made me more determined to make this work since I’m the video guy. I ran through the house pulling every HDMI cable and replacing it with the “rabbit ears”.

Nothing!

Not a single channel. I even hung out the window with  the antenna in hand.  Bring on the Lightning and Flux Capacitor!

This is not over.

I will find a way… or call in backup.

Stay Safe,

Chris

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: 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.

 

Chris

 

Welcome!

 

 

REDBAND: Summing Up AV in one scene by John Sciacca

Summing up AV in one scene by John Sciacca

 

We were watching TV last night and the opening dialog from the show Up All Night was just so full of spot-on, brilliant amazingness that I had to share it for all to enjoy.

So, I’ll set the scene; married couple Reagan (Christina Applegate) and Chris (Will Arnett) are sitting on their couch eating and watching TV. (I think it is an episode of Real Housewives of Something-Something they are watching.) When – poof! Suddenly the TV goes out…

Continue reading by clicking the image below: