Benefits from AV Experiences
On last Sunday’s AV in the AM topic of AV memories touch on the “over/under” way of coiling cables. Steve Greenblatt learned this about 20 years ago onsite with one of his mentors who was tuning a room. He has never forgotten it, use it all the time for any cable he ties up, and passes it along all the time. In a recent blog post, “The Hidden Value of Being in the AV Industry,” Elizabeth Scozzari discusses how her AV career has enhanced her life. After sharing with the Control Concepts team, each member began reminiscing of life skills, changes in perspective, and how the AV industry has impacted them.
Check out the impact the AV industry has impacted our team!
Adam Hanson says, “as a software developer, I have often needed access to multiple computers of different platforms(including MAC, Windows, Linux) simultaneously. Sharing a single mouse and keyboard between computers historically has been accomplished with a KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) switch, but there are software solutions available that provide a seamless transition experience so no physical switching is required! I’ve used Synergy and ShareMouse. Each has pros and cons, but they both work quite well. Synergy has the benefit of working on Linux systems, while ShareMouse has the benefit of sharing the clipboard. Both solutions helped reduce clutter (extra keyboards), and streamline workflow!”
Joe Volpe recalls, “as a coach for my kid’s robotics team, we had spent 12 weeks working through various challenges to come up with a two minute “program” where a robot will run through the course doing as many challenges as you can fit in. Our program was developed in a school classroom and two of the challenges depended on a light sensor at the front of the robot. It worked well in our practice lab. It also worked well when we got to the staging area of a competition at a different school. But, the actual competition took place in a gymnasium. When the program ran the robot went off track halfway through. We didn’t know why the first time, it just went off track. What was surprising was when we went back to the staging area and retested, everything worked fine again, several times. Back out to the auditorium for our second competition run, the exact same issue happened again; the robot went off course. At that point, I realized the lighting in the auditorium was different (sky lights, etc.) it must have been affecting the sensor. We should have built a hood around the sensor to block out the outside light. Live and learn! A more experienced (or smarter) coach would have realized it after the first run and we could have adjusted. The kids were crushed but it was a good life lesson. I didn’t mention the lighting differences, we just said sometimes things come up you didn’t anticipate and you have to work through them. Unfortunately at the competition there was no more time to retool. But, in the real world this is where they would have to step back and improve the design.
A process that never ends. So how does this relate to AV world? No matter how much mock up you do. Whatever your test environment, there is no substitution for testing and commissioning in the actual use location. While it is not always possible, for the best results a job should be fully complete and allow time for testing and commissioning of code and devices in the real world environment. Testing partially built systems before they are ready is a reality but if you don’t leave time to commission when the site is actually ready, you are leaving room for unanticipated problems.”
Jonathan Brenner talked coming from a development background, “and in the world of web development there are a ton of very helpful tools for testing and debugging projects. In the world of AV, programmers are typically limited to proprietary tools that can often be pretty limited in scope. Now with more and more AV manufacturers offering HTML based user interfaces like Crestron’s CH5 solution, we’re at a point were we need to test and debug HTML5 like usual, but now on a proprietary piece of AV equipment. Manufacturers’ tools haven’t caught up with the times and don’t provide a way to debug HTML interfaces. My experience in AV has taught me that assumptions are bad, and testing is good. And my experience in web development has taught me that if you don’t have a tool you need, make one. Thus, I decided to build a debugging utility to allow us to test interfaces directly from the screen they are loaded to the same way we would normally test HTML interfaces. My time as an AV tech also taught me people will want to borrow your tools, so I also made it modular with the intent that it could be used by anyone on the team on any HTML5 project.”
David Glassman says that “AV has allowed me to be free tech support to all my family and friends. Whether it has been fixing Grandma’s computer, installing my mom’s television if it’s sold in a Best Buy I’m always the one to vet it and set it up.”
As Chief Technical Officer Jeff Mackie is greatly involved in the architecture and development of projects. One of his most recent takeaways answers the question, “you want it when?! You want it when?! The AV industry, like most industries, can be a fast-paced industry supported the needs and wants of its clients. In some cases projects are due yesterday and deliverables are needed ASAP. Whether people are asking for install, programming, or equipment, the question of when we can get it done by arises – before the quote, before the PO, before the before? The closer due dates get, the more focus is thrust upon it. Suddenly I am the customer, no longer on the production side, and needing to know when will we have the vaccine?
Mike Spadafora recounts one of his “most memorable/humorous lessons I learned about AV was when I was first starting out as an installation technician. I was on-site with my mentor at the time, and we were discussing camera placement in the conference room we were working in. He said, “Whenever you can, always place the camera below the display. If you mount it above the display, it casts an ‘omnipotent’ view on the people in the room. It will always be as though the far-end is looking down onto the people they’re meeting with.” As funny as his use of the word ‘omnipotent’ was for that situation, he was correct because when the camera can be mounted below the display, it offers more of a face-to-face conversation with the far end. Every time we went into a room after that, with a camera mounted above a display, I would wave my arms and say, “OH! The omnipotence!” I will always remember that lesson, and I still remind of him of it whenever we catch up.”
For Steve Greenblatt, in addition to having the best way to coil cables, “being part of the AV industry for so many years has brought me a wealth of under-appreciated knowledge. Whether it is helping a presenter when they are having trouble displaying their laptops at a non-industry event, sharing advice to not walk in front of a speaker with a microphone, or adjusting a projector image that is “keystoned.” It is challenging to fight the urge to remedy “bad AV” when you see it.
Another good tip that I like to share is a how audio resonates in rooms with hard surfaces leading to loud restaurants or noisy conference rooms.
And lastly, one that I think we call appreciate due to increase of conference calls. If you are hearing yourself echo back on a call, a problem exists with another party’s setup. This issue is likely caused by the microphone picking up what is coming out of the speaker. Putting on a headset or separating the microphone and speaker may be an easy solution.”