A few weeks ago I found myself in a meeting with Adam Stone (CEO of D-Tools, perhaps you've heard of it?). He told me that the idea that started D-Tools was when he closed a competitively bid six-figure job in the mid '90s with a rack elevation drawn in Visio (you know, that Microsoft program that most of you use to draft system diagrams and rack elevations). This really helped kick-start the entire company, and Adam thinks the new RealPic feature in the upcoming SIX can have the same effect of closing more jobs quicker. He's enlisted me to help find any integrators who use D-Tools or not to prove his point. RealPic can be used to instantly communicate the value that the integrator can bring to the customer, instead of focusing on the 20-page proposal you spent hours on. It takes that concept to the next level and instantly communicates value, competence and trust. A well done drawing can instill confidence that you are the right person who can deliver.
Adam told me that he/D-Tools can and will produce a rack elevations using as many RealPic shapes* for integration companies with no strings attached. All you need to do is want to "close the deal sooner."
This campaign is all about closing jobs sooner; what would the impact be on your company if you could take a three-month sales cycle and boil it down to two weeks? I know for me (not every integrator out there), there have been some jobs where I didn't bid because I had that huge project that "strung me along" and made me think that I wouldn't have time to do these other ones. If I only could have cut that time in half or shorter, I could have given the project manager this project and I could have bid more projects and of course gotten more work/money, and who doesn't want that?
*RealPic shapes are dependent on a decent front panel image. If no front panel image can be found they (D-Tools and Adam) will substitute a generic D-Tools shape and/or they will contact the user and see if you can provide a photo of the equipment if they have it in stock.
Simply follow these instructions to achieve the above mentioned feature.
The story that started a company:
In 1996 I was working for Performance Electric in Pleasanton and was using Visio 4 (Rich Fregosa is the person who told me to try Visio, BTW) to draw rack elevations for my projects. One of Performance Electric's previous homes was resold and the new owner contacted us to give him a proposal for installing new electronics. I met with the owner the next week and took a lot of notes as to the type of system he wanted. He didn't have any real opinions except he wanted a Faroudja Line Quadrupler (remember those?). I told him I would get back to him with a quote.
A week or two later I was in front of him again and I noticed that he had two quotes from other companies “casually” arranged on his desk. I handed him my proposal and he did what every client does with a proposal, goes right to the last page and evaluates all of your hard work putting together the proposal on the just the bottom line price. He seemed distinctly nonplussed with my proposal. In fact, he asked how is this different that these other proposals.
At that point I broke out my 11x17” rendering of his new theater and equipment rack. He grabbed the paper out of my hands and said "the other guys didn't do this." Called to his wife who was in the next room and said, “honey, come and look at our new theater.” He asked a couple more questions, the most important one was “when can you start”?
It was a six figure job and I left with a 50K deposit after a 30 second meeting. I realized I was on to something at that point because my sales cycle was usually many months and many meetings before I closed a job. I started doing elevations on all of my proposals, and closing deals on the second meeting became the rule, not the exception.
SIX doesn't come out until next month in Indianapolis at CEDIA, however I'm going to help you streamline the process of accessing my favorite feature now to help you close deals faster and get more work for your business.
So now that you know the story and have a viable solution to "close more deals sooner," are you ready to excel your business to that next level yet?
XBOX 360 users can now access all the movies they've purchased on the most popular gaming console in America. The only things you'll need are Amazon Prime and XBOX Live accounts (make sure you're connected to the internet, seriously, some people forget the basics).
"If you're an Amazon Prime member, you'll also find the entire Prime Instant Video library waiting for you. You can start watching thousands movies and TV episodes today at no additional cost with your Amazon Prime Membership."
- Amazon Prime: Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers who are also Amazon Prime members get unlimited access to over 17,000 Prime Instant Videos at no additional cost.
- Your Video Library: Anything you buy from Amazon Instant Video will be available in Your Video Library on your Xbox 360. Just visit the Amazon Instant Video store online, and shop from a library of over 120,000 movies and TV episodes.
- Your Watchlist: From your Xbox or from the web, you can organize your viewing with Your Watchlist. Add any title to Your Watchlist, and enjoy when you're ready.
- Xbox Kinect: With Kinect, you can also find and play your videos with the wave of your hand or the sound of your voice.
Currently Xbox Gold members and Amazon prime members can access a selection of more than 17,000 TV shows and films with many more on the way. And, there has to be at least a few good movies within the stream now that Amazon has a Paramount movies catalog at hand.
It's just my opinion, but it seems rather inconvenient to need one paid service to access another. But again, its just my personal opinion.
This seems like another attempt from Amazon to takedown Netflix (already available from the above mentioned gaming console). It's nice to have options, I mean it's not like this is Highlander, there can be more than one, right?
Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on all this. Will you use the service from the XBOX 360, do you already have the service? Are you already trying it on other streaming media devices?Add a comment
Smart TVs are all the rage these days, and we constantly rAVe (<---see what I did there?) about them to our friends. Unfortunately, pricing on said HDTVs aren't as "Smart" or convenient. So, I'm guessing you're like me and haven't found a reason to buy a new TV (if it ain't broke, don't fix it) just yet. Well, LG has announced their "Smart TV Upgrader" generation 2 (the very same that was announced at CES earlier this year).
Don't have an LG branded HDTV? Not to worry potential Smart TV user, all you need is any TV with an open HDMI port ready and willing ;) And all for the low price of $169.00.
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I often like to make up new words, sayings, animals, ETC...by taking two random things and giving them the name that best suits that creation. A good example of me doing so that many you will instantly recognize (If your on the Twitter) is the Hashtag #AvTweeps. AV (Audio Video) Tweeps (Twitter Peeps) is one that is used daily by more than just audio video enthusiasts, installers, programmers, designers, engineers, manufacturers all in this industry ranging from general AV to Home Automation and more.
My newest idea I like to call project FastBolt or BlueMac because if FastMac's U-Socket and the BlueBOLT technology from Panamax with a little surge protection were to somehow get shoved into the same packaging, BOOM! A new era of Connected Home products would be on its way into development. Lets take a minute to think about how you could benefit from this idea. First of all we need to talk about the U-Socket:
The U-Socket is a brilliant idea that has been in development for a while and I have been following for some time now. What the U-Socket offers in my opinion (IMO) is an excellent solution in offices (home or standard) to get power for today's tech driven world. I t comes with two USB 3.0-compliant ports that has 12W of total charging power and are rated at 2.4A, which means it will charge a single power-hungry device like an iPad at full speed just fine, if that's what your into. Beware when plugging in two USB connected devices if time is of the essence, Just Saying.
And now a bit on BlueBolt:
BlueBOLT is Remote Power and Energy Management that provides real-time, cloud-based control and monitoring of the energy used by your electronic devices. Generally speaking the standard home entertainment system and electronic components are far more sophisticated and connected than ever imagined just a few short years ago - and with all these devices connected comes a much greater chance for electronic lockups, freezes, and crashes. More than you would think , the only fix for locked-up devices are to unplug it from the wall and plug it back in ( which is commonly joked about as “ forcing an UN-expected reboot”, don't let your IT guy fool you with that one ).
This can be a huge inconvenience especially with the amount of time you would have to take to try and trouble shoot where the problem lies depending on the number of connected devices. Enter BlueBOLT, hop online to your BlueBOLT page and create events to , oh, I don't know, maybe reset your router every once in a while (Because they never need that, so it will just be for fun). Because this is a CLOUD-BASED technology (Which a lot of AV manufacturer's are adopting, especially in Media Servers ) you can do this from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.
Add the two together and FastBOLT/BlueMac is born:
Similar to what PS Audio's Soloist In-Wall Power Conditioner is or some of Panamax's In-Wall product line is but kicked up a notch b y the Emeril Lagasse of this technology (Nikola Tesla himself or Electric Jesus) BAM! Having these st r ategically placed around the home and or office will do wonders, for things like In-wall iPod/iPad docking stations, smart phones and other tech that the entire world use everyday .
In short I feel that this idea is DoubleAwesome and WayMazing, but what do you think?
So there I was, cruising the market of the Android apps (as I often do), when I happened upon yet another cool free control application. This one was just released by Western Digital, specifically for the use of its WD TV® Live Hub™ media center or WD TV Live™ streaming media players.
This one (just like every other I can think of) allows you to control said boxes of the streaming variety to be controlled over WiFi via your network (assuming you have the WD set top box hard wired. And, I’m sure you do, because otherwise you wouldn’t have any of the cool online features, like Spotify and such to stream . No? Go do that, it’s cool I’ll wait…) at the press of a button, and I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty sweet.
• Control your WD TV from anywhere in your house using your wireless network
• Get one-touch access to launch any online service available on your WD TV
• Enter text using your Android Smartphone or tablet keyboard
• Use the gesture pad for quick and easy navigation
• Connect multiple Android mobile devices with the WD Remote app and conveniently play multiplayer games
• Android device running mobile operating system version 2.1 or higher
• WD TV Live Hub media center or WD TV Live streaming media player (Gen 3, released October 2011)
• Wireless access to your WD TV media player on your network (Your media player may be connected to your network via Ethernet port or wirelessly)
Overall, I like this app because one, its way cooler and has more buttons than the simple and easy to lose remote that the WD boxes comes with, two, it has gesture control and a few cool swipe features, and Three, ITS FREE!!!
So, if you have one of the above mentioned boxes and an Android enabled device running 2.1 (FROYO) or higher, what are you waiting for? Head over to the Android Market and download “ WD TV Remote ”, then report back here with your comment below so we can compare notes, go ahead, I’ll be here streaming a little stream …Add a comment
To all the people that bought the Logitech Revue when I said to because of its price drop a while back; you can expect to be getting a sweet update to Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)! If you haven’t already (but, you should because it’s a streaming media set-top box that requires it), connect your Revue to the tubes and hopefully by this time the update is live to you. When prompted, you’re going to want to accept the permissions that pop up and just wait for awesome-ness to change your stream.
Finally, you will have access to the Android market, better search and browsing, and minor improvements to the Logitech media player from your TV. Now, with access to the market, you are able to get cool services like some of my personal favorites, Google Music (non Beta), Pandora , and Netflix or Qwikster, or whatever they call themselves these days .
When this update does finally launch, you can expect 50 apps geared towards HDTV’s so you don’t get bored with the arsenal of apps that are just for fun. Unfortunately, Logitech has openly admitted to it’s Revue as a failure, and has decided to end project Revue. Google TV will live on through other devices and I’m pretty sure there is a physical TV of the clan Google in the works. Only time will tell, and right now, as it stands most broadcasting studios are blocking the search giant from access to their content, and that makes me sad. I really like the idea of a keyboard for a “Web TV”.
Basically, the new update allows better functionality to your viewing process and adds a few new goodies to enhance your overall experience. And now, “with Logitech’s media player software on your Revue, you can unlock your computer’s library of music, movies and photos to enjoy on your HDTV”.
Here’s a little fun fact: If you get or already have the optional Logitech TV cam , you can do some video conferencing and maybe soon (in the future) we can expect some “ Code Space ” integration for real time collaboration from across the world!!??!!Add a comment
Are you one of the lucky individuals who scored a Kinect on Black Friday or maybe you already had one? Either way, if you have the XBOX 360 + Kinect, go turn it on and update the to the new dashboard, go ahead, I’ll wait.
Last night the new dashboard update went live to all users and, well, it’s awesome.
Last month I talked about gesture and voice controls, and now, aside from the Kinect hacks already out there, Microsoft has done their own tweaks and incorporated a lot of that into its new dashboard.
Last night I was at a friend’s house, turned on the old box, and behold a new update was ready. So, naturally without reading of course, update we did. I remember hearing about the update earlier during my morning caffeination session (where I tend to read and research) and I was wondering why it didn't happen earlier in the AM. For whatever reason it was delayed.
Anyway, first thing I did was ask it to make me a sandwich, sadly, no sandwich was had. Then, my buddy told me to shut up as he waved his hand towards the Kinect motion bar. It recognized him, and after he activated the voice controls, he was able to dig down into the menus via voice and change pages with a flick of the wrist and a swipe of the hand. As I sat there in awe, I wondered how long until we will be controlling other devices in the home with motion and voice.
Recently Microsoft announced what they are referring to as Code Space, “a system that contributes touch + air gesture hybrid interactions to support co-located, small group developer meetings by democratizing access, control, and sharing of information across multiple personal devices and public displays.”
After reading about this new awesome tech, I figured that it’s still pretty far out and away from ever becoming a reality. The latest rumors about Microsoft’s newest XBOX in the works will have a new Kinect that will be able to read lips and track fingers. Well if you just watched the video, you have already seen it in action. The future is here, now. Let’s get this b*%$! up to 88MPH and go back to the, um, you know.
I can see Code Space being a big deal on the commercial side of AV and automation and then eventually in residential, but not anytime soon (by the time we get this in homes, we will all be like the humans in WALL-E, floating around aimlessly, with snorkels on so we can breathe as we are molar deep in are double wide popcorns at the 5D Theater). I mean, really, how many of you are going to take the class just so you can get this week’s fix of Dr. Oz? Although, in his defense, he is a genius (pretty sure Dr. House would beat him down, emotionally and physically). Boardrooms and educational facilities are where Code Space is going to thrive. The ability to share content from around the room and being able to multitask with others on a collaboration level is extremely useful, not to mention cool beans and the cat’s meow.
Side note: I would take that class (Just so I could see a Dr. Oz/House showdown).
Honestly though, I don’t think it would be that tough to learn how to use Kinect (yourself) as the “Universal Remote,” just using the gesture and voice controls last night were easy and required no thought at all to navigate to my desired functions. But that was only one specific device, not several devices working together to create a seamless user experience. I for one am excited to see where we’re going.
OK, now think, when was the last time you saw a TV without a remote? When was the last time you had to actually get up and turn everything on manually? When you find yourself changing channels with voice commands and gestures controls as you accidently break a lamp and slap your buddy on the couch next to you because you were too lazy to get off the sofa and do it yourself, go outside and hug a tree. Then, carry on living back in the future. I’ll be there waiting.Add a comment
Well, maybe it just feels like you’re stealing for roughly 10 Ninja Lincoln’s ($47.99). Yeah, that’s right, this weekend only ROKU decided to give us all more reason to score one of the most popular set-top boxes on the market right now, their ROKU 2 HD! Here’s the deal, if you have been considering joining the rest of the world who watches their content these days, you’ve no doubt heard the term “streaming media”.
ROKU currently has four models for you to choose from, and is feeling generous enough to give you an extra 20% (this weekend only) on the ROKU 2 HD. I am considering buying a few of these now as easy holiday shopping ideas before it’s too late.
This is a great deal for anyone looking to take their home entertainment to the next level. Roku 2 HD has it all from popular video services such as Netflix, Hulu plus, and HBO Go to extremely fun and super addictive angry birds. So, if you’re looking catch up on Breaking Bad, watch some Muppets on the Disney station, or just shoot some birds at those dumb pigs, ROKU 2 HD is the best way to achieve it all, and continues to be a great buy when it goes back to full price ($60.00) on Monday.Add a comment
Over the weekend I was able to chime in with my commentary on the newish podcast, AV WEEK . Hosted by Tim Albright , and usually recorded Friday morning (my time). However, Episode 14 , was recorded on a Saturday, huzzah! One of the topics was, patents being filed by Apple and Microsoft for gesture control. Microsoft has Kinect, Apple is filling for gesture control on their tablets, and there’s talk of Apple, of course making an “iTV” (I only say iTV, because if they made a robot, it would be called iRobot, and then they would sue Roomba makers , Fox, and Will smith for being in that movie).
So, it’s a race to see who gets there first, who will get said patent, sue the other, and be tied up in lawsuits for the next two years? Does it even matter? What this really means is, that very soon here, you will be doing the wave, the robot (he he) and other silly motion sequences to control your TV.
A few months back, Intel put a commercial out , very similar to what I am talking about. This was more on the grander scale, silly looking none the less. But, don’t be surprised when this is the norm. It’s clearly already acceptable to talk to your phone and have it do all the work for you . That being said (think back to that iTV I mentioned earlier), do you really think that this technology wouldn’t be a part of Apple’s new invention, SIRI-ously?
From what I can gather, Apple envisions a system to be able to send content to and from devices, while Microsoft is more along the lines of the minority report and Iron man computer styled gestures. Either way, I’m kind of excited for something like this. Although, I can see a lot of things being broken, people getting “accidently” slapped, and or punched while trying to turn on the TV. George Tucker points out, now, our kids our going to have to take classes just to figure out how to do any basic functions in the home.
While George is correct about the classes, if Apple is the one who wins, no one would argue about the learning curve. If anyone else gets there first, people will complain. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who gets there first, just be prepared for some SIRI-ous changes to our daily lives.
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Western Digital ’s latest edition to its WD TV Live series is ready for your streaming media fix. This latest version comes with their latest UI and Spotify! If you’re not familiar with the most popular Streaming Audio service in the world, follow the link above and give it a whirl. It’s completely free (on your desktop), and you find out that the desktop format isn’t enough Spotify for you and your friends, you can always give the good people over at Spotify exactly one Disco Hamilton a month and go mobile, not be bothered by adds, get higher quality music, etc. The only thing I see that may or may not be a downside to using Spotify is that you must have a Facebook account to use their service. And most people (that I know anyway) already have an account, but not everyone does, nor do they care to.
WD’s latest set top box will run you twenty of your hard earned Ninja Lincoln ’s, which isn’t that bad for what this little black box is capable of accomplishing. I personally don’t have this version of the box, but have many friends with their predecessors. The most common thing I have noticed with all of them, is that, not only do they sell like hot cakes, they also burn as hot (I burned my hand on one, yep, true story). Other than that, they are great for a slew of streaming media services. I just hope that these don’t run as hot as their siblings do.
The new UI is easy to navigate, and easy on the eyes, two of the most important things (IMO) to any system.
Like many other streaming media players for the creative currency price I mentioned above, it lacks a hard drive, and that makes me a sad panda. Luckily, WD just so happens to make some external hard drives for you to use and this would be a great reason to get one. So if you’re going to buy a WD TV Live, you might as well buy one of their drives too. Now you don’t have to buy WD’s drive (because this isn’t highlander, and there are clearly more than one manufacturer for external hard drives), but I am going to go out on a limb here a say, an external hard drive is much like a moving buddy, if you don’t have one, get one.Add a comment
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