rAVe Staff & Guest Bloggers
Jim had a drive and thirst for continuous learning and sharing his gained knowledge with those who could benefit. His broad knowledge extended well beyond the scope of his career. Learning more and sharing with others was a hobby for Jim. Jim will forever be remembered as a great man, father and husband with well-rounded principles, ethics and morals. We will all miss you Jim, rest in peace!
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked to make a donation to a charity of your choice or to the family c/o Maria Foire, Jim’s wife, at 15712 Cedarmill Drive Chesterfield, MO 63017.
Maria's wishes are for those that know Jim to celebrate his life in a joyous manner during the holidays. Jim passed peacefully on Nov. 30, 2012, on his 48th birthday. Add a comment
Many of you already know that the best place to access our rAVe Radio podcasts is at rAVePubsRadio.com -- but we also understand that a web browser is not always the most convenient place to listen. If you can choose your rAVe Radio, why not choose how and where to listen -- online or off.
The easiest way to listen to podcasts with a mobile device is via iTunes.
Here’s where the listening options come in handy.
If you're not keen on listening within iTunes, there's always Apple's podcast app. Although, to be perfectly honest, we’re not huge fans of Apple’s podcast app (a barely two-star-rated, poorly thought-out app creatively named Podcast), but it’s still an option.
On the other hand, here’s what we do recommend:
Whether you're a dedicated Apple fan or an Android lover (or a Barnes & Noble's Nook owner or Amazon Kindle Fire fanatic -- and even if you've got a Blackberry or Palm, for that matter), a great third party app is Stitcher. Not only does it help you simplify the hunt for great podcasts you didn't know you were interested in, but it has a great user interface and seamless cloud synchronization.
You can find our rAVe Radio podcasts by searching within Stitcher, and add them to your favorites.
And there's an offline mode; you can check the download option so you can listen when you're not connected to an Internet source.
Here are the instructions for listening to our podcasts in iTunes.
With these links, you can subscribe to each podcast:
Hit the "View in iTunes" button underneath the Podcast logo. The iTunes app should automatically launch.
- Hit "Subscribe Free" under the rAVe Radio show logo on this page. Once the episode is downloaded, it will appear in the Podcasts section on the left menu in iTunes.
Got other listening options you want to share? Add them in the comments section.
Oh, and no -- we weren't paid to write that glowing endorsement of Stitcher -- it's just that awesome ;)
Follow rAVe Radio on Twitter @rAVePubsRadio
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Every year about this time, I look forward to having an extra hour on the weekend. For some reason, my head gets filled with ideas of what to do with that extra hour: sleep, read, get a nagging project done. It becomes a bit of an event.
I decide when the free hour is added. It’s not as if I stay up until 2 a.m. on Sunday to flip back the clock during the official event. Instead, I wait until I have wasted some time during the evening on Saturday, and then roll back the clock. It’s like a do-over for that hour. I can be more or less productive based on my mood.
It really is sort of neat, this idea that we all turn back time and get an extra hour to do with as we will.
But here’s the coolest thing. Listen close now. You can get this special hour back every time you need to build a rack. How’s that?
Well, with Rackbuilder™ Delivered, an industry-first preloaded AV racks program, you specify your racks online, even down to a library of third party components. You can save those specifications, email them, download documentation and much more. The best part is you can have the rack delivered to you already loaded with Chief and SurgeX accessories as you specify them.
This can save installers up to an hour of time and the hassle of dealing with all that packaging. It really is like getting an extra hour every time you use RackBuilder Delivered. So please feel free to take an hour and try out RackBuilder Delivered. You’ll be getting that time back anyway.
Here are a few responses we’ve gotten to our survey about what you would do with an hour:
“Take a long walk.” — Mary
“Spend more quality time with my family!” — Deanne
“I would add up all those hours spent writing Purchase Orders and Quotes and take a vacation!” — Carole
“I would risk a Tim Hortons drive through instead of going in.” — Jarrod
Me again, I think that last one is meant for our Canadian friends. Check out RackBuilder Delivered, or sign up for a webinar to learn more. Trust me, you’ve got the time.
This blog post was originally published here: http://news.chiefmfg.com/rackbuilder-delivered-like-having-daylight-savings-every-day
Suffice to say, it was an interesting mix of guys. From Felix Robinson having the most musical experience touring and recording with ‘Angel’ in the ‘80’s, to Marc Hochlerin’s experience touring with Mazarin for many years, then of course, John Cardone and Mike Phillips playing in local bands for umpteen years – and me, with no stage experience what so ever, but sitting quietly at home writing music on occasion. Certainly an eclectic mix!!
Our first gig together -- then known as the Steve Emspak Blues Band (believe me, not my idea!!) -- and my first venture on stage was a benefit that we helped organize for Cliff Govier after his untimely passing. Cliff was once an employee of SM&W, prior to his passing, so it hit close to home. He was also a fellow musician that was leaving behind two young children, which for me, made it all the more important.
Cliff’s Jam, as it became known, was a fundraiser focused on raising monies to assist Cliff’s wife and the nurturing of their two very young children. We reached out to local and national friends within the industry to provide the necessary capitalization that would allow us to rent a facility in midtown Manhattan, and stage what became somewhat legendary in the northeast -- at least in my view. Bringing together over 600 people from as far away as Atlanta and Boston, and supported by numerous manufactures, sales reps, systems integrators and friends, on a damp and chilly November evening, just prior to the Thanksgiving Holiday in 2003, the Steve Emspak Blues Band took the stage.
Supported by an impressive musical compilation: Jimmy Vivvino and GE Smith of late night TV fame, the entire band from Billy Joel’s Broadway show Movin’ Out, the late Louie Appell (an amazing drummer and good friend of Marc’s who was instrumental in helping to recruit all those mentioned previously), The Knockout Drops (Tom Licamelli from CMS), along with a number of other industry musicians (to include a closing jam of over 30 guitar players on stage at the same time!), we raised a total of $65,000 that, after expenses, we happily contributed ($47,000) to Cliff’s family.
Needless to say, we were more than energized by the result, and along the way we had a good time doing it!
As time passed the band matured (just a little), and at my insistence, changed the name almost immediately to, “The Drunk Unkles” (I’m fairly certain that came from Felix), and the Yokel was born. About the same time, we realized that having a female vocalist join us would be beneficial (good marketing?), at which point Aunt Mimi joined the band. Upon her departure about three years ago, we were joined by Lisa Wenger (Bosch), a terrific voice and personality to say the least!
We began performing at various venues in and around New York City, building a mailing list of friends that were primarily in the AV Community. Those gigs were certainly not earning us any money; as a matter of fact, there is no question that it would cost us – at times a considerable amount – to perform. Between the costs associated with rehearsal space, parking, and of course what at times were ridiculous bar bills, it was a losing proposition for sure (and still is!!) – but we sure were having a good time doing it.
One of those gigs we played, in October 2005, was what we called the Drunk Unkles Pre-AES show. As it happened Chuck Wilson and Norah Hammond from the NSCA were in my office the day of the gig discussing various aspects of the NSCA. In the course of conversation I mentioned to them that the band was playing that night, and there might be a good crowd and maybe they should stop by. The odds proved in our favor and they would know a fair number of attendees. It took about two seconds for Mr. Wilson to make up his mind, and low and behold, a few hours later Chuck, along with a packed house at The Cutting Room, was cheering us on!!
My recollection was that as we were packing up that night Chuck approached me and asked if we would be interested in doing something at the NSCA show, coming up in early spring -- Las Vegas 2006. Exactly what that would be was unknown, but we would figure it out over the next few months.
Little did we know at the time that Chuck really wanted to be a Rock Concert Promoter and we were giving him that opportunity. Here is a guy that spent years in and around the audio industry and loved every second of it, to say the least.
After a series of discussions, Chuck moved forward the idea of giving back to the NSCA members a party, and tying it to Education -- something that the band as a group was heavily in favor of, something that nobody in our industry would or could ever argue didn’t make sense.
We were off to the races, so to speak -- though really we were off to “The Beach”, a somewhat oddity, only to be found in the Las Vegas nightclub directly across from the Las Vegas Convention Center, which was torn down the following year (you will see this became a minor trend over time).
Using the “The Beach” as a venue was no casual decision. We talked about the location for hours upon hours (as we have every year since), as the band felt we were a Bar Band. If you can’t smell stale beer and your feet don’t stick to the floor, we are in the wrong place. No hotel ballrooms with stage risers and drapes for The Drunk Unkles! We were very insistent to the point of annoyance and adamant that any venue had to be the right venue or the vibe would be wrong. Deciding on the venue only was the tip of the iceberg. Now we have Chuck, two AV consultants, two sales reps and a systems integrator trying to agree on whose speakers, amplifiers, mixers etc – as well as who would mix FOH, Monitors etc. Of course in the end it was a fairly simple decision – it was Chuck’s since he had the checkbook!!
We had quite a night at that first NSCA gig. I recall something on the order of 800 attendees – not a bad kick-off, raising around $45,000 which ultimately (after expenses) found its way to the NSCA Education Foundation. We were now Industry Celebrities (at least in our own minds!).
Much to my amazement, Chuck almost immediately reached out, asking if we would once again perform at NSCA, in Orlando. Well, of course we did, as well as, the following years, and of course the same conversations as to whose mixers, amplifiers, speakers etc, we’d use followed. But along the way we understood raising monies for this cause was most important.
At this point in time the Drunk Unkles have raised over $500,000, of which all the monies raised have been donated to the NSCA Education Foundation with the exception of two events -- Cliff’s Jam as previously mentioned and a memorial to NYPD Inspector Anthony Tria, a client of SM&W’s that passed away leaving two children.
Beyond the fact that Chuck has probably approached the pinnacle of his Concert Promoting career, we are more than pleased at the support we have received from our friends in the industry, the new ones we have met and the old ones we have reunited with.
We were happy to go on for our seventh year, taking the stage as a ‘Thank You’ to our friends and colleagues. With the comforting knowledge that we raised over $90,000 this year -- oddly we are again looking forward to that call from Chuck saying, “Hey, we need to get going on plans for next year!” Here we go again -- what venue with a sticky floor and stale beer etc. will we pick next year… Maybe we will grow this thing and take that open Wednesday evening slot.
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This year was my first InfoComm. To be completely honest, I didn’t start getting my feet wet in the waters of AV until about seven months ago, in December of 2011. I thought it was cool, but I wasn’t sold.
In February of 2012, I went to my first industry tradeshow, Integrated Systems Europe. The place was colossal. I got lost five times a day. I also saw a lot of awesome technology, but when it was all said and done, I was still left wanting more. March was the Digital Signage Expo, which was a smaller show (in a cozy sort of way). Still, it wasn’t all I thought it’d be.
Two Sundays ago when I boarded my flight for Las Vegas, I knew I was slowly approaching a fork in the road. I would either go to InfoComm and become a true AV Geek or realize my future career in technology would have to take a turn towards consumer electronics or something of that sort. To be honest, I was worried. I wanted to love AV, but there was something missing.
In the weeks leading up to the show every time we would say “InfoComm” in the office, Gary’s ears would perk up and he’d start building up the hype for the event. But even Gary, the best salesperson I’ve ever meet, couldn’t sell me totally, although I would have never told him that prior to the show.
The verdict? I’m one of you now, an AV Geek.
The funny part is that InfoComm’s show floor wasn’t as big as ISE’s. There weren’t as many people at Infocomm as there were at ISE. I went to fewer parties at InfoComm than I did at ISE. Many of the manufacturers showed either the same products or even fewer products than they did at ISE.
Then why did I like it more?
It was the people and the camaraderie. I saw old friends reunite, laugh and have fun together again. I saw people make new friends, not just business connections. When I went to booths to shoot product videos, people seemed happier and more willing to show off their booths. When I asked for interviews, attendees were actually friendly and willing to talk to me.
Did anyone see the NEC booth on Friday? There was a flash mob there, and people didn’t get annoyed or upset -- it was actually the opposite. Attendees actually joined in. It was actually fun! Yes, fun!
Isn’t that what working in any area of tech is supposed to be about?
Yes, the fact that you get paid to do it is cool, but being in technology isn’t like other professions. Lawyers don’t become lawyers because it sounds fun. People don’t become accountants and bankers because they love sitting at desks crunching numbers all day.
But most people who work in technology decided to do so because they love technology and want to spend every day of their lives building, telling and selling technology.
So here’s my proposition AV Geeks everywhere -- treat every day like an InfoComm show day. Our industry will continue to grow in ways that we never thought were possible, not even when we were looking into Kayye’s Krystal Ball. Add a comment
With over 330,000 churches in the United States alone, this under-served vertical is sending more of their congregants and staff to industry trade shows than ever before. In fact, InfoComm has quietly been adding exhibit and demonstration space for this portion of the industry for years by partnering with House of Worship market trade magazines and organizations. As you stroll down the aisles on the way to your favorite booths, take note of the number of firms that specialize or put a focus on the church market.
When talking with these church attendees, ask questions that demonstrate you have a working knowledge of the vertical by qualifying them. Are they a part of a denomination or non-denominational? How many Tech Arts staff do they employ? How many services and venues or satellite campuses do they have? What solutions did they come to find at InfoComm? Are they in a new building campaign or are they doing an upgrade or retrofit? Have they standardized on certain manufacturers for mixing and lighting consoles across their venues for easier volunteer training?
Chances are, you are likely to find a more sophisticated client than you expect. As managers of technology in churches, they have the responsibility of making sure services are consistent and that the solutions are easy for volunteers to utilize. More and more churches are expanding their use of technology as a force multiplier in lieu of hiring staff. They have a large volunteer force that is motivated and willing to give of their time, so these church leaders are on the hunt for manufacturers and systems integrators ready to help them with their week-in, week-out technology demands.
During this InfoComm, keep a tally in your mind of the number of churches that you see on the show floor or in the educational classes. Chances are you're rubbing shoulders with potential clients who are looking for what you have to offer. Add a comment
In our fast pace world, price and perceived features win most of the time. Very few customers will pay for quality, the vast majority purchasing inferior goods made overseas.
Since I'm a Canadian I can use the example of a snow shovel. (Eh?) When I went to buy one last year, I couldn't even FIND a decent shovel. Sure, there were lots of options, colors and styles, but none that were really constructed to last. What I ended up buying was a plastic piece of junk that won't endure more than two years of service. After using the shovel for a winter, I already see major signs of wear -- that thing likely won't make it through next season. But who cares, right? It was $9.95 -- just buy another and throw this one away!
OK... so what does this have to do with AV, you say? Our beloved AV gear is becoming disposable. People would rather buy one low quality item five times rather than buying something that will last 10 years. The line between "consumer grade" and "professional grade" equipment is narrowing. As that line gets thinner and thinner our profit margins are also shrinking as the pricing model is built for volume sales.
So what do we do?
Although it is easy to find more examples of how everything is wrong, let's make an important observation here. Things are not going back to the way they were! It would be nice, but it just isn't going to happen. Waiting for this is like hanging onto your vintage brick style Motorola cell phone just in case this new "digital" craze dies down and everybody starts demanding analog phones. Ridiculous, isn't it?
In an ever changing landscape, we need to realize that we ARE the value. Equipment can come and go, but there is always someone needed to figure out how it can be deployed to create a seamless environment. To upgrade systems when different requirements come along through technological innovation. To replace the monitor when even though you advised the customer against it since he purchased an inferior model. The trick is to figure out what client base you are serving, and serve them well. I'm not suggesting you lower your standards, but there is definitely money to be made in the AV industry, even in low margin market conditions with "disposable" gear.
Of course, there are people who won't find these types of services worth the cost. To that I say,"so what?" Don't waste your energy trying to convince someone they NEED your service. If they just want a projector and a screen, either figure out a way to make it worth your while or pass on the job.
In closing, we all have our MacGuyver moments... I'd love to hear your stories about how you were able to maintain profitability while being forced to work with less than desirable gear. Leave a comment or get ahold of me at http://ProAVSchool.com
Dustin Baerg is a member of the rAVe BlogSquad. Add a comment
- You need only 70 correct answers out of 100 to pass.
- The test has 110 multiple choice questions and 10 questions don’t count, but you don't know which they are. I recommend you flag any questions you’re unsure of and then go back and count the number of questions you answered correctly (and you know they’re correct because you studied). If you’ve got at least 70, then you should be fine at that point—the pressure is off!
- Watch for trick questions with more than one right answer – there are a lot of them. And just like when you are on the job, there are a number of ways to solve a problem and there could be more than one answer. For the CTS test, they’re looking for the BEST answer. So, the trick is to know what the BEST answer is.
- You can’t take anything into the testing center, so memorize a few formulas beforehand and you can write them down before you begin taking the exam.
- They give you a sheet a paper (for those memorized formulas) and an online calculator.
- How gain, sync, etc effects an image
- How contrast and brightness effects an image
- How you find the amps needed with multiple devices (with only watts given)
- Know the different meetings and processes in design setup and what they do (needs analysis, program phase, program report, client presentation)
- H=D/8,6,or 4 (general viewing, detail, inspect) screen distance formula
- Find area and volume of a room.
- I=V/R formula
- Best mic for conference room and video conference room
- How to find series and parallel speaker setup and ohms
- Different ceiling speakers installation designs
- As you double the distance, how does that effect brightness (75% less) and sound (6dB less)?
- Add 25 dB to ambient sound levels for audio setup in room
- Difference between indirect and constant speakers
- Know different cables termination
- Difference between rs232 and rs422
- Minimum number of wires needed to connect bidirectional rs232 (3)
- Rack cooling methods
- Different wire types and what you can put together and keep apart (AC power, audio, video)
- Plenum run types
- Gantt chart, timelines, progress report
- Interviewing guidelines (what you’re are allowed to ask and not ask, like age, marital status, etc.)
Thanks for the advice and tips, Scott. You rock!
Everyone in the industry is talking right now about the recent announcement by Andrew Edwards of Extron. How is it that one of the largest supporters of Infocomm could back out and turn it's back on the industry that has made it successful? My two cents on the issue is that it's just business. Sounds harsh, but it is the reality of the situation and I don't think it will hurt them at all.
Infocomm started before my time in the industry, but back "in the day" the way we learned about new products was fundamentally different. Before the internet, you learned about new things by experiencing them first hand, or knowing someone who has. Sure, television and video brought things together more, but the cost of distribution via TV advertising or mailing out VHS tapes(!) was prohibitive. If you didn't get a chance to see something in person, or hear about it firsthand you really didn't have an opportunity to learn about it and understand how it was relevant.
My how things have CHANGED! I'm not a media mogul but just being here writing on the BlogSquad will expose my opinion to not one, but hundreds of people. (I'm going for millions but you have to start somewhere...maybe you can help?) The internet has radically changed how we learn about new information and some of the old standards just don't make business sense anymore. Some of the reasons for being involved in Infocomm just don't make economic sense from a business perspective, and I can see how Extron recognized this:
Infocomm Benefit: Brand Exposure - Extron has a strong brand among its target customer base, and largely isn't concerned about gaining exposure to new customers. That is the dealer and integrator's job, and they (we) do it extremely well. They grow their business by introducing new products into a strong dealer network.
Infocomm Benefit: New Product Introduction - How many people have to go to a show to learn about a new Extron product? We know instantly via platforms such as Twitter and can watch a video of the product in a real demonstration IMMEDIATELY.
Infocomm Benefit: Customer Support - Have you been to the Extron booth at Infocomm? It's crazy busy and hard to find anyone to talk to. On the floor it isn't about technical information anyway, so Infocomm isn't the best venue for this.
I don't think that Infocomm is obsolete, but the point of a business is to deploy its resources in a strategic manner to maximize profits, and this is exactly what Extron is doing. By diverting the Infocomm expenses to more training and development, they will improve the perceived value of their brand which will ultimately help everyone.
Still, I'd like to see an Extron Lounge or something... someone tell Andrew to give me a call, maybe we can work something out...Add a comment
There’s this really cool thing called the Internet. I use it all the time.
When I want to know who won last night’s game, I look it up.
When I want to know a good recipe for orange chicken, I look it up.
When I want to know how to get somewhere, I look it up.
And then when I want to know how to make a good first impression on someone, I look him or her up.
People use it and love it and swear they couldn’t live without it. But it seems like as soon as people pack their laptops into their briefcases and begin their commute to work, they forget to utilize some key features of their 13-inch notebook that can tell them everything about everyone.
Don’t believe me? Let’s set up a little scenario.
I have a business lunch tomorrow, with you. Our relationship consists of a few exchanged emails and nothing more. You want to make a good first impression, but don’t know the first thing about me, so what do you do?
Ten years ago, you would have asked your co-workers about me and hoped someone knew me and even if he did, that didn’t mean he knew enough about me to make their knowing me relevant.
But now… You have access to a wealth of information about me via social media.
Am I telling you to Facebook stalk me? You bet!
You can find out what books I read, what movies I like, and what sports teams I like. If I’ve done in traveling lately, I’m probably tagged in pictures.
You already know what types of topics to “small talk” with me about.
In fact, when you were looking through my pictures, you realized that there were a few pictures of me at a certain restaurant. It’s just a few blocks away from where we were planning on having lunch. You suggest we eat there instead. I don’t have any clue you looked at my Facebook, but I’m glad you suggested the change in locale because now we’re going to my favorite restaurant.
It’s not hard for you to establish a relationship with me because before you knew me before you even meet me.
You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, but what if your Facebook is set to private?”
Look elsewhere. LinkedIn, Twitter, Spokeo. Maybe I’ve been quoted in news articles. Maybe I’ve got a Youtube channel or a personal blog.
If you’re feeling really desperate, you could look up my home address and look at my house using Google street view. You’ll see my Toyota truck parked in front of my house and see that I have a basketball goal in my front yard.
Wouldn’t that still be better than going into a meeting with zero knowledge about me?
The key to being good at business is being good with people. The key to being good with people is building good relationships. The key to building good relationships is making good first impressions. And the key to good first impressions… Well you already know where I stand.
Lee Distad recently wrote of the perils and tribulations of Rockstar Salespeople, who he described as spoiled, overpaid high performers that behave badly and whose drama ultimately overshadows their production.
Every sales manager has shared his pain and I’m sure many heads nodded in agreement. Nobody likes the impact of a diva or prima donna on his team.
Unfortunately, Lee’s recommended alternative to troublesome Rockstars are ‘strong utility players’ who will show up for work ‘day in, day out’ and ‘work hard to better themselves and their production.’
As a longtime sales manager, I wholeheartedly disagree.
In my experience it is Superstars, not the utility players, who win championships. While journeymen make valuable contributions, winning in both sport and business is almost always the product of a handful of very special individuals with exceptional skills, knowledge, drive and results.
“Moneyball” and its utility player fundamentals is a proven recipe for mediocrity -- as is building a sales team with people valued most for simply showing up, trying hard and avoiding rocking the sales manager’s boat.
There is no question Superstars are more difficult to manage -- perhaps because they are usually more creative, more passionate, more intelligent, more intuitive and/or simply more driven than most. The sales manager’s challenge is what every pro sports coach faces; how to best harness, channel, maximize and perpetuate that Superstar’s performance, results and impact on others.
No single approach consistently works best but if we, as sales managers, are unimaginative, indecisive, uninvolved or just plain lazy we will, one way or the other, inevitably lose our Superstars. Proven causes include limiting upside opportunities, setting mediocre expectations and thresholds and failing to tangibly recognize their superior talents and potential with tailored programs, incentives or perks.
Managed well, the Superstar will become the foundation of a winning team. They will inspire, motivate and lead their teammates to equally exceptional performances. They will also attract other Superstars, including Superstar Clients, making both themselves and their employers a lot of money.
Lee very sagely warns against creating Rockstars whose high performance is accompanied by chaos, anarchy and discord. I concur -- but suggest sales managers would be very well served to learn to recognize exceptional potential, manage it accordingly and, in the process, build new Superstars.
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