John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

This is a section of random posts --- things I'm watching, doing or listening to. Things that are exciting or pissing me off. Products I'm reviewing or things I come across that strike me as cool or bizarre.


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Deconstructing Ice Ice Baby for the Custom Installer

Posted on September 5, 2014 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Riding in to work today I heard a classic on the radio: Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby." I remember the first time I heard this song I was in Berlin and I thought, "Wait a minute! This isn't David Bowie and Queen!!! What is going on here?!?" I thought it was just another case of those crazy German's taking things one step too far.


Of course, this isn't the first time that Vanilla's masterpiece has inspired a blog from me. I

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Four Products That Know How to KISS

Posted on September 5, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

You’ve likely heard the acronym KISS before, as in “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” It means, when faced with a problem or when coming up with a plan look for the simplest solution instead of trying to exacerbate it with an overly complicated solution.


Consider this urban legend: Back in the ’60s during the space race, NASA wanted a way for the astronauts to be able to write in the zero-G environment of space. They needed...

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My list of top #CEDIA14 Do NOTs

Posted on September 5, 2014 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

There are plenty of people that will gladly share all of their ideas on what you should DO while you are at CEDIA Expo. But I’m going to help you cull the list by telling you the 10 things you should NOT do at the Expo.


See, this will be my 16th Expo and I’ve managed to learn a few things over the years. So whether you’re a total Expo Noob or a grizzled veteran, there are probably a couple of things you can learn from th...

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Ears On with Dolby Atmos for Home

Posted on August 14, 2014 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Chances are you’ve heard a good deal of news recently about Dolby Atmos coming to the home market. If you’re totally in the dark, check out my blog, What Integrators Need to Know About Dolby Atmos to get up to speed on the basics of this new surround standard.


I was invited to New York yesterday (August 12) to visit Dolby’s offices – and more importantly, Dolby’s theater – to hear the home version of Do...

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Handling Customer Complaints

Posted on August 6, 2014 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Getting complaints sucks.


I mean, who wants to open a letter or an email or pick up the phone to find an upset customer on the other end? Someone looking to tell you what you or your company did wrong or why they are unhappy? We’re primarily in the fun business, and we usually hear things like, “This is so great!” or “I love what you did!”, so dealing with unhappy people is not usually in the cards for us. B...

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Business Lessons Learned from the "Bad Times"

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Churches, or rather “Houses of Worship,” or HoW as our industry likes to acronym them, have become big business for a lot of AV integrators on the commercial side. With large congregations sometimes exceeding thousands and ministries that include live bands, light shows and multi-screen video projection, they often need fairly elaborate AV systems.


The part of the country where I live is often referred to as “The Bible ...

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Pros and Cons of Owning a CI Showroom

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

When I started in this industry – back in 1998 for those keeping score at home – there were basically two types of CI firms: those with a showroom and those without whom we less-than-lovingly referred to as “trunk slammers.”


At the time, our company, Custom Theater and Audio, had a showroom we were renting; a space next to an interior decorator that we thought create a wonderful synergy as they would undoubtedly s...

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Client Billing: WWJD?

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Service calls are a large and important revenue generator for any custom installation business. In fact, those quick, “Can you come fix this?” or “I need a programming change” calls keep the trucks rolling and help many of us to stay in business in between the large projects. And there is an important cycle to the service call that must be maintained for us to continue to be successful in business: We do the work, we send a bill, the customer pays the bi...

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What I'm Looking Forward to at CEDIA 2014

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

With CEDIA EXPO just two short months away, it’s time to start getting excited for this annual spectacle custom installers have come to know and love.


This will by my 16th EXPO and far from familiarity breeding contempt, I think I actually come to look forward to the show a little more each year.


And having been to EXPO in New Orleans, Atlanta, Indy, and Minneapolis, I can definitively say th...

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5 Lessons Installers Can Learn from a Craft Beer Giant

Posted on July 8, 2014 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Nearly every custom installer I’ve met also loves a good craft beer. (Shamless plug: Check out my blog dedicated to craft beer reviews!) Beer is almost always part of the tradeshows we attend; either as a booth enticement or afterhours party conversation lubricant. Beer is often a crew pit stop at the end of the work day, either to celebrate or commiserate over a hard install.


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AV Phone Call Nightmares

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (2)

Customer: Hi, this is Mr. X. Do you remember me?


Me: Umm, I think so… We did a job for you quite a few years ago, right?


Customer: Yeah. You put in a system for me in my new house about 5 years ago. And now my remote isn’t working. I need a service call.


Me: OK. Well, can you tell me a little about your system?


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What Integrators Need to Know About Dolby Atmos

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

With many customers migrating away from traditional multi-channel – 5.1, 7.1, 9.1 and even the full-magilla 11.1 – speaker offerings in favor of an all-in-one integrated soundbar, you might think that home theater surround formats peaked with DTS’ Neo:X which supports 11 simultaneous channels (the traditional 5-channel mix augmented with surround back, front height and front width). However, as with any technology that gets its start in the commercial cinema &...

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Better Than a Concert Hall or Movie Theater

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

We routinely send out letters to prospective clients introducing our company and the services we offer, and one of the lines in that letter says, “Whether you are interested in concert hall sound or movie theater video...” I came up with that line, and I used to love it, as it created a visual that everyone could relate to. But now as I’ve gotten a bit older and gone to several concerts and movies, I’ve come to realize that this visual might NOT be the e...

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Stick it to the Man and Surf the Web Better!

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Because you are currently reading this, I’m going to make three assumptions…


1) You have fine taste in A/V writers.


2) You are currently alive.


3) You have a barely concealed disdain for your Internet Service Provider and would like to pay them as little as possible while retaining the maximum surfing speeds.


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How to Sell Garbage Disposals and A/V Like a BOSS

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Recently I found myself in need of a new garbage disposal, in-sink grinder thing for our kitchen. Our previous one had failed in a spectacular fashion, with a hole that blew through the side of it, spewing tons of water out of it when we ran our dishwasher. Like most disposals, ours was located in a cabinet under our kitchen sink, so we didn’t noticed the mini-flood until it filled the cabinet with water and then it overflowed out all over the kitchen floor.

...

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Kaleidescape and DVD CCA Settle 10-year Lawsuit

Posted on June 5, 2014 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (1)

What does this mean for Kaleidescape? Q and A with company founders


On June 2, Judge William Monahan of the Superior Court of California approved an agreement between the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA) and Kaleidescape to end the decade-long litigation.


At the crux of the lawsuit, the DVD CCA alleged that because Kaleidescape allowed users to play copied content without requir...

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Twelve Tech Companies Apple Should Buy

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

A war chest is a collection of funds intended to allow a person or organization to get through a situation that requires much more money than usual.” - Wikipedia


I’m not a financial analyst, so please cut me a bit of slack if my figures are off due to faulty research, but by my Googling – and the irony of using Google to look-up Apple is kind of delicious – I find that Apple’s war chest has cash...

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Custom versus Production

Posted on May 27, 2014 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

We so frequently work with custom builders on custom projects where things like, “I need that wall reframed for my center channel” or, “We’re gonna need to have the electrician do this for us” are just standard operating procedure that we may lose sight of the experience that non-custom purchasers typically experience when they buy a “mass built” home from a production builder and want it outfitted with some audio/video system.

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Troubleshoot Like a Boss

Posted on May 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The day will come when you will press the “Watch TV” button on your fancy remote control – or however it is that you turn your system on – and…nothing will happen. Or something will happen, but it won’t be the right thing. Generally the problem will boil down to you’ll be able to see it but not hear it or you’ll hear it but not see it.


Before you panic and start spiraling down into a...

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Sharing Could Be a Kaleidescape Killer App

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Saying that “a great part of owning movies and TV shows is sharing your collection,” this past week Vudu announced a new service titled “Share My Movies.” By enabling sharing and adding the email addresses of up to five friends, users will now be able to digitally share their collections of UltraViolet movies and TV shows for free. What’s more, the shared content can be streamed up to three times simultaneously, meaning you can finally have that re...

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