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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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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The Cost of Doing Business Locally

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it's enemy action.” – Ian Fleming, “Goldfinger”


Remember in the early, Wild West days of the Internet when we used to counter the specter of online retailing with the ominous threats of getting ripped off, receiving the wrong product, or being stuck with some grey-market or broken good that could never be returned? Yeah. Not so much anymore.

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Ingram Micro 2014 Expo: How we are all better together

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Ingram Micro held its Spring Vendor Expo last week in Scottsdale, AZ. Ingram is the world’s largest technology distributor, owing AVAD and DBL Distributing, two companies serving as major distribution partners to the custom installation industr. The Expo featured more than 125 different vendors, including Samsung, Vizio, Sanus, Sony, Microsoft and Hisense. Ingram invited key dealers from around the country to atten...

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Hanging With Bad-Ass Betsey Banker

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

There are PR people. There are *cool* PR people. And then there is Betsey Banker.


Betsey handles the PR and marketing chores for Ergotron and OmniMount, companies that manufacture the really sexy stuff of the technology world like projector and flat panel TV wall mounts and standing desks. If you want a mount that can go flat to the wall, tilt, swivel or even – I kid you not! – raise up and down, OmniMount has a solution for y...

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Don't Forget the Best Seat in the House!

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

If you’ve ever taken a cross-country flight in coach, then you know the almost inhuman, Geneva-Convention-straining state of a truly uncomfortable seat. The anemic cushion causes lower back pain, the narrow width confines the hips and thighs, the rigid, mercilessly limited recline locks the spine into a preternaturally upright position, and leg movement is restricted to the subtlest of ankle rotation barely capable of staving off deep vein thrombosis. Sure, these Torquema...

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Hot Potato: After Hours Service Calls

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The other night, as I was just settling in to a wonderful post-work IPA, my cell phone rang. It was 7:15 and it was one of my clients. I answered the phone to see what they needed. The crisis? They couldn’t find Wheel of Fortune on TV. (I’m not even kidding.) They had moved to a new home with a new cable provider and couldn’t find Wheel. She grew up with Vanna, enjoyed watching Wheel every night, and by God, where was Wheel of Fortune on the new TV we sold her...

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HRA: Hi-Res Audio, Hard Road Ahead?

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (1)

One of the trends at the International Consumer Electronics Show this year was a renewed push toward better-than-CD quality, high-resolution audio (HRA). In fact, there was even an entire section of the Tech Zone dedicated to “The Hi-Res Audio Experience” and several HRA panels, including one hosted by TWICE’s Joseph Palenchar.


According to the Consumer Electronic Association’s research, consumers are “...

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Learn from the SEALs: Jobsite Situational Awareness

Posted on April 1, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

"In military-speak, situational awareness is defined as the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regard to a mission. More simply, it's being aware of what is going on around you.” – “SEAL Survival Guide: A Navy SEAL’s Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster,” Cade Courtley


It’s tough not to be impressed and a little ...

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