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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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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Pakedge Steve: Network Tech Support Jedi Master

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (2)

We have been steadily plugging along  at our mega install job, getting all the gear racked in, terminating all the wiring, installing all the touchpanels, and programming and testing all the systems and subsystems.


All told, we have 109 Gigabit networking ports on this project. Because the entire home is going to depend so completely on the network being robust and up 100% of the time, I knew that this wasn’t something that we...

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Why DISH Made Me Stop Being Agnostic

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (3)

When I started off as an installer back in the late '90s new clients would frequently ask my opinion on whether I thought they should go with cable or satellite. (Over-the-air antenna is not really an option in our area. Unless you really like watching all ETV all the time, in which case, brother, we have got you covered!) My pat response was that our systems were technology agnostic and they would work fine with either one and it was really up to them and what they want...

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Undiscovered Gems in Kaleidescape's Experience

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Kaleidescape’s big news this past week was the appointment of Cheena Srinivasan to the role of CEO. I’ve been working with Cheena, one of Kaleidescape’s co-founders, since 2003 when I was one of the first reviewers selected to review the Kaleidescape system. I’ve also spoken and met with him many times since and I...

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Does the Academy Awards Actually Encourage Piracy?

Posted on March 6, 2014 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The Simpsons re-ran an earlier episode on piracy the night of the Oscars which perfectly articulated my blog. Enjoy quotes from the episode liberally sprinkled throughout!


Bart: “Homer, you don’t need a theater to watch the movie. You just have to illegally download it.


Homer: “Illegally download it...? Is that legal?


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Five Tips to Rack Like a Boss

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Perhaps other than Sports Illustrated or Hooters, no industry is as proud of their racks as ours. (OK, that will be the only rack double-entendre, I promise!) (Also, as a word of caution, “rate my rack” is NOT a site where you go to submit your best A/V rack pics…just sayin’.) The delivery and trimming of the A/V rack often indicates nearing the job’s completion, and a clean, tight rack is a mark of pride for many installers.

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7 Tips for Managing Mega Jobs

Posted on February 19, 2014 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

If you’ve followed any of my posts on our company’s Mega Job so far, you’ll know that we’re neck deep in the largest project we’ve ever done. (The finish line is actually almost in sight...we delivered all the racks of gear this week!) One of the things that I’ve really learned from our Mega Job is that these large projects are very fluid and amorphous and being successful means staying on top of the schedule and managing time both on and awa...

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Five Ways to Turn Social into $ocial

Posted on February 11, 2014 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

“You can be a millionaire… and never pay taxes! You say, ‘Steve, how can I be a millionaire and never pay taxes?’ First…get a million dollars.” -- Steve Martin


Sometimes when I read about people talking about social media for their business and needing to embrace social media to be successful, it makes me think of that Steve Martin quote. It’s like saying becoming a millionaire is ea...

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4K is coming! Does anyone even care?!

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

This year’s International CES could just as easily have been called, “The Great Big Giant 4K TV Show!” because if you ventured anywhere into the central hall, that is practically all you saw or heard about.


(OK, it actually isn’t 4K, as that technically refers to the theatrical format that is 4062x2160 resolution at 17:9 aspect ratio. We all need to start getting into the habit of nipping this 4K thing in t...

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Business Lessons Learned From Being a Golf Professional

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

If you’ve followed my blogs for a while, then you probably know that in my pre-custom install life, I was a golf professional. This meant that I worked at a golf course, managed the golf shop, ran tournaments, gave lessons, etc. This differs from being a professional golfer, which is the people you see playing on TV. (My game was good – my handicap got down to a .5 – but those guys are spectacularly, unbelievably great and TV golf was never in the cards for me...

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My Biggest, Bestest, Mostest CES 2014 Takeaways

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Another CES is in the bag, and after spending a week in the eye of the storm, it is nice to be back home away from the throngs of people and electron bombardment.


After taking a couple of days to let things settle and go over my notes and work through the weird ear-clogging head cold I came back with, here’s a list of the items that most stuck out to my eyes and ears while wandering the near 2-million square feet of Vegas show spac...

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3D Goes For Resurrection With Glasses-Free

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

In a way, 3D is kind of like a technological cockroach; no one really wants it, but it also just won’t seem to die. The TV manufacturers are making another attempt to bring 3D back to the market, but this time in a glasses-free version.


Technically known as auto-stereoscopic 3D, glasses-free 3D was being implemented in a variety of ways by multiple manufacturers at CES 2014, and I did my best to visit all of the booths and see the ...

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Video Booth Highlights From CES 2014

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

If you’ve never made it out to Vegas for CES, then it is hard to imagine the immensity of the booths that the major video manufacturers build. Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Sharp…these are giant, walled fortresses in the midst of the convention center all showing the latest technologies that will be gracing the world in the coming months/years.


I combed the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central Hall and visited each of t...

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Was 2013 Worthy of Festivus Celebration or Just a Lump of Coal?

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

—Martin Luther King Jr.


As 2013 winds to a close, it seems fitting to look back and see how the year treated the three of us: us the individual, us the company, and us the industry. Are we better off as 2013 draws to a close and are we still moving ...

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Tracking the Mega Job: Part 4 - The Prewire

Posted on December 12, 2013 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Bringing you up to speed…


Earlier this year, my custom installation company – Custom Theater and Audio – landed the biggest job in our 18 year history, both in the physical size of the home (21,500 square feet under roof on one floor sitting on 4 acres of property) and in financial scope of the job. I decided to chronicle the project over the cour...

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"Simple" Things Aren't Always So Simple

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

By virtually any metric, I would consider myself a pretty tech-savvy individual. I’ve programmed multiple Control4, Lutron and URC systems. I’ve set up, configured and troubleshot so many home theater systems I couldn’t possibly keep count. I’ve also installed Escient, Kaleidescape, Sonos and almost everything in between. Point being, there aren’t too many pieces of tech I’m not totally comfortable with.


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Cable, Telephone, Internet and...Security?

Posted on December 4, 2013 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Your ISP wants to put the cable guy in charge of your security, automation and more…

Like a modern proof of Newton’s Third Law of Motion – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction -  as more people look to cord-cutting as a way to sever ties with their cable and satellite providers, service providers continue looking for ways to retain customers and bring new customers back into the fold. To maintain this delicate Yi...

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Surviving the Hunger Games at Wal-Mart

Posted on December 3, 2013 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Or… How Physical Media is Alive and Well


Through a devilish cocktail that was both beautiful and horrible, crafted from equal parts boredom, morbid curiosity and my own thriftiness, shaken thoroughly in a crucible of suffering and then poured over icy despair into a crystal tumbler of misery, I found myself at a Super Wal-Mart this past Thursday – aka “Thanksgiving” – evening.

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