Archive | October, 2014

It’s time to move conferencing to the cloud

Video as a Service
There has been a lot of chatter lately in the world of technology about migrating away from physical devices. Our IT counterparts are well ahead of the AV industry in this regard, having spent the better part of the last decade migrating sprawling data centers and costly servers into tight, compact, and easier to manage virtual environments.

While this isn’t a completely fair comparison, as the majority of audiovisual equipment can’t be virtualized, there are AV applications that must be modernized, and move away from physical devices into the 21st century. The easiest application to migrate, that offers the highest return on investment, is a no brainer: videoconferencing. Though many users have trepidation about using the enigmatic “cloud,” migrating conferencing can drastically cut costs and help maintain sanity.

It’s time to ditch traditional videoconferencing equipment. It is expensive, can be difficult to use, and without an incredibly costly, dedicated support staff at meeting time, meeting organizers often have trouble using the system. It also requires compatible services at each location connecting to join the meeting. Continuing to design and install traditional videoconferencing systems can be costly and frustrating to users and support personnel alike, and yield a lower return on investment than originally hoped for.

Continue reading It’s time to move conferencing to the cloud on AV Network

Note: When deciding to write on this topic I really wanted to include this mostly not-appropriate-for-a-publisher’s website video of a character from the TV show “The League” talking about the cloud. I find it especially funny, as many users don’t always understand the concept of the cloud, and are somewhat apprehensive about adopting it as a core strategy. I, for one, don’t think any of the users I’ve come across in the industry think it refers to a cloud of smoke, though; I guess that’s a good start.

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InfoComm International Releases Verification Guidelines

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InfoComm International, the trade association representing the professional audiovisual and information communications industries worldwide, announced today they are releasing the Audio Visual System Performance Verification Guide  a free resource for interested parties to use in conjunction with ANSI/InfoComm 10:2013 standard for verification of audiovisual system performance.

This 332-page document provides installers and technology managers, or anybody really, with “a framework and supporting processes to asses and report whether an audiovisual (AV) system performs according to the client’s agreed-upon expectations.” The document is thorough, including 160  reference verification items that represent tests and measures needed to verify the performance of audiovisual systems. Thought not all 160 references will be used in each project, the  accompanying Standard provides the process for deciding which items to include. when verifying an av system’s performance.

This document will be especially useful for technology managers, to be able to provide a base-line way to verify whether or not a system installed performs as it should, which can be especially important when dealing with eliminating scenarios where testing results in “good enough.”

This document will be best used in future projects, as it requires appropriate documentation, which might not be available for legacy installations, since one cannot verify against something that does not exist. The standard and corresponding system functionality verification guide are designed to check against the documents generated in accordance with ANSI/INFOCOMM 2m-2010, Standard Guide for Audiovisual Design and Coordination ProcessesThe Fairfax, VA based association plans to release a Design Package Verification standard in 2015-2016 that will expand on the current standards available, according to the introduction to this guide.

Copies of InfoComm Standards are available to InfoComm members free of charge. The organization is always looking for volunteers to contribute to standards projects and committees, those interested can find more information on the standards page of the InfoComm website.

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Small but Significant: Are Huddle Rooms the Right Fit?

Huddle Room

Huddle Room Technology featuring Vaddio GroupStation

Over the past few years colleges, universities and corporations have adopted a more agile approach to meetings and working in groups. One of the ways companies are making this change is by implementing huddle rooms, which allow for more flexibility, and better opportunities to collaborate or to meet, whether it’s a decision making meeting or a group brainstorming session.

Huddle rooms, or small conference and meeting rooms, are designed in such a way as to reduce the clutter, so to speak. These rooms are often smaller than a traditional conference room and feature a small table, and likely a flat panel display. Users can walk into the room, plug in to a cable cubby, or connect to a wireless display appliance and they are off and running in just a few seconds; certainly streamlined over a traditional conference room or boardroom setting.

There are a number of available options when it comes to sourcing hardware, or software, for huddle room presentations. Seemingly every manufacturer in the switching and control market has a huddle room product, and from the number of press releases I receive on a daily basis, the quantity and quality of huddle room technology is only going to increase. Whether the application is for presentation, group study, collaboration, or even videoconferencing there is no shortage to the supply of huddle room solutions.

When thinking about potentially outfitting a huddle room, there are solutions that run the gamut from simple plug-and-play options, to wireless technology, to small solutions that incorporate full control systems as well as videoconferencing capabilities. It’s imperative for technology managers to evaluate products not only on the quality of the technology, its consistency, reliability, and ease-of-use but also to make sure the solution meets the application.

Continue reading “Small but Significant: Are Huddle Rooms the Right Fit on AVNetwork.com


Note: This article originally appeared in the October 2014  AVTechnology Magazine 

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Google Classroom: Aiming to Overtake the LMS?

Google Classroom

Last week Jason Thomas tweeted a link about Google Classroom, an all-in-one solution for teachers and students create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate within their classes. Classroom’s marketing materials even include it is designed to enable teachers to do “more teaching and less tech-ing” I kid you not, that’s on their webpage.

Google, the search giant, over the last several years has made strides to diversify its offerings, seemingly taking on every established sect of the technology industry from social networks to web based music players, mobile telephones to small web-based laptops and tablets. There isn’t a part of the technology market, with the exception of IT hardware, where Google isn’t currently attempting to be a competitor.

Google Classroom is the Mountain View, California based tech company’s foray into education; unifying the services offered as part of Google Apps for Business and tailoring it to meet the needs of education institutions. Google Classroom offers familiar services such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets and Slides staples of the Google Apps environment but also combines it with the ability for teachers to collect assignments through Google Classroom, easily distribute ‘handouts’ or allow students access to presentations and documents used and discussed in class.

Google Classroom offers an impressive amount of functionality to Google Apps users in education. Before technology managers get up in arms, Google Classroom isn’t ready, yet, to truly compete with or overtake traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS). There are still several key features traditional LMS powerhouses offer for which Google Classroom doesn’t yet have an answer- gradebook, lecture capture integration, online lecture posting/viewing, managed/monitored web discussions so on and so forth.

As it stands now, Google Classroom is a tremendous benefit for schools/colleges/universities not currently using a full-fledged LMS, but isn’t yet ready to overtake or even compete for the business of institutions using LMS already. It will be very interesting, however, if Google chooses to continue working on Classroom and expand it’s functionality, it could become a huge player and ultimately one of the highest used LMS companies, but that’s still 10 or more years away, if you ask me.

I just want Google Wave to come back.

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All Eyes on 4K: A Special Report for Technology Managers

4k rAVe Pubs

I remember the first time I saw a 4K display; I stood, mouth ajar, as I stared for what seemed like hours at stunning images on incredibly beautiful flat-panel displays. I was blown away. I knew it was a pipe dream, for me at least, because at the time there wasn’t much need or support for 4K/UHD from an industry standpoint—certainly not at my university.

Now, just a few short years removed, 4K is finally on the precipice of practicality as manufacturers are shipping switching and distribution systems designed to handle 4K/UHD signals. Manufacturers are even certifying 4K displays to work with their solutions, providing customers confidence when installing these systems. Perhaps the most exciting news for technology managers who are considering 4K adoption is systems becoming (somewhat) affordable.

For many technology managers, a hesitancy to adopt 4K designs still exists. Integrators and manufacturers have united in assuring customers and technology managers: 4K isn’t like 3D, it is a resolution like HDTV and it is here to stay.

Whether it’s 4K cinema (4096×2160) or Ultra HD (UHD) resolution (3840×2160), 4K reveals incredibly nuanced detail and provides a notable improvement over digital systems with 1,080 or 1,200 horizontal lines. The greater pixel density prevents issues associated with up-close viewing such as the image appearing to have a grid-like structure caused by low pixel density.

As 4K/UHD systems are becoming more practical, readily available and are specified more frequently by consultants and customers, there are a several key factors technology managers must be mindful of implementing a 4K solution to ensure it is a successful installation.

Continue Reading: All Eyes on 4K: A Special Report for Technology Managers from AVTechnology Magazine‘s September 2014 Issue

Image from rAVePubsMark Coxon’s blog on the The Real Enemy of 4K: Infrastructure

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#AVMonth- New things to learn

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This transition has me thinking, however, how diverse the audiovisual industry is, and how small we really are. Now I’m not one to get introspective, but I felt as a technology manager, or user, I had my bearings on what products worked, what products didn’t work what is and isn’t going to be a winner in the marketplace, how future trends would shake out etc. I felt I had a really good “grasp” on technology, and I knew really everything I needed to know.

Yes, I believed there were parts of the industry I didn’t have as tight a grasp on, nuanced parts of the industry I’d really not need to concern myself with, like writing codecs to compress video, or  how SIP traffic is routed in QoS IP networks. I, for a while, thought I knew it all, or at least enough of it, to really make something of myself.

Then I started my new job as an Applications Engineer for Vaddio; I made the jump to manufacturing and was going to bring my “wealth” of knowledge with me.

It became very apparent, very quickly, probably 20-30 minutes into my first day when I started reading product manuals to bring myself up to speed on that I was far from where I needed to be when it came to knowledge of how cameras work, how cameras are controlled and a litany of other subject areas. I spent a week reading, reading some more and then reading some more without doing anything but reading and I find myself still asking co workers to explain terms and concepts to me so I can contribute to the team.

My point is, I thought I knew a lot, and maybe I did – maybe I knew a lot about a very little, but I’m quickly finding out that I could likely work on learning something new, continually, and still not know enough by the time I die. There’s a lot to learn, and a lot to grow into, especially in the audiovisual industry, which is one of the many reasons why our industry is special and unique it’s never stale, it’s never boring and most importantly is members of the audiovisual industry never grow out of things to learn.

Which brings me to my point (375 words later). This is October, or #AVMonth, as it’s being tagged on twitter, and discussed around the web. One of the key tenants of #AVMonth is to not only revel in the fact that we work in an industry far superior to everyone other industry on the planet (sarcasm); but rather to promote understanding and engagement within the industry. One of the best ways to do this is to get involved. I am finding left and right there are people who know different things than I know. Not necessarily know more than, or less than, I know, but know different things. I can learn from them, they can learn from me and together the industry can become stronger than it has ever been.

Fellow REDBAND Collective member Josh Srago touched excellently on the subject in his post “Who But You?” ; so please, stop reading this and read his post and get involved. It’s what the month is about. Wherever you choose to do so, just make sure you join the conversation, there’s always a new angle, there’s always a point someone hasn’t considered, so please use this month to make sure your voice is heard. If you want to write here, go for it, I’m happy to have you post, or comment. Just.Get.Involved.

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The Dawn of the REDBAND Collective

redband collective

Like wildfire, the news spread quickly throughout the AV industry at the end of August that the REDBAND bloggers group collectively decided that it was time for things to change. The individual efforts contributed by each of the REDBAND members had brought a certain amount of notoriety that caused the founder of the group, Christopher Neto, to realize that the original vision he had for this cooperative was surpassing expectations.

When InfoComm 2014 rolled around in June, conversations started to explore where the future of REDBAND could go and the group was presented with some incredible opportunities. This was the final jolt to the system that forced these thought leaders to look at their current circumstances and make a decision as to where REDBAND wanted to be in the AV media world.

REDBAND was founded on the principle of transparency. We have been a faction of AV professionals that wanted to shine the light on the issues and topics that others might let slide or avoided completely. We sought to bring the working professional perspective and expose the fluff marketing materials for what they were. That part of REDBAND will never end, and neither will our open communication about our mission and who we are.

Continue reading ‘The Dawn of the REDBAND Collective” on AVNation.TV

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