AV Anxiety

Many of us suffer from anxiety when running a live show of any type. We constantly run though our minds of all the possible problems and we plan ahead for anything that can go wrong.

However, I wonder, who else has ever suffered from anxiety during a show for which you are not even responsible.  Whether it is at a local basketball game, a church service or even watching the Oscars last night, I find myself a little stressed out.  At the basketball game, I hear some feedback and think, oh man, that headset mic is too hot, they gotta bring the gain down.  During the Oscars when they shut off the mics when a thank you speech goes on too long I think, man, I am glad that I did not have to shut that off during this gal’s one moment!  At the church service when a mic crackles I wonder if they are going to turn to me and ask me to do something.

Am I alone in this, or are there others out there who suffer from this affliction?

AV Hearts a Twitter

Yes, I am going to talk about Twitter. Yes you should read this, because you can learn a lot about our industry with it. And if you aren’t the sort constantly on the lookout to learn something new, you made a very odd career choice.

I know, you are thinking: Twitter? Isn’t that where millions of people drone on incessantly, generating inane streams of completely irrelevant information, all of it in obnoxious 140 character bursts? Well, yes, but only most of it is like that.

There are some very smart people on Twitter, and if you find them – and follow them – you can learn a lot. You don’t need to say anything. And you can follow or unfollow anyone at any time.

The first thing you really need (after an account) is a “Twitter client.” The actual Twitter interface page, in a word, sucks. (Ah, see, the sort of detailed and insightful technical perspective you have come to expect here at AV-1.)

There are a number of fine ones out there, I happen to use and like TweetDeck. Aside from just being a much nicer interface with which to follow others, they really simplify your ability to follow “hashtags.”

Twitter “handles” begin with “@” – I am @AVGreg for example. Twitter hashtags begin with “#” and are how Twitter allows users to create groups around a common interest. If you tweet and include a hashtag everyone following that hashtag sees that tweet. In a Twitter client like TweetDeck you can add these hashtag groups and they just appear in new vertical columns.

That brings me to my whole point tonight. (I know, about time.) There is usually an AV Chat at “#avchat” (Go figure huh?) every Thursday at noon Pacific Time. This week the topic is classroom technology – the common thread most of us share.

If you tweet – or have just been thinking about it – jump in and check it out. Come spend some time with your AVTweeps.

Surely You Gesture

Integrated Systems Europe 2012 was held two weeks ago in Amsterdam. One of the more interesting items to come out of it was a demo by Crestron that showed a Microsoft Kinect integrated with a control system – in this case controlling the PowerPoint and lighting. Here is the link. Go watch it. I’ll wait….


Cool huh? Sure it’s pretty basic, but could this be the predecessor of our future control systems? It is Crestron dabbling in this after all; I don’t think that’s insignificant.

One advantage I have heard mentioned is no more gunky touch screens. (Do you really have people who clean them periodically?)

A gesture based system may allow for control from a wider range of locations. I am assuming, like mine, your faculty relate to AV control locations the way cats relate to patio doors: the other side would be better.

Many of us have wondered where touch-sensitive monitors are going. Are they going to take over for interactive whiteboards and give us something easier to integrate into an auditorium? If gesture control develops fast enough could it steal some of that thunder and let us turn any image into an interactive whiteboard? I think that level of annotation and interaction, coupled with the ability to wander around the teaching area, might just be the “killer app.”

Voice control? I don’t know. Siri seems to be having quite a bit of trouble with accents. I’m sure the algorithms will get better, but most of our campuses are quite the eclectic mix of nationalities. I can’t help but think we will be a difficult application to master. Besides, how much error-free consistency do you want to see in a control system before you install it in a room? With voice control the first one they yell at is the system, and you know who the second is….

I think it’s intriguing. I think it’s something we are going to see more of. I think it has some great potential. What do you think? Is this the (ahem) wave of the future.

Greetings and felicitations

Hello AV-1’ers. Hello world. Welcome to my first effort as an “AV-1 Insider”, a new feature here on AV-1 whereby a group of us will periodically bring you our thoughts or observations, or maybe just toss a question out there for the “group mind” to discuss – something longer than tweet, but typically shorter than a big fluffy blog post.

I know, I know, you are probably thinking: “Ooooooh, he works at UCLA!” I wish I could say the work lived up to the mystique, but our primary responsibility is AV in the classrooms. Most of them are decidedly more functional and utilitarian than anything else. With our limited campus space, plus the state budget being what it is out here, large building projects involving classrooms and fancy AV system design have been rather rare.

In fact we will only now hit 100% – 196 rooms – with full AV systems this summer if everything goes as planned. We have been trying to add 6 rooms a quarter the last few years, doing all the work here in-house.

As soon as I figure out how to do it, I hope to begin linking to and commenting on articles I come across. I read a lot. It’s how I try to keep up with this little corner of the madly spinning AV world that we call home.

As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged. This is a participatory environment. Just remember – if it’s not yet blindingly obvious – we are not professional writers. We do what you do. Most of us work somewhere in the higher-ed AV world. We are fellow geeky tech nerds. Most of us still have more VCRs and videotapes in our rooms than we would ever care to admit to in polite AV company. Besides, we’re volunteers. We are doing this purely for the fame and glory. (Note to self: review life choices.)

So welcome to these odd new little corners of the AV-1 site – windows into our respective AV psyches. I anticipate this one will be a bit eclectic and disorganized, but always interesting and good for a little fun – just like a good garage or basement.

Class Capture

I have been working with the new Crestron Capture HD. So far, I am very impressed. What I like most about it is that there is not huge backend required to use it. A simple USB thumb drive will suffice. Therefore, the initial cost is much lower than anything else on the market. What I am not nuts about is that it records in .ts. This format is a real pain to work with. So far, all I have really found that plays nice with .ts is VLC.

Webinar: AV9000 and Quality Assurance

This posting is for informational purposes. AV-1 believes in applying best practices toward quality assurance and supports any opportunity for members of the AV-1 Community to gain a better understanding of emerging standards.

On Wednesday, March 7th at 11:00 a.m. EST, the Association for Quality in Audio Visual Technology will provide a free webinar entitled, What is AV9000 and How Do I Apply Quality Assurance in AV Technology? Led by Mario Maltese, CTS-D, CTS-I, CQT, the session will discuss Quality Assurance as a formal discipline, Cisco’s adoption of the AV9000 Standard, and the benefits of embedding AV9000 language into RFPs.

A Q&A session will follow the presentation. Continue reading Webinar: AV9000 and Quality Assurance

Survey Analysis: In-house Systems Install

More than 120 technology managers and directors responded to our questions about prevailing issues that affect the choices we make when planning to bring new learning spaces online. All respondents were directly involved in some aspect of learning space development (i.e. planning, design, procurement, project management, quality control, installation). As evidence of AV-1’s commitment to keeping surveys brief, the majority completed the survey in less than ten minutes.

What follows is our analysis of five key elements explored in the survey.
Continue reading Survey Analysis: In-house Systems Install