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.


Feel like there's something missing in your life? You Facebookers can now follow my blog on the Networked Blogs section. Keep up with all my latest musings from the comfort of your own home space. The Network Blogs tab is in the Sidebar to the right.

view:  full / summary

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.

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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 “...

Read Full Post »

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 ...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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?


Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

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...

Read Full Post »

Rss_feed