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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3D Goes For Resurrection With Glasses-Free

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (4)

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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Turn Your Clients into Troubleshooters

Posted on November 27, 2013 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (2)

At some point, even the best-designed system will run into some kind of glitch. Maybe it will be from a power outage, maybe it will be due to a guest with button jab-itis, or maybe it will come from a Stuxnet virus attack. But no matter how it happens, when it happens, you’ll be getting a phone call – or email – from a client wanting to get things back on track.


And when that call comes, having a client that is willing t...

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Follow my new blog: Sciacca Drinks

Posted on November 22, 2013 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I've decided to add to the brand which is things Sciacca...


First there was Sciacca Writes.


Then there was Sciacca Tweets.


Now, I am launching a new blog devoted solely to beer reviews called Sciacca Drinks.


This site is going to be all beer reviews al...

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Three Pumpkin Ales Reviewed: Tricks or Treats?

Posted on November 21, 2013 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Like a cozy, hand-knit snowflake-design sweater, nothing heralds the coming of fall/winter like the arrival of the latest batch of pumpkin inspired things. And no true beer lover* can let fall pass them by without trying a few of the season’s latest pumpkin beer offerings, and this year I snatched up a trio of pumpkin infused brews to get into the pumpkin season and nutmeg seasoned and cinnamon season and, umm, other similarly spiced seasons.


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Should We Bill Like Lawyers and CPAs?

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I remember reading John Grisham’s novel, The Firm, several years ago, and recall Mitch’s marching orders from the nefarious firm of Bendini, Lambert and Locke as being something akin to, “If you talk to the client on the phone, bill them. If you make a photocopy for the client, bill them. If you even find yourself at your desk, drinking a cup of coffee and maybe flipping through a magazine, and your mind happens to wander to where you even think about t...

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Once, Twice, Three Times a Bastard

Posted on November 15, 2013 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

It's not every day that I come home to find packages on my porch. It's even less likely that I come home to find packages of beer on my porch. And the rarest event of them all is when I discover not one but TWO packages of beer on my porch! It's like a solar AND lunar exclipse occuring simultaneously!


When I opened the boxes and saw that both beers were Bastard ales, I knew it was more than just serendipity, it was a sign; cl...

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Installation Holy Grail: Recurring Revenue

Posted on November 13, 2013 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Our industry's Holy Grail seems to be developing some form of a recurring revenue stream. Far better than the one-and-done-and-on-to-the-next-one install we typically do, recurring revenue is like that mythical Golden Goose that just poops out stacks of money on a regular basis, while you sit back at your desk, feet up, sipping some Macallan 30 watching all those hundos rolling in and thinking of all the ways to spend it.


In reality, get...

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The Hunt for RedHopToberfest: Three random beers

Posted on November 12, 2013 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I have a backlog of beers that I’ve drank. Beers that I’ve photographed. Beers I’ve reviewed. And beer reviews I’ve yet to post. I think there are like 30 of them. In an effort to clear the backlog, here are three beers I drank but neglected to post up. Why? Who can say. Let’s stop trying to figure this all out and just move on to the beers, shall we?


Great Divide Brewing Co - Fresh Hop Pale Ale

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Riding the Automation Z-Wave

Posted on November 8, 2013 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

If your Internet search history has broadened beyond “Miley Cyrus twerking” or “Katy Perry boobs” and ventured into the realms of “DIY home automation,” then you’ve likely run across the name “Z-Wave” at some point. And then you probably wondered, “What the hell is a Z-Wave?!”


Well, Z-Wave does not describe some new shotgun-to-brain resistant strain of zombie apocalypse. No...

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Smartphone: I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds

Posted on November 5, 2013 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (2)

When the robot overlords take over and finish thoroughly examining each bit of the yottabytes of accumulated data that make up the entire collected history of human culture – sadly a process that will only take them around 2 seconds with their quantum logic computing power stolen from the NSA, but it will be a merciful two second reprieve from the constant whippings and cruel task mastering – they will likely determine that the smartphone was the most powerful and d...

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Why 3-D IS and ISN'T Dead

Posted on November 1, 2013 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (12)

There was a time not that long ago when you couldn’t walk 10 paces at an electronics’ trade show without being bombarded by some TV huckster wanting you to see their latest 3-D demonstration.


There would be people lined up like cattle at a feeding trough, crowding around for their turn to grab a pair of glasses and then stand ogling a screen playing an endless demo loop of some carefully selected, overly-bright eye-popping 3-...

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Singling Out Trader Joes Beer Singles

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

While not specifically mentioned by name, White People do love them some Trader Joe's. (Which is kind of just lumped under Whole Foods and Grocery Co-Ops as stuff white people like.)


White People also like Microbreweries. To whit:


"White people don’t like stuf...

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The Best Speaker Tech You Never Think Of

Posted on October 29, 2013 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The other evening, as I was tip-toeing on top of a chair from our dining room, using a paper clip and the smallest screwdriver I could find trying to pry loose the grille of an older in-ceiling speaker I wanted to replace without totally destroying the grille or falling off the chair, I realized just how far architectural audio speaker technology had come. And I’m not talking about new Rohacell driver technology, and infinitely dense cabinetry bracing or super rare-earth ...

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Raid Flying Dog's Secret Stash

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

"Good people drink good beer." - Hunter S. Thompson


A wonderful little package arrived on my porch the other day. Carefully wrapped inside was a new release from the good folks at Flying Dog Brewery, with the note starting, "To those who spread the gospel of craft beer..."


As one of the true believers in the many wonders of craft beer, I drank Flying Dog's latest offering, and share my findin...

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