Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Size isn't everything - or is it?

Size isn't everything...........I have once again spent a fair amount of time with somebody who is looking at buying a new flat screen TV. This time it's my brother who is in the process of renovating his new home. One of his goals is to have a nice home entertainment system including a flat panel TV and new speakers. He told me he was strongly considering a 60" LCD. He also told me that the couch (primary viewing area) would be about 14' away from the screen. According to AV industry best practices, this TV is either too large, or the couch is too close. Since he's not going to be knocking walls down to make the viewing distance work, then he should really consider a smaller TV (gasp!)

Here's the math folks: For full motion video/ entertainment content it is recommended that the closest seating position to a screen be about 1.5x the height of the screen followed by up to 6x the height for the furthest viewing position. By my calculations, he should be buying a 50" to 53" TV. If he were primarily viewing text and other detail oriented images (like CAD drawings, etc) that are static, the numbers change to a 4x height for furthest viewer.

So what, right? Hey, I'm an equipment reseller and you would think that selling a bigger TV means a bigger profit right? Maybe. Here's my take on it: get in the car with your significant other and go to your nearest cinema (if there is one!), pick an exciting flick like Avatar, go immediately to the front row and park yourself there with the silly glasses on. After the show, tell me how you feel. Here's my prediction: you will be more tired than normal and possibly nauseous from sitting too close to the screen. Watching full motion video on a very large screen is exhausting! This is an extreme example and having a TV that's 6-10" too big for your room isn't going to give you the same effect, but it's similar.

Here's something else to keep in mind when buying that dream TV- viewing height. After sitting in the front row for an exciting film, your neck will be sore from looking up at an awkward angle and you may have whiplash from trying to see the whole thing all at once. If you mount your new TV over your fireplace mantle (very common!!) you will be looking up at that sucker until your physical therapist tells you it's not your mattress, it's your TV silly. The TV should be mounted in a fashion that you can sit in your favorite chair and look straight ahead at the center of the screen. That puts the center of your TV at home at about 32-40" or so. Go ahead - go look at your current TV's location. Maybe it's not your pillow's fault after all.............

So size does matter. I go out of my way to counsel my clients on sensible purchases even at the expense of my profit margins. Really. Ask any of my clients. Now go shop wisely!

gundy out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Go ahead, hate me........

So I have a confession to make. I kind of hate the Olympics. Really, I do. I don't hate ALL of the Olympics, but I am so thankful that they are finally over. Seriously, do people actually like watching endless hours of curling? My wife really likes the Olympics and watches them pretty much every night, regardless of how boring the sport is. I usually tune out or take a nap. I've been napping a lot over the last few weeks. I also miss the few shows I DO like to watch.

My favorite part? The pomp and ridiculosity of the opening ceremonies? Not so much. The pageantry and ludicrousness of the closing ceremonies? I didn't even try to stay up. My favorite part? That last hockey game between the Canadians and the US.

As a rule, I do not enjoy televised sports. If I'm not playing, I'm not interested. I don't know any of those guys and I can't stand the commercial breaks. The Olympic hockey match was, however pretty cool. I felt a twinge of sadness for that goalie who let in that last goal, but it was a good game. Even for me. And the best part? It marked the end of the usurping of my entertainment.

So now, we get to get back to "real life" and everybody has to come up with some new watercooler fodder. While flipping around the 8 channels of cheap cable we get, I noticed there is some idiotic "reality tv" show that has been on since 8 o'clock. It is now 10. WTF is soooooo goddamned interesting about some pretty boy trying to find a date/ wife on national tv? Seriously. At the most, feel free to paraphrase it and give me the Cliff's notes, and then leave me alone. Anybody who believes there is any "reality" left on tv deserves to be so misled. Enjoy the sand as it continuously fills your ears.

I do enjoy television, so don't get the idea that I am some tree-hugging hippy dip that hates the mass media as a way of life. I hate it as a past time. I know what you're thinking:" This guy needs to get a new hobby". And you may be right about that.

I do enjoy television. There is some good writing still out there and some creative producers putting out shows that don't suck or lower my i.q. more than a few points. I also have a soft spot for adolescent sitcoms that make good use of euphemisms. Case in point is 2.5 Men. This is classic high school humor, but it is well done and is well acted. I also enjoy Chuck. What's not to like about a slapsticky spy dramedy?

I am now writing this because at 10, the programming goes to some miserable shows that highlight how rotten the world is in high drama. Or it's some pseudo-news from those "fair and balanced" clowns. I don't need that kind of mental trauma right before I go to bed. I have enough trouble sleeping. So instead, I'm blogging myself to sleep.

So go ahead and hate me for banging on the Olympics. I'll get over it - until the next Summer Olympics. But at least by then, I can just go outside and feed the mosquitoes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Introducing "The Gundy"

OK. I am a slacker. Seriously. I decide to start blogging and what do I do? Nothing. Nada. Zip. So it's been a couple of weeks since my last post. Sue me. I had other stuff to do. The dog ate my homework. My car wouldn't start. It was, in fact, fault. I got caught up in work and family life and I totally ignored my blog. Be assured that I am totally ashamed of myself. Really.

No. I'm not going to lose any sleep. Not over this anyway.

So - back to it then.

So this week, class, I am going to introduce my favorite sandwich. Try to contain your enthusiasm. I mean really. You are embarrassing yourself. Here it is: The Gundy

2 Slices Vermont Bread Company Oatmeal Oatbran bread
3 slices of Virginia baked ham (brand is not important, but make sure it is very thinly sliced)
2 slices American Cheese (again, brand not important, but the real cheese - not processed - is better)
A shmear of Smuckers Low Sugar sweet orange marmalade
1/2 tbls Buttah (not margarine - seriously)

Pop your favorite frying pan on the stove top and pre-heat it on high. You can also use a grill if you have one and I've even done this on a George Forman grill - although it tends to squish the sandwich.Spread the marmalade on one slice of the bread and lay on one slice of cheese then the ham. I always bunch the ham up - don't lay it on in slices. Really. It tastes better this way. Try it. Lay on the other slice of cheese and close up the sandwich. Butter one side of the bread - don't chicken out here, just go for it and lay it on as thick as you dare. Drop the sandwich onto your cooking surface and be ready to drop the heat on the stove or you'll be hushing your smoke alarm a couple of times - trust me. After about a minute or two, check the down side and make sure it is browning nicely - not burning. Butter the top side and flip that baby over. By this point, you should be down to medium to medium low heat. Let it brown nicely on this side and then flip it out of the pan and onto a plate. I always garnish with potato chips and a paper towel. Eat it hot or the cheese will start to congeal and ruin the whole experience. The marmalade really makes this sandwich magic. I've not tried it with other types of marmalade, but you can experiment. Play around with the amount of marmalade to your taste, but it should be fairly subtle or it'll overpower the other flavors.

Bon Appetit!

'Til next time........

Monday, January 25, 2010

So, who is this guy anyway?

Well, I guess it was time to get with this new fangled communication technology. Blogging. After all, I embraced pagers first in the 90's, followed by cell phones and now Smart phones that not only make calls, but can keep track of my schedule like a sexy little techno-secretary AND surf the web to find the best sushi restaurant wherever I am. How cool is that?

Admittedly, I am a technology nerd. It is my life's work after all, but having said that, I am NOT a technology-slut like some of my friends and colleagues. When a new shiny widget comes out, I want it to prove itself to me first, and then and only then, will I consider parting with the coin of the realm to add said doo-hickey to my ever growing collection of silicon hearted monsters lurking around my house. Even my kid has one of our old cell phone rejects as a toy (battery removed of course).

So now I'm a blogger.

Wow. How'd that happen? I've spent the years following the first contraction - nay - portmanteau (look it up! thanks Amy W!) of the words web and log into a word that sounds like the person speaking is about to soil my Persian rug or is describing what happens after powering through a 5th of Metzcal.

So now I'm a blogger. Now I know how Hank Moody felt.

I've always felt that unless you have something to say, you really ought to keep your yap shut. Over the years, I have played in numerous rock bands as a guitar slinging singer, and I felt I had something to say. I've spent many years populating various pupil seating devices and written my share of papers on innumerable topics. Once again, I had something to say and said it. You want 1000 words on Cubist architecture? I'll give you 800 sharp ones and you'll like it. Mostly, you did (whoever you are).

So now I'm a blogger. Why? And why now?

Why not? (I ask you)

Seriously. Thanks to the whack economy, I was politely asked to vacate my little cubicle shaped slice of the American Dream and was put on the welfare gravy train. The checks barely pay the mortgage and for the diapers, but it is better than having to hawk everything I own for mac'n'cheez so my progeny can eat. My beloved Stratocaster is safe for now.

So in a weird way, I'm getting a second chance.

See, for the last 14 or so years, I've been on the business hamster wheel, running my skinny little ass off. I've had a lot jobs from my college years until I got my band on the road back in the mid 90's. Like all good things, some misguided choices lead to a complete implosion of our little rock 'n' roll dream machine. So there I was - no band, no job, no life (and no girlfriend or dog - sounds like a C&W song).

Time to hit "F-disk" and reboot. Gundy version 2.0.

So I got a gig installing TVs and the ilk in public school classrooms all over New England thanks to my best buddy (Thanks Josh!). During those days, video projection for the masses was finishing it's skyward climb on the big techie roller coaster. My employer started pushing these pricey little units like a snake oil dealer trying to opiate the masses. It worked. The market expanded like crazy and my years of electronics and sound technology were finally a viable commodity in western Mass. I quickly became the go-to guy for system design simply because I was not afraid to read the manual - and then throw it away. Once you know what the rules are, you can feel free to break them.

Like I said, I ran on the wheel and eventually found that that kind of running is crap on your knees, so I planned my timing just right and threw myself off the wheel, narrowly escaping the support bar of death that had for 12 years threatened to decapitate me if I dared seek grasses greener. But seek them I did, right there, at the end of 8 years of failed policies as the economy finished it's swan dive into the empty pool of financial ruin (how's that for a mixed metaphor???).

I briefly dipped my tootsies into the astroturf colored greenery and had a good run until this employer figured out the light at the end of the tunnel was in fact a run away train and the best thing to do was reduce overhead. I was not alone, although that hour long drive home with the dreaded pink slip still crumpled in my hand - cell phone-less, laptop-less, jobless - was one of the longest and loneliest I've endured in recent history.

So now I'm a blogger. Who-da-thunk it? Me. Blogging. Humpff. You would think my Communications Degree from UMass would've made this an obvious turn of events. I still can't say blog without letting out an adolescent guffaw of derision. Me. Blogging. Yeah right.

I figure after almost 15 years on the techie treadmill, I might have another trick or two up my sleeve. Turns out I do. I can do what all good unemployed designers/ engineers do - consult. Yup. To err is human, but to really gum things up, you need a consultant. That's me. I figure I've seen enough creative systems installed over the years, and I have frequently been the cavalry when the pieces start to unravel - or worse, never worked in the first place. I always say that letting sales people "design" a technology system is like building a house without an architect. It's always good to have a fresh, unfettered perspective on things. I don't care who has a sales quota to meet. I only care that the sound system has exquisite fidelity and that the video is sharp. But more on all of that in future blogs. Check out my website for more info on my company: Norseman AV Technology Design (rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it? See comment about consultants above.)

In future rants, er, posts, I will discuss the emergence of the new digital technologies and what that means to the little people. I will also get into discussing, ad nauseum, Green Technology, or, using technology to go green. Sound like an oxymoron. It doesn't have to be, but the up front design work is the key. Check out Project Green AV for more info there.

So until next time, keep a wary eye on anyone that wants to sell you anything. Remember Beta tapes? Sure you do.