Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Art of the Deal

Art? Selling, sharks, Trump....all images of selling. Selling what? Millions of articles have been written about how to increase sales, close the deal, but how many of them really and truly work? Or does it really even matter? I have been on both sides of the B2B sales world. Both are corrupt and broken. At the heart of what is broken is greed. We are all motivated by greed. We are raised to be greedy. We sell to feed this addiction and we buy and consume as well. The abilty to convince someone to buy is more of a psycolgy question. I am not arguing the science behind this but more about the end game.

I once had a salesman in my home selling food, home delivery of meats. He was young, knowledgable and savvy. The lesson I learned from him had nothing to do with food, it had to do with sales. He stated that he was instructed that 90% of the "walkaways"(folks who don't buy on the spot) never purchase. Thus he was motivated to stay longer and try to close. I respected him for the candor and honesty. I did not buy, however, it had nothing to do with his abiltiy. That is a lesson that I have applied throughout my career. I do not want to be "that guy". The sales guy who changes colors to suit the mood. I choose to be someone who spoke with conviction and who was willing to walk away when needed. This did not always produce the most lucrative results at the time, but it did allow me to develop long standing professional relationships that went beyond the sale.

Business is conducted to supply products and services. We are no longer a self suffcient species. We have grown to rely on others for many of our needs and wants. Thus commerce developed. Once we attached revenue to products and services the sell was born. As long as man has recorded his history, commerce has been alive. Before true currency, we traded. Traded what we had that someone needed for a need that we had. It was a much more pure transaction at that point because the deal was based soley on needs. Emotion was not a driver.

The sprint ends quickly. Business and life are not comparable to the sprinter. Their shelf life is short.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Watching" Elderly

I recently completed a project for a friend to help in the care of his elderly mother. The goal was to increase his family's awareness of his mothers condition and safety. I was very apprehensive about many aspects of this project. However, I found the results to be very rewarding for me as well as the end user.

A little background. The client has parents in their 80's. He has 2 siblings that are both not in the area. He has two young adult children who help in care giving. Up until this year, they lived independently in a single home. His father conditioned worsened and he needed full time care. They moved his father to a care facility 1 1/2 hours from his home. Mom stayed home. They hired nursing to come in daily and care for mom. Things began to unwind and the nursing option stopped. He called me to provide guidance on how we could use video to enhance the care of mom. Remote access was the most important aspect of the project. Also, low light vision was very important. My concerns; privacy, privacy, privacy.

So, I read alot, tested alot and listened. Here was my conclusion.

This type of technology is priceless for anyone in this position. The trauma of removing a loved one from their home can mean an instant decline in health. The mental stress of the caretakers can break even the strongest of wills. What surveillance provides is additional support when utilized efficiently. It narrows down the possibilities of "what" happened. It cuts down on response time when there is a problem. It allows those who are not close to participate in the care giving. The privacy concerns I had were easily managed by selective placement of cameras as well as careful administration of control. On the economic side, systems can range in price from $1000.00 up. Web sales of 4 camera systems are as low as $299. I have found, however, that a solid mid range system should be around $2500.00 installed. From my perspective, this is a very low cost alternative to enhanced outside care giving.

The system I just completed was a basic 4 camera system. Two indoor IR cameras, and two outdoor IR cameras. The interiors cameras are positioned in the bedroom and kitchen. These are the two high traffic areas. They were postioned strategically to capture areas where falls had taken place. We also added some plastic gates in hallways to limit access to monitored areas. The two outdoor cameras capture the entrances and driveway. The DVR is connected to a television in the living room for live monitering when someone is at the house. The DVR is also accessible via any internet capable device. You can view live streams from the cameras or search back for footage. Based on the setting currently used we can capture 45 days of 24hr video.

When I first started dabbling in video surveillance it was based on enabling a heightened level of security on my property. I am learning that the operational management side of this technology may be of more value.

More to come.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Outdoor Theater on a Budget

The weather is breaking so that means time to fire up the outdoor theater!!!!!  Here is how it developed. Last spring I was cruising around the web looking for parts for an old projector. I came across www.backyardtheater.com, an incredible resource for all things outdoor projection. I was hooked. Now how could I do this without spending a fortune. BYT has great suggestions and I used them to formulate my own solution. I wanted something big, quality, and easy to put up and take down. I started with a 20ftx12ft grey tarp. Mounted it on 2 12ft high pressure treated 4x4's. I tethered them with 18" landscape stakes. The key to this early project was the tension to reduce the creases. I was ready for a show. Had my projector rebuilt, sound system in place and ran power and coax out to where the projector would go. Turned it on, and WOW!!!!  A TV screen 20x10. It was pretty incredible, but after the WOW factor I began to pick out improvements that needed to be made. The finish on the tarp created shiny hot spots of reflection and the creases from lack of center support needed to be addressed. So back to BYT for some research. Behr makes a paint called Silver Screen. It was designed just for projection systems. Question was, could I really paint a tarp?? Well, not exactly with great results. I was into this project far enough that it was worth the try. I primed the tarp then applied 2 coated of SS paint. I created 2 pvc stand alone post with hooks on the end to simply apply upward pressure to relieve the creases. I was ready for another showing. This time an even bigger WOW. Picture was outstanding. Creases were invisible and hot spots were gone. It was done. 20ftx12ft screen. Great picture, 1/2 hour to put up and take down. All was good. Then I realized why you can't paint a tarp, the expanding and contracting from both temperature and wind began to crack the paint in spots. I could live with this. A 5 mins touch up before viewing. The the storm of June hit. We had a ferce storm come through our area very quickly and I did not have time to take down the screen, 80mph winds, the screen lost that battle. I knew that a professional screen would run about $200, but I decided to replace the tarp for $55 including paint. This system lasted until October. Many nights of fun. A graduation party, having the kids friends over for a movie night. Countless sporting events. Well worth the time and money spent. As the fall hit, the chipping to the paint was more severe and it was obvious that this had now become a part of our home, so I put out the $200 for the professional screen. I used 8in buggee cords to secure it to the posts. Now this was even better. I vinyl screen, able to withstand temperature changes and 30mph winds. This was what I had envisioned in my crazy head.

The screen was on almost every night. Baseball playoffs, football games all looked and sounded great. Family, friends and neighbors all enjoyed the invites, and a hidden benefit, everything was outside, so very little clean up or mess as compared to entertaining inside. I had a process down of 5 minute equipment setup. I built a small platform to hold the projector, STB, dvd and sound amp. Everything fit nicely on a 24"x18" platform. Speakers are 10lbs a piece. So my setup was to pickup the platform from the shed with all of the components in their place, carry it about 20ft, place the speakers in the yard. Connect the 25ft speaker wires to the amp, connect the coax to the STB and plug the power strip in. All done. Take down was just as fast.

So, over the winter, I began to think if there was a market for this type of service, outdoor theater. I talked to many of the people who experience our system and their response was quite positive from both the rental standpoint and design build. I then started to research what the competition would be in my area. I put down on paper a business plan, ran the financials and talked it over with my partner(my wife). For the investment, it seems to be a viable business plan. So born was Twilight Theater Productions, www.twilighttp.net. A DBA, website and some graphics work and we are off!!

So, for those who are intrigued by this type of home entertainment, I will spell out in my next post the details on how to build your own, step by step and what I learned. The cost for DIY should be under $1000.00 and around 4 hours of work. For those who either want a rental or to purchase a turn key system please visit the website. For those outside the PA, NJ and DE area, drop me a note and I will connect you with a good, honest company to help.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Solution for Networked ITunes

I have always tried to find "out of the box" solutions for this problem. I love music. I have a lot of music. I have eclectic tastes in music. I have a stereo that plays speakers inside and out. How can I have full access to my Itunes library and play it through my existing stereo system? Sound easy, right? WRONG. 4 years. I tried every trick, network device and posting I could find. Everything had limitations. I used my Ipod on a dock, but that was cumbersome and did not offer the flexibility I wanted. I was basically looking for a user interface at the tips of my fingers to play any song I wanted, when I wanted. Now maybe your one who knew the answer to this, but let me tell you, you are a small minority. So here is how I solved this problem.

Stereo is housed out of sight in a remote cabinet. It is connected to two sets of speakers. One set in my kitchen(which really plays everywhere because of our layout) and one set on my patio in the back yard. I have a very large Itunes libary so I decided to centralize it to a media desktop(older Dell retro with hard drive and A/V card). This computer is housed in my basement. The Dell runs Windows 7 Pro and is running on ethernet. It is accessible so I can sync my Ipod as well. I have an audio cable running out of the computer into the stereo. (25ft cable) So now when I turn on the stereo and select Audio 1, whatever is playing on the computer, plays on the stereo. Now for the aaahhaaaa moment for me. I took an old laptop that had XP Pro running on it and configured Remote Desktop to connect to the Dell. The trick here is to change the settings to "Leave audio at remote computer". I then open Itunes on the RDP screen and, wait for it, all of my music at my finger tips inside or out. Awesome. I can cook and listen to Sinatra, then after dinner go out back smoke a cigar and listen to Van Morrison!!  Magic.

Now to complicate things a bit more, I needed to split that audio signal at the source to also play through my Home Theater System in the basement. Enter my local Radio Shack. RCA splitters!!!!!

I have read that the Ipad has the ability to remotely connect to your Itunes, but I have not tried that yet. My wife has the Ipad and if I try to add something else to that, we may need an intervention. So I will stick with my home grown, inexpensive solution. BTW a netbook with XP or seven will work great on the client end, but the transmission computer must have XP Pro or W7 Pro to give access to RDP.

I have also used RDP on my Android phone to connect via WiFi. It does connect, but screen is too small to really control well. I also used a RDP program on the Ipad, this too works, but the touchsceen is a bit difficult to navigate.

Good luck and drop me a line if you need any help.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What is a Common Sense Facilitator Anyway?

A couple of years ago amid a very busy time in a previous career, I found myself consumed with putting out fires, trouble shooting. Some of this was self inflicted, but most was cause by an overwhelming case of CYA by others. Frustrating was an understatement. After one day of insanity, I was talking to a trusted customer on the telephone reviewing the days activities. One phrase was repeated over and over again.COMMON SENSE. I asked this gentleman how he would define this phrase. He stated, "doing was is easy and right quickly". That caused me to have a "save the world" philosophical moment. Common, meaning known or often,and sense referring to what we perceive. This gentleman went on to discuss the strength of my ability to facilitate processes that were in his (the customer) best interests. The aaahhhhaaaa  moment.

A common sense facilitator is one who does not let process, negativity or fear allow people to hesitate on common sense decisions. They are versed in motivation, compassion and process analysis. In laymen terms, they would be someone who walks up behind someone was is not using common sense and pops them on the back of the head to reengage the sense of common. We all need this from time to time, but in the business world it is desperately needed. Too many companies miss opportunities or loss clients because of their lack of common sense.

Common sense is simply what is known to be good and right. Stealing is not good or right. Ignorance is not good or right. False advertising is not good or right. So let's just say for example we had champions at every company simply focusing on these common sense principles. How would that change the landscape of business?

Common sense has nothing to do with your intelligence level, skill level or sales expertise, it has to do more with the ability to apply sustainable business practices into your everyday tasks.We have all seen the marketing for "your trusted resource for "x" ". How can a company be trusted if we don't know them? Common sense marketing is all about showing a product or service for what it is. If its a widget, then show it as a widget, not a Porsche. If your service model commits to a turnaround time then stick to it or be upfront and adjust the end users expectation levels. This is common sense. We need more facilitators.

So when people ask me why I use that title, I simply explain that it best defines my core principles no matter what business model I am involved in at the time. Currently I am involved with video surveillance projects. I refuse to oversell anything. It is video. It does not need a premium name. It needs to work, period. People do not need the latest and greatest, they need what works consistently. That is common sense. In my social media consulting, I do not feel companies should spend for quantity, ie followers,hits,network alliances. They should pay for a carefully thought out plan to utilize their funds for a sustainable program. That is common sense.

PS.....If someone finds a way to make a million dollars off this concept, I expect to be compensated by a simple thank you.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Love Affair! w/ tea

I have been cheating on my wife for 3+ years. It feels good to get that off my chest. My affair has been one of intense loyalty, disciplined engagement, and constant sharing. It has been daily. Often more than once a day. This relationship has changed my life in ways I could only dream of. I am of better mind, body and spirit. Let me start at the beginning.

Three and a half years ago I was entering into a time of my life where the whirlwind was beginning to get to me. I was often sick, moody and confrontational. My career was going fine, I was making money but the end game was very blurry. My spirituality was dull at best. I made a decision to take some small step to transform. I wanted to feel better about myself, thus be a better husband and father. Searching for something to begin with, enter GT.

GT was easy, available and made me feel good. I became almost addicted immediately. I began to read about all of the benefits of this arrangement. Before I knew it it was a month, 6 months, a year.

Green Tea......every day. That's it. I drink at least 1/2 gallon of Bigelow Green Tea everyday. You can pull up all the research you want but here is my results. During that time I have not been sick. No colds, flue, major headaches, GI problems......nothing. I do, however, know when my body is being infected by something. I begin to get symptoms, but they are gone within a couple of hours. My family will attest to this. It works.

Here is how I do it. I buy a box of 150 tea bags at Bj's Wholesale. It costs $7.99. I have not been able to find that particular quantity anywhere else. I open 16 bags, place them in a 4 cups of cold water in a Pyrex glass measuring cup and microwave it for 5 minutes. I let it stand for 3 minutes, then pour it into a gallon container. I then fill the cup up again with cold water making sure I run the water over the bags. I then pour that into the container. I fill the cup up again. this time I micro it for 5 minutes. Then repeat the above steps. I drink the tea iced like I would water. That is it.

My wife recently gave me a gift of Teavana's tea of the month club. This was an amazing gift. Once a day I brew this tea and have it hot.

So, what is the science behind this? I have not a clue. I know it has to do with antioxidants being removed from your system but I really don't care. And when I say I don't care, it is merely because for me, it works so there is no value in understanding the science behind it because I am not trying to sell it.

My wife still comes first, but the kids better watch out cause the tea is closing in!

If you decide to give it a try, please stop back and let me know your experience.

Basketball Coach Suspended and Resigns- Overtime- The I in TEAM

He quit.....there is so much wrong with this story I really don't know where to begin. I am going to focus on the downstream affects of this outcome from my perspective.

I have now seen the video in real time and in slow motion umpteen times. The coach in no way shape or form tried to hurt the player, period. I now understand that the coach apologized to the TEAM after that practice. That should have been the end of it. However, this player decided to put an I in TEAM. By putting his feelings above the overall good of the team, this player failed in his duties as a teammate. The player failed, his parents failed him, the lawyer representing him failed, the media who slanted this story failed, and finally after all is said and done, the coach failed.

In team sports the collective goals of the team always override individual aspirations. Many times an individual must sacrifice for the good of the team. Sometimes that hurts. Sometimes it is embarrassing. However, in order to develop into a good leader one must follow at sometime. By following we learn humility, compassion and conviction. The greatest leaders all possess those qualities. It is not genetics, it is learned. Social skills are developed through a young adults life. We have begun a process of sheltering our kids from these valuable lessons because we are too selfish and do not want to feel the pain with them. Everybody wins!!!! If everybody wins, how will they know how to react when they don't!!!!!!

The only thing hurt on that player were his feeling and pride. The greater concern I have is the snowball effect. Will this now change coaches approach to teaching? Those with conviction won't even blink, the ones who aspire to the popular approval, will change. That is sad!

We need to begin to take back the values of this country. These values have nothing to do with Elephants or Asses, but rather passing on virtues that will allow our children to succeed. I think we forget as parents that our job is to prepare our children for an independent life. Give them the tools to deal with the bad and show humility towards the good.

This young man has just been robbed of a valuable lesson, there is no I in TEAM!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Inside the Cubical: Part 2

I ended the last post with:
If you hear these to aronyms run, I will explain later......COM, COL
So what do they mean? COM, customers own material, COL, customers own leather. Why do I say run? Increased cost, unsustainable maintenance. Of the thousands of workstations and hundreds of projects I have been involved with, never has the fabric or finishes led to a decrease or increase in productivity. Money is money. Apply the same principles that you use personal for procurement as you do for commercial purchases. 

Any increase to cost without a direct, hard benefit to the business is a waste, period.

All manufacturers of office furniture have fabric and finishes that are offered at no additional cost. Hundreds if not thousands of choices. If something can not be selected within that offering, then fire your designer. When they push back claiming it will make a difference, then ask for the data to support that!!!! It will be a quick discussion.
At one time or another many of us will be sitting in an office environment. When I tell you that thousands of dollars are spent on   the design , it is an understatement. The more time spent discussing, the more the price goes up. If ever there were an application of KISS(keep it simple stupid) this is it. Furniture, fixtures and equipment need not be liabilities. If these simple rules are adhered to, then you can be confident that you will get value.

  1. Ask for the care and maintenance documentation before you purchase. You can gain insight into whether they truly believe in the product by how much they invest in documentation. If it takes more than 24 hours to get it to you, then beware.
  2. Ask for the warranty statement with every option. Also, their competitors warranty statement for competitive product. They have it.
  3. Ask for a written statement on the turnaround time for warranty parts. In other words, a detailed timeline of how long it will take to get something fixed. It will break!
  4. Keep ergonomics and safety resources at the ready. Let them evaluate. Do not let them lead! 
  5. In this case, smaller is better. People 50+ want bigger workstations and higher panels, people under 40 don't really care. They want teaming space, small touch areas and lots of caffeine
  6. When it comes to privacy here is my statement. Unless you are in HR or VP or above, then privacy is irrelevant. If you can't say it out loud than chances are you should not say it at all
  7. Always ask for thorough documentation of pricing. Furniture has the most insane method of pricing. Off list. There is an inflated list price then discounting off of that. Way to confusing. Look for cost plus. How much does it cost the seller and how much profit are they making. There will be push back, but it is the only way the ensure accuracy
  8. Whenever possible buy direct from a manufacturer. It eliminates a layer of profit that may not be needed. If a dealer pushes back, offer to pay the professional services separately to them. This really cleans up the value analysis.
  9. Never, never, never buy anything from the furniture industry that has not been out in circulation for at least 12 months. If it is under 3 years in production ask for detailed manufacturing data and warranty claims!!!!!!
Always keep this in mind when planning a project related to office space. Keep people honest. Don't try and steal something. Value brings Value.

What the Hell is Social Media Anyway?

So my little experiment has landed me here. Social Media! A year ago I cursed everything but Linkedin as trash, rumor mills, enabling evil. I was not on Facebook. I kept my kids off Facebook(or at least tried). Twitter was a fad. From a personal standpoint I saw no reasons to publish my personal "stuff". Most interactions I heard about regarding social media always lead down the same road, he said, she said. "I can't believe he/she posted that". It was mind numbing to me. I took a stance that the younger generation was socially inapt. The did not know how to communicate. They just sat there and pushed buttons. When we were kids we were out in the streets, playing. We policed ourselves. Our fights and disagreements usually stayed on the playground. What happened on the street, stayed on the street. Good or bad, I am not quite sure.At 41 I am aware of the generational divide and how it is gifted through the years. From music to fashion, we all can recall being involved in discussions surrounding "the kids of today". After 6 months or so of interaction on various social media platforms I can at least admit to this; it is pure and simple innovation.

Social Media platforms are nothing more than a direct reflection of society. If your an asshole in real life, more than likely you will be a perceived asshole on social media platforms. If your real, present and open, you will be reflected accordingly. If your trying to make a fast buck, it will be flushed out. Sure, there are some example of people who may not be who or what they seems, but that is just in life as well. The wealth and speed of information is exciting. The platform for small business to grow their business is overwhelming. I have come to the conclusion that if you use simple principles to guide you on any platform you will gain a trusted resource. These are the same principles we use in life.

  • If it seems to good to be true, it is.
  • People are people, they make mistakes
  • If it is automated, it is cheap
  • Greed is Greed is Greed
  • Speak with conviction or defer to someone who can
  • If you would not want someone to judge you on it, don't do it
  • If you could not follow up with a one on one conversation, then don't start it
  • The amount of followers, friend or network members is irrelevant, how much their engaged is
So, to close, I have become that Dad who tweets. I now use Facebook to communicate about things I am passionate about. I use LinkedIn the same way. I am not trying to promote anything other than me. Yes, I said it. I am promoting myself. Is that selfish? No. I am branding myself just as you would do on a resume, only broader, deeper and in real time. We are all responsible for ourselves. Our thoughts, passions and beliefs are to be expressed. What better way to do that then these platforms. I gain just as much from logging my thoughts via a blog as I do from reading someone's expressions of their ideas or passions. Now I have a way of passing them on instantly. 

Do you want me to help you compose a tweet? 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Basketball Coach Suspended - The Bigger Picture

I felt compelled to chime in on this topic because I both played basketball for many years through college as well as coached at the high school level and now for my daughters traveling team. I watched the video, listened to the player and his attorney and read as many opinions as I could. Knowing the history of the coach I do not think this was meant in any way to injure the player, therefore the quick rush to judgement was wrong. The player choose to go public with the issue and that is his right. It is also his right to now deal with the consequences. My interpretation is this; it was a contact drill, the player was not executing the drill properly or to the coaches standards, the coach was making a point to create contact with the player thus exposing him to how it would or should feel to execute this properly. It case you have not noticed, basketball is a contact sport, period. You can't play the game at that level and not get banged around. Even at the level I am coaching now, it is very physical and I facilitate contact in practice. It is part of the learning process.

All of us have been intimidated, harassed or embarrassed at some point in our lives. The strong ones learn from the experience and improve on whatever was the task. The weak ones make excuses, point the finger at someone else and thus learn nothing. Learning is about communication and communication in sports sometimes becomes physical. Would the same level of attention be given if a teammate had pushed him down? The answer is no, or there would be no one left to compete.

The best teachers are the ones who leave us with an experience that helps guide us. My 5th grade teacher used to yell and scream and kick tables all the time. Was it right for him to do that? It really is irrelevant. No one was hurt, but we all learned to complete our tasks in a timely manner. My first trip to visit a college I was asked to play a pick up game with some of the then current players. Within one minute of starting I was met with a deliberate elbow to the mouth. The message was your not in high school anymore. Message received. I ensured that I never received on of those again.

Whoever consulted this player to go public was wrong. Life is full of obstacles. Our experience guides us through or around them. The real issue here is not how the player reacted to the coach, but how is this young man going to react to the next elbow to the mouth, or other challenge he may face.
The coach was handed a judgement that I feel was completely out of line with the action, but this is  really par for the course with the direction of our society.

I truly judge situations like this by asking what my grandfather would have said. He was a Great Depression child, worked in "labor camps" in West Virginia at 14, fought in the Battle Of the Bulge, was a POW in Germany and a Teamster for 30 years when he returned. He would have told me to work harder so that it did not happen again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The New Old Economy

After 3 years of listening to bullshit I have decided to chime in on the economy debate from a suburban married guys point of view. If you take all of the Ivy League theoretical economic crap and throw it out your left with the values that built this country. Freedom, Liberty, Honor and Humility. There is no quick way to the top that is sustainable. Growth needs to be in terms of tangible assets not deferred options. Businesses are formed to create profit for the owners who took the risk to begin with. That profit is to be used at their discretion. If they choose wisely they will build a solid company that will outlive them. If they are greedy and unwise, the company will implode and fail. That is what was wrong with the bailouts. Those companies should have failed or disintegrated into smaller manageable pieces. We failed our own system. When you make solid, conservative business decisions, you will succeed. When your greed gets the best of you, you fail.

Our economy is progressing well. We will not recover from where we were because it was built on false pretenses. If profits are up, growth will follow. The growth may only be 2-3%, but it is positive, sustainable growth. This will lead to healthy businesses that will be built to withstand an unforeseen threat to our economy. Profit is good when it goes from innovation, production and sustainable processes. Profit coming from destruction, oppression or misrepresentation only leads to failure.

We as a society tend to try to get to cute for our own good. Our country was founded on core principles of civility. The government should be the guide, not the leader. Natural selection will always prevail. A fundamental shift in the public perception must be towards a common good, not individual success.(read that again without your political antennas up) Working for a living is a honor, a privilege. Yes, there are some who do not have to based on the success of their families or by luck. For the rest of us, we need to get back to working to live, not living to work. Our lives should not be the pursuit of riches, but rather finding the riches in everyday. Would I like to have 1 million dollars, yes, just like I would like to have a pool in my yard, or a vacation home. These are things that I did currently have and I think they may provide riches in my everyday life. Truth is, I do not know. One million dollars may pay off my current liabilities but it also may provide more.

Quality of life is measured within. Jobs comes and go, kids grow, cars fail, real estate is cyclical but what is now is all you have. The moments make our quality of life. These moments do not have a price tag. The impression of that moment is not based on location, Paris, Rome or New York, it is based on the intensity of the focus and clarity of the interaction. Our economy gives us the power to control our destiny. It is voluntary. You can work 80 hours a week or not at all. Your choice. That is liberty. When you are able to control the true meaning of "The American Dream" you will notice that the race dissolves into exploration.

I was taken back a bit by the message in the Chrysler commercial during the Super Bowl. Finally, somebody gets it. I am not saying it is the leadership at Chrysler, but somebody in that process understands where value lies. I find it interesting that most people who speak of global expansion and less regulation are the one most leveraged here in this country. They need somewhere else to make profit dollars. This basic principle should always prevail, more should export than import. If we continue to be a plus 70% consumer society, we will always be at the mercy of our lenders. Hence, where we are today. Our companies should first take pride in being American, that is why they have opportunity.

We are always in changing times. That is one thing that will never "change". Each generation misunderstands the next. What we have lost is the values of two generations ago. Humility and honor. If you need to be reminded simply read or watch accounts of WWII. That is what sacrifice is. For some, that will not blend with their entitlement platform, or it is too easy a solution. Whether your liberal or conservative, white, black or blue this country and the economic platform is ours. We as a people have allowed it be what it is. We the people need to take it back.

I went on a family trip to Puerto Rico a few years back. I was lucky to find a house for rent outside the usual tourist areas. Before I left a coworker who was born and raised in Puerto Rico told me that most people there were lazy. I remembered that as we went about the small towns and villages. We had a great time on that trip. People we friendly, sites were memorable, very relaxing. When I returned back to work I sat down with my coworker and talked about the trip. She again stated how lazy people were. My comments to her were this, they live in a paradise. Most don't seem to mind that they are living in what we consider to be poverty. We stopped at many roadside food stands and talked to many people. All happy, engaged in the discussion. I don't think a million dollars can replace stillness and humility.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Small Business's Best Employee!!!!

After considering your basic physical security requirements, such as exterior lighting, locks, alarms, and landscaping, a good digital video surveillance system is the next step in protecting your business and providing your employees with a safe work environment. These security recommendations represent an important step towards developing and implementing a sound overall security plan. This document is not meant to take the place of a security professional but was created to provide businesses with general guidelines for maximizing digital video surveillance.

Return on Investment (ROI)
Video surveillance makes good business sense and is a necessary tool in today's vulnerable business environment. Digital video provides not only security but an easy-to-use management tool. Just think of each camera as a dedicated employee, who works 24 hours a day without taking a coffee break, vacation or sick day. Most of all, your electronic employee has a memory that does not forget, is accurate and provides a true return on investment.
The effective use of digital video surveillance equipment can reduce liability & workers' compensation premiums, fraudulent insurance claims, and may assist in the prevention and apprehension of dishonest employees and customers. Today's technology also provides the ability to watch your business remotely from home or other locations.
There are numerous types of cameras and digital video recorders to fit various applications. Entrance/exit cameras, cash register/counter cameras, interior cameras, exterior cameras and digital recorders are the basic components of a digital video surveillance system.
When designing a digital video recording system, it is better to utilize fewer cameras of higher quality recording at higher resolution than utilizing many lower resolution cameras.

How much can I expect to spend?
For a basic four camera digital video recording system for a small retail or office type business you can expect to spend at least $4,500 plus installation . Medium, large and enterprise level businesses will spend proportionately more to address their individual security needs.
  • The cameras should be in color with minimum lines of resolution (TVL) of 480 to 540 TVL. Avoid 320 to 380 TVL black & white or color cameras.
  • If any of your cameras face bright sunlight or look into shadows, they should produce clear video of both situations. See the example below showing how technology can make all the difference. There are enhanced technology cameras available that will produce higher quality video in both circumstances.
  • If the camera is utilized in day/night conditions, consider choosing a camera that will automatically switch from color to monochrome (black and white) during low light conditions.
  • Each camera lens should be auto-iris and vari-focal which allows for manual adjustment of the field of view and automatic adjustment of light contrast in order to provide the best-detailed video of the people entering or exiting your establishment. Avoid cameras with electronic iris lenses.
    Standard Chip Camera
    Enhanced Technology
    Entrance/Exit Cameras:
    • Consider placing entrance/exit door cameras on the inside of the building directly along side the doors facing inside the building instead of looking out the door.
    • Cameras should be placed as close to 6 to 7-feet above the floor at the door frame, instead of on the ceiling.
    • To eliminate tampering, an armored housing with a polycarbonate dome is recommended. This helps eliminate camera tampering, moving direction of camera view, cutting of wires and vandalism.
    Text Box:
    • Video/photo image should capture the head/face and upper torso of individuals entering or exiting the establishment.
    Important Note:
    A wide angle view should be avoided here as it renders the image virtually useless for law enforcement identification purposes.
    Point of Sale/Transaction Cameras
    • Point Of Sale (POS) cameras can be used to record sales transactions and deter employee theft.
    Overall View Camera
    • May reduce false personal injury and worker's compensation claims, general liability, employee dishonesty, etc.
    Restricted Access Area Camera
    • May be useful in critical areas such as inventory rooms, money rooms, communication and IT areas.

      Digital Video Recorders (DVR):
    • The resolution and speed of frame capture settings on your digital video recorder is critical in the successful capture of digital video evidence. Without these proper settings, the great looking video you see on your monitor will not be what is actually recorded.
    • Many installation companies tell their clients that they can get 30 days or more out of their digital recorders with four cameras and just a 160-gig hard drive. However, this is only possible if the resolution quality is set to LOW and the record rate is set to SLOW.
    • DO NOT LOWER THE RESOLUTION OR SPEED on important cameras (front or main doors, cash register and ATM machines, etc.). Despite the fact that the picture may appear the same on a monitor, it will not look the same on playback. Most digital video recorders, when properly configured for high resolution and speed, will use approximately 5-gigabytes (gigs) or more of hard drive memory space per camera per day for one 24-hour day of digital video. Based on this recommendation you will get approximately eight days of continuously recorded video history and four cameras and a 160-gig hard drive system.
    • The recording speed for entrance/exit cameras and cash register/counter cameras should be set at a minimum of 8-Picture Per Second Per Camera (PPS) with a preferred record rate of 12 or more PPS. Other cameras can be set at a lower speed and resolution to save hard drive space for the more important cameras.
    • If your unit has motion detection recording capability, make sure each camera is set up with at least 4-seconds of PRE ALARM or PRE EVENT buffer and the same for the POST ALARM or POST EVENT buffer. This is a minimum recommendation; a 10-second buffer is better. This will insure that the recorder will record the incident.
    • Setting any digital video recorder at lower than these recommendations may not produce usable quality.
    • Digital video recorders should be kept out of sight from employees and patrons.
    • Digital video recorders must be kept in a COOL and well-ventilated area.
    • Test and check your digital video recorder weekly for hard drive operation and video image speed and quality.
    • Password protect access to your digital video recorder to eliminate tampering by employees and maintain system integrity.
    • In the event of power loss, ensure that your digital video recorder will restart and resume operation without intervention.
    • Make sure your digital recorder has the immediate means to OFFLOAD the recorded video without requiring a service call from the installing company. A built-in CD/DVD writer on the unit is easiest; or a unit connected to a PC with a CD/DVD writer can also be utilized.
    • Make sure you are trained by your installing company on how to use your system, including off-loading video to a CD/DVD or emailing a video clip.
    • It is highly recommended that your digital recorder has an embedded watermark, which prevents video from being tampered with or altered.
      These guidelines were developed to assist business owners and managers in navigating the complex world of digital video surveillance. We have taken into consideration the needs of law enforcement, insurance adjusters and the business community to maximize the Return On Investment using digital surveillance systems.

      Wednesday, January 26, 2011

      It is baseball season once again!!!!

      It's almost here......spring training.....Why does it bring such good feelings to so many people. I think there are many reasons but here is my perspective.

      1. Most people were introduced to baseball by a father figure of some type. For me it was my Grandfather so baseball season brings happy thoughts of him. Baseball is also very focused on its roots and pays a great deal of respect to those who played.
      2. We have learned a great many lessons from baseball. The game itself is not an action game like the other 3 major sports. Baseball requires paitence, attention and understanding.
      3. Baseball is an intimate game. Seating tends to be close to the players.
      4. We know the weather is warming and that gets us out of the winter doldrums.
      As a kid I went to Phillies games and never paid. My Grandfather knew guys at the gates. He would bring them hoagies and pepper and egg sandwiches and in we went. We never sat in a seat, we sat on milkcrates. He said he would never sit in someone's seat out of respect in case they came later. We were perfectly happy watching the game from our crates. We always kept the score card. This made me pay attention to the game. Most games he would talk through the game and try to explain the action. That is how I learned.
      I never realized many of these things until I had a child of my own. I made mistakes by allowing their experiences to be molded by outside sources, ie tv, internet, friends. Baseball and any sport for that matter is a great opportunity to connect with your kids. If you interact with them, they will learn from you and not the game. Baseball games work well because there is so much time in between plays to really be present. While I do not aggree with many of President Obama's policies, he did strike a chord last night when he spoke of family. Here is yet another example of how we can be present and relavant in the lives of our children.
      Baseball is a game, a pastime, a diversion of sorts. Treat it that way. Let it mean everything and nothing at the same time, but make your kids part of that experience so that one day in February after your long gone, they will get that feeling for baseball again and think of you.

      Making Cents of Home Surveillance

      Property owners install cameras on their property and houses for many reasons... general surveillance and crime prevention, problem with neighbors and stalkers, or perhaps a pedophile moved in the neighborhood. Or perhaps my favorite benefit, monitoring. When the kids come home from school, the dog is out back, teen age kids hanging out. Surveillance systems add peace of mind, to troubled times. Of any surveillance applications, residential video can challenging in design and cost. Here we make "cents" of it all. 

      No longer is there a great divide between cost on black and white vs color. Color cameras can capture a full and accurate clothing and vehicle description of anyone who is on or around your property. The important thing is that the intruder or subject can be captured at least once on a color camera as this will help assist with the initial arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator or sit down with the kids.

      I mentioned that residential surveillance applications are among the trickiest. Namely, it's due to the lack of light. When faced with a very low light situation, you have two choices... either purchase a CCTV camera with IR emitters, or use a flood light (or motion detector floodlight) outside your home. What's best... hands down... a combination of CCTV cameras and using a motion-activated floodlight outside your home. Let's face it, there are several ways to help combat crime: install CCTV cameras, use floodlights, or get a dog. Getting a dog may simply not be an option, but by installing CCTV cameras and using floodlights around your house will make you a hard-target, and should greatly detract criminals from harming you and your family. I use IR cameras. If you currently have flood light then your are set.
      Wireless...no. Wireless was very popular for residential video surveillance applications. However, as the use of electrical devices such as portable and cellular phones, wireless Ethernet routers and adapters, and other devices that emit RF noise have grown in popularity, wireless analog video CCTV cameras have become more and more difficult to use. In addition, wireless analog CCTV cameras can be intercepted by a neighbor, need to be plugged into a power jack for extended use, and will give many false-alarms when used with video-based motion detection. The exception to this rule is for Nanny Watching.

      It's all about the wire stupid.  Siamese cable features power and video all in one cable. If you have a professional install your system, we recommend RG-59 Siamese cable.  When using any type of Siamese cable, remember... since it's power and video all in one... the power supply lives in your house since the cable carries the power to the camera.
      There are two types of DVRs... Windows-based and non-Windows based. Windows-based, feature highly intelligent motion detection and auto alert via telephone & email alert functions. Windows-based DVRs are easier to use given that they may offer a graphical user interface and may be controlled via your mouse. Non-Windows based DVRs, offer the same high-resolution recordings and remote video monitoring capabilities via the Internet... but simply do not offer the same ease of use and advanced intelligent functions of a Windows-based DVR. You can expect to pay around $500 for a non-Windows based DVR, and about $1100 for an advanced Windows-based DVR. Need just a little more help justifying a Windows-based DVR... then consider that they may also function as your next home PC as well. In addition, Windows-based DVRs are easier to repair in the event of a hardware failure, and should last much longer than a non-Windows based DVR. Do your homework and make sure that the vendor is reputable, has been in business for a few years, and is qualified and staffed to render technical support. The old adage applies to surveillance equipment too... you get what you pay for. You might as well not buy a CCTV system at all if you cannot get support and cannot get it to work. A good CCTV system will see when you need it to, and will work continuously without effort or user maintenance.
      Specs to look for in a residential system:
      • Color or B&W cameras that feature 420TVL of resolution and at least 0.5 LUX or lower.
      • Color Cameras should feature a Full-Chip 1/3” Sony Ex-View CCD. Considering typical lighting conditions, never go with a CMOS camera or a generic 1/4” camera... unless you happen to have a lot of light around your house.
      • 3~5fps is all you need for residential surveillance. Any more and you will be wasting hard drive space and money unless you have a particularly special need. Don't worry... frame rate has nothing to do with picture clarity and you will still have the illusion of video at this frame rate.
      • At the very least, your DVR should offer 640x480 Recording. ... be careful that the spec you read is pertaining to recording size, and not viewing size.
      • At all cost...Never... Ever... choose a proprietary CCTV system that uses mini-din (like how you mouse connects to your PC) or RJ style (like a phone jack) connector. These are common at Radio Shack, Walmart, Sam's Club, and other wholesale style stores. They are almost always junk, may not last long, will most likely only work during he day (or very inefficiently at night), and lock you into that companies proprietary system in which it would be very hard if not impossible to use cameras or a replacement DVR from another company.

      If you look closely in the far top corner you can see my poor dog falling in my frozen pond.

      Tuesday, January 25, 2011

      The Long and the Short of It

      So, another SOU here and gone. What has changed? The tone? The principles? The agenda? Well, nothing. This is not an indictment of President Obama, it is an indictment of the people whom we elect to "serve". Let me disclose that I disdain those who complain and do not try to make an impact and serve. So I disdain myself.

      Here is what is broken with our federal government. It is the same thing that caused the big businesses in banking, airlines, and auto to fail. THEY ARE TOO BIG TO MANAGE!!!!  GM failed because it could not dig itself out of the hole it created for itself. It should have been left to fail. Failure would have meant a breakdown to smaller more manageable pieces. The reasons our federal government and for that matter state governments are failing is because they are too massive. Efficient models to not include unsustainable growth. That is what we have. State and local government need to be given back more control. Federal should deal with protection and international affairs. Sounds crazy right? How about half of the 28% or so of our federal tax dollars gets shifted back to the local level so we can see our money at work. I know, I am a rebel.

      I have always learned that to solve a problem you must break it down to manageable parts. That is what needs to happen. The D's and R's getting together only to save their asses for the next election cycle will not change the fundamental problem. Open and free capitalism relies on things to fail. That is how it sustains itself. When something works it succeeds, when it doesn't it fails and another good idea rises to replace. Government should be no different.

      State of My Union "Made in the USA"

      In the spirit of the day, I have chosen to attempt to communicate my thoughts on the state of my union. My union is my family, my spirit, my country, in that order.

      First, because it is in front of me, someone please outlaw legal commercials on TV. I know, I know, about freedoms, but enough. Our own legal system is crushing us. Ok, moving on.

      This country is in trouble. This country is on trouble. I said it twice. It is ok to say. It is true. Speaking about optimism is not going make it go away. You can speak to the truth and also fix the problem.

      We need to get back to basics. Truth, truth, truth. We overspend. Period. We are not responsible for the world's security. If we can responsibly impact the liberty and freedom abroad, I am all in favor. If it puts our domestic balance in jeopardy, then no. Ed Rendell just captured it perfectly, "we should not be nation building in Afghanistan, we should be nation building here". The arguments of nation security are false. We empower and enable those who mean us harm by giving them a platform. Pull the platform. Bring our courageous troops home and have them working to secure our borders and increase our security.

      Special Needs, pet projects, ear marks, whatever you want to call it. STOP. Now. The impact to jobs is unsustainable. These are project based items. Infrastructure needs to maintained but not under the guise if job creation. Jobs need to be created based on sustainable markets, We need to get back to making things. We are shifting all of our wealth overseas. STOP. If we all simply create demand for "made in the USA", products will be made here. Small steps have big impact when social media is used to communicate. They work for us. Period. Stop telling us what is best for us. We tell you. How much does it cost us for them to put on this BS tonight. Take that money invest in schools. Put the speech out from the oval office. We as a people are not that ignorant that we believe that a speech will change anything.

      Liberal, Conservative, Independent, Tea Party whatever your label, loose it. We are Americans first and foremost and we are in a spiral. It needs to stop. We need to be bold in our embrace of innovation. Innovation comes from education. Education comes from home. Children learn when their homes are balanced and secure. Security does mean money. Security is a sense of belonging. A sense of peace. That can happen anywhere, anytime. Remove the word stress from your vocabulary and it will be removed from our kids'. Stress and worry wastes time. Never has stress or worry lead to innovation. Innovation truly happens when the mind is present and working on a solution for that which is front of us.

      In summary, our economy is a mess, our social skills towards each other are selfish. Much needs to be done to reverse the past 60 years of unsustainable spending, growth and social injustice. None of this will be addressed if we do not start truly educating our children. Educating means thinking. We need problem solving skills, risk assessment, conflict resolution, independent analysis not memorized information.

      My great grandparents came to this country for freedom. This country gave them that. They passed on to me the responsibility to ensure that this is protected for the decedents. "Made in the USA"

      Friday, January 21, 2011

      Greenwash and Commercial Interiors

      I have yet to put my hands on any cubicle, desk, chair, accessory, copier, coffee maker, trashcan, table or whatever else you can find inside an office and find something that is TRULY sustainable. These are all manufactured products that are incapable of the definition. So why is it that supplier of such items label them as sustainable? Ignorance! If you want people to trust what you are preaching you have to live the words that come out of your mouth. But more important, you have to understand what they mean. Labeling something sustainable or green to fool people will only in the end discredit your brand. Now, you can apply sustainable to some of the processes that filter into products. You can claim that you only supply products that implement sustainable practices in their manufacturing.

      Green. Green. Green. PLEASE STOP USING THE WORD!!!! It is like hearing the same song on the radio 3 times in an hour., or as my kids say, I obsess about a song on my Ipod and kill it. The only things that should be labeled Green are all natural or 100% biodegradable products. That is it. Everything else is not.

      When considering new construction for a commercial building there should be no doubt that every ounce of design should be poured into making that building as tuned into nature as possible. So the phrase I choose to use is "responsible sustainability". This term means that every decision made in the design process was focused on nature. That does not however, mean that the project goes bankrupt to meet those goals. Here are my non-negotiable point in new construction.

      1. Solar, wind, Geo Thermal. Some form of self sustaining energy solution. Whatever the cost is, the ROI will be faster than the models and the building will carry more inherent value on the market.
      2. Passive solar design combined with as much natural light as possible. A tricky design element, but one that could have tremendous impact on both the population of tenants and operational cost of the building. Remember, natural light makes us happy, do you want happy people working for you or miserable?
      3. As little as possible interior drywall construction. I can not stress this enough. The only areas that need "hard" walls are mechanical, lavatories. Everything else should be a pre-manufactured wall. (modular wall, move able wall, floor to ceiling panel) Why? There are so many reasons that I have learned over the years. I will dedicate another post just to walls but to summarize, it is the right thing to do for now and the future. If you need proof just consider the cost and landfill space to demo an existing office for a new tenant. I myself have at least sent 300-400 30 yard dumpsters to landfills filled with construction waste. I was not in construction. Enough said.
      4. The dollars spent on FF&E(Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment) should be dedicated to products that are the byproduct of sustainable manufacturing processes. Secondary to that are the service history of those products. When the project is done, all that support disappears and you better have clear expectations on how to get things repaired. What is covered under warranty and who is paying for the labor to fix it. Get it in writing!!!! Don't be sold on sales green wash. At the end of the day it really isn't about the sale as it is the service. Believe me you can have both.
      5. Raised Floor. Most new construction going in these days is incorporating raised flooring. Not the old style metal computer floors, but concrete filled tiles that act like a slab. Again, I will have another post dedicated to just that. It's not the floor that matters, its how you leverage it to help your operations that matter. The simple example I always use is the ladder. Would you rather have someone up on a ladder to service something or on a solid floor?
      The industry of commercial construction and interiors has been bloated for quite some time. It is moving slowly to correct itself but if you arm yourself with information you can push your resource in the right direction. We as a society have been negligent in our approach and design of commercial building, therefore, they are not very forgiving back. Awareness will prevail.


      Wednesday, January 19, 2011

      Social Media and The Real SMALL Business

      So, something struck me last week in a discussion with a friend of mine. He is a small business owner, very small, in the auto repair business. He wanted to know if this type of marketing will help him develop an increase in a certain type of sale. He is a one man shop. Does not have alot of time on his hands, but through his children, realizes that this medium is valid. I talked with him at length about my thoughts, however, something from my PM past was nagging. I am a problem solver nature. This should be cake. Here are the knowns,

      1. Limited budget
      2. Limited time
      3. Small funnel of capacity
      4. Limited understanding of the medium 
      I tell him to give me a little bit of time and I will get back to him. Well, I did. With the following, translated from mechanics speak.

      Short of doing it yourself, there are very little pre package systems that will truly be of value. Many are fine systems built and sold by successful social media experts, but they do not really get to the heart of the problem for small business(Let's say small businesses with less than 50 employees). Filtered results that lead to business opportunity. These filters will have many variables based on geography, age demographics, social demographics. Anything short of managing these filters could be disastrous for the business. Flooding of communication which will lead to brand tarnishing. The world of small business is unique in and of itself. Each potential client requires a personalized evaluation to establish the right path. A small restaurant would be much different than a home remodeling business. A hair salon needs solid people mining to ensure proper matching. So I am inclined to think that this vast market of small business need more of the consultant model with a strong focus on geo and social awareness as it applies to their business. It's back to knowing people and knowing the market. The profiles we create on these platforms say something about who we are or want to be. Analysis of that data is at the cornerstone of what will work for small business. They are not looking for 1000 followers or friends. They would be thrilled with 100 geo and socially sensitive people who are engaged with their content and would be willing to refer them to, wait for it, A Friend.

      So, this journey has just begun for me. However, I am very sure that as social media is applied to small business, it's all about people, not programs.

      More to come.

      Tuesday, January 18, 2011

      The Art of No, so you don't have an Ut-Oh!

      If there is one lesson I learned in all of my business relationships is that it is better to say no upfront than risk the Ut-Oh later. Too many people are programmed that they must always do what the customer wants. This is partially true. You must do want the customer wants as long as it can be done within the expectation levels of both parties. So here is the get, learn to manage the expectation levels of people, and you will find improved results. Be forthright, honest and speak with conviction. Now, I am well aware that it is easier said then done, however, to build lasting business relationship you must build trust. Trust comes simply from saying what you mean, and doing what you said. If you say 2 days, do it in 2 days. If there is a problem, communicate that before the deadline. And always, always, always take the responsibility square on your shoulders whether it is your fault or not. That builds more trust.  It also quiets the noise and emotion. Normally when there is an escalation of any sorts in business, it is the cya cc brand. Cover your ass with a host of cc's. Respond quickly and with conviction and be sure to Reply All. 

      No is not a bad word. It should be seen as a source of strength. You are so confident in your abilities that you do not want to risk the relationship. You may lose a deal, but you will gain their trust. Too many suppliers have been pushed down the bloodthirsty path of bids. How many ways can we invent to have bid to make people do things they are not comfortable. Many times I would "no response" to a bid explaining that I would not be able to perform to our standards in that price range. It is not a strategy, it is a conviction.

      If we all would base our business actions on our personal lives, maybe it would create room for creativity.

      When is the last time you truly asked an employee for their thoughts? 

      So No means No. Be prepared for transformation. 

      Wednesday, January 12, 2011

      Home Theater Round Two

      So after the introduction post, let's get into some of the simpler ideas behind design.

      1. Don't get all worked up about HD, VGA, SVGA, HMDI, S-Video, 1080P, 1080I, 720r......here is my simple rule, if it looks good to you, bravo. It is about a series of tests for sizing focus and position. I have yet to have someone view either one of my screens and say "naaaa....not good enough"
      2. Keep the wiring simple and cheap. For 99% of us a RCA or S-Video cable will work just fine.
      3. It's all about the sound stupid!!!!!  Sound does not have to be expensive, it just has to have power and clarity. If your looking for an explanation on the Dolby SS systems, I am not your guy. I plug in, tinker with the settings, and away we go.

      When creating an indoor theater, the wiring must be kept simple in order to keep it neat and easy to maintain. I am a tinkerer so I am always moving things around. Buy your cables online(suggestions below) , the big electronics chains will be over priced and not big enough. Here is what I have as a kick of parts for my unfinished basement home theater:

      1. Hitachi projector - 2400lumens - ebay - $425.00.....bulb had 600hrs on it when got it.....400hrs left, If I use it 8 hours a week(which is alot) I will get a year out of it. link for best bulb replacement site below
      2. Yamaha RX-V565 Receiver - Plenty of inputs and power - $299.00
      3. Speakers - 2 Yamaha bookshelf speaker and a KLH surround kit....1 center speaker and two cube rear......I had these speakers but I have seen good speaker kits for under $300
      4. Verizon Fios cable box.....$5.00 a month
      5. Sony mini DVD player......$39 at BJ's
      6. Screen is 2x4 wrapped with Black Out fabric.....kind of like felt.....$30 at JoAnn fabrics
      7. The actual projection surface is my unfinished concrete wall paint with Behr's Silver Screen paint....flat....at Home Depot
      8. The WII is connected as well but because of the depth of the room only works with some games
      9. I also have a dedicated media computer connected for my movie and music library
      So, the screen is 9x7....not ideal ratio but with the restrictions of my basement....it works well


                                                 Computer projected(pretty cool with RF keyboard)


      Recommended sites for components:


      Great reference site:

      Please let me know if you need help!!!!

      Next post will be the incredible 22ft outdoor theater!!!!!

      When to engage, when to let it go......

      The world of personal relationships mirrors that of business relationships in that our reactions or non-action may lead to bliss or hell. The balance is brutal when you live your life in your head. Coulda, shoulda and woulda will eat you alive. I by no means make the right decisions all the time, however, I do not look back in regret. My decisions will lead to my now. If my now is clouded it is because I am focusing on what caused the fog. Most people get caught up in the daily suffering of all the things called life. Bills, work, car trouble, family issues, in-law pressure, sex, weather.......you could fill pages with the things people suffer over. There are enough books to fill a gym on the secrets to happiness. All of them have validity if you stay disciplined and follow the program. But life does not follow a program, and most people are not enlightened to remove judgement and be present. It becomes frustrating and easier to engage in the true insanity.

      When it comes to business relationships, people gravitate towards stability and conviction. Managed expectation levels(topic for another post) creates a stable relationship where innovation and creativity may flourish. Inconsistency and under performance may not lead to the end of the relationship in the short term, but it will diminish any hope for creativity. This is a difficult balance beam to walk, but if you stay present in your business relationships more times than not you will stay balanced.

      People like to deal with people when doing business. Seems stupid and simple, but it is real. The days of the concrete jungle with no interaction are slowly dying. Where has it gotten us? When your present in conversations, meetings and correspondence you gain insight into the drivers that make people tick and vice versa. Money is money is money. I know it makes the world go round and pays the bills, but when that is the focus you are not present. When you represent yourself without conviction you are not present. It is not always possible to find a job that you love, but you can find a widget, task or topic within that job that you can speak to with conviction. Example: I worked in the restaurant world for three years, while I moved into the management world of restaurant I found it not what it looked like from the outside. Too much paperwork, too many hours, too much drama from employees(not always a bad thing when a cute hostess is crying on your shoulder). Unconsciously I began to focus on the quality of the fresh ingredients that we received each and how to improve the shelf life. While I was able to "manage" the restaurant, I developed a passion for ensuring that the ingredients for the menu were fresh. That is what I remember, because I was present. While this is a small example and I had no idea at the time that it would develop into a strategy, you can find passion in the most unusual places when you are present and aware.

      What the hell does this have to do with the title? Life is about the moment. Whether that is in a business or personal setting. The moments are what we remember. Suffering does not allow you to truly remember those moments for anything other than the pain. When you embrace your emotions as choices, your reserve them for that which truly moves you. When presented with an issue, stay present to what is in front of you, and ask yourself this, "Is this the hill I want to die on?" If the answer is no, then let it go. It by no means makes you weak, it makes you stronger because there will be another hill again to climb. Obviously, I have yet to find that hill.

      Monday, January 10, 2011

      The Confusing World of Home Theater

      Let me start off by saying this, I do not have high end equipment! If your looking for commentary on the biggest and best, this is not the place for you. I have created two theater environments from mostly used and rebuilt equipment. The goal of home theater is oohhhhs and aaaaaaasss, I achieve that without the cost. Let's deal with the inside smaller one first. This will be a series of posts to get through the process, images and links will follow.

      Here are the pieces to a theater:

      1. Projector
      2. Screen
      3. Amplifier
      4. Speakers

      The backbone and workhorse for any theater is the projector. Google projector and get sticker shock. They vary in cost from $100- $15,000. So what makes a good one? Lumens!!!!  How bright is the thing.....that will allow you to project larger, further and clearer. Remember, a projector is exactly what it says, it projects an image......it is not a very complicated piece of equipment. Input, mirrors, cooling, lens ......brighter is better........1500-3000 lumens is a range you can work with......first stop....EBAY!!!!!

      More to come...........

      Inside the Cubicle

      So I decided to write about my experience and learning in the world of office interiors. What makes me qualified to discuss? I installed, project managed and account managed in the industry for 12 years.

      Let's back up, What is the office interiors industry? The sale, installation, removal of office furniture. This would also include the movement of employees.

      My experience lends itself to a critical look at the industry and discussion of some of the initiatives I was promoting before I left.

      My hope is that communicating what I learned, I can help businesses avoid excess cost and greater control of their facilities. I will do this over a series of posts, hopefully going in order to give you an understanding of how the industry works.

      Here we go!

      There are many levels of office interiors professionals from installers, designers, CSR, sales, market managers, global account managers and titles that really don't apply. 70% of the office furniture in this country comes out of Michigan. This is good and bad. Good, because the people who work to produce these items are just down to earth, quality people. Bad, because so much comes from one area. In the past 10 years or so, many foreign lines have made their way into the discussion, but the big boys are in Michigan. So, as with many other industries you have manufacturers, distributors, dealers and installation companies. All working to get cubicles into your office. Way too many layers of cost to make this a good model.

      If you learn anything from this posting it is this. Furniture is furniture is furniture.......keep it simple and it will work. The only reason to put up cubicles in an office is to shoehorn as many people in as possible within code. So keeping it simple makes more sense. However, all of these layers will put pressure on simplicity. The latest and greatest has been recycling for 10 years......it never meets expectation or justifies cost increase.......remember, keep it simple.

      To close out to today, What is the warranty? Do you pay labor charges for warranty? Of the cubicles you sold in 2002, how many are still standing?

      If you hear these to aronyms run, I will explain later......COM, COL