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.
 
TYPES OF CAMERAS
  • 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
    TYPES OF APPLICATIONS
    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.
      Conclusion
      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.


      video
      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.

      http://www.census.gov/const/C30/release.pdf

      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:

      http://www.cablestogo.com/
      http://www.purelandsupply.com/

      Great reference site:
      http://www.hometheaterblog.com/

      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

      Friday, January 7, 2011

      In The Interest of Clarity

      I decided to summarize my blog ideas in a blog. Novel idea! My interests are broad, my knowledge is expanding therefore I will go with my gut.

      1. Home Theater - How to make one on the cheap, maintain and enjoy
      2. Ponding - If that is a word....the serene world of backyard ponds
      3. Youth Basketball Coaching - My take on the do's and don'ts coaching kids on basketball
      4. Responsible Ssustainability - As it applies to residential living
      5. Cooking - My take on how to cook food at home without killing yourself
      6. Computers and Technology - The real usefulness of the stuff
      7. Consolidated Living -  How to be always looking to downsize....stuff is overhead, overhead is money
      8. Office Interiors - I have extensive experience in this field

      That will get it started.

      Here is my life experiences in a paragraph.

      Born and raised where I now live, suburban Philly. Went to public school until Junior year, graduated from Haverford School. Attended college in Allentown until after 3 years I figured out the partying was truly not a major. Was studying history which prepared me well for a job in the restaurant industry. Worked my way up to manager at several Chili's in the tri state area. Learned a whole hell of alot from that life experience. Held down several jobs including fueling planes at PHL. Began installing office furniture as a full time gig. Went into project management, then into Account Management. Worked with 2 Fortune 25 companies for 7 years as their main contact for products and services. Industry collapsed, started consulting and here I am.

      41, married, 2 daughters, dog is Louie, single home in suburban Philly.

      Thursday, January 6, 2011

      The Begining of The

      The first entry goes something like this. At 41 I have come to the end of what I believed to be my truth. Enlightened people are not self centered, judgemental or greedy. The just are. I am not. I am somewhere between the All American Dream and Nirvana. The path is not clear, however, the suffering has stopped. The headaches are gone, the colds and flues have evaporated. My marriage is transforming, into what I do not know but I am hopeful. My kids are maturing faster than I imagined. Career has done a complete 180. What does this all mean? It means that the journey has begun. I am aware of the moments now, where as before I was concerned about the outcome. I allow others to be, without judgement, prejudice or contempt. This has created some friction, however, the end result is honest being. I have much to improve on. These are the goals but not the reality as of yet. I have learned that more energy is consumed on managing the suffering than being present.

      I am a true believer in living language. The words that define us to the outside world. To define is not always bad. It gives us some level of restraint. I am a political independent. I am a true believer in the true meaning of sustainable. Not hugging a tree, but making everyday informed decisions to improve that in which we live. I have a conservative edge towards fiscal responsibility. I believe that the words liberal and conservative have been damned. There are many issues which bring out the suffering in us all, decisions are best made in the calm.

      My interests are comparable to my Ipod. Much classical, true message rap, all classic rock with a hint of country, jazz and the blues. My wife is first, the girls are second and everything else as needed. I have been working in the contract interiors world for 12 years(cubicles, not sexy but that's what it is). I am proud of how I transformed my business relationships. I spoke with conviction and always tried to "Do the Right Thing". I learn that the world of business is beginning a transformation. It will mimic life. The days of huge profits, back door deals and slick sales are coming to an end. I am not saying it is today, tomorrow or 2 years from now, but the shift has begun. I have worked with Fortune 50 companies around the country. I have learned this, we waste more time, energy and resources on the ridiculous, that I am not surprised in the least we are where we are. We have moved away from character and towards worth.

      So this is the beginning of now. Life will be made of a whole lot of nows. Where as 30 years ago people kept journal, now we have this. Whether it is read or not is not the cause. The cause is to be here. And that is where I am.