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Tales from the Sharp End: A Bodge Too Far? (4/7/2012)
By The Urbane Installer
As usual it has been a busy June, but whilst I was hoping for some nice weather so we could show off the lovely new Technology Towers shorts, we got rain again. I'm really, really fed up with the smattering of Sun we have seen so far this summer. In fact I'm thinking of emigrating to Arizona.
On the CI front though, it has been an interesting month. My Kaleidescape rant seemed to illicit a few comments which echoed my own thoughts, although the manufacturer I was talking about seems oblivious, as it is still sending me emails along the same lines!
I was made aware of an interesting meeting earlier this month between a small number of manufacturers and programmers around an online project designed to make programming modules freely available on a sharing platform that will be like a kind of CI shareware site. It started because a number of installers felt that modules and programs for certain manufacturers should be made free, enabling them to install systems without being beholden to buying programming components from third-party programmers. It seems that the idea has gained momentum and we are likely to see some movement on this project shortly.
I found this quite interesting. We don't install the main systems these chaps are concerned with, but it did make me wonder about how many small programming companies rely heavily on some manufacturers' inability to help their dealer base by making modules available cost free. Personally, having programmed Crestron and AMX for years, I do fail to understand how an install company can rely on using third-party drivers purely because they have no real in-house skills to write this code themselves. It sort of makes them the equivalent of a modern car mechanic who just fits the components and blindly trusts what the diagnostic machines tell him or her without understanding the how and why and really understanding how a system (and module) should work.
I do feel sorry though for the small number of companies who rely heavily of this type of programming activity and sales of modules for their livelihood - you can’t effectively protect a module that operates a certain amp, so what will happen to them when a competing module/driver is made available for free?
What do we do about Bodgers?
One of the things we bang on about here at Technology Towers is the value of taking the time to wire terminations and connections correctly. Minion, our new apprentice, has had this drilled into him from the moment he walked in the door. Let's face it, if we are professionals, proud of our work, and perhaps even a CEDIA member, then we should get the basics right.
So imagine my astonishment when went to a site in Middle England where we were upgrading a system that had been put in by another business. Part of that involved re-wiring the speaker terminations in one room. On taking the faceplate off for the wall socket, we found that the speaker wires had been stuffed into the connector, with braid all over the place. Obviously concerned that this untidy work may cause a short, the installer had resorted to a trusty roll of insulation tape and bodged it together - not by wrapping the tape around, but just slotting a strip between the binding posts! I don't know how you run your business, but if that was one of our guys, I'd be tempted to kick him from Middle England all the way to Wales.
It's such a basic thing: take care of the details and you won't be having to go back and service the system; but do bad work and there should be some sort of sanction. So my question this month is what do we do about sub-standard installers, especially if they are from well-known and supposedly reputable firms? Answers please via the HiddenWires LinkedIn group.
Product of the Month
Has anyone tried the Omnimount OMF wall mount? It consists of four lugs that you screw to the back of a TV and four cups that screw to the wall. The cups come in a specially-made cardboard template with a spirit level built in, and the whole thing takes about ten minutes to do. You end up with a really strong (up to 36kg) wall mount, but best of all, it's really thin and you have no rails on either the wall or the TV to cause issues when routing cables behind it. To cap it off, they are under GB£40 from our local supermarket.
It's a shame I have no clue where to buy them wholesale in the UK. We use these almost exclusively now where we are sticking a smaller flat screen in, and they have saved us hours in installation time. So my product of the month is the wonderful little Omnimount OMF.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
I have seen some other cool stuff this month too, the best of all being a new entrant to the cinema seating market. The company is called Cine Italia and they are making some of the nicest cinema seats I've seen in a long time. The seats are designed in England and made in Italy so they are well thought out, beautifully designed and beautifully made. I took one look at them and promptly specified them for the next job. The ones in the photo below were seen at a recent trade show and have leather stitching that reminded me of an Aston Martin DBS, but with a slide out champagne cooler and chilled cup holders.
So July is upon us. We have two cinemas to do, one full-house audio and a home control system to install, and some really cool RFID tagging system to add into a client's home in order to identify his cars as he drives up to the house. I'm looking forward to doing that one! Some things are just so cool.
All in all, it's stacking up to be a busy, if not hot July, and since I'm taking the Urbane Girlfriend off on holiday, as far as I'm concerned, it can keep raining. Happy installing!
The Urbane Installer is a home control expert based in Middle England. Messages can be sent to him via the HiddenWires LinkedIn group.
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