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Thursday, June 24, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
When I take off my CE Pro editor's hat, I'm just like everyone else.

I had a task that was slightly out of my comfort zone, but I thought I could do it myself. After all, YouTube makes it look so easy.

Alas, after a good 20 minutes of effort, I finally gave up trying to take the stitches out of my right elbow using some nail clippers.

So I turned to the experts at my local big-box retailer, where the nearby Stillwater Medical Group runs The Clinic at Walmart. There was no line. I breezed right through the forms, paid my $15 co-pay and saw the nurse practitioner right away.

After a brief lecture on why a right-handed person shouldn't try to do a DIY suture removal on the right elbow using nail clippers and the bathroom mirror, she went to work. As it happened, my stitches were particularly tight, and even this trained professional had difficulty removing them. The wound bled a little, opened up a bit, and required some special strips to close the gap (TMI?).

The whole thing took about 20 minutes -- twice as long as it would have taken if my stitches were looser. Plus, I picked up some place mats while I was at it.

Even if Walmart didn't take insurance, I would have paid $62 for the service. Gladly! It was far more convenient than setting up a doctor's appointment, arriving early, waiting in the lounge, dodging errant coughs, praying the nurse was on schedule ....

And guess what? The…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/24 at 07:31 AM
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Even the priciest audio cables aren't always perfect.

Writing on, Kevin Becka tells of a $250 audio snake he used to test some pro audio gear.

When mixing the audio material, Becka reports, "it sounded great albeit a bit weak in the center which I thought was due to the spacing of the players and my mic placement. I compensated for the weak center with panning and levels and it sounded fine."

But all that time, it turns out, one of the channels (number two) was out of polarity. The culprit turned out to be the audio snake. When a tech pulled the sealed XLR connector apart, "sure enough, Pin 3 was 'hot' on channel two."

Becka reports, "After discovering the polarity flip, I went back and compensated with a “backatcha” polarity swap on the center channel of my mix and WOOOSH! the center image bloomed beautifully."

Lessons learned?

1. NEVER trust any cable, no matter how expensive
2. ALWAYS check polarity during tracking and mixing

Thanks for the tip, Ernie
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/23 at 11:51 AM
Blogs, Wire and Cable, Permalink

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

By Rachel Cericola
There isn't a ton of at-home 3D entertainment currently available. Hustler plans to do something about that.

The porno mag has announced plans for a 3D movie based on the mega-hit Avatar. Apparently, when James Cameron was out touting the benefits of 3D, the magazine took note - as well as his movie idea.

According to Screen Junkies, the movie will be called This Ain't Avatar XXX, and should be available this September. Hustler also says this will be the company's most expensive production to date.

I have to figure that a lot of that money will go to the 3D, as well as blue makeup.

Does this sound a little creepy? Well, Cameron had mentioned before that a Na'vi sex scene had been clipped from his version of Avatar. Something tells me this version will be slightly more explicit.

This "film" comes after Hustler's successful release of This Ain't Star Trek XXX. Other upcoming releases in the series include This Ain't Curb Your Enthusiasm XXX (love Larry David, but ew), This Ain't Glee XXX and This Ain't CSI XXX: Chatsworth.
Posted by Rachel Cericola on 06/22 at 09:58 AM
Blogs, Product News, Permalink

Monday, June 21, 2010

By Tom LeBlanc
On display at InfoComm 2010 - besides the 925 exhibits - was a convergence of residential and commercial integration.

Attendance was up 10 percent to 32,002, making it the second largest InfoComm ever after two years of depleted shows. The surge is a reflection of 80 percent of CE pros doing some commercial work and earning about a quarter of their revenues from commercial projects.

With both those figures trending upward, it seems many CE pros made their first trip to the commercial trade show.

Visiting InfoComm is a good start, but CE pros need to recognize that although most should complement their business with commercial clients, it is a different market - and their businesses need to reflect that.

Consider that Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI) and URC, two companies embedded in the custom residential market, just announced new-hires in positions dedicated to supporting the commercial market.
  • RTI: Brian van der Hagen, commercial market general manager
  • URC: Jamie Finnegan, commercial division national sales manager
  • URC: Robert Durbin, commercial division systems integration engineer
The hires reflect that commercial and residential are two different animals, says van der Hagen.

“I think the most notable difference is project demeanor,” van der Hagen says. “In the commercial space, we are sometimes more about selling steak instead of the sizzle. Commercial integrators are all about using product for their intended use and are less concerned about flashy features or fringe benefits. The majority of systems I see today are very straight forward, almost simplistic, designs.”
Posted by Tom LeBlanc on 06/21 at 11:06 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Universal Remotes, Permalink

By Jason Knott
The lousy track record of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should have all U.S. taxpayers asking for a housecleaning of the agency.

Where do I start? The oil spill. Actually, the response to that disaster is a culmination of shoddiness we've all seen in the residential integration business.

Finally, the agency got something right for a change by extending the deadline for its lead paint certification to December 31. The "Lead: Renovation, Repair and Paint Rule" went into effect April 22, 2010. It requires those who work in homes built before 1978 to be EPA certified. Integrators not in compliance face fines of $37,500 per day.

From the outset, the EPA has done a horrible job touting the fact that the new rules even exist. Even when integrators heard about the program, the training was administered horrendously. CEDIA did its best to get the word out, but even at EHX Spring 2010 there was a limited number of individuals who could take the training because of EPA guidelines.

Have you ever seen any signs about the lead paint certification law in Home Depot or Lowe's? Have you ever received anything from your licensing entity? A pamphlet in the mail? An email? My gosh, I thought we paid trillions in taxes for government brochures!

I recently spoke with several contractors and none of them had heard about the new law.

Meanwhile, EPA's…
Posted by Jason Knott on 06/21 at 10:23 AM
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By Julie Jacobson
I admit it, until yesterday I had only seen snippets of 3D TV in showrooms and at trade shows. Toy Story 3 was my first real exposure to the format.

It was a wonderful movie ... this coming from someone who rarely goes to movies, let alone raves about them.

My husband Duane, step-daughter Maggie and I caught the film at Marcus Theatres in Oakdale, Minn. I know for sure that Maggie cried at the end, and I think Duane suppressed a tear or two. But I digress.

I agree with Duane, who also was a 3D virgin, that "it wasn't tacky. There was not a gratuitous use of 3D."

Stuff wasn't flying at us or raining down upon us. We didn't have to take treacherous rides on roller coasters or anything. Really, 3D seemed to be more of a tool for ultra-depth perception -- the characters and activity in the foreground really popped.

Repositioning myself around the theater -- our seats were in the sweet spot -- I still was able to get a good 3D picture.

For me, though, the RealD glasses were uncomfortable layered over my own specs. They really needed to be tight up against my prescription glasses to get the optimal picture, so I kept having to push them up, like a geek might (no comments here, please).

I can say definitively that 3D added an element of fun and depth to Toy Story. I liked it a whole lot. If there were no price premium, I'd…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/21 at 08:50 AM
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
SpeakerCraft knows how to rile things up.

This time, the speaker manufacturer is hosting one L.A. dealer and one Boston dealer at today’s NBA championship game between the Lakers and the Celtics.

From the east coast: Bob Crane Jr. of Crane Appliance, with locations in Falmouth and Vineyard Haven, Mass.

Lakers don’t have a chance, he says: “Kobe can't do it alone. He is not "MAGIC."

Crane will be seated next to Scott Aarons of AB Audio Video, Santa Monica, Calif.

“I don’t miss a game, either on TV or radio,” he says. “But I don’t have Kobe posters in my office.”

What about Laker cheerleaders?

“That either,” he says.

Aarons doesn’t plan to pick a fight with his Celtics-loving companion.

“I’m 5-foot 8,” he says. “Odds are he’s bigger than me.”

The score will be close, he thinks, but the Lakers will win by 5.

“It’ll be down to the fourth quarter and Kobe’s going to pull a rabbit out of his hat.”

Stay tuned!
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/17 at 03:30 PM
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Recently sold LeBelvedere in Bel Air, Calif. was built in 2006 and includes a private “screening room.”

By Jason Knott
Do you have a name for your home? If you do, odds are it’s large. Also, if you have a name for your house, it probably doesn't have a "home theater," but instead has a "screening room."

That’s certainly the case for “LeBelvedere,” a French chateau in the tiny Bel-Air section of Los Angeles. The home recently sold for the highest price of any home in the U.S. this year.

Although the final sales price is not yet known (there is a 30-day delay in L.A. County before the sales price is reported), the L.A. Times confirmed that the 48,000-square-foot French chateau on 2.2 acres was sold. It was listed by its designer/developer Mohammed Hadid for $85 million last year. He confirmed to the L.A. Times that the home sold for more than $46.5 million, which was the previous record for a home sale this year.

But when a house is so big, it is interesting how the home theater barely gets a mention, both in the Multiple Listing Service and other real estate websites. In this case, the “professional screening room” is mentioned well below features such as a “swan pond.”

The house was built in 2006. Hadid reportedly spent $59 million building it. The listing for the home shows a “professional screening room,” 5,000-bottle wine cellar, “swan pond,” (aka … a pond), fountains, a 10-car garage, three master suites, Turkish steam bath, 19 fireplaces, 10 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, an elevator and on and on.

Posted by Jason Knott on 06/17 at 12:36 PM
Blogs, Permalink

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

By Tom LeBlanc
Electronic House already told you Panasonic’s 152-inch 4K resolution 3D plasma (TH-152UX1), the largest flat-panel display in the world, is almost ready to ship.

You also saw our first-glimpse of it at CES 2010 … but it’s worth another look.

InfoComm 2010 attendees - even tall ones - had to look up at the 152-inch 3D model on display in Panasonic’s booth.

“It’s definitely the largest flat panel in the world and probably will be for a long time,” Rick Albert, Panasonic VP sales, said during InfoComm.

Panasonic's TH-152UX1 152-inch 4K resolution 3D plasma at InfoComm 2010
Posted by Tom LeBlanc on 06/16 at 08:08 AM
Blogs, Product News, Displays, Commercial, TVs, Permalink

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

By Julie Jacobson

I'm just gearing up for CEPro Live! which takes place all day Thursday, June 17, at an Internet near you.

Interestingly, among the default selection of Avatars, I found one that looked pretty much like me.

But I was torn between that one, and some others developed over the years by 39Cent Stamp of fame.

So which one should it be? Avatar 1, 2, 3, or 4?

Don't forget to register for the virtual trade event. It's free:

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/15 at 12:54 PM
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