Saturday, October 1, 2011

Race to the Bottom

I am all for saving money, but I think as a throw away society we have reached the bottom in  our race to the bottom, price wise, for our electronic goods, at the cost of quality. The average DVD, BluRay, CD players only last 12 months if you are lucky. That's ok, I hear some of you say, but it is not only the life of the product that has been compromised, but also the performance of the product.

With all the JB Hifi's, WOW sight and sounds, Harvey Normans, Joyce Maine's, The Good Guys and the list goes on, it is easy to get a 'bargain' on price, but what about the correct advice that comes with the product, or the advice on how to use, connect, maintain and get the most out of the product?

Being in the the 'Boutique' AV industry, we are constantly seeing clients spend a lot of money on 'cheap' items and being conned that all they need to achieve top-end quality are some expensive cables, such as the monster cables. Yes, cabling is important, but why have expensive cabling on equipment that doesn't perform? It is a false economy and gives a very disappointing outcome in picture, audio and overall experience.

A bargain is not getting something 'cheap', but getting something of quality for a fair price and having that product work to its intended performance level, having the product positioned  and calibrated correctly. When  a system has been incorrectly matched, incorrectly cabled and poorly maintained, even us professionals are limited in how we can fix the probem. It is not the fault of the person/company trying to fix the problem that the client needs to spend more money than it would have cost to do the project correctly the first time, but the responsibility of the client to get the correct advice first.

Whilst most of the people I rub shoulders with in the professional AV industry like to help where possible, they should not be expected to be out of pocket because the client tried to save money.

My advice - consult a professional at the start, but make sure they have the credentials behind them. A professional is not your commission-based sales person at one of the 'chain stores' whose goal is to get product out the door at any price - not much of a sales technique. We have seen time and time again, a lot of money being spent on componentry and cabling that is not even required to get the system working. That is money that could have been spent on securing a product of better quality.

During the design period of your new house, consult a professional, having the correct cables run before the walls are up will make a big difference to the end products' cost and performance and make having a home theatre that much more enjoyable.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm Back !

It's been quite a while since my last post. Where does time go. I knew it had been a good twelve months, but I did not realise it had been that long!!!

So I am going to try to get back to blogging. We'll see how I go. Since my last post I have changed jobs and am now really working with the newest home technologies having joined the Visual Focus team 2 years ago now.

We specialise in home,business and school audio visual and automation control systems. Drop into our website (Visual Focus) to see samples of what we do. I will endeavour to keep you updated here as well, as we play with new technologies and complete new projects. You can see some of our projects here.

I am still happy to assist where I can with your technology questions so please keep asking by posting a question in a comment or you can email me here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

DVD Recorders

MB from Toowoomba has wanted to know why when she records a DVD on her HDD/DVD recorder it can only be played back on that machine.

MB, when a Writable Disk whether it be a CD or DVD is written to it creates an open session on the disc so data can be added or removed. On computers the operating system does this automatically. On DVD recorders sessions are created but need to be closed permanently for them to play on another machine. You have to manually do this by FINALISING the disc. This command is generally found in the DVD menu under disc options depending on the brand of your recorder. Once a DVD is finalised it can NOT be written to again, but should play in any DVD player.

Hope this helps.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Blog Page Layout

Pat from NY has asked how to an image to fit in the side coloumn of her blog. There are two solutions.

The first solution is to resize the image using an image editing tool such as photoshop. In Pat's case, she would need to resize the image in question to be no more than 200 pixels wide as this is the default setting of the template she is using.

The second option is to resize the page layout.

A word of caution first.
If you change the width of one column to be greater in width, without reducing the width of other coloumns or increasing the width of the overall page then the page layout will go skewiff.

In Pat's case she needs to increase the size of her left column by 53 pixels to fit the image in as it is. So first we will increase the overall page size by 50 pixels in the "Edit Html" tab in the page layout section of the dashboard. (By default Pat's template is 700 pixels wide.) By changing the page width it allows the main content column to retain the correct proportians.

The next step is to increase the the sidebar to the width of the image. In Pat's case we will increase this by 53 pixels to 253 pixels.

The last step is to change the width of the main coloumn so the page layout remains the same. The sum of the two coulmns should equal the width of the page. So 253 + 497 = 750. So therefore we need to make the main column 497 pixels wide.

You can see the result of all the changes here.

NOTE: Changing the template setting may require that you resetup your custom widgets such as images.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Blogg Tips

Over recent times there have been a lot of questions about why when one person leaves a comment on a blog their email address is included in the email so the blog owner can just click on reply and the email goes back to the commentor, whilst when others post a comment the default email address for replies is, so the blog owner cant just click on reply.

If you are leaving a comment on a blogspot blog then the solution is to open a free account at and setup a profile that includes a valid email address. Make sure that you are logged into your blogger account, then everytime you leave a comment on a blogspot blog or an affillate blog your email address will be included for replies.

Hope this helps GB

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's about time

After much delay and procrastination, I have finally decided to bow to public pressure and begin blogging in order to assist others with questions about their gadgets, computers and websites.

I have been considered a geek since my high school days being on the fringe of the lunchtime computer club and having cut my teeth on the trash 80 (Radio Shack TRS80) and commodore 64 computers. I got my love of programming from typing in basic programmes to play games such as horse racing or paddle tennis.

Electronics too has always been a hobby from the age of 11 with making beer powered radios, noise generators and other fun kids stuff, eventually leading to the contruction of my own amplifiers and guitar effects. I was often given peoples "broken" appliances but always had to give them back if I fixed them. Most of them went back.

I ran my own electronic repair business in a small country town, where I found that the majority of problems were incorrect operation, bad handling or minor electronic problems. Very rarely were the problems of a major nature. It was also during this time I was introduced to the IBM computer with my first unit being a 386 after having assisted clients with their XT's and 286 machines. Wanting to know more I set out to do what I do best - break it then fix it, then break it again and fix again and so the story goes. I do this with just about any gadget I can get my hands on so as to get a good understanding of how everything works.

Today I work in the multimedia field with the company I work for always striving to be on the cutting edge of multimedia in our field, with a fair amount of my afterwork time spent programming for business in VB,,, php, html, vba in outlook apps and little bit of progamming MDS applications for the Blackberry.

It is not uncommon for me to be asked my opinion in regards to the purchase of new equipment, or to assist with a computer problem more often then I care to admit, so setting up a blog to record those questions with hopefully good answers, will help others with whatever electronic problem they may have, and for the questions I cant answer, hopefully someone else will be able to assist. Whilst I hope this site helps as many people as possible, it is aimed towards the average
home user of technology.