Does the Internet really need another blog? Not really. I however do need my own blog. I have blogged at SCN, AVNetwork and AVNation. However those are in a sense, professional and speaking either for an organization such as AVNation or needing to be to a higher standard when published by another company.

This site is mine. I can share my personal ideas, opinions, diatribes, and manifests without worrying about it reflecting on others. Yup, my site, my opinions, my responsibility.

Of course there is the problem that all blogs have, content being updated. So I am counting this one as an update.


May 22, 2019

Recently during an AV in the AM discussion one of the topics that came up was employee burnout and how to prevent it. A matter of debate was electronic mail and how to manage it. That was when people started sharing the number of unread emails that they have. That is when I got scared.

Is this real?

A few of us saw that amount and got ornery about it. Here is what I had to say:

To me 75,729 unread/unacted emails is a problem. That is more than 20 unacted emails everyday for 10 years.

Also just poor information management. As a client seeing that it would concern me: would my email get lost? How is information managed.

Even after a week of mostly ignoring email, I have less than 50 work emails unread/acted, 10 for @AVNationTV, and 200 personal which includes twitter alerts and @SynAudCon mail list.

My brain is still boggled by the quantity of unread messages. Yes one can mark a read message unread. If one spends one minute per email to read & react that is still 150+ business days. Very unique organization system that has odd failure modes.

I started writing this piece and then set it aside to attend to other matters as well as try to find the rest of the article. I was unsure what the take away would be, to quote my friend George, “Why does the reader/listener care?” It then hit me this past week while at work. As someone who put in the time to write the email to see it go unread told me the time I spend after-hours is wasted.

Allow me to explain some things about my work environment; I am not going to tell you much of who I work for or what I projects or tasks I am involved with. I take my NDA’s very seriously. Besides, writing about work environments can be very tricky and wrought with unintended consequences.

I do understand the importance of walking down the hall to talk with people. That can be difficult when one of the parties is over one thousand miles away. Also with having multiple tasks going on, not everything happens during business hours, between 8:00 and 17:00.

I was not going to be able to talk with all of the stakeholders about a meeting scheduled for the next day. I stayed late to get the information to the stakeholders as quickly as possible. I was not sure what time people would be checking e-mail, but we had a meeting about the subject the next day. The meeting arrived the next day, and it became clear that the e-mail was unread, not by just one party but by all people. I know for a fact that it is not unique to my employer.

The standard answers, “Do you know how many e-mails I get a day?” or “I saw it but didn’t read it.” or my favorite as there are laptops, “It was too long to read on my phone.” These could be reasons; these could be excuses. The takeaway though was that because of unread or stagnant e-mails the extra hours I took to prepare for that meeting is effort and time wasted. Whether intentional or not, the people in that meeting had just said that information that had been gathered and the energy expended was lost or not necessary.

So that image of thousands of e-mails unread is sending a message that any effort they put forth into an e-mail to use most likely a waste. Is that the message you want to send to people? There are many approaches that can be used to “hide” or not display such a large number on a display. That however does not fix the underlying issue, just the symptom.

I do not chase inbox zero. I strive for inbox read each day. Now if you will excuse me, I am off to act upon about 300 messages that built up this week.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

After juggling content, navigation, and appearance across multiple sites, I decided to just start over on many of my domains. Yes, I have more domains than I need. I am not counting the domains I maintain at In the process I have also started from scratch to prune old content that is no longer relevant. I am still working out the processes and configuration of the multiple sites so check back often as content is loaded.


Written July 11, 2018 19:00EDT
Reposted March 5, 2019 23:00EST

My involvement with the EFF and AVNation have also included comments about privacy: AVNation Privacy & EFF Mail Links.

Something I realized while thinking about this subject is that if one sends very few encrypted e-mails, the ones that are encrypted will stand out in the mail being sent. Now you might wonder what I am doing that requires encrypting. It is more practical than you might think, a simple example is to transmit financial information.

I have an additional reason now, confuse the government and anyone else monitoring traffic. This idea is discussed in Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother section below is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. This quote below came from line 1826 in the HTML version available on Mr. Doctorow’s website.

“So how come you weren’t on Xnet last night?”
I was grateful for the distraction. I explained it all to him, the Bayesian stuff and my fear that we couldn’t go on using Xnet the way we had been without getting nabbed. He listened thoughtfully.
“I see what you’re saying. The problem is that if there’s too much crypto in someone’s Internet connection, they’ll stand out as unusual. But if you don’t encrypt, you’ll make it easy for the bad guys to wiretap you.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ve been trying to figure it out all day. Maybe we could slow the connection down, spread it out over more peoples’ accounts –“
“Won’t work,” he said. “To get it slow enough to vanish into the noise, you’d have to basically shut down the network, which isn’t an option.”
“You’re right,” I said. “But what else can we do?”
“What if we changed the definition of normal?”
And that was why Jolu got hired to work at Pigspleen when he was 12. Give him a problem with two bad solutions and he’d figure out a third totally different solution based on throwing away all your assumptions. I nodded vigorously. “Go on, tell me.”
“What if the average San Francisco Internet user had a lot more crypto in his average day on the Internet? If we could change the split so it’s more like fifty-fifty cleartext to ciphertext, then the users that supply the Xnet would just look like normal.”
“But how do we do that? People just don’t care enough about their privacy to surf the net through an encrypted link. They don’t see why it matters if eavesdroppers know what they’re googling for.”
“Yeah, but web-pages are small amounts of traffic. If we got people to routinely download a few giant encrypted files every day, that would create as much ciphertext as thousands of web-pages.”

My action is a relatively small action and is rather simple to do. However, the fact that it will change the traffic view could be helpful for others. It will prevent other PGP/GPG encrypted traffic from being such an outlier as to be noticed. As EFF posted on Data Privacy Day, privacy is a team sport. There are additional directions for how to do this task at, hover over the tutorials section. If you want to test if it worked, My public key identifier is C93A52C6. You can download my public key from directly from my site. I also will freely admit, I am not sure if it will make a difference, but it could not hurt.

This post was published on on January 25, 2018. Bradford is a Director of AVNation Media LLC.

During and after CES the topic of diversity in the electronics industry has been discussed. I think that this is an important topic to talk about. It is something that all of us can facilitate and participate in . It does not have to be big grandiose actions, although they are encouraged. It is just as important to do small day to day things. These topics do not go away after the trade show does. We, all of us, need to be aware of them everyday. We need to make small incremental steps constantly. There are all sorts of platitudes I can put here. I want to put two simple ones here:

During and after CES the topic of diversity in the electronics industry has been discussed. I think that this is an important topic to talk about. It is something that all of us can facilitate and participate in . It does not have to be big grandiose actions, although they are encouraged. It is just as important to do small day to day things. These topics do not go away after the trade show does. We, all of us, need to be aware of them everyday. We need to make small incremental steps constantly. There are all sorts of platitudes I can put here. I want to put two simple ones here:

  1. Always try to make the world a better place.
  2. Change never comes if you are happy with the status quo.

With that in mind, I have a request for all presenters in the AV industry. This applies to Integrated Systems Europe, InfoComm Worldwide shows, Avixa classes, manufacturer training, mini trade shows… etc. Any place there is a presenter and a question and answer session. Answer one question from a woman, then one question from a man, then one from a woman… repeat as necessary. It could just as easily be, one caucasian, one person of color. Basically make efforts to help the underrepresented get represented.

I cannot take credit for this idea, Cory Doctorow stated it during an interview with Edward Snowden at the New York Public Library. You can view or listen to the event on the New York Public Library’s website.

The reason I like this idea is that it is simple. It is something an individual can do independently. It would be great if organizations made it a formal process. Don’t wait for that. Do it now, start now. Do it in meetings at your office. Do it when having webinars.

Here is my simple request, for those presenting at ISE2018, just implement it. Don’t wait for anyone to do something formal, start making the world a better place on your own.

The opinions expressed here are Bradford’s and AVNation’s. He does not speak for his employer.

Originally posted at on January 11, 2018

As many of you know, I was laid off from Harman Professional on December 21, 2017. This column is about what I have been doing since then. If you are looking for a post talking bad about Harman or spouting all sorts of venom, keep looking. This article is not the article you are looking for. I also am not going to be using this as my personal blog talking about playing in the snow and going to the movies … etc. This article is about what I have been doing within AVNation.

As some of you know, Tim takes an annual vacation during the Holiday Season. This year, he made a mistake. He left me in charge, and in fact deputized me to make improvements in our processes; all processes. We have cobbled together over the past six and a half years AVNation’s processes and data management on an ad hoc basis. As we needed things we added them. Sometimes without thinking toward the future. (That is the polite way of saying they didn’t ask me.) As a result various pieces of data are stored on different services or someone’s hard drive. In addition there were things besides Sugar Plum Fairies in Tim’s head. He had agreements, show topics, projects, blogs, and thoughts of the Bears. I put on my digital janitor outfit and went about the organizing and cleaning.

I am confident we are not the only entity that needed to do this process, every company should go through this process on a regular basis. It frees companies from the quagmire from the phrase of, “We have always done it this way.” Instead it allows people to ask, “Why do we do it this way?” I know from experience there are times new software is implemented so that it acts just like the old software, whether it is a best practice or not.

The first question I asked myself, was “Self, what makes doing AVNation stuff hard?” I came up with a list. Some of these might also be an issue in your organization. The list was longer then I thought it would be. I also included comments from Tim as we were evaluating our software contracts.

  1. Stuff is all over the place!
    1. Slack
    2. Trello
    3. Google Drive
    4. Dropbox
    5. Amazon S3
    6. Email Threads
    7. Google Hangouts
    8. Google Chats
    9. Zoom Meetings
    10. People’s personal computers
    11. Internal wiki
  2. Scheduling meetings
  3. Helping people with their email
  4. Collaboration tools
  5. Managing shared tasks
  6. Project Planning
  7. Where source files are located
  8. Who are the active underwriters
  9. Finding scopes of work for each underwriter
  10. Locating logos for each underwriter
  11. Poll topics & schedule
  12. What is the editorial calendar
  13. Documenting the process of…
    1. titling podcast episodes
    2. posting an episode
    3. getting reimbursed for money I have spent
  14. Making the other team members aware of website stuff
  15. Letting other people tell me about website issues
  16. Tim’s List
    1. Email Lists for newsletters
    2. Management Tool for newsletter subscriptions
    3. Landing pages for links in newsletters or for other special events
    4. Customer Relationship Manager for the Sales/Underwriting portion of the business
    5. Intergration with e-mail – nice to have
    6. Tracking lists – nice to have
    7. Tracking Deals – nice to have

I am pretty sure that evaluating other companies, most people would come up with very similar lists. I know that we are not the only ones trying to figure out these issues. These issues are not unique. So I did what every person does, I went to the Googles. Actually I use Duck Duck Go, the reason is simple: “Our privacy policy is simple: we don’t collect or share any of your personal information.” I started searching for “collaboration software”, “file sharing”, “revision control”, “group scheduling”, and “Shared Tasks Lists”.

There were lots of solutions available via open source. Some of these looked promising, some were not worth the time it took to download them. Having used various tools in my career I kept comparing everything to Microsoft Exchange for many of the features; email, contacts, calendaring, task management, shared calendars, shared tasks, shared contacts. I went in search of a hosted Exchange solution. One that we can afford, which is where Software as a Service is helpful.

Previously I had used Rackspace e-mail for my personal mail. I was happy with it. The reason I stopped, Apple broke it. TApple did an iOS update and e-mail longer was a push. I know their support is excellent. I also know it would solve group scheduling issues as part of the service. I also knew that they offered hosted Microsoft Exchange. Off to Rackspace to order up Exchange. Then came the surprise of the day, SaaS came through again. For the same price as hosted Microsoft Exchange, one could subscribe to hosted Office 365, including Exchange and SharePoint 365, you can see it here.

I reviewed my list comparing it to the applications within Office 365.

  1. Stuff is all over the place! – OneDrive, 1TB per user
  2. Scheduling meetings – Exchange calendering
  3. Helping people with their email –
  4. Collaboration tools – SharePoint, Planner, ToDo, Skype for Business,
  5. Managing shared tasks – SharePoint and Exchange
  6. Project Planning – SharePoint templates and sub apps
  7. Where source files are located – All in OneDrive can manage in SharePoint
  8. Who are the active underwriters – SharePoint
  9. Finding scopes of work for each underwriter – OneNote or SharePoint
  10. Locating logos for each underwriter – OneDrive
  11. Poll topics & schedule OneNote or Sharepoint Page
  12. What is the editorial calendar – Exchange or SharePoint
  13. Documenting the process of… – SharePoint, OneNote
  14. Making the other team members aware of website stuff – SharePoint, Yammer, Exchange
  15. Letting other people tell me about website issues – SharePoint, Yammer, Exchange
  16. Tim’s List
    1. Email Lists for newsletters – Excel, Word, and Outlook
    2. Management Tool for newsletter subscriptions – Excel
    3. Landing pages for links in newsletters or for other special events – WordPress already being used
    4. Customer Relationship Manager – SharePoint, Exchange, OneDrive
    5. Intergration with e-mail – Microsoft Flow
    6. Tracking lists – SharePoint or Exchange
    7. Tracking Deals – SharePoint

Yup, Microsoft had done their research and figured out what most businesses need. They had lots of ways to work built in, as well they had recommended practices that made things work easily. They also added solutions for when they didn’t have the proper solution. Microsoft includes Microsoft Flow, an easy to use automation tool. That was where it really shines. Automation that includes connections to other services that we use. For example, the e-mail list solution using Microsoft Office is not as powerful as MailChimp, we can create a link between our Microsoft data and MailChimp easily. The same for SurveyMonkey, Twitter WordPress, our main website engine. It also has allowed Tim to customize his workflow process to meet his needs; I do not have to make any changes to my workflow or the base solution.

Through this review I found out lots of things. I found cost savings, almost US$10K. The vast majority of this cost from ending our subscription to our CRM and Social Media Management service. The service is powerful, too powerful and does not actually meet AVNation’s needs. It would not have been realized if I hadn’t sat down to review our needs, our process, and our software to see if they all still align. Ours did not. I was able to come up with a solution that simplified our day to day operations (one location for information) and saves us money. Spending the time to review how we are working is something we can all probably benefit from. Both on a personal and professional level.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to document the changes so that the rest of the knows what I have done. The great thing is that I know exactly where to put it now.

Originally posted on on August 3, 2017.

Revision control is a very important thing. All to often we forget about keeping track of our electronic files and which one is the most current. If not the most recent one, the one that should be running in the system. I believe that we have all seen filenames like this:

  • Final Version – Tim’s Great Website
  • Really the Final Version – Tim’s Great Website
  • Tim’s Great Website – The Final Version
  • It is the Final Countdown to Tim’s Great Website
  • Final Final Version – Tim’s Great Website
  • FINAL FINAL VERSION REV A – Tim’s Great Website
  • Use this File – Tim’s Great Website
  • This file is Tim’s Great Website Really Promise It is Done

You likely chuckled at some of those file names. We have all probably done something like this. Especially when there are multiple people working on a project, which version is the most current? If the files are being emailed does the time date stamp stay the same, especially crossing time zones. There is the issue of people working concurrently on the same file.

Many of us have heard about Huddle Spaces, I suggest using Huddle Storage. There are actually solutions for managing file versions and allowing everyone access. The system used by most software engineers is a version control or revision control system. Some people also call the central location where everything is kept a Repository or Depot. They are checking things in and out of the Depot. Basically when someone checks out the file, they are the only one who can edit it; when it is checked back in everyone is able to edit the file again. Some software will also automatically determine differences between revisions.

There are software packages designed specifically for this task ranging from Subversion to Perforce to Github to open source software Git. These might be overkill for some uses. Leading a project that required multiple people having access to the current revision of a file, I experienced the benefits of version control. (I also learned new colorful metaphors as adjectives for Perforce.) The consistent name of the file meant no one had to worry about opening the wrong file.

There are also some other solutions for file control that might not be as apparent. Dropbox does a reasonable job of keeping previous versions for 30 days. It also does an acceptable job of informing users if there are file conflicts. Microsoft SharePoint allows one to check in and check out files as well as updating the version numbers and rolling back files.

The above solutions require a connection to a network. Many job sites don’t have connectivity. That does not mean files can’t be managed effectively. There is a simple nomenclature system that can provide a solution. When creating a new file include a time/date suffix. The format of the time date is key to making the system function. The time/date stamp is year followed by month then day then 24 hour time. One needs to include all the leading zeros. For instance I am writing this sentence at 170803 2205. The exact text format and spacing is up to the individual, consistent formatting is required.

Using this format allows for sorting the file name providing the ability to know the chronological order. Each time I decide to make a revision, I save with a new suffix. If I need to roll back it is easy to know the sequence. This approach addresses the issue of file time stamps changing when transferring or emailing files. It is possible to branch into different approaches simply by using multiple directories or using a branch ID.

Well it is 17–08-03_22-12, I think I like this revision and will post it.
Actually I had to make some edits after proofreading, you are reading version 17 08 03 22 25.
Well actually 1708032251
Now if you will excuse me, I have to check content versions…

This piece was originally posted on in July of 2017.

A frequent topic for me is reacting to challenges. The reason for discussing these topics is that from my experience, things going wrong is what impacts projects and people the most. These issues cause extra costs and possibly impact project deadlines. Obviously, problems will happen, the key concept is to understand the cost of a problem. While some things are intangible, such as opportunity cost, the perception of the company, and customer satisfaction. There are costs that are measurable, the cost of the employees time, the cost of travel, expedited shipping fees for replacements, and the overhead costs for these tasks.

At times not all of these costs are considered when evaluating solutions. Several years ago I was traveling for a project when my laptop had a hard drive failure. I thought about the cost that this failure could be under different circumstances. There were multiple solutions I evaluated:

  • Take the laptop to a service center to have the laptop fixed
  • Replace the hard drive and reinstall the operating system and all of the applications
  • Have a laptop shipped from the office
  • Purchase a computer

Which one would you pick?

I decided to purchase a low-cost computer, The reason was considering the other costs involved an extra day in the field costs more than a computer. There would not be a delay waiting for the laptop to be serviced or be shipped from the office. There would not be the time taken to install the operating system.

The calculation to come up with that solution was looking at all the impacted items. I started thinking about travel costs, I would need an additional hotel night (US$150). There would be additional costs of meals (US$40). The charge of an extra day of the rental car (US$40). The dollar amount to change the flights (US$150 service fee & ~$125 fare difference). The one that was hard to quantify, the cost to the relationship with the customer. The other key one, my time away from home. The cost was over US$500 from the travel impact alone. Of course, these numbers vary quite a bit. I purchased a computer with Windows installed and the level of processing power needed for under US$500. for the curious, it was an Intel Next Unit of Computing or NUC. The other item I thought about is that buying a NUC meant that I would have a spare computer after the project instead of spending the same amount of money for travel.

I now travel with a second computer the vast majority of the time. It could be the NUC or my personal laptop.

The cost of US$500 for a one-day solution of buying a new computer was the most practical option. It would not appear at first glance to be that way. It could be another scenario such as purchasing a product at a local store instead of going back to the shop to get the same product. The cost of time and mileage might be more than the difference in price between paying the retail price instead of the dealer price. Truly understanding the complete cost of a solution may change the solution that is chosen.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps you be aware of the true costs. Now if you will excuse me, I need to backup work I did today while traveling…


Originally posted at on June 8, 2017

Note: This column in no way, shape, or form, provides legal advice or counsel; neither implied or otherwise. It is highly encouraged and recommended that you consult an attorney or legal authority for advice.

The topic of who owns the code used to control a system has been covered quite often by various people and in various circumstances. The question is basically this, “If someone configures a computing system using various commands, who owns the sequence of commands?” Yes, I phrased it that obliquely on purpose. Part of these discussions are based on the idea that computer code can be considered the same as other text, books, magazines, plays … etc and as such can be protected by copyright. At the same time that approach to code means that it can be considered a work for hire and owned by the person commissioning the work. The opinion of code being equal to text was put forth August 30, 1983 under the case of “Apple Computer, Inc. v. Franklin Computer Corp.” This illustrates just how long this debate has gone on. This topic has been discussed on AVNation™ multiple times, Controlling the Code for instance, the Association of Software Professionals has posted an opinion, Mark Coxon has opinions, and many others as well.

I believe that there are additional items to be considered. The courts have ruled that the user interface and operation is not protected under copyright. This case took place in 1996 between Lotus Development Corp.and Borland International, Inc. about porting macros between competing software packages, this required using the same menu structures. The fact that one may copy the operation of an interface is an important item as well. The design and look of software interfaces can be protected, but not the actual operation. This case law means that one cannot copyright the process of pressing play, but can copyright the look of the play button itself. A minor but important distinction, one can copyright the appearance.

These topics get more interesting with the proliferation of open source code and code sharing. Various manufacturers use Microsoft and Linux products as part of a basis for their software. Then there is also code covered under the GNU General Public License that also requires companies to make available the code that they used and modified to the general public.

There are also usage rights to consider as part of this discussion. If one programs a control system for a single conference room or classroom, does the end user have the right to redeploy that code multiple times into other hardware?  One of the common approaches is to license the software, specifically outlining how the software may be used. There are others that feel the software is a work for hire, as such the person paying can use it however they want. It is a tangled web of questions and opinions.

I can continue to go on about all the different items to consider, but I am confident that there will never be a solution that works for all situations. Even within AVNation we disagree over how to handle code ownership and licensing.

There is one solution that I can recommend without hesitation. Define and document the ownership and usage rights for the software as part of the scope of work and pricing negotiations. If it isn’t documented before any questions occur it is much more difficult to evaluate and understand.

Thanks for reading, I am off to go read some End User License Agreements. Oh look Bose, Crestron, Harman, TiVo, Microsoft, Apple … ad infinitum all use code that is open source. I wonder how that impacts this discussion.

Recently Tim Albright, of AVNation, and I were debating about the grammar of a sentence. Yes, that is what we do when looking at the website and looking for challenges that can be improved. While I might be cranky quite often, I do not want to berate and attack people with incomplete data. I took the sentence in question and ran it through the Grammarly service. It is one of the highest rated online grammar checking sites. Sure enough, Grammarly indicated that the phrasing of the sentence was correct. The sentence in question is, “Fall of 2015 Josh Srago, Kirsten Nelson, and I was attending the national sales meeting for AVI Systems, an integrator headquartered in Minneapolis.” Grammarly indicated the word ‘was is correct, both of us thought it should be ‘were’. Changing the sentence to, “During the fall of 2015 Josh Srago, Kirsten Nelson, and I were attending the national sales meeting of AVI Systems, an integrator headquartered in Minneapolis.” changed the results. The word ‘were’ is now correct.

How does this story relate to audio, video, lighting, or control? The point of this parable is that software is very fallible. To trust software without checking the validity or sensibility of a result can often be a problem. Many of us have heard tales of GPS based computer directions gone wrong, the same thing can happen in almost any piece of software.

Many AV technicians use software packages designed for making room measurements. These are great tools to help with compensating for room acoustics and speaker performance. I have seen and heard people watch the screen of the software while measuring the room response. They then adjust the digital signal processor to compensate, using all the filter points to get the line looking like they want. It looks like it sounds great.
Then comes the listening.

The results are not very pleasing. But the software says it is right, so it must be. All of the available 256 filters were used. Does it sound good? That can be subjective but we all know that things can sound good or bad. There is the answer that one must consider the variable of where the measurements are being taken. To overly simplify, the phrasing of the overall sentence is the same as the location of a test microphone.

To me it comes down to something Steve Greenblatt and Brock McGinnis have been discussing on Twitter, experience. The software will not always give the desired result. Every so often one should step away from behind the software and listen in the run. Do not be afraid to trust your ears, eyes, and brain to verify what the software is indicating. Now if you will excuse me, my time measuring software says it is time for playoff hockey. Based on the position of the sun, I find that it is showing a reasonable time value.