Stay up to date on the latest in business technology, IT services, and AV solutions.
Stay up to date on the latest in business technology, IT services, and AV solutions.
Written by: Don Kreski
Original post here.
Remember Connect4, the classic game from the 1970s where you dropped red or black discs into a plastic grid, trying to be the first to connect four in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally? Wouldn’t it be fun to try playing it with basketballs? If so, you’ll want to seek out Connect4 Hoops.
“From the first week we put out a prototype, it was obvious we had a hit,” says Mark Johnson, Electrical Engineer for BayTek Entertainment of Pulaski, Wisconsin. “We had lines of people waiting to play.”
BayTek fast-tracked development, taking Connect4 Hoops from idea to production in less than nine months. It is now being deployed in 117 Dave & Buster’s locations and will soon roll out to other arcades.
As with other BayTek games, the appeal comes from a unique combination of electronic and physical elements, using the electronics to enhance reality.
Players throw real basketballs at real hoops, but when the balls drop into the Connect4 matrix, they’re replaced in real time by a life-sized animation.
Making that possible is a super-reliable, zero-maintenance Casio LampFree XJ-V110W projector.
For more than 40 years, BayTek has manufactured ticket redemption games for arcades, including Chuck E. Cheese’s, Dave & Buster’s, GameWorks and Boomers. It is best known for its novelty games like Big Bass Wheel and the original alley roller, Skee-Ball.
Connect4 Hoops is a direct offspring of three BayTek classics: the big screen video version of Connect4 and the basketball shooting games Hot Shot and Super Shot, which were originally sold under the Skee-Ball brand.
“We are always trying to provide an experience you can’t get in your homes with console gaming,” says Marketing Manager Sammy Harrison. “We know our games have to be so cool, so much fun that people will go out of their way to play them.”
According to Product Development Manager Rick Hallet, BayTek first connected with Casio in the spring of 2016, when he and Concept Development Manager Eric Schadrie were experimenting with a game where the display area would experience impact.
“We use a lot of flat panel displays, but you need something much more durable when throwing balls at a video target,” Hallet explained.
For Connect4 Hoops, using an animated grid, rather than stacking up real basketballs, greatly simplified the operation of Connect4 Hoops. It also allowed the software team to enhance the play with eye-catching graphics as the balls drop from the hoops.
As with the shooting game, impact damage from poorly-aimed basketballs made flat panel displays problematic. The life-size grid required a larger screen than would be affordable for a game of this type.
By using a Casio LampFree projector, the development team was able to build a 70” wide, 60” tall screen of white melamine, or coated plywood, and then place the projector in a marquee above the players’ heads, where it would be protected from damage.
“Back in November, I got a call from Mark, who invited me out to their warehouse in Pulaski,” recalls Gary Huebner of Casio integrator Camera Corner Connecting Point of Green Bay. “They had built this huge plywood contraption, and they were playing Connect4 with basketballs and the original projector I had sold them.”
The problem with this original prototype was that it was too big to fit into an arcade, so the team needed advice on what might work with the footprint they had in mind. Huebner recommended the Casio CORE XJ-V110W, a model with a relatively wide-angle lens.
“Still, I had a chance to play on this first prototype,” he said, “and it was a ton of fun.”
“We knew we wanted Casio LampFree because the games, in many locations, would be used 24/7,” Johnson explains. “Our clients would not be pleased with frequent lamp changes or other maintenance.”
Huebner recommended Casio LampFree because he has seen remarkably few service issues in the eight years he has sold Casio projectors.
“Casio likes to say they have less than one percent come back for service during the five-year warranty period, but in our experience, it’s been a lot lower than that,” he says.
“Another consideration was brightness,” Johnson adds. “A lot of arcade games use 60 – 70” TVs, and we knew that our screen had to be as bright and crisp as a TV, or very close, so we could compete.”
That was especially tough because the design team felt they could not spend more than $1,000 on the display if Connect4 Hoops was going to be profitable. At 3,500 lumens, the Casio XJ-V110W met the brightness criterion at a price well within the design team’s budget.
“It really was amazing to watch these people work,” Huebner recalls. “It was only eight weeks from the time I delivered the first Casio XJ-V110W to the placement of a finished pre-production model in a local arcade.”
In that short time, the BayTek team designed the steel, plywood and etched acrylic structure, built their own onboard computer (using off-the-shelf components), finalized programming and created all of the graphics.
Once they had the test model, the BayTek team placed it in an independent arcade near Pulaski that they work with frequently.
“We like to have our early prototypes close by, so we can drop in on Saturdays and watch families play,” Johnson says.
From there, the team placed more prototypes in the Green Bay area, Wisconsin Dells, then all over the state, testing the Connect4 Hoops for about six months.
“Usually we fight to be in the top 25 percent of the games played in an arcade,” Hallet adds. “But in this case, our prototypes were in the top two or three, in every location. Dave & Buster’s saw it, and they wanted to do the first national rollout.”
Part of the game’s success comes from the ball the team chose.
“We made a conscious effort to appeal to basketball as well as Connect4 players,” Hallet recalls. “We didn’t want full men’s regulation, but a size not far from that. We settled on women’s college dimensions, which are just under 10” in diameter.”
“We think we hit the sweet spot,” Johnson adds. “It’s a nice size for adults, but second graders can play against their dads and still hit the baskets.”
The team hit a sweet spot with Casio LampFree, as well.
“Dave & Buster’s is really excited, and they’re doing a national marketing campaign introducing the game,” Johnson says.
That will begin in November, by which time there will be at least one Connect4 Hoops game in every one of its locations.
“We’re thrilled with the Casio LampFree projector,” Hallet adds. “We’ve had no problems at all, and that’s a first for a projector in a redemption game.”
“The success story for me,” Johnson says, “is that the very first prototype, delivered early in 2018, is still out there after literally tens of thousands of plays, still running with zero issues with that Casio LampFree projector.”
Will BayTek use Casio in future games? “There’s a strong likelihood that we will,” Hallet says. “Flat panels require protection. You have to cover them with something strong or they will be damaged.”
“But with the Casio, you’ve got image size and brightness, you’ve got durability and you can move the main components away from the target,” Johnson adds. “You could even project on a brick wall and throw steel balls at it. The possibilities are endless.”
As our workplaces become more and more technology-oriented, conference rooms and meeting spaces are becoming much more complex than just a table surrounded by some chairs with a phone in the center. Many of these rooms are now outfitted with a large display on the wall and places in the wall or at the table for a user to plug in their laptop to present to the display. Some rooms are also getting video conferencing capabilities, which adds a video conferencing codec and one or more cameras to the room’s system. If the room is big enough, it may require microphones for the participants in the room or those on the other end of the video call to hear the presenter.
Each of these devices probably comes with its own remote control and your drawer full of remotes can quickly get overwhelming. How can you possibly remember which remote controls which device? And why is it so hard to find the right one and press the correct buttons when you need them? Eventually your remotes may end up looking like this in an attempt to make things less confusing:
However, I come to you with good news – there is an easier way.
At Camera Corner, we have a team of software engineers who are AV control system programmers. My team members and I take only the buttons you need and create a custom interface that makes more sense and simplifies your meeting or presentation. The functions from multiple different remotes get put onto one control surface, typically a touch panel or button panel. This control surface gets mounted in the wall or on a lectern or table where it won’t get lost or walked away with.
We can also make one button on the touch panel do multiple steps automatically. For example, instead of having to press six different buttons to get everything in the room turned on and set up the way you need it for your meeting, we could roll all of those separate actions into a single “Start Meeting” button. This type of approach makes the technology in the room less intimidating for users, especially those who aren’t as technologically confident. It also can reduce the amount of calls to the company service desk or IT staff because someone who was too confident started messing with buttons on the remotes that they shouldn’t.
Control systems can be as simple as a two-button controller, or as complex as a large touch panel that can flip between many different pages of controls. They can be installed in spaces as small as huddle rooms, or as large as auditoriums and theaters. The equipment can be self-contained in a single space, or it can be interconnected with other rooms across the entire building. We can help figure out what will work best for your company and the space in question. When considering a technology update, talk with one of our AV account managers about how a custom control system could benefit you!
Written by Emily Buffington
Emily graduated from St. Norbert College, where she studied computer programming. While working for Thrivent Financial, Emily volunteered at the Green Bay Community Church, during which time she worked mostly with Camera Corner A/V equipment. It was at the Green Bay Community Church where she met Scott Tomashek, who encouraged her to join the Camera Corner Connecting Point team.
Emily was born in Marinette, WI, and moved to the Green Bay area for college. Her brother recently started college in Eau Claire. She met her husband, a UW-Green Bay graduate, in Green Bay and they married in 2016. While they do not currently have any pets, they look forward to getting a dog once they have a place with a fenced-in yard.
While in college, Emily also studied music, and enjoys playing a variety of instruments–especially the oboe. She also enjoys working with graphic design and video production.
You’ve experienced buyer’s remorse at least once before. But if you’re a small business, the feeling can be particularly painful because you’re making major purchases that have long-lasting effects on your business. Make the wrong choice or overspend, and you risk jeopardizing your business’ survival.
One reason why cutting a check for big-ticket items is especially harrowing for small businesses is because they are most likely spending their personal funds.
According to an Intuit Quickbooks survey, 64 percent of small businesses start out with less than $10,000. Most of that comes from the owner’s personal savings; 75 percent of small business owners rely on personal funds to launch their business.
Considering the costs to open and run a business—such as paying for inventory, marketing, staffing, supplies, manufacturing, shipping and office space—those funds quickly dry up.
And it doesn’t necessarily get easier the longer you’re in business. Cash flow is a near-constant concern for small businesses, contributing to about 30 percent failing within the first two years, a stat gathered by the Small Business Administration. A U.S. Bank survey pinpoints poor cash flow management as the reason why 82 percent of small businesses fail.
While small businesses can feel like they’re always behind the veritable cash flow eight ball, there are ways for them to better manage their cash and assets without decimating their budget.
One such way is through pay as you go service models. Rather than paying a large upfront cost to purchase a good or service, businesses can pay as it’s used (also known as activity-based billing) or on a recurring basis. The practice is similar to leasing or renting in that there’s the understanding that if you stop payment, the service is cut off or the good is returned to the lender.
Pay as you go is becoming increasingly popular among small businesses. There are now pay as you go options for numerous everyday business needs. These include pay as you go Internet, worker’s compensation insurance, productivity software, office equipment and office furniture. Even some credit card services are moving to an activity-based billing model, charging businesses a percentage per transaction rather than a standard fixed rate.
Pay as you go helps to alleviate stress on two fronts. First, small businesses don’t have to worry about covering the full cost of something in order to use it. Second, small businesses are better positioned to fulfill other financial obligations, like payroll, that inevitably arise later.
With a more manageable and predictable bill to pay, small businesses can plan ahead and maintain greater control over their finances while still getting the goods and services they need to thrive.
In addition to helping manage costs, pay as you go also affords small businesses greater flexibility. Ending service, upgrading and adding or returning equipment are typically much easier through pay as you go plans.
In the past, small businesses faced a tough choice: buy high-quality but expensive business phones, or buy inferior phones that, while cheap at the outset, turned into an ongoing drain on resources.
Now there’s another option. 8×8 recently launched the 8×8 Flex Hardware Rental Program, giving small businesses access to some of the most popular desk phones through a month-to-month, pay-as-you-go service plan.
With Flex, small businesses have the ability to upgrade, change or cancel their order at any time, letting small businesses manage their budget as their needs dictate.
And because all Flex phones are optimized for 8×8 Virtual Office, small businesses can tap into robust features like auto attendant, call queueing and customer relationship management (CRM) systems integration in one convenient communications solution.
8×8 Virtual Office delivers everything small businesses need to enhance customer and employee interactions. Communications is essential for any business, and the right phone system can help small businesses improve customer service and optimize sales and other staff functions. Ultimately, the better a business’ communications system, the more successful it will be at competing against its peers and larger companies.
8×8 Flex Hardware Rental and other pay as you go programs provide small businesses with a more flexible and economic alternative to buying, letting them stretch their hard-earned dollars further and spend it smarter. And it helps small businesses operate on their own terms, which is one of the reasons you decided to start your own business in the first place, right?
Learn more about the 8×8 Flex Hardware Rental Program.
Michelle is a Marketing Content Writer at 8×8. She was previously an editor at TechRadar, a leading consumer tech news and reviews website. Now she’s focused on helping small businesses reach their goals. When she’s not writing, she enjoys going to hockey games, walking her dogs, hiking, volunteering and reading. Read More>
For Immediate Release
October 2, 2018
IT Solutions providers ACP and CCCP have merged
Green Bay, Wis., and Buffalo Grove, Ill. – Camera Corner Connecting Point announced today it has merged with Arlington Computer Products, an IT solutions provider based in Chicago and Atlanta. Taken together, the businesses have more than 100 years of family ownership heritage and more than $3 billion of IT and audio-visual solutions delivered since inception.
CCCP’s mission is “to provide world-class technology solutions with an unwavering commitment to our customers, vendor partners and employees, while providing an environment that encourages profitable growth, learning, and fun.”
CCCP’s suite of solutions include IT, audio-visual, VoIP, managed services, physical security, and retail – across a diverse set of end markets such as business, government, education, and healthcare.
Rick Chernick, CCCP’s CEO and majority shareholder; Rebecca Chernick, CFO; and Ryan Chernick, president; will continue in their leadership roles running CCCP, be significant shareholders in the combined company and keep CCCP’s name, local presence/locations and customer relationships that have defined its success since being founded more than 65 years ago.
In announcing the decision to merge, Rick stated, “While we’ve been lucky to have had many opportunities to sell or merge over the years, ACP is the only one that finally made sense. We see a great company, a shared set of values and a leadership team we will work well with, and we see only upsides with us bringing more solutions to our customers, providing more opportunities for our employees and developing deeper relationships with vendor partners. Most importantly, we stay in Green Bay, keep our name and keep our unwavering commitment to our people, their families and the community. We are not going anywhere.”
Arly Guenther, CEO of ACP, was thrilled to share the news of merging with both customers and employees.
“Having been in this business since founding ACP more than 35 years ago, I can appreciate all CCCP has to offer, and how much we will complement each other,” Guenther said. “Our customers are going to see enormous value and benefit.”
Scott Dunsire, president of ACP, added, “In my previous role running channels for the Americas at Hewlett-Packard, I had the opportunity to work with many distinguished partners, but even among that elite group, my friend Rick Chernick and CCCP stood out. We are delighted to welcome him and his entire team and customer base to the ACP family.”
The combined businesses will have more than $150 million of revenue, more than 250 employees and be a top solutions provider for many leading original equipment manufacturers in the Americas. ACP was Partner of the Year with Dell Technologies in 2018, and the combined company will be a top 25 partner of Hewlett-Packard nationwide going forward.
The merger will enhance the combined company’s continued focus and track record of reducing IT total-cost-of-ownership and risks for customers ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small businesses, while consistently delivering outstanding customer satisfaction. The company will continue to maintain and grow its office locations in Buffalo Grove, Ill., Green Bay, Wis., Atlanta, Ga., downtown Chicago, and London, U.K.
The controlling shareholder of the combined entity will be The Zaf Group, the family office of Mike and Robin Zafirovski.
“We see ACP and CCCP as having the potential to be a textbook case of 1+1>3,” said Mike, chairman of the board of the combined entity and founder and president of The Zaf Group. “CCCP is a natural part of our strategy begun a year ago to use ACP as a platform to invest in capabilities, grow organically and help combine/scale exceptionally well-run businesses in the IT space. As both Arly and Rick have demonstrated, if you take care of your customers and employees, good things happen.”
Dan Braga, partner/COO at The Zaf Group and a board member of the combined entity, added, “We’ve met with more than 100 family business owners, and it is hard for us to express our deep level of respect for the business, and team, that Rick has built. We look forward to doing continued great things together.”
Rick Chernick will join ACP’s Board of Directors alongside Zafirovski, Guenther and Braga. Chernick also currently serves as Board Member for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League.
Customer, vendor, media and community inquiries can be brought directly to Scott Dunsire (email@example.com) and Rick Chernick (Ric@cccp.com).
The merger was effective October 1.
So you work in IT, and you’re configuring a managed production network switch, but you don’t exactly know the difference between a TAGGED VLAN and an UNTAGGED VLAN, which ones to put on a port, and why. Your manager is in the room and will probably be looking over your shoulder soon. Do you start crying and damage the switch with your tears? Do you tell your boss you don’t know what you’re doing? NO. Fake it ‘till you make it, Google it, or use this simple analogy.
TAGGED = I need to know what you are
UNTAGGED = I don’t need to know what you are
If you’re wondering whether you should TAG VLAN(s) on a port, ask yourself: if something is plugged into this port, will I need to know what type of device is on the other end? In a majority of production environments, the answer is YES.
Some (not all) things you’d probably want to know if they were connected to a port:
If you think one or more of these devices will connect to this port, TAG the necessary VLAN(s) on the port. Otherwise, DON’T TAG. For example, you don’t need to tag a port on the security camera VLAN if you know that a security camera will not be plugged into that port. Try to configure switch ports on a need-to-know basis.
If a port is UNTAGGED on a VLAN, it means you’re telling the switch not to worry as much about what’s connected on the other end. So, if Jane in Marketing plugs in her PC, laptop, TV, gaming console, streaming player, etc., the switch doesn’t necessarily need to know in order to move that traffic through the network.
Common scenario: A port is plugged into a phone, a PC is plugged into that phone. Common sense might tell you to UNTAG the phone (voice) VLAN and TAG the data (PC) VLAN, because the port is directly plugged into a phone first, then a PC. If you go back to the idea that the port needs to know if a phone is plugged in, but doesn’t need to know that a PC is plugged in, then you know to UNTAG the data VLAN and TAG the phone (voice) VLAN. Why does the port need to know if a phone is plugged in? Phones do different things than PCs. Sending voices over your network requires extra work, and your network needs to know that. TAGGING the phone VLAN on that port will allow the voice traffic to be treated differently (QoS). The same concept and thought process applies to the other previous devices mentioned.
Can I UNTAG the phone VLAN on a port if I know only a phone will be plugged into it? Yes, but make sure to TAG it on the Uplink port.
Can I UNTAG VLANs and TAG no VLANs if I know what’s plugged into every port? Yes, that’s inefficient, but make sure to TAG all necessary VLANs on the Uplink port. Also, make sure no one touches that switch but you, and make sure you memorized what’s plugged into every port, and don’t show your boss that config.
Rule of thumb on Uplink ports: Usually uplinks need to know. UNTAG your default/mgmt VLAN, and TAG the rest. If you know you tagged a VLAN on a port but it’s not behaving as expected, check the TAGs on the Uplink ports at both ends.
Sam is originally from Oconomowoc. Previous to being hired at CCCP, Sam was the IT director at Manawa Schools. In this role he was a jack of all trades, and really desired to be in a position that focused on his interest in IT. He has a degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice. When he graduated and was hired onto a police department, he was their IT person. Discovering his passion, he got certifications and continued to pursue his career in IT. Sam is excited about working at CCCP to be able to focus on IT, and learn more from our team. He also looks forward to working with both the IT and AV teams. Outside of work, Sam loves sports and of course the Green Bay Packers. He also likes to be outside.
Your mind begins to wander as you sit in the back row of what feels like a nearly vacant conference room. You’re short on coffee while a manager is going over next quarter’s initiative. Your eyes begin to grow heavy because of the lack of visual stimulation. There have been no visual aids today. No one has been able to locate the remote for the projector which has been missing for two weeks. Not only are you lacking any engaging visual content, but it’s been nearly 20 minutes since hearing anyone else’s voice. The repetitive tempo and tone are doing anything but keeping you engaged.
As hard as we may try to give our undivided attention to colleagues, sometimes it’s not as easy as it seems. Besides the fact you obviously need to catch up on z’s, the setting it was taking place in may not have been the best fit. Let’s take a minute to discuss and consider how a huddle space could help address the situation.
“Your mind begins to wander as you sit in the back row of what feels like a nearly vacant conference room.”
I’ve seen far too many meetings being held in rooms that don’t even reach 50 percent capacity. Think about the waste when a room being reserved is regularly less than half full. Not only are you wasting costly physical space in your office, but that meeting is tying up all the equipment located in that room. This can make scheduling an impromptu meeting almost impossible less than a week out. On top of all that, an oversized room for the attendees can lead to a very impersonal feel to the meeting. This can be reminiscent of large college lecture halls where there is no discussion, rather you’re being talked at for hours on end.
These days many businesses are finding it beneficial to focus less on the idea of one main conference room. Instead they are looking to invest into several smaller huddle spaces. This can help keep areas open for ad hoc meetings and minimize double bookings. With multiple huddle spaces, a sales rep and engineer could hold a web conference with a potential client without getting in the way of marketing’s weekly meeting.
These huddle spaces are usually designed to fit 4-6 people comfortably. Because of the smaller room size, a discussion can feel more natural versus a standard conference room. With the proper choice of furnishings and layout you exponentially increase the collaboration ability of the team. Think less boardroom and more café lounge in most instances.
“There have been no visual aids today. No one has been able to locate the remote for the projector which has been missing for two weeks.”
The point of a well-designed huddle space isn’t to showcase the latest tech you just purchased or over complicate it. Instead it’s to minimize the technology used to only essentials and verify it’s ready to go at a moment‘s notice.
It’s important for the space to be designed with your specific employees in mind. Here are a few general examples of designing with purpose. Keep in mind while the examples are department specific, a well-designed huddle space should function for a variety of department usage.
Room Layout & Design
Standing room with a table placed in the middle of the huddle space. On one wall there is a single display connected to a wireless presentation unit which allows any attendee to connect their laptop/tablet/phone to the display without any wires.
The standing room only keeps everyone engaged around the main table. The main table provides an area to place any physical prototypes, models, materials, drawings, etc. for the whole group to see. With the wireless presentation unit, anyone can connect to the display without any wires getting in the way of the physical demo on the table. The single display keeps things minimal while still providing a means of displaying electronic drawings, photos etc. This is a good example of allowing a team to focus on the physical components while using technology to supplement the discussion.
Room Layout & Design
A small “U” shaped table sitting 2-4 people is placed to allow attendees to focus on a single display mounted on a wall. Below the display a webcam/microphone combo is mounted. On the table sits a cable cubby which houses a collection of video cables and a USB connection. The video cables allow a user to connect their own device to the display and the USB cable connects their device to the webcam/microphone combo. The cover of the cable cubby doubles as a simple system control device, allowing the user to turn on the display, switch display inputs and control display volume.
While most of today’s sales staff is outfitted with a laptop which include a built-in webcam and microphone, this huddle space allows for much more versatility. Let’s say a sales rep would like an engineer to accompany them on a sales call. Suddenly, a sales call at their desk doesn’t seem to be a viable option because of limited space. Luckily for them, they can hop into this huddle space and within a few short seconds, easily connect to both the display and webcam. Now they are in a space which has both the technology and layout to run a professional looking web conference together.
Room Layout & Design
In the corner of an open concept office a set of chairs are placed around a hexagon shaped occasional table. A monitor approximately 19” is mounted on each side of the table. Inside of the table there is a dedicated huddle space PC with a wireless mouse and keyboard. On top of the table is a 360-degree USB webcam and USB speakerphone connected to the dedicated PC.
The circular seating arrangement provides as much open communication with all creatives in the marketing team. This allows the space to generate open discussions rather than presentations. In this case the monitors being mounted to the occasional table serves two purposes. First off, this allows each user to maintain a comfortable sitting position while having a group discussion and being able to see both the speaker and content without much effort. Also, because this is in an open office, mounting the displays below eye level will provide minimal distraction to those working at desks around them.
The dedicated PC allows a variety of content to be mirrored on all displays and because of the wireless keyboard and mouse, can be controlled from any seat in the huddle space. The 360-degree webcam and USB speaker phone allow web conferencing to still include all participants even in a circular seating arrangement.
“…it’s been nearly twenty minutes since hearing anyone else’s voice. The repetitive tempo and tone are doing anything but keeping you engaged”
The main goal of a huddle space is to provide an environment that stimulates discussion and engagement. This engagement should be as far reaching as your workforce. Imagine a team member working offsite for any number of reasons. No longer are they prevented from joining a meeting just because of a geographical restriction. A huddle space that includes a web conferencing solution, allows a team member to join in the collaboration from virtually anywhere in the world. A huddle space isn’t conducive to a one-man show. It begs to welcome a dynamic group of individuals ready to dive into their next project.
A huddle space cannot always guarantee captivating content and breakthrough ideas. What it can provide however, is a setting that utilizes space efficiently, offers affordable yet state of the art tools and curate collaboration that can take an idea from infancy to delivery. Don’t get distracted with flashy technology and automation. Don’t fall prey to “bigger is better”. Do remember as today’s workforce moves towards mobility, flexibility and collaboration, they are going to demand a meeting space that goes along with it. Are you ready to meet that demand?
Written by: Justin Wetzel, AV Systems Engineer
Justin is a born-and-raised Green Bay native. He went to Green Bay West High School then followed his education there with a degree from NWTC in electrical power distribution and digital media. He was with HP for 3.5 years as a printer technician after graduating from NWTC. Justin has always enjoyed tinkering with electronics, and has worked in the IT industry for several years. He got married in September 2017, and did a honeymoon at Harry Potter World in Orlando, FL. He lives in an old Victorian-style house with his wife. In his spare time, Justin likes to dabble in photography and videography, and also likes biking on the Fox River Trail.
Camera Corner, has grown tremendously in the last 65 years. We’ve been known for our retail store and photo lab for years, nationally recognized by CRN Magazine as one of the “Biggest Little” IT VARs in the nation, and taken on huge AV Installation projects for companies like The Confluence Arts Center in Eau Claire, Acuity in Sheboygan, and Milwaukee Area Technical College. Perhaps somewhat less known however, is the area in which I work, Event Production Services.
Perhaps you’ve been to a golf outing, fundraising gala, or company meeting that called out in-kind support or a special thanks to Camera Corner. That was most likely because my team was supplying some or all of the audiovisual support for that event. We’ve done small projects like delivering TVs to courthouses and boardrooms, to massive, multi-camera, live streamed shows at Tinley Park Conference Center, Lambeau Field, and even the Resch Center.
Most recently, our team has helped with the Scholarships Inc. Lamp of Knowledge event at the KI Convention Center, (providing video projection, audio support, video recording, image magnification, uplights, and stage lights) where nearly 400 Northeast Wisconsin high school graduates, middle school students, and family members gathered together to celebrate the value of education… Oh, and receive recognition of their hard work and some well-deserved scholarship money.
While we were setting up, one of the Scholarships Inc. volunteers, caught me somewhat off guard when she asked, “You really enjoy your job, don’t you?” Well, yeah, she was right. What’s not to love? I’m exposed to multiple professional keynote speakers every month, constantly have access to new and emerging tech toys, and get the chance to work with others to bring their vision into reality. My response however, wasn’t nearly as obvious as those other things I mentioned.
You see, I love being a small part of something big. My job, is to put up a screen and projector: the result is one of a dozen auction items raising $12,000 for the UWGB athletics program. My job is to set up a microphone, speakers, and a mixer: the result is a freshly motivated team of electrical workers who have a new perspective on safety and are more likely to get home to their families. My job next week, is to bring 80 percent of my inventory to Chicago for a few days: the result will be a strengthened relationship between a local business and its numerous Fortune 50 clients.
I’ll be honest though, this job is work. Hard work. Fifty pound projectors don’t get upstairs by themselves, the cables on the floor don’t come with gaffer’s tape pre-applied, and the system diagrams don’t draw themselves. But at the end of the day, I can rest assured knowing that my relatively small and seemingly insignificant role in the day, can be the solid foundation that change, growth, and community are being built on.
Written by Nic Wautier, Event Productions Manager
Nic joined the Camera Corner Connecting Point team in 2008 in the sales support department. In 2014, he joined the rental department full time, utilizing his expertise in technology and channeling his inner-musician to help companies fulfill their vision of an event. He was recently promoted to the Event Productions Manager position and is excited about the new role. In his spare time, Nic also is a DJ and helps out with video production at his church.
In my last post, I discussed AV over networks as the next upcoming change in audio/video technologies. Instead of using signal specific wiring for analog AV (VGA cables, mic cables, etc.) we’re now using network switches. To use network switches, we also get to use industry-standard network wiring.
Using the network though requires making sure the network is robust and terminated correctly. I discussed that a 4K video signal is nearly 20GB, but we could compress it down so it’s under 1GB. But what if we have two network switches, each with video transmitters and receivers and we need to get that video from one switch to the other? Normally there is a single link in between. In a basic network that may only be a 1G connection. If we have multiple 1G streaming trying to move across that link, we’re going to have an issue. Or what if those two switches are in two different buildings on a campus?
With fiber cable, we can make that link 10G or more, and can transmit up to 2 kilometers, giving us immense reach with our AV equipment. Fiber, just as in networking, is becoming more and more prevalent in AV systems.
At Camera Corner Connecting Point (CCCP), as part of our commitment to providing world-class technology solutions, we’ve invested in the latest tools to allow us to terminate and test fiber optic cables used in our AV installations. We’ve recently purchased a Fluke Versiv testing system and a Belden fusion splicing tool kit. This allows us to make the highest quality fusion splices in the field. Fusion splicing does just what the name implies. Two pieces of fiber optic cable are inserted into the unit, which then melts the glass ends together making a seamless connection. Since fiber optic cabling is so small, smaller even than a human hair, we need a way to make sure the connection meets specifications. The Versiv system tests the fiber run to make sure any light loss is within specification. This includes all splices and connectors in the run.
All good so far. But what if the cable run goes through a couple patch points and we’re getting poor performance out of the system? The Versiv testing system also includes an OTDR module that can then identify where the problem occurs along the cable path. It can tell us how many feet down the cable the problem occurs. This helps us efficiently find the problem and make the fix instead of redoing all the terminations in the link.
The Versiv system also allows us to test copper CAT5 and CAT6 cabling as well. CCCP is committed to providing high-functioning systems for our customers. Using the proper wiring components, techniques and testing helps us ensure you are satisfied with our work. Even if you have a system that was installed by others and have questions about system performance, you can contact us to come out and test your wiring with our test equipment. Let us know how we can help you with you AV systems!
Written by: Scott Tomashek
His certifications include: CTS; CTS-D; DMC-D; and Certified London Architect.
Scott began at CCCP in January 2007 as an AV Systems Consultant, focusing on Houses of Worship. During Scott’s tenure, his skillset continued to grow and evolve and as a result, he was chosen to be a member of InfoComm’s Standards Committee. He was also chosen to be an Instructor at the 2016 InfoComm Technology Expo. Tomashek
has been instrumental in many projects, and was promoted to Director of AV Design Engineering in 2016. Fun Fact: Scott was formerly a High School Band Director.
Top Photo by Savannah River Site
Originally posted on Fortinet Blog
Written by Anthony Giandomenico | June 27, 2018
Summer means vacations and down time. People are booking hotels, arranging travel or settling in at the beach with the digital version of a summer novel. For many families, the kids are home from school and permanently wired in to an array of connected devices. So, along with the sunscreen and bug spray, you need to take precautions to ensure you and your family are cybersafe this season as well.
That’s because cyber criminals want your money, your financial information, and your identity. If they can’t steal your money directly, they will steal your other information and sell it on the dark web. And they are really, really good at this. It’s why the global cost of cybercrime reached over $600 billion last year.
Here are seven things to remember to help keep you and your family safe while vacationing online this summer:
1. Practice safe wi-fi
As you travel to visit family or hit the beaches you will want to stay connected. Which means you will be logging into public wi-fi access points. While many of these are perfectly safe, that’s not always the case. People looking to steal your data have a number of tricks up their sleeves. They can connect to a public access point and then broadcast themselves as that access point. Which means you connect to them, they connect you to the Internet, but they can intercept all data between you and your online shopping site, bank, home security system, or wherever ese you browse to.
If you will be traveling internationally, you may also want to turn off wi-fi when entering a new country. We have seen incidents where travelers arriving at the airport connect to fake wi-fis and are hit with a man-in-the-middle attack. So it’s a good practice to turn wi-fi off until you can verify the SSID of a legit establishment with wi-fi. The same goes for Bluetooth—only turn it on when you need it when traveling.
For those backyard BBQs or gatherings of the neighborhood kids for a video game marathon, setup your home wi-fi with a separate network for guests. They can still browse the Internet while keeping them separate from your internal home network. They will also automatically reconnect to that guest portal the next time they are in the vicinity of your router.
Many smart devices also automatically search for known connection points, like your home wi-fi. New attacks can sense this, and simply ask you device what SSID they are looking for. When your phone tells them it is looking for your ‘home’ router, it replies with, ‘you’re in luck! I’m your home router.’ And your phone, not being nearly as smart as it thinks it is, goes ahead and connects.
The tricky part is that you can’t always tell a good access point from a bad one – which is exactly the point for cybercriminals. So there are a few things you can do. The first is simply ask an establishment for the name of their wi-fi SSID before you connect. You should also consider installing VPN software on your device so you can make a secure, encrypted connection to a known service. There are a number of low cost/no cost services that will ensure that your connections are always protected.
2. Upgrade your passwords
One of the biggest mistakes people make is using the exact same password on all their online accounts. Of course, we tend to use a LOT of different websites, so remembering a unique password for each site may be impossible to keep track of.
There are two approaches. The first is to use a password vault that stores the username and password for each account, so all you have to remember is the single password for that application and it takes care of the rest. The other is to create a tier of applications and then create more complex passwords remember for each group. One set for sites like social media, another for places you pay your bills, and another for your bank.
Creating strong passwords you can remember isn’t as hard as it seems. For example, use the first letters of a sentence or song lyric that you are familiar with, add some capitalization and replace some of the letters with numbers or special characters and you’ve got a pretty secure password. Just set a reminder on your calendar to change those passwords every few weeks.
Many online social sites also now support two-factor authentication. It’s an extra step in the login process as you have to enter a password and then validate that login using some other form of authentication, such as entering a code sent to your mobile device. But it significantly increases the security of your account and data.
3. Recognize scams in email and on the web
Don’t click on links in advertisements sent to your email or posted on web sites unless you check them first. As tempting as it might be, never open an email or click on an attachment from someone you don’t know – especially when it includes an enticing subject line, such as a cash reward or a bill for something you didn’t purchase (no matter how much you might want to see that receipt for the diamond ring you don’t remember buying.) And take a minute to look at those emails from people you know as well. Compromised accounts are regularly used to send malware to individuals in their contact list because recipients are far more likely to open those emails and attachments. So if an email message from someone you know seems strange or out of character, check with them first before you open it.
For websites, does the website look professional? Are the links accurate and fast? Are there lots of popups? Is there bad grammar, unclear descriptions, or misspelled words? If you hover your mouse over a link you should be able to see the real URL. Does it replace letters with numbers, such as amaz0n.com, or is it unusually long? If so, don’t click on it. It’s a phishing attack, and all you are going to get is a stolen identity. These are all bad signs.
4. Protect yourself from viruses and malware
Install reputable and well-reviewed anti-malware software, keep it updated, and run it regularly. And because no software is 100% effective, set up a schedule where you load and run a second or third security solution to scan your device or network. (Many solutions provide a free online version or let you run a free demo for a brief period of time.)
For more advanced users using a laptop or desktop, also consider maintaining a clean virtual machine on your device that you can switch to for your more security-sensitive browsing or to perform online transactions where security is paramount.
5. Keep your devices updated
One of the most successful attack vectors hackers use is targeting vulnerabilities that are already well known, but which are not being protected against. The developers of your devices, as well as the apps you run on them, all issue regular security updates designed to protect you from known threats. Download and run these updates as soon as they become available.
6. Control your social media
Many times, hackers will use information about you to make it more likely that you will click on a link. And the most common place for them to get that personal information is social media sites. The easiest way to prevent that is to simply set up strict privacy controls that only allow pre-selected people to see your page.
When traveling, limit your vacation messages on social sites. While it can be fun to tell everyone where you are going or what you are doing, that information also lets folks know that you are gone, which can put your home at risk of robbery.
For those with a more open social media profile, remember that cybercriminals often set up fake pages or accounts and then request that you add them as a friend. There are two quick things you can do to protect yourself from criminals using fake credentials hoping to steal data or trick you into linking to an infected site:
First, always look at the home page of the person making the request. If you don’t know them, and anything on their site seems odd, dismiss their request. And second, if the person making the request is someone you know, check to see if he or she is already a friend of yours. If so, there’s a significant possibility that their account has been hijacked or duplicated.
7. Educate your family and friends
Be a good net neighbor and share this information with your kids, your partner, your parents and siblings, and your friends. That’s because not only do you not want bad things to happen to them, but because they are also connected to you and you trust them. So if they get compromised, the chance that their information can be used to trick you into doing something you shouldn’t, like clicking on an link or downloading an infected file, is much higher.
We live in a digital world, and cybercrime is part of it. We lock our cars, deadbolt our doors, look both ways before crossing the street, and avoid dark alleyways. We need to develop the same cautions as we navigate our digital environment. You and your kids all may be safe inside your home or hotel room, but just as with the physical world, you are never 100% safe online. Risk comes with the territory. But if we all just exercise a bit more caution, impose just a little more scrutiny on the tools and applications we use, and develop just a little more online common sense, the digital world we live in would quickly become a whole lot safer.