The Connected Life

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John Sciacca  |  Aug 10, 2016  |  3 comments
I’ll be honest, when I first heard about Husqvarna’s Automower robotic lawnmower, my first thought was, “Well, that’s stupid.” I mean, why would someone need a Roomba for their lawn? Dumb.

Then I thought about it a little longer and started to weight the cost of the Automower versus my personal time and cost of cutting the grass or what I have been paying someone else to do it, and how nice it would be to come home and always have a perfectly groomed lawn, and Automower started to make a lot more sense. Then when I started to think about all the grief I get from my lawn guy – broken sprinkler heads, not coming for weeks at a time, yearly price increases – I started getting really excited about the prospect of letting a robot cut my grass.

John Sciacca  |  Sep 11, 2008  |  0 comments

You may consider Jim Carrey to be many things - comedic genius, overpaid goofball - but technological futurist probably isn't one of them. However, his prediction in the 1996 movie The Cable Guy has proved to be surprisingly accurate: "The future is now!

John Sciacca  |  Nov 17, 2017  |  2 comments
In my last blog I listed some essential tools for tackling various DIY custom install projects around the house. This time, we’ll put that toolkit to work mounting a flat-panel TV! I’ll cover running the wiring to your new TV, and in my next blog we’ll tackle the physical mounting of the set.
John Sciacca  |  Dec 15, 2017  |  2 comments
Last month’s blog, Mount a TV Like a Pro: Part 1 detailed the first part of mounting a flat-panel TV onto a wall. To recap, it covered determining the size and location of where the new TV will go, figuring out the needed wiring for the install, making a plan for powering the TV, making sure there’s a clear path in the wall for routing the cabling to the TV, and then cutting wall boxes into the sheetrock and running the wiring.
John Sciacca  |  Jan 30, 2012  |  0 comments

Many people love the idea of a house-wide audio system, but they may not love the idea of paying to have one installed. Plus, the fancy features that come with dedicated multiroom audio systems — such as keypad controllers with metadata feedback, and the ability to divide a home into numerous listening zones — might be more than what many people actually need.

In fact, for the way many people actually live, two listening zones may be the perfect amount: a “main” zone linked to the TV/surround system and a secondary zone for playing music, radio, or something else in a different room. Think one person watching Oprah’s Life Lessons, while a second seeks refuge on the patio with ESPN radio and a beer. If a two-zone audio system sounds like it would fit your bill, chances are that you’ve actually got most of the components for it already on hand.

John Sciacca  |  Feb 18, 2014  |  1 comments
As a custom installer, I’m routinely asked, “What should I do with my old stuff?” It’s a great question, because with all the recent advancements and price drops in technology, lots of people are upgrading and ending up with older gear still in working order but with no idea what to do with it. If you find yourself in this predicament, here are some suggestions that I give to my clients.

John Sciacca  |  Sep 18, 2012  |  0 comments

High-rez music is the most exciting audio development to come along in years, and I’ve written quite a bit about it. But I’ve received enough questions concerning high-rez that I felt it was time to devote a column to the subject. What follows is a primer that touches on the basics of high-rez music: what it is, how to get it, and how to play it.

John Sciacca  |  Nov 17, 2010  |  0 comments

At this year’s CEDIA Expo, held in Atlanta at the end of September, I felt that the mood on the show floor was decidedly upbeat. The positive vibe exuded by many suggested that the worst of the recession is over and that business is actually starting to pick back up.

John Sciacca  |  Dec 02, 2008  |  0 comments

Fans of the Bible and of the Byrds will recognize that there is a time for everything - a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to keep quiet, a time to speak, and so on. Accordingly, there are times when it pays to hold things close to the vest. For one, supervillains should refrain from pontificating about their master plans for world domination.

John Sciacca  |  Feb 01, 2017  |  4 comments
It surprises me how often people come into my showroom looking to improve their TV audio with still no idea how a surround system works or what it entails. Just last week, a 20-something came in saying he wanted a wireless audio system by a specific brand that he’d heard was the best. I talked to him for a few minutes, querying him on what he wanted the wireless audio system for and what his room layout was like, and it turned out that he was looking for a dedicated home theater system in the $15,000-to- $20,000 range but thought a wireless soundbar was the best place to start. I’ll be honest; I died a little inside.
John Sciacca  |  Aug 27, 2014  |  3 comments
Your home is likely filled with all manner of smart devices, but your most precious electronics—your rack of AV gear and video display—are likely all connected to one of the dumbest devices in your house: your surge protector.

When most people go shopping for a surge protector they focus on figures like clamping rate, response time, single pulse energy dissipation, voltage protection rating, number of outlets, and the warranty. And these are all important things – especially if that sad, sad day ever comes when your house is visited by The Big One; that dreaded bolt of lightning that picks out your home like the angry finger of God. But there are some real advantages that come from giving your surge protector an Ethernet connection and a big o'le steroid shot full of IQ points.

John Sciacca  |  Oct 29, 2013  |  0 comments
Perusing your favorite AV site (it’s this one, right?!), browsing real or virtual aisles of an electronics store, or surfing the Web, you’ve undoubtedly run across multiple companies offering to improve your audio by adding a soundbar. With models ranging from sub $100 to over $2,000, it’s a category that has exploded practically overnight.

In a way, soundbars can be likened to nuclear power; used correctly, they can improve your life, but misused can kill everyone in the world several times over. (I don’t have all the science needed to back that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

John Sciacca  |  Apr 16, 2014  |  2 comments
A few weeks ago I got an email notification from my Kaleidescape movie server saying temperatures has exceeded safe operating range and the server would be shutting itself down if temps didn’t soon return to normal. “What the hell?!” I wondered. Nothing had changed in my rack, I hadn’t added any new gear or changed anything with the ventilation and the server was exactly where it had always been sitting and working fine for the past few years. Of course, I immediately blamed my 7 year old daughter, accusing her of all manner of destructive behavior, but when she assured me she was (in this case) innocent, I searched further.
John Sciacca  |  Jun 18, 2014  |  2 comments
Because you are currently reading this, I’m going to make three assumptions…

1) You have fine taste in A/V writers.
2) You are currently alive.
3) You have a barely concealed disdain for your Internet Service Provider and would like to pay them as little as possible while retaining the maximum surfing speeds.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, American ISPs now have the lowest customer satisfaction ranking of any industry in the country. And bottoming out that grim list of corporate scum and villainy is Comcast and Time Warner, the two most hated companies in the US. So, congrats, guys! One of the reasons why we seem to hate our ISP so vehemently is the growing cost of service coupled with horrific customer service and reliability and speed issues. Read on if you want to do something about it…

John Sciacca  |  Nov 16, 2016  |  4 comments
Last month I wrote a blog titled, Day and Date: How Much Would You Pay? which pondered how much avid home theater owners like Sound & Vision readers might be willing to pay for the privilege of viewing first-run Hollywood films at home. To give this some perspective, it’s important to point out that the only system capable of doing this is the stratospherically priced PRIMA Cinema, with hardware selling for $35,000 and a $500 per film rental charge.

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