Leonard Suskin

Leonard Suskin

Leonard C Suskin, the pixel-and-inkstained wretch, lives in the suburbs of the greatest city in the world with his wife, two children and cat. A veteran of the AV industry, he is an audiovisual design engineer for Robert Derector Technology and continues to pen fiction and poetry in his spare time. Opinions are his own, not reflecting his employer, colleagues, rAVe staff or two cats - though they'd likely agree. The cats, that is. You can find him on Twitter @Czhorat. Pronouns: he/him.

Could This Be Written by a Robot in a Chinese Room?

July 24, 2023

ChatGPT and AV Design — Part the First ChatGPT has been a major topic both in the world and in our corner of life in AV. How, exactly, does it fit into our world? Why don’t we start by asking the thing itself? Then we’ll talk among ourselves, while the robot isn’t listening to us […]

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Leonard’s InfoComm Minute, Day the Third: Something Different in an Audio Demo Room

June 18, 2023

One of my favorite things at the InfoComm trade show has always been the audio demo room, despite the fact that I don’t do a ton of the kinds of projects in which the gear in these spaces is aimed. Part of the reason is that “not a ton” doesn’t mean “none ever,” and it’s […]

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Leonard’s InfoComm Minute Day the First — on Standards

June 16, 2023

A decade ago internet cartoonist Randall Munroe made a joke about the proliferation of standards, in which an attempt to create a single unifying standard to replace 14 competing standards instead exacerbated the problem by creating a 15th competing standard. Everyone who creates a standard has a vision for why they are doing so, for […]

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Meeting Equity, Return to Office, and the Best COVID-era Advancement in Video Teleconferencing

May 26, 2023

Greetings, AV friends, from your too-long absent pixel and ink-stained wretch. The last few years have seen some big changes for all of us, including a shift to full-time remote work and, eventually, back to a physical office. Personally, I have returned to my commute and in-person work as of late last year. It’s been […]

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Amish, Luddites and the March of Technology

September 23, 2020

Let’s start off with the Amish. Yes, you’re in the right place, and yes, this is the opening to a technology column. Theirs is a community about which I’ve been thinking, both since a recent vacation to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and, more recently, after a discussion about so-called digital natives and acceptance of new technologies. I’ll […]

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Your Princess Is in Another Castle

January 17, 2020

Each level of the classic Mario game would end with our hero having battled through hoards of foes to rescue his beloved, only to be greeted with the now-familiar message that his princess is in another castle. The inherent sexism of the princess-rescue trope aside, this is what I think when I look at the […]

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Diversity, Inclusion and 2020 New Year’s Resolutions for the AV Industry

January 13, 2020

Happy New Year, friends. I’ve been too absent from these spaces as I’ve left one job, settled into a new one and let the rhythms of life get in the way. Let’s take it as a New Year’s resolution that I’ll be back, with more to share. As we’re talking about resolutions, we’ll start with […]

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Friction, SB-327 and Zoom’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Week

July 16, 2019

Last week was an eventful one for Zoom. In less than twenty-four hours, we had: The revelation of multiple security vulnerabilities in the popular Zoom conferencing software A [now updated] defensive statement by Zoom, dismissing concerns related to same Public outcry A reversal of course and introduction of an immediate patch for one vulnerability and […]

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Does Your Touch Panel Spark Joy?

May 21, 2019

One of my guilty pleasures is organization consultant Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, Tidying Up. Even those who’ve not seen her know of her, have seen the jokes about discarding those things that don’t “spark joy,” and have heard something about her growing influence. As I make my return to the design consulting world and leave […]

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How Long Until the Future?

April 4, 2019

Many science-fictional promises of the “world of the future” never have and perhaps never will come to pass. We don’t have our flying cars, and perhaps never will. We don’t have a robot maid. We aren’t eating Soylent Green. (OK, that one might not be a great loss). What about the meeting room of the […]

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Let’s Talk About Specs

January 6, 2019

The scene: Project manager training, major integration firm. Dramatis Persona: A project manager, new to the wonderful world of commercial AV A veteran of the AV industry The Dialog: “I’m worried about this bid we just won. There’s no way we can do all of this.” “Why, what’s wrong? It looked like pretty standard conference […]

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What Keeps an AV Professional Up at Night – Part the Second

November 26, 2018

I’ve spoken about the things that keep an AV professional up at night — in part the growing rise of one-box, easily configurable solutions sharply reducing the need for highly skilled integration in simple spaces. That trend continues with both industry stalwarts like Crestron and smaller upstarts like Owl Labs selling single-device collaborative solutions. That’s […]

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Scheduling, Software as a Service and the Day I Sat Through the Same Presentation Four Times

October 17, 2018

I don’t know if “As a Service” has replaced “experience” or “convergence” in the AV buzzword bingo game, but it certainly has been a hot topic as of late, opening some interesting questions as to how the business models of traditionally hardware-centric AV companies fit into a software — and software as service — based […]

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On Diversity

October 8, 2018

“I’m a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are.” –Homer J. Simpson I’m with you, Mr. Simpson. Even if my ideas aren’t all crazy, I understand that as a cisgender, heterosexual, Caucasian male living in the United States of America I have just about every […]

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InfoComm 2018 Recap, Part the Second: Words by Which to Live

June 18, 2018

With the new branding, AVIXA appears to have picked up a new motto, one which many of us have seen on the various promotional items for sale in the AVIXA store at InfoComm: “Together, we can change the way people experience the world.” Those who know me I believe in language, and believe in having […]

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The TIDE Conference and Learning how to Think

June 13, 2018

Another InfoComm is now behind us. As we return to our everyday lives, we should look back and reflect on what we learned and experienced over the past week. For those of you who weren’t able to attend, this is a chance to share some of the lessons I found across the country in Las […]

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The AV Experience

May 31, 2018

“Experience” has been the big word in the industry as of late, even beyond the big change in our trade organization’s name to “Avixa” — the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. Is this a buzzword, or should this represent a change in the way we design, and even how we think? It shouldn’t, because user […]

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On Delightful User Experiences

March 26, 2018

Some categorize the quality of a user experience as a hierarchy, like this one: An accessible user interface does its job. You can access and interact with the interface. A usable interface is one which can be manipulated to achieve a desired result. This doesn’t mean that the result is something of particular value to […]

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Aesthetics, Part the First — Minimalism and the Tyranny of the Black Rectangle

February 22, 2018

The past centuries have spanned many technological eras, each with a dominant aesthetic as well as dominant technologies. The Victorian era was the age of steam, of the first attempts to harness electricity. It was also an era of brass, polished wood, colored glass. It was an era in which a technical marvel was also […]

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What Keeps an AV Professional Awake at Night

January 12, 2018

I still remember my first concerns about user engagement with the technology we provide. It was over a decade ago; we were fitting out four conference rooms per floor over about a dozen floors. Video teleconferencing in two, local presentation in the other. Pack up, head for the elevator, repeat. It was one of my […]

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On Myths and All-Male Panels

January 11, 2018

CES is here and, with it controversy. Of the six keynote speakers, six are male. That’s a ratio, for those of you mathematically inclined, of 1:0. Of those six, one is Asian, five white. None are African or African-American. This is the second year in a row that they’ve chosen not to invite a woman […]

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On Digital Assistants

January 2, 2018

An AV consultant once had a conversation with an executive from manufacturer about the most expensive home he’d seen. He asked what kind of control system one would build for a ten-million dollar home. The executive answered that there’d be a single button. When the button was pressed, a servant would walk into the room […]

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A Visit with Microsoft

October 30, 2017

When we think conference room and collaboration technology, we too often think of audiovisual collaboration technology, and when we think about that we think of a small set of traditional AV manufacturers, largely unknown to those outside of the industry. We think of control system manufacturers such as Extron and Crestron, of Vaddio and its […]

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The Power of Names

September 29, 2017

Names have power. Names matter. Decades of fantasy literature have taught us that. Kvothe, the kingkiller, gained control of the very air itself when he learned and spoke the name of the wind. In the wizarding world, nobody would dare speak the name of Lord Voldemort. On Roke Island, the young Sparrowhawk learned the secret […]

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Software Revolution

September 25, 2017

I’ve written time and again about the rise of software as opposed to dedicated hardware. About AV as a Service (AVaaS). About how all of those black and grey boxes we’ve come to know and love will soon disappear, to be replaced by services running on virtual machines. It isn’t just a rule about audiovisual, […]

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On Biamp and Baseball: Second Thoughts on the TesiraFORTÉ DAN

February 16, 2017

Last week, I wrote about Biamp and the announcement that Dante will now be an option in their smaller TesiraFORTÉ DSP units. While it is an interesting story and the TesiraFORTÉ DAN units do fill a niche, it might not be as important as it appeared to me at first reading. I’ll tell you why […]

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At ISE, Crestron Goes Big (and Small), and Biamp Steps Towards Dante

February 9, 2017

Editor’s Note: Leonard Suskin has additional thoughts on Biamp’s TesiraFORTÉ DAN, which you can read here. ISE has never been quite as big to me as InfoComm, though not for any particular reason. Perhaps it’s that time-zone differential is even worse heading East across the ocean than West to Las Vegas [or due South to […]

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An Announcement from QSC, the Death of Hardware and Where We Go Next

January 24, 2017

I’ve been writing for some time about how the days for dedicated hardware in the commercial AV realm might be numbered. We will always, of course, need edge devices: loudspeakers and amplifiers, microphones and audio digitizers. Video encoders, video decoders. Displays. Between all of these devices, however, live the entire world of AV switching, control, […]

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Year in Review

December 26, 2016

While it may have been a quiet last few months of the year for me as I settle in to my new position back in the integration side of the business, you should know that your pixel-and-inkstained wretch is alive and well. It’s been another interesting year in the AV industry, with quite a bit […]

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My Journey in AV

August 30, 2016

In an office suite in New York there was a pit. Not a dirty hole in the ground, filled with spikes and threatened by a swinging pendulum, but a cozy little nook of unfinished plywood, crowded with cables, video monitors, equipment racks laden with gear, bundles of cable running to and fro in a Gordian […]

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Accessibility for Everyone in a Virtual World

August 21, 2016

A great deal of digital ink has been spilled on the phenomenon of Pokémon Go, including on these very pages by Gary Kayye, on the AV Power Up! podcast and, of course, by yours truly. There is one more thought which I’d like to share before I wander off to talk about something else, which […]

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A Crack in the Wall Between the Real and Virtual Worlds

July 18, 2016

Assuming that you’ve not been living under a rock, you’ve at least heard about the Pokémon GO! craze. For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game produced by Niantic (in partnership with Nintendo, which owns the rights to the intellectual property on which it is based) in which one needs to hunt the […]

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