Push the Button


avclubThe RESET button on programmable electronics (including many in our AV world) is to be used on a locked up, or poorly performing, device to restore it to out of the box condition. In doing so, caution must be exercised to avoid valuable user programmed data lost. While this can cause angst (even having to reprogram its clock!), it can actually also provide an indirect benefit of starting fresh, with the device free of patches and outmoded legacy “features.” This reset of the device, and subsequent new and modified applied use, can result in a leaner, better performing AV device and system.

In cases where the device is simply non-functional, pushing the reset button (or the rough equivalent of pulling the plug) is a pretty easy decision.  But, in cases where deteriorated performance is prompting consideration of pushing the RESET button, the costs/benefits must be more closely considered. One might methodically consider what series of user configurations and/or add-ons might have contributed to reduced performance. With that information in mind, new and different configurations get developed for a post-reset use.  Then, just push the button!

But, here in the AV Club, we ask: what if the device/system isn’t just one piece of gear or system? What if it’s the overall working (or lack thereof) environment we find ourselves in? Can we push a metaphorical RESET button to position ourselves into a leaner, meaner, better situation? If so, and after using that RESET button, what might we do differently, given a clean slate with which to work? The following are offered up in no particular order as a starter list:

  • New and different ways of interpersonal business communications: Snail mail communications are effectively dead. Email, and to lesser degree voice/phone, are the “norm” but are falling by way of texting and VOIP. If, post RESET communications are based around video collaboration tools (with the merging of webconferencing with desktop video), perhaps email and voice are no longer drivers of interpersonal communications.
  • New and different ways of viewing the individual’s career in AV: It’s been some time since individual “boxes” were central to success in ProAV. As in the past, one must currently choose between technical specialties or developing as a system generalist. Post RESET, throw new technology (see next item in list) into the mix and the new overall professional development matrix seems likely to include a predominance of data management and IP/networking for almost all job titles.
  • New and different way of designing and building AV systems: Remember all the buzz about analog sunset last year? (If not, you better read up.) While not quite yet a done deal, clearly digital over UTP (vs. analog over Coax or UTP) is the way forward. This is a profound difference in the way systems are designed and built to date. Unfortunately, our hands are being forced (sometimes there is no option to pushing the button) to abandon the old design/build models before the new ones are fully known. Wisdom indicates this area will get meaner before it gets lean.
  • New and different ways to use old AV gear:  As the brave new digital world unfolds, old (analog) AV devices will be replaced.  However, it will be at a pace that will be driven by the purchaser’s budget and not by technical ideals.  This means much necessary hybrid digital-to-analog interfacing as well as repurposing displaced analog gear back into non-upgraded legacy systems. A positive spin here is that the landfills won’t get inundated quite as rapidly as they might have in the years gone by.

Sure, with a new year, we traditionally look, perhaps casually, to the future. But current conditions may warrant that look be a bit deeper, and with a greater amount of commitment. From a practical standpoint, the process need be accompanied by consideration of not only the new, but also what has little value in continued active use.  Ultimately, like pushing the RESET button, the requisite milestone transformations come with some angst and perhaps even a leap of faith.

And with the calendar date happening past 1/1/11, resetting the clock will likely be the easy part!

The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the authors’ employer(s), past or present.

Greg Bronson, CTS-D, applies AV technologies in the development of innovative learning spaces for higher education. Greg spent the first 10 years of his career as AV technician and service manager, with the past 12+ years as an AV system technology manager. Bronson currently works for Cornell University and has also worked for two SUNY (State University of New York) campuses as well as a regional secondary education service depot.  Bronson is the originator of concept for Infocomm’s Dashboard for Controls and has had completed projects featured in industry publications.    You can reach Greg at gregthetechie@netscape.net