Wednesday, November 26, 2008

West Side Story

While not having anything to do with Classroom AV, I was particularly impressed by the tenacity of Plantation High School and their production of West Side Story (

I first heard of this story by watching the ABC Evening News ( That is one inspirational teacher.

The story does make me think of the theory of Universal Design. This teacher was able to include all of the students interested in participating by figuring out what it would take to make this production available to all, or at least to as many as he could get to. Looks like he's got some pretty talented kids too. Lucky guy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Intellectual Property

I just read Thom Mullins article in the November, 2008 PROAV magazine, Intellectual Property Lines ( and I thought I would weigh in.

Thom's conclusion is that the new licensing agreements that seem to be appearing in AV integrator contracts is the way to go, and to a certain degree I agree with him. There certainly should be sharing of the control systems codes after the project is finished. After all, the control codes are built with software that was designed and written by others. Neither the client or the integrator (usually) had a hand in writing the original code. They are simply using the existing building blocks to create the control program.

Like a building designer and contractor building a house out of bricks or wood, they might put them all together in the way that they said that the design says it should be constructed, but when the project is finished, the contractor doesn't own the house and when the homeowner wants to remodel they can't require that the homeowner check with them, or worse yet, require that they are the only contractor that can remodel. The homeowner paid for their services, and the home now belongs to the homeowner. It should be the same for the owner of the AV system.

I come from working many years in higher education and in case you hadn't heard, intellectual property is pretty important to folks in higher ed. It's their bread and butter. If a researcher works for a university and invents something, lets say a way to increase crop yield in corn, that process doesn't belong to the researcher. That process is patented by the university he or she works for, and it belongs to them. It might be shared by the company or organization that provided the grant to fund the research, but the researcher merely receives the acknowledgement of a job well done, their paycheck and perhaps a percentage of the profits if the process is marketed. The researcher doesn't own the rights to the process, and can't demand that if the university wants to change the process that they have to clear that change with them.

Thom writes that manufacturers have "stood on the sidelines" during much of the debate regarding the ownership of these control codes. I think that's because they realize that they are the ones that actually created the software that the control codes are made from and that the whole discussion/argument is ludicrous. I dare say that very few of the control system programmers in the field are actually "creating" anything new. They are simply using existing blocks of code from a manufacturer to build their system. Not unlike a system designer uses existing equipment to create a system.

Owners of AV systems installed by integrators should stop being held hostage by those integrators and demand up front that the system and any code that the integrator uses to control that system belong, at least in part, by the owner. Most owner's won't care if the integrator wants to use that code on another system. Why should the integrator care if the owner wants to change the code when they change their system?

Money. That's why. Shame on the integrators. Shame.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Trying new ways

Well.  It says that I can send stuff to the blog via email, so I’m trying that.  We’ll see if it actually works.


In the Beginning...

Well, my own blog. Will wonders never cease? I suppose that somewhere along the way should actually put something useful here, but that time will come I suppose. For now, we'll just see how this works out and if it's useful to anyone!