Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What's in a Name? -Or- How We Became Norseman.

I am often surprised how many folks out there have asked me, point blank: "Why Norseman?" or "How'd you come up with the name?" Here's the 411 on the naming of the crew (see what I did there?).

We come from the land of ice and snow!

My Great Grandfather was born in Kragero, Norway - a southern town on the coast of Norway. OK - I heard those groans from the people in the back that said "Aw jeez! Is this going to be a boring family tree discussion? 'Cause I'm going to look for cat videos on the webs!" Fear not intrepid web browser, for this is a  very brief history of my family.

Josef Frantz Oskar Gundersen came to America looking for work in the early 20th century, ending up in New York, working on the viaduct that would eventually supply the city of New York with fresh water. He eventually settled in Harvard, Mass, raised a family and built a lot of houses. His m.o. was: if it's worth doing, it's worth over doing. His idea of "good enough" would have given modern day tract housing developers kittens. If good enough meant using a 2x10 every 24" for joist spacing, he would use a 2 x 12 every 16". He ran the under-layment of floors (all tongue and groove planks back then) diagonally for extra strength and less chance of squeaking. And on and on it goes.

I come from a long line of over-builders, and I'm proud of it. That's where we got our slogan from: New World Technology, Old World Craftsmanship. I wanted to add an "e" to old - as in: olde world. Cool right? I was voted off the island by people with more sense.

When I got laid off from my last "workin' for the man" job, I discovered that one door closing really does open new ones - in my case, a new business and a new journey with me at the helm. Having worked for many, many employers over the years, I learned a thing or two about cutting corners, under staffing jobs, making questionable decisions and most importantly, how to disenfranchise your clients. I made a pronouncement to take those lessons and do the exact opposite. My motto is: "If you do the best work you can and treat people with respect, the money will follow." My company was therefore built on an engineering model and not a sales model. That is why we have no quotas or other devices that eventually drive people to make poor decisions. Do your best and the money will follow.

Hammer of the Gods, Will Drive Our Ships to New Lands....

So as a proud American of Scandanavian heritage, I chose Norseman Audio-Video Systems as my company name, as a herald and as a statement. While it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, it is an example of how we work - honest and up front. And that's why we have a funny little hammer as a logo. Thor's hammer, or MjĂžlner ,is a symbol of strength, fertility and a talisman for good fortune. 'Nuff said!

All Due Respect to Page and Plant...

So, That's it. That's the story. Nothing too mystical, just a solemn nod to my "Grandpa" Gundersen's work ethic and a pledge to bring my heritage to bear on everything we do.


OK, cue the music!

Tusen Takk!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wrap it up! I'll take it...and keep it! For good!

They say the Devil is in the details. I'm obsessed with details. Some details seem insignificant to some folks- like taking care of your cables. It doesn't matter what kind of cable or where you are using them - if you take care of your cables, they will, in turn, take care of you.

The Story:
I was reminded of this today because an old client of mine called me in to troubleshoot a "buzzing" in their sound system when they used their microphone. I made the 30 minute trip to their dining facility and we set the system up just the way they use it. As is often the case, when they turned on the microphone, all was well. Well, not completely. Upon closer inspection, every time the cable was handled in any way, we could hear crackling and popping from the speakers.

I knew what the problem was instantly.

I had another clue as well. When the client pulled the cable out of the case where they stored the mic. in, it was wrapped up tight in the shape of a dog bone and then the remaining cable tightly wrapped around the center of the bundle. I visibly winced and told them this was bad for the cable.

Uh Oh!
There was no question in my mind. (cue the sinister music) This was a cable gone bad.

To be fair - this cable had no choice. I had seen the signs before. This cable had been forced into a pretzel one too many times and it had finally retaliated. I took the connector apart and one of the wires inside had been broken. The rest of the cable was also in tough shape with many bumps protruding from under the outer jacket showing signs of damaged conductors inside from years of improper handling. This little oversight ended up costing them a pretty penny, not to mention the down time.

Minimum what?
With any kind of cable, there are industry guidelines on minimum bend radii. Thinner cables tend to more flexible and thus have a tighter radius and thicker ones less so. Here's a brief description from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bend_radius

Tell us why Mr. Wizard!
When coiling up a cable, whether it be a mic. cable or an extension cord, it's important to keep in mind that despite their seeming flexibility, all cables are made up of metal - copper to be exact -and all types of metals experience metal fatigue when bent back and forth repeatedly. So when you take that pain-in-the-tookus extension cord and wrap it tightly around your elbow and then tie it in a knot, you're drastically reducing its overall lifespan. The best illustration of this is to take a piece of metal and bend it back and forth until it snaps. Now imagine a bunch of thin strands of copper taking that kind of abuse. Copper is soft and flexible, but put to the test, it is also very easy to break.

Bones are for dogs.
I see this in field installations a lot too. I have seen many failures of expensive signal cable where the only recourse is to replace the cable. The classic "lazy installer" move is to "dog-bone" the extra cable. They do this by taking the extra, wrapping it up and then putting a tie wrap in the middle so that the result looks like a dog bone. This inevitably leads to the crushing of the internal parts of the cable as well as putting kinks in the wraps. In the case of coaxial video wire, the crushing and kinking of the cable changes the properties of the cable which causes a very poor image quality or even a total loss of signal. I teach all of my technicians how to carefully maintain a proper minimum radius when dressing cables on projectors and also in equipment racks to ensure proper signal flow. I also teach them how to properly coil staging cables so that they last longer. I have mic. cables that I have had for 15 or more years that still work like they were new.

Let's wrap it up then....
So take care of your cables, and they'll take care of you. Wrap them up nicely, and they'll last a long, long time. It'll save you from down time and ultimately, save you money.

Gundy out.

For further reading:
This guy does a pretty good demo on how to coil a mic. cable: