How To: Conference Rooms

Displays

Size: Take a display’s diagonal length and multiply it by two… That’s how far away people can comfortably sit from your display. (Less if you’re analyzing spreadsheets. An additional display across the room can be used to supplement.)

Type: For sizes under 84″ a flat panel almost always makes the most sense. Above 84″ and projectors often make more sense (though ambient light, sight lines and placement of both projector and screen are all challenges.)
Some flat panels offer touch overlay. These are pricey and your back is kept to the room while using it. Companies that frequently annotate and manipulate images in real time find them valuable, but we see them mostly in educational environments. For larger screens direct view LED (think Times Square) is also popular, but far more expensive than a projector solution.

 


 

Cabling

Ideally a conduit should be run from your conference room display to your rack so that anything can be pulled through later. At minimum, a few category cables (cat5a or cat6a) should be run to your display, which can run any signal with a balun at both ends. To future-proof for 4K content, fiber is also recommended for its increased bandwidth.

 


 

Sources

Beyond a PC or Mac, if you need your conference room to be BYOD (bring your own device) friendly, there are two ways to accomplish it:

  1. A physical plugin that comes out of the table.
  2. A wireless solution. While Chromecast and Apple TV will let you cast your device onto the big screen, performance is somewhat spotty and they’re not compatible with all devices / operating systems. We like ClickShare for its reliability, ease of setup, and brand-agnostic approach. Where it under-performs is when sharing a lot of video content, in which case a PC or Mac with a hardwired internet connection is needed.

If the space is also being used to entertain, a cable or satellite box is good, though an Apple TV with its various Apps is often sufficient.

 


 

Audio (for video)

Volume drops by 50% every three feet. A soundbar under the TV can suffice for small rooms, but longer conference rooms should have in-ceiling or in-wall speakers to deliver more even sound across the room.

 


Video Conferencing

The two main options are proprietary systems and soft codecs:

Proprietary systems are dedicated boxes that talk to other dedicated boxes (think Polycom, Cisco.) They’re great for companies with multiple locations that constantly communicate.

Soft codecs (Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting) can run on a PC or Mac, and will work with webcams that run the gamut of quality. Some webcams see wider, some narrower, some move (pan/tilt/zoom) and some automatically point to the current speaker.

 


 

Audio (for conferencing)

This is the most complex (and usually poorly-executed) aspect of any conference room. Sound on a conference call needs to blend people in the room with those calling inand anyone attending via web portal… It also needs real-time echo cancellation. For entry-level USB solutions, we like RevoLabs. For higher-end solutions, Extron and Polycom both pull this balancing act off beautifully.

For mic placement, we prefer ceiling mics hung every six to eight feet, and at a height low enough to capture great detail yet high enough to be out of the way. Some mics have multiple mic elements inside them, and will focus in real time on the mic closest to the speaker, while muting the other mics in the room.

 


 

Control

Any room with more than two sources, and any room that needs to divide into two separate spaces needs a control system that manages these changes. Our preference is Savant for its reliability and intuitive interface.

Lighting needs to be tied into the system, allowing enough light to keep people awake and engaged, but not so much that it interferes with image quality (this is particularly challenging with projectors.) Shading also needs to be tied in, both to ensure privacy and to prevent direct sunlight from hitting anyone.

 


 

Scheduling

Outlook can handle room scheduling but does not work well for on-the-fly meetings. We prefer a small touchscreen mounted outside of each conference room, with a green light or red light to show availability status. Scheduling system will let you easily send out invites from your phone, grab a room on the fly, and even report on who frequently books without actually using the room.

 


 

Other Questions?

Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

Voice Control for Home

The four DIY voice platforms trying to permeate the home currently are:

 


 

Alexa

  • Benefits: Controls more third-party devices than any other platform, and integrates cleanly with Amazon shopping. It also recognizes different voices and adjusts to the behavior of each user.
  • Challenges: Prone to mistakes, struggles to execute multiple commands in a row and is barely available on your smartphone.
  • Conclusion: While Amazon’s platform is the most broadly compatible, the control it provides is relatively shallow. Combined with weak speech recognition, Alexa tends to disappoint beyond basic needs.

 


 

Google Assistant

  • Benefits: Recognizes natural language better than any other, and handles multiple command strings impressively. Like Alexa, it recognizes multiple voice profiles.
  • Challenges: Integrates with far fewer devices than Alexa, and requires a slightly more cumbersome wake word (“OK Google…”)
  • Conclusion: While behind Alexa in its breadth of compatibility, Google Assistant still integrates with the most sought-after products (Nest, Hue, Sonos), and controls them more intuitively than any other platform thanks to its natural speech recognition.

 


 

Siri

  • Benefits: Thoughtfully integrates with Apple products (especially Apple TV), as well as the limited number of HomeKit-compatible devices.
  • Challenges: Integrates poorly outside of the Apple ecosystem, limits users to a single voice profile, and struggles to execute multiple command strings.
  • Conclusion: The obvious choice for the Apple loyalist, Siri’s mediocre performance becomes almost unusable when trying to integrate products outside of Apple.

 


 

Bixby

  • Benefits: Recognizes natural language second only to Google, and handles multiple command strings beautifully.
  • Challenges: Integrates with far fewer devices than Alexa, and comes built into far fewer products than Alexa or Google Assistant.
  • Conclusion: A surprisingly capable platform despite being the least known of the group, Bixby becomes a sensible option for owners of newer Samsung appliances and/or TVs, with which it integrates smoothly.

 


 

Typical Use Cases

Music

Google Assistant, Siri and Bixby are all available in their own powerful speaker (Home Max, HomePod and Galaxy Home respectively), while Alexa comes in a variety of weaker-performing speakers. However, Alexa is built directly into SONOS, the leaders in wireless audio (Google Assistant is expected to follow suit by end of 2018.)

Bixby has a long-term partnership with Spotify that promises deeper integration than the competition, while the rest favor their own music streaming services (Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play Music.) However, Apple is the only platform that really tries to lock you into its music service.

 


 

Video

Alexa and Google Assistant integrate with their own streaming dongles (Fire TV and Chromecast), but Google prevents YouTube from natively working on Fire TV while Amazon prevents Prime Video from working natively on Chromecast. Otherwise, they offer the same Apps (Netflix, HBO GO, etc.)

Siri wins by integrating with Apple TV, which is the superior streaming device thanks to its smooth control and intuitive cross-App search.

Bixby is a built-in feature in 2018 Samsung Smart TVs, eliminating the need for a separate device altogether. It also overlays search results (TV shows, Spotify, weather) without obstructing what you’re currently watching.

 


 

Lights, etc.

While Alexa integrates with the most third-party brands, all four platforms integrate with DIY leaders Philips Hue and Lutron Caseta.

More advanced systems for lighting, shading and the rest of the home should be controlled by a smarthome platform. All leading smarthome platforms can now trigger scenes and make adjustments using Alexa and Google Assistant.

 


 

Just For Your Home

Josh AI

While the platforms discussed above try to tackle voice for every application, Josh AI’s singular goal is to master home control. This comes with a few advantages:

  1. Natural language recognition – Since other platforms are listening for every command possible, they require very specific phrasing to categorize and identify your request, rejecting minor variations. Josh AI only cares about your home, allowing more leniency in how you phrase things (“Turn the lights up” = “Make it brighter” = “Lights brighter.“)
  2. Context awareness – Saying “turn the lights on” in the bedroom shouldn’t turn on the whole home. Asking for The Beatles should assume you’re asking for music. Playing ‘Mad Men’ should assume you’d like to resume where you left off last time. Josh AI’s limited focus allows them to accomplish this contextual awareness more elegantly than other platforms.
  3. Privacy flexibility – Josh AI can be switched into conversation mode where it listens to everything you say, allowing you to think out loud as you control your home without constantly using the wake word. Conversely, your privacy can be tightened up with a mode that listens after the wake word but saves nothing to its servers.

Thanks to Alex Capecelatro (CEO of Josh AI) for sitting down with us.

 


 

Other Questions?

Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

Explained: LED Lighting

When we sat down with lighting expert Gary Gordon, he pointed out 3 common issues in homes and offices:

1. The wrong quantity of light.
2. The space is over-fixtured.
3. There is too much glare.
Here are some important concepts to be aware of before designing your next space:

 


 

Watts vs Lumens

Watts measure power consumption. Lumens measure brightness.

After phasing out power-hungry incandescent bulbs, the two popular choices are compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED.) LEDs can put out more lumens using fewer watts. They also last longer and emit less heat. 

 


 

Color Temperature

The warmness or coolness of white light, measured in Kelvin.
  • Warm Light: Anything below 3,500K begins to have a yellowish appearance. This has a calming effect, likely due to our evolutionary attraction to fire.
  • Cool light: Anything above 3,500K begins to have a bluish appearance. Great for focus but terrible for rest, as it controls your circadian clock by reducing melatonin.
CFLs used to provide a warmer, more natural temperature than LED. This is no longer the case as LEDs can be tuned to simulate CFLs, and even adjust throughout the day for a natural feel at all times. 

 


 

Illuminance vs Luminance

Illuminance measures how much light falls onto a surface. Luminance measures how brightly that light reflects off of the surface.

Lighting designers measure lumens per square foot (often referred to as lux or foot-candles) to determine ideal brightness around a room. Ideal illuminance is determined by a space’s purpose, while attention to luminance can help avoid glare and its debilitating effects. 

 


 

Color Rendering

How accurately a light reveals the various colors around the room. Comparing how colors are perceived when illuminated by your light source versus a natural light source like the sun, accuracy is rated on a scale of 1 – 100. This is called the Color Rendering Index (CRI.)

Both fluorescent and LED bulbs vary in CRI from low 60s to high 90s. Lights closer to 60 can appear different from each other even out of the same box. We recommend using lights with a CRI above 90.

 


 

Our Visit to Ketra

With dozens of patents and a remarkable approach to LED lighting, we wanted to check out Ketra as soon as possible to see what all the hype was about. Watch the video to see our experience.

 


 

Other Questions?

Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

Explained: Phone Systems

The two main phone system categories in 2018 are:

  1. Traditional: A phone system that physically hangs on your wall and routes calls to your desk (usually over traditional copper wires.)
  2. Hosted: A system hosted online that routes calls to your desk over your internet connection. (Also referred to as HPBX or VoIP.)

 


 

Traditional

  • Benefits: Owning the system means lower monthly cost, and many basic features perform with rock-solid simplicity.
  • Challenges: Higher upfront cost and user count is limited by your hardware. Expertise is needed to manage moves, adds, changes, security and troubleshooting. Also, telephone lines add monthly expense (exception below.)
  • Conclusion: Ideal for businesses that need a lot of handsets, but not a lot of concurrent phone calls.

 


 

Hosted

  • Benefits: Lower initial investment and user count can grow and shrink fluidly. Running over the Internet simplifies your office network and lets you travel with your phone. Also, central administration (password resets, call forwarding) is easier.
  • Challenges: If you don’t segment your network, heavy Internet usage will impact call quality. Also, as your phone’s software evolves some features need to be re-learned.
  • Conclusion: Ideal for businesses that want to avoid hardware obsolescence, need a low entry cost, and need to remain flexible in both headcount and user location.

 


 

Hybrid

Hybrid systems allow a combination of handsets (some compatible with traditional systems and some compatible with hosted systems), usually via a locally-mounted phone system with added modules to allow for VoIP functionality. This is ideal for businesses that already own traditional handsets and want to modernize their system at the lowest cost possible.

 


 

Cost

While it would seem traditional systems cost more up front while hosted systems carry a higher monthly expense, there are two elements that complicate this:
  1. Hosted systems offer monthly savings in that they can piggyback on the same Internet connection your computers use. (However now traditional systems with SIP trunking have this same capability.)
  2. While owning your system usually shows savings after five years, they also require active support contracts unless you have an in-house expert.

 


 

Providers

Phone systems and service are offered in two tiers:
  1. Consumer: A homogenized, often drop-shipped solution that works adequately for certain small businesses. (think Vonage)
  2. Business: A combination of hardware and service designed to perform with your specific network, at the highest call quality available.

 

Consumer

  • Benefits: Lowest cost. Impressive control over system and user settings.
  • Challenges: Lacks support when issues arise around customer’s unique circumstances.
  • Conclusion: Great for small businesses with tolerance for call quality and system reliability issues.

 


 

Business

  • Benefits: Improved voice clarity via bandwidth customization, a backup plan in the event of an outage, and depending on the provider vastly improved tech support.
  • Challenges: Providers need to be vetted as not all deliver more than DIY quality.
  • Conclusion: Ideal for businesses that need reliable HD call quality without paying for superfluous bandwidth.

 


 

How to Choose

In 2018 most people are opting for hosted for its ease of management and future-proofed foundation. Unless complete ownership of your system is required we recommend hosted.

There are many players in the hosted field, and almost all offer the same array of features in both unlimited and limited calling tiers. When comparing providers:

  1. Make sure they are focused not just on your phone system, but on how it harmonizes with your specific network.
  2. Get client references both general performance and for emergency support.
  3. Ask about backup plans. If city construction knocks out your service, what will they put in place to keep you connected?

 


 

Other Questions?

Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

Our Favorite Productivity Tools

Messaging

Email is everywhere and therefore a necessity, but for internal communications we highly recommend Slack for its:
  • Organization – Trades the single inbox for a clean menu of topic-based channels and one-on-one conversations.
  • Search – A copy of Outlook or the local index it searches can be impacted by other factors on your desktop. Slack keeps everything online and gives faster and more accurate search results.
  • App Integration – Slack offers better integration with countless Apps for file sharing, to-do lists, video calling, etc. (Outlook has a ‘safe mode’ for a reason: Its plugins can break it.)
  • Mobile Experience – Slack’s organizational structure makes for a far cleaner experience on mobile than almost every email client.

Note: SLAM Sidebar lets you embed Slack within your Outlook Inbox.

 


 

File Sharing

Unlike One Drive which feels like a little bonus from Microsoft, Dropbox specializes exclusively in file sharing. Beyond its idiot-proof simplicity, its latest feature lets you browse through everything on your account from your desktop without taking up any hard drive space. The files only save locally once you open them.

 


 

Video Calls

For one-on-one calls Slack and Skype are great within users of the same platform. Hosting a larger meeting and don’t want anyone to have to create an account? Zoom is hands-down the easiest to use.

 


 

Remoting

Windows and Mac come with remote desktop connection built-in (your firewall still needs to allow it.) We also find AnyDesk to be an incredibly easy and reliable solution for the technically challenged.

 


 

System Admin

AutoMate can report on memory & hard drive usage, anti-virus & warranty status, programs installed… On every computer in the office. You can also batch schedule tasks like software installations to happen overnight.

 


 

Password Management

1Password and LastPass are both big time savers if you’re juggling too many passwords. Both save you time logging in, let you share groups of accounts with coworkers, and provide alerts when a website you frequent has experienced a data breach.

 


 

Notes

We like Evernote for its cleanliness across devices, as well as its browser plugin for quickly pulling content into your notes.

 


 

Ad Blocking

Ghostery is a plugin available on all web browsers that prevents businesses from tracking your information. It also blocks ads from loading making many website load faster (try loading NY Times with Ghostery on and with it off.)

 


 

Triggers

Ever wish you could get your information from one channel into another automatically? Odds are with IFTTT you can. Get your Echo’s to-do items synced to your iPhone’s reminders, or get your weather forecast delivered as a text message.

 


 

Texting

Smart phone alerts distracting you from your work? Stay focused with Pushbullet, which displays these alerts on your desktop, and more importantly lets you respond to them from the same keyboard you’re working on.

 


 

Converting

By dragging and dropping a file onto the CloudConvert homepage you can select the type of file you want to convert it to then and there. The result is downloadable moments later.

 


 

Endurance

Working late? F.lux is a must for reducing eye strain. It tints the color temperature of your monitor based on time of day. Turn it on at night and feel the difference immediately.

 


 

Focus

Noisli lets you drown out the office chatter with your own custom combination of nature sounds and white noise.

 


 

Other Questions?

Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

Explained: Cables

Category Cable

The standard for data, every new version gets better at transmitting more of it with less interference. Manufacturers must abide by these standards so that everything works together.
  • Cat5e: The standard of the early 2000s, and the current cheapest way to get up to 1 Gbps of bandwidth (less after 55 meters.)
  • Cat6: 10x faster at 10 Gbps, but dwindles after only 37 meters.
  • Cat6a: Extends that 10 Gbps to a reliable 100 meters.
  • Cat7: 10x faster again at 100 Gbps, but bandwidth drops off after 15 meters and it has one glaring flaw: There is still no industry standard for it. Manufacturers aren’t using Cat7 and another standard might come along before they adopt.
Category cables are backward compatible and use the lowest common denominator of the devices they connect. Speed is limited by the weakest component in your system.

 


 

Fiber

The future of data uses pulses of light instead of waves. Benefits over category cable include immunity to electromagnetic interference, improved security, and the ability to travel much longer distances.

Downsides include price and its inability to carry power (category cable can run power along with data to minimize clutter around many of your devices.)

While fiber is the best choice for future proofing, it’s also the best for 4K video over 100 feet. Anything shy of fiber will compress the color sampling to a noticeable degree.

 


 

HDMI

The current standard for carrying video, audio and basic control short distances across a single wire. It’s not reliable beyond 15 feet (you can find 50 feet high end options with varying levels of reliability), which is why we find it in home theater setups where all components are right next to the TV.

A work-around here is to use a balun or network extender, which converts the HDMI signal to a category cable which you run at a longer distance. Then you convert it back to HDMI at the other end.

 


 

Coaxial (RG6 / RCA)

Mostly found between your wall and the cable box, RG6 connections are problematic but exist because your cable company needs to encrypt the content they deliver for copyright protection.

RG6 is not relevant for TV connections anymore unless you want to use the built-in over air antenna, but we still use RG6 for extending digital audio connections (S/PDIF) and sending line level analog audio to devices like subwoofers and powered speakers.

RCA cables are also technically coaxial cables, and still the standard for unbalanced analog audio sources, like turntables.

 


 

Optical / TOSLINK

TOSLINK is a specific type of fiber cable for audio only. Most songs are delivered digitally yet amplifiers are inherently analog, so the signal has to get converted somewhere. Unfortunately most devices do not convert it well. To keep your signal digital until it reaches a digital audio converter (usually called DAC for short) that knows what it’s doing, optical is a smart interconnect.

 


 

Speaker Cables

The connections between amp and speakers, their effect on sound has been the subject of great debate. We do know that thicker gauge cable will move power better over longer distances (we avoid going over 150 feet in general.) We also know that you need to have high quality components for the speaker cable to have any audible impact at all.

We use 14/4 speaker cable as a standard for all in-wall and in-ceiling speaker runs. 14 stands for the gauge and 4 is the amount of conductors.

 


 

Lighting & Shading

These systems require proprietary cables that run two conductors for power, as well as two conductors for communication. Explore more about Lighting & Shading, or get in touch with us with questions.

 


 

Other Questions?

Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

New Hire: Michael Dye

This month we’re thrilled to announce the addition of Michael Dye to our team as our new Architect Specialist. Michael has racked up over a decade of experience with Magnolia as a Project Manager, System Designer and Consultation Agent for end users and trade professionals.

Our Architect Specialist role demands a tricky combination of technical prowess and relationship management; A resource who can add real tangible value to the Architects and Designers we interface with on our projects. After meeting Michael it was clear that his passion for the industry, sharpness and absence of ego made him a fit for our culture. However it was his mock AIA Presentation that affirmed Architect Specialist as the ideal role in which to apply his talents.

Michael is well-versed and formally trained in many of our key brand partners (Lutron, McIntosh Labs, Bowers & Wilkins, Control4.) More importantly, he shares Cloud9’s philosophy on technology: Excitement over it’s potential, balanced with a healthy dose of practicality; A bridge between the bleeding edge and everyday life.

Also, we can nerd out with him on speakers and control interfaces. He’ll fit right in.

Conversation: Reddymade

We had the pleasure of chatting with Suchi Reddy of Reddymade Architecture & Design recently. She’s a risk-taker in the A&D field, and of particular interest to us was her drive to push new materials and their properties on projects. Her team in SoHo has conceived of and executed a wide gamut of projects across continents. Take a look at the highlights of our interview in the below video.

Conference Call Etiquette

Find a Quiet Place

Be kind to fellow attendees and choose a location with minimal background noise and minimal echo. If you must take a conference call on the go, be prepared for the call to drop out.

Use a Computer if Possible

Phones compress data heavily and clip the top and low end of your voice. For a clearer connection use a computer, ideally hard-wired to the Internet.

Avoid the Lap

If using a laptop try not to set it on your lap. Place it on a table or steady surface to avoid wobbling. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it can look like an earthquake to the other attendees.

No Backlighting

To be seen clearly, pay attention to the main light source in the room. If it’s behind you you’ll end up a silhouette to the other attendees.

Wear a Headset

If using a telephone or computer, your built-in speakers won’t have noise cancellation the same way a conference room solution would. A headset will prevent a feedback loop from taking over the call.

Don’t Interrupt

Noise cancellation blocks the voice of the speaker from being picked back up by the mic. By talking over the speaker, you confuse the technology and one person will get completely cut off.

Joke with Caution

Want to be witty? Comedy is all about timing and reading the room… Both of which are thrown off by the nature of conference calls.

 


 

* The Moderator *

 


 

Plan Ahead

Send an invitation including instructions and a link to any software that needs to be downloaded. Include a request to wear a headset or headphones to prevent feedback, plus any other tips you find relevant.

Arrive Early

Settle in with enough time to familiarize yourself with the mute button and the chat/comments interface. If possible, place a test call.

Interrupt when Necessary

Don’t be afraid to pause the meeting to address noisy participants. Everyone else will thank you.

 

 


 

* Software *

 


 

Zoom

Zoom is our pick for easy video conferencing based on three categories:
  1. Ease of set up – No need to create an account or log in to use it.
  2. Professionalism – The interface is the most polished and least “cute.”
  3. Workflow – Layout is the most intuitive for screen sharing and annotations.

Hangouts

Google Hangouts is also easy to set up, but managing multiple Google accounts can be tricky and workflow intuition is spotty (it’s easy to add a sombrero on your head, but less so to launch screen sharing.)

Skype

Skype is a household name because it was first to market, but in 2018 we consider it to be the least intuitive to use in a commercial environment.

 


 

Other Questions?

Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

Our Office Relocation Checklist

60 – 90 Days Out

 

Project Manager

Assign an internal PM to oversee the entire move. They will need to devote a lot of time and energy to this demanding project. Your PM should schedule a weekly meeting with all parties involved for status updates.

Rules and Limitations

Find out what your new building’s rules and limitations are! For example is union labor required, how late can vendors work, and how late is the freight elevator open? Your building may have rules that affect your move and it’s a good idea to anticipate every scenario before they happen.

Current Voice and Data

Find out who your fax line and phone line carriers are and what your terms of service are and if you own or lease your phone system. Will you keep your phone numbers when you move? Obtain a CSR (Customer Service Record) from your carrier with your account details.

Service in Your New Building

The building’s management can tell you what providers offer service for voice, internet and television. Ask if there are any historical problems with service in the building. Do your research before ordering your circuits, one provider may be better than another.

Construction

If construction is involved schedule a kickoff meeting with vendors, architects, general contractors, technology and furniture vendors. Open communication between all parties will help with a smooth transition.

Plans and Layout

In order to run cables and terminate jacks the floor plans and furniture layout will both be needed. Workstations will also need to be planned out.

Connecting Your Circuits

Who is responsible for connecting the building’s main telecommunications closet to the IT/server closet in your office, the carrier or your cabling vendor?

 


 

45 Days Out

New Server Room / IT Closet

Determine where the server room and IT closet will be located. Be sure to confirm electrical, cooling and security requirements are met. Be sure the location is centralized enough to avoid cabling distance problems.

HVAC System

What happens to the building cooling systems at night and on the weekends? You may require supplementary cooling for your IT closet.

Cabling Needs

When determining your cabling needs think of how you will grow in the foreseeable future. Consider voice, data, security, AV, and access. Added cabling in the initial project will save you money and time on future projects.

Identify Delays

Determine items that may cause delays due to long lead times. For example carpet, furniture, and lights often need to be installed before any work can be done.

Certificate of Insurance (COI)

Obtain a sample COI from your new building. You will need to have it on hand when vendors request a copy. The building manager should have copies.

 


 

30 Days Out

 

Moving Vendor

Select a moving company, find out if they will move your IT equipment. All IT equipment should be last on and first off the truck. Find out if they bill for time and materials or for a flat fee and decide which best fits your needs.

Port Phone Numbers

Schedule, with your current carrier, your phone numbers to be moved to your new carrier.

Backup Plan

Create a backup plan for the first few weeks in your new space. This is in case your circuits don’t arrive on time. See if employees can work from home and if phone numbers can be forwarded. There are also options for temporary internet services, like Clear.

DNS Records

Ensure you have access to your DNS records, these are needed to point your email to your new location. DNS records are always password protected, and it’s likely the IT person that set up your email last time has them.

Cleaning Day

Determine who is responsible for cleaning the new suite before move-in day.

 


 

15 Days Out

 

Delegate

Assign and schedule individuals to manage different aspects of the move-in day. Tasks should include directing the movers, setting up PCs, garbage removal, answering calls, and a “go to” individual.

Test Connections

Be sure to place test calls and check the internet connection with a laptop before your move-in date.

Coordinate Schedules

Staggering employee arrivals can help to ensure workspaces are ready when they arrive. Having everyone show up at 9 am can often lead to a lot of waiting around.

Mail

Forward your mail, this can be done at your local post office or online at USPS.com.

Address Update

Change your address on your email signatures, business cards, website, promotional material, and letter header.

 


 

Other Questions?

Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

Explained: Your Network

Both the most boring and most important part of the connected home. There are three ways to go:

  • Default: Whatever your Internet service provider gives you. All all-in-one box for wired and wireless Internet.
  • Mesh: A collection of small boxes that plug in around your home for stronger, more intelligent coverage.
  • Wired Mesh: A collection of small boxes each hard-wired to your Internet for even stronger more reliable coverage.

Default

least tailored, weakest performance

  • Benefits: Easiest to set up and a single point of troubleshooting.
  • Challenges: A single broadcast point means weaker Wi-Fi the farther away you are. They typically run on default bandwidths, causing competition between neighbors.
  • Conclusion: Adequate for small spaces with one or two devices and no interference (we’ll cover interference later.)

 


 

Mesh

medium tailored, medium performance

  • Benefits: Reasonably DIY, and most decisions happen seamlessly in the background (best frequencies to be on, hand-offs between nodes, etc.)
  • Challenges: Wireless repeaters only repeat the signal that makes it to them, so signal weakens with distance. Also, tech support tends to be very limited.
  • Conclusion: An impressively customizable solution for small to medium-sized homes with a modest number of connected devices.

 


 

Two of the most popular mesh network systems are Google Wifi and Eero. Both offer pretty advanced network settings, grant guest access without sharing your password, let you set bandwidth priority and parental controls. Both are easy to set up and use a really simple App. With a cheaper price and slightly more reliable performance, our preference goes to Google Wifi

 


 

Wired Mesh

  • Benefits: Wiring your access points gives each the strongest connection to broadcast, no matter location. More advanced controls handle large numbers of devices elegantly, as well as the ability to log into each device individually for troubleshooting.
  • Challenges: Wiring takes away the ability to tweak locations later, calling for heat mapping ahead of time to determine where to place access points.
  • Conclusion: The most powerful and reliable approach to home networking. Also the most expensive. Ideal for users with many connected devices or an intolerance for signal drops.

 


Frequency

The two standards for wireless are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz:
  • 2.4 GHz: Longer distance but slower speeds.
  • 5 GHz: Faster speeds but shorter distances.

2.4 GHz has been a standard for longer. The benefit is backward compatibility. The downside is it tends to get crowded (only 11 channels vs 23 on the 5 GHz range.)

The flaw with 5 GHz is that the higher frequency has trouble going through solid objects like walls and flooring.

The ideal setup is to make sure there are enough access points and run 5 GHz on all of them, while running 2.4 GHz separately for older devices.

 


 

Interference

Microwaves, baby monitors and cordless phones all run on the 2.4 GHz spectrum and can cause interference. Concrete, metal and mirror can cause major interference as well. Finally, nearby Wi-Fi networks on the same spectrum will be competing for bandwidth.

The ideal setup is to test your space ahead of time for potential issues and spread your access points strategically. Once installed, the system should scan and use the least populated spectrum.

 


 

All-in-one Devices

Putting a router, repeater and wireless access point into the same chassis is convenient but flawed, as interference can occur within its own crowded internal components.

Think audio – Separate components (pre-amp, amplifier, turntable) can isolate vibrations and deliver cleaner sound than an all-in-one box. We find the all-in-one solution is sufficient for around 70% of homes.

 


 

Our Preferences

For residences, we like Pakedge for its ability to group and prioritize categories of devices, and remedy issues remotely before they are noticed.

For commercial, we like Cisco Meraki for its granular control packaged in a clean interface, and for Cisco’s extremely fast reaction time to the last Wi-Fi breach.

We also prefer wireless access points that are powered over Ethernet, as running both power and Ethernet to each device can end up looking cluttered.

 


 

Other Questions?

Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

Conversation: Gary Gordon Architectural Lighting

Gary Gordon initially worked for a lighting designer expecting to take his knowledge back to his role as Architect. Instead he found his calling, initially launching his own firm, and literally writing the book on interior lighting. Gary agreed to sit down with us and share his knowledge on the lighting philosophy, his methods for lighting spaces, and common pitfalls any space can fall into.