Attic Stairs in Need of Repair

We have a nice set of stairs to the attic that retract up into the attic. They do not need to fold up, they simply slide down and up as needed.

Unfortunately, starting this week, the mechanism to hold the stair panel in place flush with the ceiling has failed and now the attic door panel won’t close all the way, leaving ~2″ of air gap between the house and the attic. I’ve looked this up online and as best I can tell, this is a Bessler attic ladder. I’m posting my pictures and video here of the problem so that when I contact them for help, I can show the problem.

To be clear, I don’t know for sure this is a Bessler, as there don’t appear to be any identifying marks, but they are the only brand I’ve found so far that make this kind of attic ladder. Here are some additional photos of the ladder.

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Avaya Engage 2018

I’m wicked excited to be attending another Avaya Engage (aka IAUG) event in January 2018.  This year not only will I be on the Expo floor representing Avaya Services, I will also be delivering a breakout session, #511, entitled: Maximize the ROI of your Avaya Support Experience with SAL, Alarming, and more.

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If this topic sounds interesting to you, I’ve made it easy to add it to your calendar    

If you can’t make the breakout session, please come by the Avaya booth in the Expo.


Problem with Wasabi Mango UHD400

After a couple of months of using this great display, part of it has burned out.

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Explaining Hartsbrook

In preparation for what I hope will be a productive conversation about how to help our friends, family, neighbors, (and people we overhear talking about schools) understand what makes Hartsbrook different. That isn’t to say that Hartbsrook is always the best choice for every family, but we all want to be able to explain it simply and easily.

In the business world, we talk about an “elevator pitch” as a short 30 – 120 second conversation you would have with someone in an elevator that explains what you do, your business idea, etc. We’ve heard from many parents that they aren’t comfortable with exactly what to say about Hartsbrook in such a short conversation. We would like to work together to share such a statement with our community and then use that as a stepping-off point for other external communications.

To help get our brainstorming started and to get people on the same page, the following are recommended reading/viewing:

1. Waldorf 100 – A brand new (March 11) video that does an amazing job of talking about Waldorf school, today, globally.

When watching this video, here were some things that stuck with me:

  • Don’t be scared; be Waldorf
  • Waldorf is grass roots education
  • Human Education / Human Literacy
  • In understanding the ‘other’, we better understand ourselves
  • Giving attention is really love.

2. Sprouts’ Overview of Waldorf

3. Hartsbrook’s own videos from 2010

Early Childhood video

Grade School Video

High School video

4. “Why Waldorf” video from Marin Waldorf in CA.

5. Videos from Green Meadow Waldorf School in NY

6. Fox29 Philly talking about a local Waldorf school

7. Waldorf School of Penisula’s Preparing for Life

– Talks about how movement is key to developing the child

– Talks about how strong Waldorf is for math/science, just in a different way

– Students illustrating their own textbooks

8. Lexington, MA’s website: http://thewaldorfschool.org/mission/

9. Pasadena Waldorf’s video

10. Practical Advantages of a Waldorf Education

11. A remarkable education

What other resources should I include here? Let me know by sharing them in the comments section or reaching out to me directly.


My New Home Office Renovation

I’ve been working from home since 2010 and for the last 6 years it has been in an upstairs bedroom at my home. I’ve blogged about my home office before because I have a homemade treadmill desk. Well, my 4th child is getting old enough that I’d like to move her out of my bedroom, which results in me needing to give up my home office to become a kids bedroom. We investigated adding a new room to the house, but opted instead to renovate the existing  guest bedroom on the main floor to server both as home office and guest bedroom.

Demolition

We sealed up the room with plastic and started the demolition. This took two days of my time without assistance from others. As you can see, the walls were mostly horse hair plaster over lathe. I found that actually pretty easy (but messy) to take down; much easier than the few spots with some drywall.

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Soundproofing

The kicker is that because this room is in a high traffic area (by the kitchen, dining room, and living room), and I not only have 4 kids but also lots of neighborhood kids, I need the room to be quiet. A typical day for me includes 5-8 hours of audio and video calls. Nobody wants those kids to have to be quiet all the time. As you can see from the picture below, the double french door with the 2″ gap underneath, leading directly to the high-traffic area was not going to work for me.

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Here is a “before” audio test where I played some music at a certain volume in the dining room and measured how loud it was in the room.

Wiring

Part of the deal with my wife is to make this not only a fully functional home office, but also a great guest bedroom when we do have guests. I took this as a challenge to hide every possible wire in the walls while I had them open. Below are some images of the plan as it stands today. I used this great tool at http://computingcomfort.org/create2.asp to make sure I was putting my monitor and keyboard at the right heights to avoid strain.

Wire drops 1-3 are all on the same wall spaced vertically. Drop #4 will be ~4’ off the ground above a shelf, where I’ll have two laptops. Drop #5 is along the same shelf but further away, where I’ll have my WiFi router, stereo receiver, Roku, and perhaps Blu-Ray player. Drop 6 is actually in our living room where I already have a wall-mounted TV that I’d like to be able to hook the laptop and/or DVD player up via HDMI when/if I need it There is also a USB cable there for a webcam to allow for FaceTime off the big screen in the living room. Drops #8-10 are speakers running to the receiver. I’m open to suggestions on where best to place them

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Here is the bird’s eye view of the room with the wire drops

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And then additional views from different angles:

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Streaming media without Internet

My mother lives in rural Mississippi and her only choice for Internet access is satellite. Satellite works fine for email and the like, but she has a data cap and streaming an hour or so of video online can eat up here entire month’s allotment. She asked if there was anyway she could watch online movies and TV, on their living room TV, without consuming data. Challenge accepted!

I acquired an old 4th Generation Kindle Fire HD7 which has the ability to do HDMI out. Unfortunately, the disk space is small and this model doesn’t have a SD slot. I wiped the Fire and set it up with her Amazon account. The idea is that she will take the Fire to her office periodically where this is “normal” Wifi. She’ll download the videos she wants from Amazon Prime and/or Netflix, then take it back and stream it via the HDMI cable.

Note, devices like Amazon FireStick and Roku would not work in this case because they attempt to stream everything over the network. In fact, without an Internet access, they won’t really work. I also tried Chromecast, but that isn’t really supported by Amazon on the Kindles which is a nice/cheap tablet. If I were to do this again, I might go with a cheap Android tablet and a Googlecast, but this works quite well.

Below are the instructions I put together for my mother for daily use of the solution.

Connecting the Kindle Fire to the Television

  1. On the back of your television, find an HDMI input that should look something like these two ports on the back of my television
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  2. Plug the provided cable into the HDMI input port.
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  3. Plug the other end of the cable into the Kindle Fire
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  4. Then connect the power cord to the split on the cable and the other end to the charger in the wall. This will charge the Kindle Fire while you use it and is optional
  5. Now whatever is on the Kindle Fire should display on the Television

 

Finding and downloading content to watch

  1. From the main Kindle Fire home screen, tap on the “Amazon Fire” application.
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  2. From the main Amazon Prime Video screen, click on the search icon and search for what you are looking for. In this example, I searched for the TV series, “Newsroom”
  3. Choose the content you want and for a movie you’ll see the options for that video, or for a TV series, you’ll see each episode of each season listed. Look for the icon with a down arrow to a box. kindle9   I’ve put a red box around one in the screenshot below.
  4. Choose the quality of the video. The better the quality, the more space it will take up on the device, and the fewer hours of content you can have on the tablet at once. So, play around with this to find the balance of hours of storage and quality on the screen. Next you’ll see the video is queuing and then downloading
  5. Once downloaded, you can play the video anywhere you want.

 

 

 


Avaya Engage Dubai 2016

I was surprised to get an email on a Monday, requesting I deliver a keynote at the Avaya Engage event in Dubai the following Thursday and could I bee in Dubai in just 6 days. After clearing it with my family, I got a great rate on Emirates ($830 roundtrip!) and away I went. This event was different in that the attendees would be ~1,400 CxOs and I’d only have 20 minutes to cover my topics in a way that would make sense to this audience.

I got in on Sunday night but the conference did not begin until Monday at 3pm, so lucky for me, this conference was at the Atlantis, The Palm, where they are not only right on the ocean but also have a waterpark. Did I rehearse my new slides for Thursday? No, I hit the water slides:

The best one I rode that afternoon was the Leap of Faith. Here’s someone else’s video of the ride:

Then we had some great speakers with just Avaya and our Authorized Business Partners in the region. I even got to see an Avaya colleague/friend (but I was speaking on Thursday, not Tuesday as he tweeted):

The next day started off with some very lively culture from the Emirates

We had great keynotes like this one from Nidal:

as well as some analysts speaking on the industry

The next morning started off with a beautiful sunrise (notice the sun reflecting off the skyscrapers on the right) and more great sessions

Then next morning was my chance on the big stage. Here is me mic’d up, before they opened the doors.

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I’m happy to say my preparation paid off and the presentation went well. It was a really big screen behind me, 30 meters (100 feet) in 16×9 format with resolution of 6000x 1008.

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A colleague recorded a good deal of the presentation and I’ve stitched the individual clips together here:

With that out of the way, I returned to the waterpark and found my new favorite slide, Poseidon’s Revenge. As the video below (not my video) shows, you start standing straight up and then the floor falls out from under you. You fall for a split second and then land in the tube and whip around, hitting 37mph. I liked it so much, I went ten times!

The aquaconda was pretty cool as well given its sheer size:

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All in all a great trip, but I was, as always, happy to return to my family.