Jim Spencer works in the trenches as a university support technician. But don’t let that title fool you.
He’s introduced some pretty innovative ideas that we dig into in the interview.
He started his career in HiFi getting involved of everything from sales to installation and service then moved on to working as a lead technician for a commercial integration company before landing at the University of Notre Dame where he helps support their technology needs.
Here is one of Jim’s presentations on 3D Printing.
this is a software defined survival where we talk to AV IT professionals and software developers to find out how to leverage software to reinvent ourselves and the way we do business we listen to their stories and ask for advice and tactics on how to survive and thrive in a software defined today software defined survival the other kind of no control systems that we’ve done are the ones that don’t actually have it all folks walk up and use it as they want and then they disconnected walk away when they don’t there are many sources a Patrick Murray here before we get started just a quick one about today’s guest he talks about so more traditional control systems that are certainly not software defined solutions but the way he’s using them the applications he’s come up with are pretty interesting and you’ll probably find it useful but the real reason I wanted to have on the show was for his insights on three D. printing and how it applies to AV and we get into that towards the end of the interview I hope you like it good morning good evening good afternoon where ever you are the world’s welcome to software defined survival my name is Patrick Murray and today’s guest works in the trenches as a university support technician for AV but don’t let that title fool you he’s introduced some pretty innovative ideas that will dig into it later he started his career in hi fi getting involved everything from sales to installation and service then moved on to working as a lead technician for a commercial integration company before landing at the university of Notre Dame and I’ll have to ask him from saying that properly correct yes yeah all right where he helps support everybody there with their technology needs so welcome Jim Spencer two software defined survival welcome Jim Sir so a pleasure to be here thanks for having me yeah thanks for jumping in at short notice I appreciate that is there anything about the introduction that you’d like to correct or expand upon Nobel sounds pretty good gone from ma of you know I find residential to a commercial educational to to being in higher ed so it’s been interesting stepping stones along the way and learned a lot of of different nuances that have helped one of the other and and you learn multiple facets of the industry and it’s interesting what transfers it is very faceted and new once there’s there’s like this core knowledge that you could carry over everywhere but especially going from Razzie to a university is a yeah it’s it’s in the details that you need to always be as rich fault though the user of the programmer well it depends on who you’re asking is that one of the customer there you go so how did you get started in AV so my first job that was directly related AV %HESITATION actually probably was automotive one of the jobs that wasn’t listed from the intro that you read my very first job when I was fifteen I worked at a used car lot in the dirty secret of Karloff’s is they buy a lot of insurance recoveries and racks and things like that and one of my first jobs was actually wiring up cars ahead stereos it’d been stolen so somebody with a box cutter cuts you know eleven or sixteen wires are money here and in the stair stereo in that dash and you’ve got to put any unit from a junk yard or something like that so you learn really quick you can go in with a double a battery and pop your speakers figure out what’s what and you know you’ve got your constant twelve volt in your keyed switch twelve volt near ground and you know I started work on the wires almost as soon as I had a job and that’s really what stock so did really well with that I was also involved in a lot of pro audio did stage performance was a guitarist for a long time and and had a lot of experience with that so it’s kind of band this passion in this underlying theme moved into hi fi actually my uncle owned the shop that we worked at we were a BMW dealer did Macintosh two vamps and run co and you’re really really high and stuff which interestingly worked in a very conservative town like ran so got a lot of experience there and also learned a lot of people skills about how to speak with different customers and I saw people of all different classes and stature some jobs and professions and and picked up quite a bit of fog tax that I’ve used in the industry there which my uncle retired then I moved along to vist AV that you’d mentioned that was the university vendor or I did my first conference rooms and learning spaces and things like that and that led to a job at the university where I’ve been on the front lines of a couple different teams and it’s been really enjoyable here nice thanks for that overview you hit on a few things I want to I want to go back to their as especially the car audio thing I could really identify with what you’re saying with like the car battery to figure out what wire the speaker was connected to and I had a lot of the same experiences when I start a navy of really that down and dirty you know cut the cable and figure out what’s going on with it but yeah that’s that’s a very analog thing right if you were starting out today I don’t know if you’d really have that kind of experience sure with loudspeakers and things like that that’s still analog and sure and and that would still work that kind of idea but I wonder if from somebody coming up in in this more digital environment would have that same that same kind of experience and also if that still has a lot of value right yeah I mean you can’t troubleshoot HDCP with a double a battery in a twelve August light no chance at all right so it’s a lot more cerebral yeah and I think that was really good kind of %HESITATION from the ground up like you’re saying from a foundational level that may not exist for some folks in the industry now really learning troubleshooting skills that is something that I I’d argue is almost borderline are it’s very very hard to teach people that logical sense to where if you get a trouble call you almost know what it is and what you’re gonna do to fix it even if they described it poorly just based on the room designer what the code is are you on unfortunately it sometimes something you’ve %HESITATION inflicted on yourself but having that sixth sense of of knowing what’s wrong in being able to troubleshoot is really really helped by starting at the very very ground level like that so you mention you play guitar as well and yeah I look there’s a lot of musicians in this business obvious out ends to marry that back to the trouble shooting idea I really think that especially as a guitarist for you have a lot of pedals and stuff you know you’re always Patchen stuff around it has a lot to do with signal flow does that’s really what troubleshooting comes down to in my mind is you know there’s this chain of of events of devices and connections and somewhere in there something is wrong so having that mental model of the signal flow or just that that that concept of you know it starts here and it ends there and there’s stuff in the middle I think is really helpful when trouble shooting yeah and you also figure out those really weird quirky things too like I hear the harm until I touch the tone knob on this specific battle somewhat alright you’re putting a piece of tape there to apply the same pressure and you know things that shouldn’t work that way and and have absolutely no reason to be fixed that way you accidentally find out you learn little tricks of things to look for an you know ways to read things that can save the day sometimes definitely definitely so you never know where that experience will come from yeah I think I heard a lot of things about ham radio guys having yearly interesting tricks you know and same kind of thing that you’re saying with cars and and guitars it’s really hard to learn those accidentally you have to be in the field and get that experience from one common places yet for sure for sure so everybody navy has at least one story usually too many stories about the nightmare projects Roger let’s let’s not talk about those can you tell me about your most rewarding AV projects and and what made it special for you how interesting most rewarding project let me think for a moment on that I think I pause because side it’s not that there’s a lack it’s because there’s no overabundance owner pick one that really feel special you know I think that’s a an exception for most people it’s easier to pick the %HESITATION the nightmare project sure sure yeah that that exist far too common unfortunately I guess I’ll just brag on our most recent classroom upgrade we’ve gone from systems that include analog only to analog and digital on until recently we’ve offered a VGA connection everywhere and we decided you know let’s let’s do this right let’s do this the real way let’s have a full four K. HDCP to signal path will go digital only in fact think Intel just dropped the bites on the chip that even support analog video to wear new laptops won’t even do that anymore so we designed a completely four K. compliant system minus display devices we haven’t gotten there on the actual displays yet almost all HDMI in digital switching HD based TV control over IP also adding functions like cameras were never had them so we could do things like this where there’s a zoom call in a room previously that would have been a quick check out and and sneaker net install we’ve really really been able to roll all the great ideas that we can a droll over for the last few years into a system that is affordable and works and and trying to build a bare bones program dot from a lacking functionality point of view but from a not over constrained point of view and it’s been a rewarding project so far got two pilots and plan to do about ten more and so far so good we’re planning to keep on Truckin with all right tell me more about the control over IP aspect of the program when it I want to know about that sure so I gave you a preview on a comment yesterday on the weapon are but a lot of our devices are Crestron connected displays which means that I think they call it one different thing in the sales brochure versus simple windows I think it’s a room you connected display in the programming language but basically it’s it’s kind of what CC was supposed to be but never was where there’s a standard set of commands there’s there’s one simple and it has on off volume up down mute that I think they’re sixteen input sources in a lamp hours out put something like that but it’s a just generic enough to work and just you know specific enough not to be over specific symbol that top basically put in the program and you run it and then you point the device back at the IP address of the process so that you want and it just works been a couple of tanks and bumps in the road and and it’s been a learning experience but I can write a program and swap a projector a flat screen or whatever we need to just by changing the menu on that device to point back at the processor so it’s our first time doing that before there was always this fear of the network you know it’s the device that we don’t own and manage and we don’t have the key to that closet we can’t do the the patching our cell phones which rules and and all those sorts of things obviously with the AVI to convergence we should have left that thought process behind about ten years ago we’re just starting to get warm to that reality now and %HESITATION doing IP control the way that we have been is really what brought that to the surface for us and and made us realize yes this is working yes let’s plan systems around this it’s not just an experiment or something to do in your development lab it’s it’s something to deploy and put everywhere yeah definitely it’s a it’s nice to hear that you had some success with that %HESITATION connected solution I don’t think it’s the gleaming star the the everybody wishes for you know I I don’t think people by displays specifically for that feature or a you know it’s not in the comparison grades when you’re going between models but it’s been a nice convenience instead of having to find a specific module for specific display every single time sure sure glad it’s working out for you control is often an afterthought unfortunately so you mentioned the jumping on to the network and having some concerns about doing that and of course I see it all the time in AV projects we we make like an isolated network right a lot of people for that very thing you were talking about that fear of having to integrate with a a real I. T. system and yes deal with the I. T. administrators and things like that will either avoided altogether or make your own isolated network so so how how was that experience working with the I. T. department and getting your devices on their network sure so I I think the evolution in mind set in higher there used to be the computer guys and then there were the AV guys and AV guys were real quick to draw a line with well chose a signal on my VGA cable so it must be your problem yeah there’s a lot of finger pointing back and forth between the two different silos and it’s been that way with networking and a lot of places to really lucky to have great really approachable network guys but they’re also constraints that they have to follow you know there’s information security to worry about we’ve got a little bit of a typical network that zone so there’s a student zone in a faculty staff zone and what we’ve been able to use quite handily is called the campus services on and that’s where they put printers and devices like that that all parties need access we learned that lesson early on actually with versus solstice we had a wireless display solution and we’d registered in the student zone because that’s where a lectern computers were in public things in the first time a faculty member wanted to have the faculty staff meeting in the room it didn’t work at all you know those parts of the network didn’t touch each other so we’ve learned a couple of little tricks like that and how that works now we’re actually on the edge of Rome system which I’m not sure if you’re familiar with or not it’s it’s kind of a cooperation between universities so five got my log in at Notre Dame I could go to you know pick somebody do Georgia state Oregon wherever that may also have eduroam and I’ve already got a log and I don’t need to be added as a guest or %HESITATION approach their I. T. desk or anything it’s shared network access wifi generally between universities fastening their other nuances overheads are but not screen sharing or anything like that it’s just a to get on the network yeah it’s mostly your password eighty get out to the web kind of stuff okay so that’s another kind of thing that we’ve learned with those wireless video systems you can be on the network that says it’s the right one but internal folks versus external folks have a little bit different set of rules yeah absolutely as they should and those are the things that you need to watch out for it it really comes down to planning in the end long just to our industries change that’s kind of the evolution that networking is gone through at least that’s visible to me is you can make those things more accessible to more people and really offer that convenience but still keep it secure and and working efficiently certainly certainly so well ever since Infocom changed its name to affix a yes I need to let your doctor of love it is right for you well if if you see that in German it’s it’s much much worse it’s you wouldn’t say it in front of your mother it doesn’t say how to cut it all but we’ve gotten so experiences kind of become a buzzword since they’ve done that and dumb it’s something we should always be emphasizing in AV we should be thinking of the user’s first and thinking of the black boxes lasts right but I think this idea is kind kind of come up more and more so what is your approach when you’re designing a system or or upgrading in existence an existing one as far as experience is concerned yeah so this is changed a lot %HESITATION in the short time I’ve been in the industry it used to be all about the gear you know you look at the spec list and you had to have the right number of ins and outs and and now I mean the new systems with things like and be accessed via sigh you just put an end point everywhere and you figure out the program in the middle and and you were not worried about big switchers and and things like that anymore at least for moving that direction it seems but the experience is really paramount and that’s something that took the industry a little bit to figure out I think I think it’s because of mobile phones and smart devices and and you know how things have changed towards material design over time and things like that you know somebody goes up your touch screen there used to be a a receptionist that had a binder and she opened it to the right page and and you know you’d see the fourteen steps that you needed to turn on the room and and things used to be really disconnected and tedious and somebody walk into the room and say well I just turned on my I pod and I go here and and click on this and it works why can’t I do that here originally I think our industry thought will think of all the buttons you’re missing all the features you don’t have and we didn’t think of the user experience you know the what’s the actual expectation of someone using the room versus what can it do and and what all can we cram in they’re kind of two different actors and we had to choose one so I think the industry slowly been warming up to it we’ve certainly been changing our philosophy when we go into things like that a good example is a building that we put up and twenty twelve beautiful classrooms I mean they’re they’re full video conferencing suites where you can actually one classroom connected to a second classroom or push to talk microphones at every seat there’s Cammarata nations so students can ask a question in either room in the professor can see it that’s in the recording and and it’s really really elaborate an amazing but it’s tedious to use the the touch screen looks like a control console and we get more calls from folks that just wanna show one thing actually set up like a broadcast studio you pick your source and get a preview but then you’ve got to send it or hit that take button or whatever but you use on it to actually routed to the display and I don’t think that’s anywhere else user facing on campus in hindsight that’s not the way we should design those rooms the next revision will be really really simple compared to that press on the thing that you want to see and and maybe that means you want to see it should just do that yeah that’s this a flexibility usability trade off and you know sometimes there are rooms like that that require that kind of functionality but it almost sounds like a room like that needs to be staffed right there has to be a technician presents it to make it to the top rated because you need that training without it right and you can train the folks but you know we’re we’re digital natives somewhere around this Saturday we’ve got a comfort level that the average person definitely does not so they have other things on their minds right there is occasion to make sure that and that’s kind of the underlying philosophy in higher ed that’s driven this is the professor shouldn’t have to worry about anything but its content yeah you know if there’s a production %HESITATION that needs to happen any part of that that you can automate or streamline or or make you know half of a millisecond quicker and more efficient we need to do that that’s what we all the customer and you know we we should start thinking of them as clients instead of customers it’s our obligation to help them and we’re providing these things and it it should be a partnership instead of a service provider you know yeah absolutely %HESITATION they use these things every single day yeah right and so it’s it’s it’s amazing how much of a affect you could have on somebody’s everyday life how they were you know if they deal with it every day they got a fight with a touch panel or doing something just because we provided this functionality that they probably only need ten or twenty percent of the time right I I I get this feeling that collectively in a V. we try to cover every base possible and try to make things as rock solid as you can and %HESITATION we kind of %HESITATION get into this phase where you know if they’re only using eighty percent or eighty percent of the time they do the same thing that’s what we should be doing and only that and that’s kind of where all these web services and and mobile apps and things like that that people are used to using that’s where they focus their attention is on that eighty percent use case and that’s how they make these things so simple answer we kind of way it as the same you know that eighty percent and the twenty percent extra functionality that they may need it someday probably will need but they don’t use it every day we we give that the same waiting that’s kind of how I I see I see how this plays out sometimes and I think there’s a difference in markets too I remember from the residential days you know somebody that bought a specific device you know say it’s a Blu ray player or something they’ve compared it and you know Stereophile magazine against the eight other competing models and they know their does the special chapter scrubbing feature if there’s a button missing that customers going to tell you yeah it was called the the AV repeat was missing from the touch screen and world thinking like who ever use is that we got the request you know and and it’s the exact opposite in commercial spaces and I read spaces one because expectations are different you know the focus of the room isn’t gear centric and two because you’ve got multi user spaces it’s not the same person that always owns the same space they’re moving around you don’t know who they’re going to be if you can train them in advance things like that and again it’s the last thing that somebody using one of those spaces should have to worry about the professor doesn’t care at all what the video switching is how it operates they just know if they hit laptop they want laptop to show up that’s more than one button press we failed them so tell me about this a one button studio concept sure so the history of it I’m sure many folks are already familiar with it but I believe in two thousand ten Penn state had these really nice studios they had you know professional lighting and sound treatments and and high resolution cameras the needs the other places and they were great and it was a combo kit news our studio we’d love for you to spend time you’re kind of a space that wasn’t closed off and on by department and and things like that but people were intimidated by it and and didn’t come use it and they kind of thought about that philosophically for a bit and said well because it’s too hard to use let’s make up a one button studio so I’m sure that’s the description that they gave it that then became its name instead of vice versa but who knows but the concept as you walk into a room with a thumb drive get in hit the record button you record whatever it is that you want to you know capture hit the button again and you walk away with your video you don’t have to set anything up you don’t have to stage anything or or you programming or or really any production you’re just hitting a button and walking out with a video and that caught on like wildfire in what was really interesting about it we’re talking about different customers and different expectations actually saw that coming from the academy more from more than from the tech people we had professors asking for it before anybody in the IT group thought and that’s a really cool idea there is that skepticism kind of like with putting things on the network or you know collaborating with the computer guys that Sloane is to change which hopefully is a character trait where we’re getting rid of and moving beyond soon here but yeah they the professors actually would approach us and say Hey we saw this thing we think it’d be really cool we think our students would love to use it let’s do that so that happened to us and we said man we should put one of these in and when we looked at it the Penn state system runs natively on a mac many I believe so you’ve got to be able to pull a and B. licensed foreign administrates are OS X. of some sort than their app runs on top of that there’s a couple of video switching things and they’ve got a chroma key in a green screen thing and and there’s part of it little do picture in picture and we looked at all the things that it could do and said you know basically were were putting a studio quality microphone and camera into a room instead of a camcorder we want to be that simple let’s let’s get rid of this green screen thing let’s get rid of this picture in picture thing let’s just do a quality recording that that’s what we’re asked to do and Hey we’ve got these lecture capture devices in the closet and we’ve got this camera left over from this project let’s just work together was stuff that we’ve got so we looked at it and we had like a set up a recording device already that was a call in a V. appliance instead of a computer which made us a little more comfortable because our department isn’t generally computer folks well I can poker capture HD and and halfway know what I’m doing or or the %HESITATION SMB three fifty one something like that where is an app written for a mac it breaks I really don’t know where to start fixing it so that that made us pretty comfortable then camera wise you know we’d selected different things for for different jobs in the past but we didn’t need a studio quality camera that had fifty seven little buttons on it and its own menu in its own firmware and and we said why don’t we just put like you know Panasonic makes this can that’s our own search a camera that kind of shaped like a soda can has no extensible buttons on the outside of it you plug in HDMI cable into it and you get video through that it’s it’s as simple as that just work like so we put a recording appliance and an easier camera on a shot gun Mike and then we said well how do we initiate this are we make the button do something so we’re we’re Crestron house our request run program that starts the recording when you hit the button and stops recording when you hit the button again should we added some studio lights along the way and one of the things we’re proud of actually off the record button is by the door of the room you walk to where the axis marking the spot in the beginning of the recording then you walk back to the back of the room to hit the end button so we wired up to use a guitar amp pedal an homage back to my life sound days I guess nice you can hit the stock box from the acts on the floor and not have to edit out the beginning and ending of your video very nice that that’s a cool little hack I like that is that does that have anything to do with the no control interface just had a few things in my notes from the emails we exchanged yeah so on the one button studio I would call a low control interface when I’ve presented on this at conferences before actually you know we’ve done it in jest but we went into our one button studio that’s actually built to the Penn state model and we found every single button that we could there’s easily a dozen I’m on the camera there’s a switch on the microphone there’s a video switch that’s got a a toggle in to push buttons and they picked a monitor that had front facing button so I’ve got this mean collage of the fourty buttons that are in the room of the one button studio in ours is literally just one it’s a big red mushroom but it looks like a game show buzzer everything else is you know behind the scenes are locked in the rack and and there’s only one button and it only does one thing and we haven’t had to explain it to anybody yet it’s been great that’s perfect that’s that’s the kind of feedback that you want no feedback right inches either it’s broken it doesn’t work at all or it works perfectly yes it’s it’s perfect for the phones are down nice so was just about no control which is kind of the next evolution of that yeah no controls what we started doing our collaboration spaces where previously if you walked into one of our team rooms are a bunch of laptop cables and there is a touch screen and you you know press the button that you needed to make your thing go off on screen and and it was kind of that old school traditional control mentality now our thought is well every person on the planet we goals are mouse to wake up their computer monitor why don’t we just do that with the PC in the room C. wiggle the mouse the video signal starts and there’s a pretty good chance that means you want to see it on the screen so let’s turn on the TV let’s switch to that employed and you do need to press any buttons makes sense that a step further and you do that with laptop imports there’s magically you know if at a moment in time sink appears on a laptop cable probably means you are shown on the screen just switch to that one why do you need somebody to push a button to say that yeah we didn’t want that they see their thing they go crap they unplug the cable it goes back to whatever it was before old auto switching is really the the magic that’s made that happen not the device is necessarily need to do that but if we can sink detect we can program that behind the scenes end up pretty safe to assume what someone wants to do in a room like that based on video sync yeah it’s a I’m really amazed that it kind of took us so long to reveal it to make that exist in these it’s not even standard yet it’s it’s popular but it’s not it should be a standard feature that like when video was directed you switch to that input and okay you can disable that if you want but it really should be the default yeah and I think my theory on that is a little bit of it was hardware related you know you didn’t want a room to turn on automatically when the computer came on if it was a project of the took ninety seconds to warm up and it’s recorded off you had to wait a few minutes now you know with the laser projector you can get on and off unless there’s a desk than some of our flat panels actually so five still years ago when %HESITATION flat panels became affordable to use and meeting spaces we started doing that and we got rid of those are you Sir pages and and stuff like that that previously would initiate timers and add extra steps and buttons and we started to streamline one flat panels became more common now laser projector we decided to treat him the exact same way where there’s no harm done you’re not you know adding up lamp strikes that are fatiguing your Lampson and things like that but just turn it on its quick if the off button just turn it off that’s quick to an auto switching kind of lends itself to that there doesn’t need to be in on button because you’re not fatiguing your gear at a plant powers are damages done by this thing just turn it on because you wiggle the mouse right right if you had a great point there I mean the technology changes a lot faster than our habits aids is the programming somethings for so long in a certain way and you kind of take it for granted yeah and %HESITATION yeah I think it’s a really great idea just to look at you know and inspect the things that you do the normal standard practice is that you have every once in awhile and and just look at him and say you know do I need to do this anymore and you know right up down pages start up bar graphs things like that completely blocking out the user from doing anything because of video projectors starting up maybe there was an argument for that ten years ago but you’re absolutely right today it’s like it’s it’s it’s why would you do that at all yeah you don’t need windows X. P. are you really really really sure you want to shut out we’re serious yeah that’s just unnecessary now devices are quick and and you’re not damaging anything there there’s no reason to put that in to protect anything anymore yeah yeah the other %HESITATION go ahead I’m so bored no go for it yeah I was gonna lab rate that the other kind of no control systems that we’ve done are the ones that don’t actually have controls at all we’ve got a couple of rooms where there’s just a wireless collaboration device and the TV turns on based on a timer at seven in the morning and turns off at ten PM or or whatever it’s set to and folks walk up and use it as they want and then they disconnected walk away when they don’t and and there aren’t any sources to switch it’s all user controlled by the device they’re connecting to instead of what we think of as traditionally the gear one I’ve got some theories about doing that with occupancy detection is a little bit of lecture city to that that was course the next question is is it it’s just on all day and yeah there was no source connected to two shows a black screen I guess right will chose the IP address for someone to connect to our okay a connecting instructions yeah and we looked at it and and the power consumption on the new LED TV’s is decreased from what the old CFL back light displays were to where we don’t feel that bad about leaving TV’s on and we’re seeing high utilization so %HESITATION convenience certainly cost something and we we decided to spend it on some electrons there and it’s worked out so far right right if of course there’s a lot of parameters to take into account their you have is the room occupied like are the rooms being used so how often is it you know just idle and on and %HESITATION again that technology catching up the power consumption is less so these old fears we used to have of %HESITATION wasting energy and things like that aren’t may not be as valid anymore I think that would be a great case to start collecting some data right to see you know how often is sink is attached compared to how often the TV is actually on and then then you could actually run some real calculations and know exactly how much is being wasted or not beyond compare that to you know whatever it is what kind of %HESITATION efficiency you lose right for somebody fumbling for the remote are looking for a touch panel that that that kind of has a real cost to yeah you mention experience and that that really has to be the priority in a space like that if you walk in and there’s any inconvenience people just tend to walk away and then if it’s there and it’s on and it works and it looks inviting that’s worth a little bit of a spend sometimes definitely and then cook more collaboration happens which is yeah there after yeah and for the power consumption inefficiencies and things like that you know if you weigh that versus utilization everything’s IP connected everything’s got to dash for kind of a program there’s a way to collect those metrics and and actually find out absolutely that that’s a part of this whole thing that I’m really interested in is is collecting real date on how systems are being used and now and you’re making decisions based on that I think that’s a someplace we could do a lot more as an industry it’s powerful then for sure so let’s let’s shift gears here yeah and dont talk about three D. printing sure I watched when you’re womanizer part part of it on three D. printing and sure sure seems like you have a lot to say on this subject so I got a few questions here but I I think I’ll just %HESITATION let you have added what what how do you %HESITATION well let’s let’s put a female top of it how do you how do you use you know how to three be printing applied to AV if at all sure are definitely does some the backstory is it was a personal hobby of mine and I mention that elaborate building that had pushed talk microphones everywhere we had an issue where students would push their laptop into the push to talk button so then the camera points directly at them it turns our Mike up in the mix and you know them being on Facebook or doing work email or whatever they’re doing interrupts the capture of the class then or shows that to the video conference at the far side so we we were looking for a way to protect those push to talk buttons and they’re kind of like a disk shaped thing that you can get from any direction we put kind of a crown shaped piece around them we looks like the crenellations of a chess rock that is kind of a protection ring that goes around those push to talk buttons and that’s decrease the number of occurrences from dozens of times per day to like once or twice every couple of weeks we’ve seen a huge huge reduction in the number of false triggers on those buttons because we three D. printed a little thing to make it a little harder to hit the button externally so that when the initial project that was like the justification of Hey maybe we can actually use this we’re actually lucky enough to be able to borrow a printer from a colleague in another department was moving in need a place to store that was better than a storage unit so we kind of chanced upon being able to access a device like that work with us since then we’ve made dozens and dozens of things my most recent project actually are you seen the the Logitech spotlight the new presentation remote okay it’s kind of a side note we’re on a tangent now but it’s just really cool in a room where you’ve got twenty screens or something it actually is software on the computer that highlights that area of the screen and is distributed ensuring a video call arts record and the capture or whatever you have it’s a lot more useful than pointing in dot of laser on one screen that students may or may not be looking at right anyway these are a chargeable so when we get a call that it’s out of batteries we can’t fix that people need to be able to recharge these so we’re making a doc that’s three D. printable in fits in a dust grommet and hopefully we can get people into the good habit of returning these to the dock to always be fully charged and then they’ll be less likely to walk away in people’s briefcases to so that that’s our latest project with printing but there’s been a dozen in the middle holding things up and racks making little clips to hold devices on brackets on nothing structural we’re not doing TV mounts or anything like that I mean you probably do this and designs all the time where it’s like man I I need this one little widget I swear I saw it but this one’s ninety degrees wrong and you you dig terminal annex catalog and then you go to a grand website and realize that there’s fourteen million products and you go to you know once you spend ten minutes looking for something I catalog if you can draw on CAD you might have that thing an hour later you know click print before you go to lunch you might be able to install the thing that you couldn’t find any supplier’s catalog when you get back all right so so you mention CAD there and that’s what I want to know about just sure I know it’s it can be huge subject but if you kinda just give me a brief overview of what the process is so you’re walking around you’re you’re looking all over the place you have all these ideas now because now you can make anything right yeah yeah so what what is the process like so cat is computer aided drafting drafting is %HESITATION what we all did on those plans will tables in high school with the ruling elaborate %HESITATION you know mechanized rulers over ninety degrees and basically our design process we’ll do what I like to call napkin CAD that’s when you’re at luncheon on the bar napkin with an ink pen that you borrowed from other waitress you’re you’re drawing your system design you’ve got the lines between boxes and and you know you’re you’re roughest sketch that you come back to the office with a lot of these start with napkin cat and then you can open up a programming with real tools that use basic shapes like squares and circles and triangles and drawing lines you make a representation of it and then you pull that two dimensional shape into a three dimensional one if you need to then you can make a drawing on the side of it to put in a recess or draw something out and to work slowly start to learn but you think of these objects that you want to design in their basic more fundamental shapes and then that’s how you construct them out of components that exist in that software so you cannot have building blocks in CAD that you could kind of these together and make it kinda like legos I guess there are some that I go back and like legos others are one in particular called tanker CAD and it’s also neat that its browser based you don’t need to install anything that was going on and you can drag and drop whatever shape you want you can combine them you can cut with them to put holes in things and there is a lego integration with that actually after you design something you can either turn it in the lego bricks or vice versa that company is is Autodesk who in my opinion at least is kind of leader of the industry right now they’ve got integrations where you can wiring channels and LEDs on battery clips and switches and things like that in it just automatically generates the shape that you need to three D. print from at all kinds of neat things so there’s there’s that building blocks kind of CAD there’s the clay sculpting kind of CAD where you end up with a a sphere and you can drag different tools on it to make organic shapes some people also three D. print from things like Photoshop you can create three D. objects and really well or full blown CAD where you’re doing what a designer would do an orbiting around in three D. and and you’ve got such powerful more professional tools there there’s a whole spectrum of what’s out there amazing so so once you have this design done in software yeah I I guess it’s just a file that gets uploaded to the machine yeah so it’s generally called an S. T. L. file about a thirty year old format that starting to show its age hopefully replace it with us some initiatives that have started as of late but you’ve got a wire frame then which you can think of kinda like how a computer graphics work in video games or house CG I works before they put your rendering farm to get high fast accounts and things like that you’ve got this shell of the shape and you put it into software that does what’s called slicing and that’s actually what generates the G. code in the machine code that a printer runs on and and the instructions to build that object and it it builds at one layer at a time I always tell people it’s kind of like making a loaf of bread one slice at a time does the bottom layer in the stack second layer on top and and successively you’ve got your shape so and what about the materials are there different kinds of materials or yeah so the most common material aren’t released recently most common as a B. S. plastic which chances are if you look around on your desk and there’s a hundred plastic things I bet should ninety eight and a half of them are a B. S. plastic other materials P. T. is what water bottles are made out of that’s %HESITATION polyethylene mixed you can print and nylons I said that a B. S. was recently the most popular I think today what’s the most popular materials one called the LA that saw the acronym for poly lactic acid it’s actually a vegetable starch plastic it’s a bio class so it’s a little bit more green it’s something that’s compostable and it’s got some properties that make it pretty forgiving for the average printer to use so fascinating the whole range but you can also get things that have carbon fiber chopped in %HESITATION you can get magnetic materials you can get conductive materials flexible things there’s a whole range of what’s out there and that’s just the printers that print with melted plastic there’s a couple different varieties that are different styles of machines on top of that wow so when does it make sense to start looking at this like obviously it’s something that is easy to get excited about so big it becomes a hobby for you then obviously just go for it right right like at one point %HESITATION does it become common place just to have a three D. printer in in an organization I’m not gonna say home yet but like in general mid to large size organization do you think that’s going to become commonplace so I I think especially in higher read a lot of people already have something on campus either your engineering department or science or art or even the libraries a lot of times we’ll have a maker space and and some kind of facilities what’s missing and I think that that key that you need before you get started is the inspiration you need that first project rethink man we really need this thing but it just doesn’t exist yet so that that inspiration would spark you saying well how can we make one and if you’ve got a printer on campus can probably go use it for a few Bucks and and make your thing and then you’re hooked it’s it’s technically called additive manufacturing but a lot of people have taken to calling it addictive manufacturing once you’ve started it just keeps going you get that mindset and %HESITATION you know if all you’ve got to hammer everything looks like a nail right there’s an awful lot of nails out there excellent excellent it’s a really cool I’ve got to make the time to look into that some day or at least get my kids turned onto it and now I see what they come up with sure sure next time there’s that thing let me know right well Jim it’s been a real pleasure talking to you %HESITATION going everywhere from the V. in user experience down to three D. printing this was a lot of fun it was thanks for having me again if anybody wants to get in touch with you sometime is there a is there a good way they cannot reach out to dance with or anything like that odd yeah please Sir honestly sending emails just fine my dresser Notre Dame’s in the directory can look up or a it’s J. Spence for at and T. for Notre Dame dot EDU alright Jim thanks for being on the show thank you eight Patrick here again thanks for listening to the show if you enjoyed this discussion if you liked what you’ve heard if you want to hear more discussions like this please go to iTunes leave a review subscribe to the show send me a comment get in touch with me somehow and let me know that you’re out there listening and that’ll motivate me shows get more so if you’re driving or whatever asks you re to set something in your calendar to give you a reminder to thanks a lot thanks for listening to software defined survival for transcripts and show notes going a software defined survival dot com