Hellard Design drafting services

Hellard Design offers commercial real estate drafting services at a reasonable rate.

For the agent:

  • Interior site surveys - we'll measure the space completely, draw it up in AutoCad and turn it over to you in PDF format. This can be just the floor plan or we can add in electrical/data and a reflected ceiling plan
  • Presentation drawings - we can create attractive floor plans for use as your marketing materials.
  • Space planning - see how the interior floor plan of your commercial space will look like after construction before your contractor does any actual work.

For the builder and developer:

  • Master planning - want a quick study of how many lots or units you can fit on any given site? We can do that. We can created phased plans for any size property. We have master planning experience from sites ranging from a half acre to a thousand.
  • Feasibility studies on building additions. See how the addition will look without the cost or obligation of hiring an architect or contractor.

For the building owner/tenant:

  • Allow us to space plan a remodel or addition. Our flexibility allows us to work closely with you to create floor plans and layouts with a quick turnaround. Our rate assures that you won't spend thousands of dollars on a project that may not end up getting built.

Contact Bryan Hellard for more details

Speaker Bar Video Conferencing

A new product was announced recently. It's a speaker bar with a video conferencing camera in the middle of it. It's not the first one of this type as I can name four different models off the top of my head. I don't care for this genre of product. They are ugly. It seems as if a lot of us aren't even trying to make decent looking products anymore. I've spent the better part of twenty years designing things for conference rooms that aren't meant to be seen but if you do see them you (hopefully) don't think they are ugly. These fly in the face of that. Big and beautiful we can deal with, small and ugly may be ok in certain circumstances but big and ugly is unacceptable.

These aren't much different in practicality than the "soda cracker" video conferencing systems that David Danto wrote about a couple of years ago. At the very least though, this new breed of product has two things going for it over the old style he talked about: #1 zoom-able cameras and #2 USB connectivity for use with any soft codec. The downside is the addition of speakers makes the product that much bigger.

No one wants to see conference room technology. We want to see the result of such technology, but not the tech itself (if that's not the case why are companies making bezel-less displays for example?). Explain to me why such a large camera/apparatus exists. We have the technology and capability to make small cameras that are feature rich, yet we connect them to speaker bars?

Is it market segment? These things are marketed to huddle/small spaces. With the product being so large in such a small space, their visual impact is magnified. They can only go above or below a single display creating problems with eye contact as well. Don't dare attempt to put one of these between two displays. With many other options out there, I don't think the market is in need of such a product.

Is it the feature set? There are speakers (albeit admittedly poor sounding ones) in most displays themselves residing mere inches away from the speaker bar's intended location. We're talking voice here and no one will be listening to music through them so great audio quality isn't paramount. I will admit that having a microphone right where your mouth may be aiming (some of the time) is a good thing though. Again, there are better options than this.

Price and Convenience? For former, no. The latter, I can give that one to you.

We were heading the right direction over the past year or two with smaller cameras. Now, vendors are  playing copycat (as they usually do) with speaker bars instead of creating something with a smaller form factor that's appropriate in smaller rooms. This logic defies me. Cameras absolutely have an affect on the people in the room. Luckily, we are finally getting away from analog tracking cameras that #1 don't work and #2 annoy most people, but putting video enabled speaker bars in its place seems like a regression to me.

Agree/disagree? I welcome your feedback here or on Twitter.

No Infocomm 2018

After a while of contemplation, I've decided to skip this years' Infocomm. It came down to several factors that I'll list below. I want to go, but at this point it doesn't make much sense. It would be more for fun than work. Fun doesn't make money.

Flight $300-400
Hotel $600+/-
Transportation fees $xx
Meals $xxx
Wine $xxx
Lectures: $xxx

The end result is $1,500+/- out of pocket while not producing any work output at the same time. A week at my rate that I would be missing out on is substantial when owning your own business. Sure, I get to "write it off", but it's still money going out.

Have I received that much in return as far as paid work goes just because of my attendance? That answer is an absolute no based on historical data. Since 80-90% of my work over the past 14 years has been though either existing clients or word of mouth, I can say with certainty that I've received no new clients at the show.

I've been to the show now six times over the years. Three times was for the company I worked for at the time and the other three have been on my dime. It's these three times on my funding that I gave the most reflection over. Mainly, I had to weigh any benefits of attending vs the cost. What are the benefits? Looking at the new stuff! Does looking at stuff make money? In this age, I can get as much knowledge about a product on line as I can by looking at it in person. Networking? Has networking helped me at Infocomm? I've probably had better luck through LinkedIn over any given week than the show.

I need no continuing education credits so that need isn't relevant.

About a week after the show is over, I'm heading to Ecuador and then the Galapagos Islands. That's another 1.5 weeks that I'll be out. I typically get sick on the way home from Vegas and I don't want to be down and out for vacation.

Fly with the wind
My work lately has been mostly architecture and not so much of the video conferencing stuff. The show doesn't affect my current set of projects. That's the way things go when you offer architecture, mechanical and civil design design services on top of video conferencing product design and general UC analysis work.

It's sad that I'll be missing out on all the action and maybe things will change in the next month or so (if someone has a specific need for me to go), but as of now, Infocomm is a no-go.

How to handle yourself in a lecture

Recently back from the Midwest Veterinary Conference, it occurred to me that something needed to be said about the participants of lectures. This goes across industry lines, subject matter and genre of lectures.

People attend lectures for three reasons:

  1. They want to learn something/have an interest in the subject
  2. They are forced to go by their employer
  3. The need continuing education credit
Unfortunately, some people can't help themselves and don't think about anyone other than them. Here are some actual events that occurred in the half dozen lectures I attended last week.
  • A guy in the front row right by the speaker was eating Cheez-its from the noisiest bag apparently ever produced. I swear the lavalier mic was picking up some of the cruching/bag noise.
  • Another guy who interrupted the speaker several times to correct her/give his opinion.
  • Many people asking questions specific to their situation. This in itself isn't bad, but when person doesn't accept the answer and ends up wasting 10 minutes of an hour lecture with follow up questions gets tiring
  • The person who asked 5 or 6 questions within the hour
  • The guy who kept blurting out questions when others held their hands up respectfully.
My lecture notes

I don't have a need for continuing education credits so I attend lectures to learn something. It gets frustrating when lecturers can't get through their material on tax policy (for example) because someone wants to complain about politics. 

The know it all person - don't be like them. It's my assumption that you're there for CE because you "obviously" know more than the lecturer, blurting out things like "That's not right" in the middle their talk. We get it, you're a superstar but I didn't pay to hear you talk. STFU

The free advice person - attending a lecture given by a CPA doesn't mean you need to continually pump them for free advice during their lecture regarding your specific situation.

The lecturers were very professional this weekend and I don't know how they do it. That sort of behavior would distract me to no end.

My Cord Cutting Experience

In my part of Cincinnati, we have our choice of either Spectrum or Cincinnati Bell for high speed internet. Both offer speeds acceptable for the video conferencing that I do and are both roughly the same price. About a month ago I decided to finally switch away from Cincinnati Bell's TV service and after research, I opted for PlayStation Vue. Here is how that all went down.

We don't watch live television much to begin with. When we had a DVR we watched some first run shows but eventually we migrated to Netflix and deal with watching shows well after they are first run. It's actually better as we binge watch shows without having to wait a week or longer between episodes. But still at the end of the day, we don't watch a whole lot of live tv except football on occasion.

The interest in finally cutting the cord came to a head with Cincinnati Bell's massive increase in rate once I passed the one year promotion offer. My bill went up about $50 a month and after research I found that I could use a streaming service and "just internet" cheaper than a package from either company listed above.

Who to choose?
My options were YouTube Live, Playstation Vue, Hulu, Sling or DirecTv's service. I had Hulu's paid service a year or so ago and was not impressed. It seemed that nearly every show I liked ended up having commercials for "reasons". Plus the overall quality of service was not there so they were out. YouTube Live had regional issues and no Roku support (yet) so they were out. DirecTv was out based on reviews. So it was down to Sling and Playstation Vue with Vue winning out based on recommendations from friends.

So how did it go?
Sign up went ok I guess. Vue's website is a bit clunky and I'm often forced into re-entering my username/password. Setup on my three Roku devices went fine, pairing them with a code generated on the Roku's Playstation app typed into my computer where I logged into my account.

I gave the Vue it's first big test during the NFL playoffs. When first opening up the app on one of the Roku's it failed. I tried the app on my iPad. Failed. Hmm. Tried again on the Roku - success! Seems that Vue has issues with heavily watched channels. Next test was during the Super Bowl. Here is where it failed 100%.

In the hour before the game started, I watched some of the pregame. The video was way off and there was an insane amount of blurring on fast action (players warming up by jogging, etc). It was unwatchable. I turned to another station and it was just fine so I knew it wasn't my equipment. Stupidly, right before the National Anthem, I turned off the app to see if rebooting the Roku and relaunching the app would help - NOPE. Errors. I couldn't even get connected to Vue so in a rush, I downloaded the NBC Sports app on the Roku and watched the game through that.

I haven't fired them (yet), but it seems like under the load of watchers, the service fails. It's not isolated either as I've since found other people complaining about the service outage.

To wrap up, my setup is this:

Cincinnati Bell 100x20 internet @ $55/mo
Netflix @ $12.99/mo with new price increase
Playstation Vue @ $40/mo plus taxes

If you read all of this, congratulations!

DraftSight vs AutoCad

I've been using DraftSight for a week now with roughly 30 hours of drafting. For comparison, I've been using AutoCad for 28 years and most of that time was working 40 hours a week or more of pure drafting. Doing the math is silly, but let's say I have a lot of experience in AutoCad. One minute later...Well, I just did the math and at a conservative estimate, I have probably 50,000 hours of AutoCad usage under my belt.

Commercial Real Estate Site Survey Process

Why do commercial real estate agents need site surveys? One reason is to create presentation documents for their website and another is to aid the potential buyer in space planning. Here is our process for both.

On Site
We will meet you on site and get an overview of the area. Point out to us what's important and not to include on the survey. We'll start measuring and making hand sketches. Also, we'll take several pictures of the space as needed. If requested, we can do light and noise calculations as well.

Surveys can take as little as an hour to as much as a couple of days depending on the size and complexity of the space.

Here is what a typical survey looks like before CAD

Wall 1 and wall 2 elevations from the floor plan

Back at the Office
Once back to the office we'll take the hand sketches and turn them into AutoCad drawings. Everything will be drawn to scale as measured in the field

Sample of floor plan and proposed changes on one of the walls

What you Receive
We'll turn over PDF layouts of the measured areas with dimensions. In addition, we can create presentation drawings for use in marketing the space.

Not local? No problem!
Anything within a 4-5 hour drive from the greater Cincinnati area is considered local. Beyond that, a air travel is usually necessary

Floor plan with dimension

How to start this process?
Contact Hellard Design at 513-252-8517 or via email at bryan@hellarddesign.com

Top Three Reasons Against Off Brand Smart Watches

Pebble started the recent trend of smart watches via their $10.3 million crowd funding campaign. Being a fan of watches in general I was immediately intrigued and as soon as I could buy one at retail, I did. Now on my third smart watch, the Apple Watch Series 1, I've learned a few things. The biggest thing I learned is that I won't be buying an off brand watch - ie one without a companion phone. Here is the explanation and the top reasons.

Generic Predictions for 2018

Since I kicked last years' ass and went an amazing 10-4-10 in predictions, I deemed it necessary to do it again.

For 2018, this is the top ten predictions for the AV/VC/UCaaS/ETC industry:

1. This is the year of easy

What's easy? A one button (or less) push that everyone wants - controlling massive amounts of gear that no one wants.

2. Everyone will do their best to copy what Cisco did two years ago

Whatever that may have been

3. No product will be native 720p

Yet every single hardware based video call will max out at 720p and software will average 480p

4. Buzzwords, including "easy", will be used frequently.

Game changer will mean "we made one too". Dead will continue to mean "my company doesn't sell that". UI will continue to be confused with UX. Huddle will mean whatever you want it to.

5. IoT will merge with AR and VR and VC and UC.

We'll just call the whole thing TAURIC until Cisco tells us otherwise.

6. The mechanical pan tilt zoom camera will disappear.

One can only hope.

7. Digital whiteboarding will take a huge leap backward.

Because we're going to realize that no one likes to get up during meetings.

8. You're going to end up using Microsoft Teams as your collaboration solution.

Just go with it.

9. Since I promised it last year: A company will take VC funding.

Well, that's a softball.

10. Companies will continue to be unhappy in general with video conferencing.

It's up to all of us to fix that!

Bonus prediction: At most of the lectures throughout the year there will be so many panelists that all the audience will be treated to is an introduction to each of them. How to fix it? I'd like to see some town hall style debates with no more than 4 speakers on whatever topic it may be. That would make for a good show and much more informative than having 12 people in a 45 minute "lecture".

Huddly GO Camera

Huddly, a Norwegian start up announced the GO camera in early 2017. To date (November 2017) they are still taking pre-orders for this $500 webcam although it's available as part of Google's new $1,999 Hangouts kit. This article will discuss some features of the Huddly GO without the benefit of a hands on test.