Social Media Group Chats

Twelve Twitter Party Twips

A Twitter party, or group Twitter chat, is when a group of individuals  ‘get on Twitter’ at a specific time and use a specific hashtag to communicate with each other.  Twitter Parties are often confused with Tweet-ups, the latter being actual face-to-face meetings organized via Twitter.  Conversely, a Twitter party or Twitter chat is completely online.

Twitter Party Tips

Each Twitter party has a specific topic and/or target audience, and uses hashtags (i.e.#yourpartyhere) to track the participant’s comments.  For example, I’ve been attending a regular group chat for the audiovisual community called #AVchat, founded by Linda Seid Frembes (also known as @AVwriter).

Twitter parties come in all sizes, from a handful of school friends to hundreds of participants world-wide.  If you have never attended a Twitter party, or if you call yourself a Guru, here are  twelve tips for your next Twitter party or group chat:

  1. Choose a unique hashtag (i.e.#yourpartyhashtag) that no one else is using, and generally short so you have more room for conversations.  For example hashtags, check out this online calendar at Tweeparties.com.  You should should also search Twitter itself for the hashtag.  Remember: you don’t want to make enemies on Twitter, and there are plenty of hashtags left.  Once you decide a hashtag, you can unofficially ‘register’ it at Tagal, Twubs, and Tweeparites.
  2. While at Tweeparties, look at the other scheduled Twitter chats that may be competing with your target audience.  Of course, you can attend two Twitter parties at once, but then you are only giving half of your attention to each party.  Two timer!  Or is it two tw-imer?
  3. Before the chat, you may want to warn your Twitter followers that you will be attending a Twitter party as they may see an influx of random tweets from you in the next hour or two.
  4. If you have never attended a Twitter chat before, I highly suggest using Tweetchat, which automatically follows the chat and adds the appropriate hashtag to your tweets. Tweetchat is a type of ‘aggregator’ designed specifically for Twitter parties.
  5. You can also use other Aggregators like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, or TweetGrid to follow your chat.  All of these aggregators rely on the  Twitter API, which can be problematic, and brings me to my next tip:
  6. Be patient when the chat seems to lag, or completely locks up.  Remember that Twitter is still a growing bird, and its API was not designed for multi-point conferencing.  API issues are very common in Twitter parties, you may just have to pause a few minutes and let the problem fix itself.  Don’t freak out, just go get a cup of coffee, or tea, or another beer.
  7. Don’t multi-task.  Just like real parties, its rude to check email or be on the phone during a Twitter party, and the whole point of a Twitter party is to chat!  Depending on the number of participants, the Twitter chatter can get very fast paced, and there is no way to slow it down.  For the most part, the speed of the chat is dependent on the rate of posts.  If it seems too fast, you should spend more time reading, and less time typing.
  8. If you are streaming music or using other chat windows, you may be causing your own bandwidth issues (this is what I like to call a classic PEBKAC issue).   Make sure you have a solid internet connection, and that your refresh rate is set to auto or 1 second.  If you are just using Twitter, you will need to hit refresh every couple of seconds, which is why I recommend using Tweetchat instead.
  9. Be on time.  There is no such thing as fashionably offline.  Unlike many real world meetings, Twitter parties start on time.  If you are late, no one is going to wait for you, or even notice that you are not there.  And like most real world meetings, its best to be there early and hear the pre-game small talk.
  10. If you are late, don’t try to catch up, just jump in and then read what you missed later.  If you miss the party all together, you can use Twitter, Tweetchat, Tweetdeck, Tweetgrid, or Hootsuite to search the “transcript” of the chat, including any follow-up posts.
  11. Don’t be a virtual wallflower.  Yes, you can listen to an entire chat or party without saying a word, but I guarantee that you will enjoy it more and get more out of it if you participate and post some comments.  You don’t have to answer every question, but be sure to introduce yourself, and try to “peep” in at least a few times.
  12. Don’t sell yourself, your services, or your products.  Don’t post that XYZ Company is the leader in blah blah blah … or  Be sure to check out my website….No no no.  This is a party, not a billboard.  Better to say something interesting, something that will actually make people interested in you. They can always check out your profile later after the party.
Twitter Chat Tips

Twitter parties are a great way to stay in touch with industry professionals, or just other people with a common interest.  It’s a good way to network and make new friends.  Unlike real parties, everyone speaks at once, and all to each other at the same time, so it can be a bit confusing.  You can also have sidebar conversations with other participants during or after the chat, using ReTweets, Direct Messages, or emails.

For more information on Twitter Parties or group chats, please contact Paul Konikowski, or visit this website.

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Technology and Green Buildings

What does LEED® stand for?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED®, is a rating system devised by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED® green building certification program is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings.  In the simplest terms, LEED  = green buildings. The certification system is credit-based, which gave rise to the term LEED Scorecard.  LEED points are available for every phase of the project: site selection, design, construction, ordering bulk materials, job site conditions, commissioning, the use of renewable, recycled, and/or durable goods, as well as the overall life-cycle of the building.

AV FSR Floorbox installed into reclaimed wooden flooring with laptop input, microphone jacks, power outlets, and data connections
FSR FL-500P AV floor box with laptop and microphone inputs in reclaimed wooden flooring

One helpful mantra to memorize about the LEED® process is: buildings are certified, people are accredited.  For a given building to obtain LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold, or LEED Platinum status, the Integrated Project Delivery team needs to have at least one LEED Accredited Professional (also known as a LEED AP) on the team, from the start of the sustainable design, through the commissioning of the project.  A larger project team may have multiple LEED Accredited Professionals and LEED Green Associates designing the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, acoustics, lighting, landscape, data, and audiovisual systems.

Wait a second, did I just say LEED® and AV in the same sentence? 

Infocomm’s Sustainable Technology for Environments Program (STEP) is sort of like LEED for AV. STEP itself is still rather green, but as it grows from a sprout to a tree, AV manufacturers will have a place where their green products, shipping practices and facilities can showcased. AV consultants (like PK) and systems integrators can collaborate to share responsibility in the planning, design, integration and programming of systems, to minimize energy consumption while still promoting AV quality. Most importantly, clients can measure the ROI of their sustainable AV investments.

Here are some examples of how integrated audio and video systems can contribute to your next green building project:

1. Energy Star Compliant Audiovisual Devices – By specifying Energy Star compliant audiovisual devices early in the design process, the architects, engineers, and contractors can provide the proper space, backing, and electrical infrastructure needed for the flat-panel LED displays, AV equipment racks, etc.   The AV systems generally support the Energy Star credit as part of a larger Energy Star calculation, which also includes all computers, copiers, refrigerators, washing machines, fax machines, etc.   If a certain device required for the project does not have an ‘Energy Star equivalent’, then that device is exempt from the baseline calculations, but should still be properly documented as n/a (not applicable).  For example, there is no such thing as an Energy Star-compliant HDMI cable, or and Energy Star-compliant motorized projection screen, because they only draw power for about 30 seconds each time the screen is raised or lowered.  However, some projections screens are GreenGuard certified, which is important for LEED For Schools and CHPS projects.

2. Day-lighting, Shades, and Dimmable Lighting Control – Inexpensive projectors and warehouse-store televisions may not be bright enough to overcome the ambient light in many new green buildings, so it’s very important to plan your AV enabled meeting spaces properly, including proper AV equipment, manual or motorized shades, solar window films, and dimmable lighting fixtures.  Most MEP engineers know these systems can be controlled automatic using occupancy and light level sensors. But did you know you can also control them all using a Droid or an iPad?

3.Recycled Content –There are number AV products on the market that are somewhat made of recycled materials, including projector housings, acoustic panels, and loudspeakers.  Swapping out 2 speakers on your next hang-and-bang may not earn you the LEED credit. But, the AV design could make a HUGE difference in an expo hall, airport, casino, or mall project, where a large majority of the AV system is ceiling mounted speakers made from 50% recycled content.

4.Possible Innovative Design Credits – I’ve heard of a couple AV folks trying to get LEED innovative design (ID) credits for audiovisual systems: one involved videoconferencing as an alternative to travel, the other was using digital signage (LED/LCD flat panel monitors) as part of a larger educational aspect, where the building would be used as a teaching tool.  The flat panels might display the building’s energy and water consumption versus a typical non-LEED building of the same size (baseline).  This sort of interactive education can directly influence the building’s users and visitors, and help develop sustainable habits, measurably improving the building performance over time.  Once I hear a verdict on the credits, I will follow up on this blog post.

In summary, the best strategy to obtaining a LEED certification is to use Integrated Project Delivery (or IPD), including at least one LEED Accredited Professional in a Principal position.  This integrative approach emphasizes communication and teamwork between the architect, building owner(s), operators, engineers, and contractors.  The term “integrated design” is usually applied to new construction, but this integrative process can also be adopted for tenant improvements, land-use, or any phase in the life-cycle of a project.

For more information on Green Buildings, Integrated Project Delivery, LEED® Certification, and Professional Accreditation, please email Paul Konikowski at pkav.info at gmail.com, or visit these websites:

U.S. Green Building Council
Green Building Certification Institute
Collaborative for High Performance Schools
Sustainable Technology for Environments Program (STEP)

Continuing Education Renewal Credits

What’s in it for me? or RU sure?

Earlier this month, I attended the Almo ProAV E4 event in South San Francisco, a mix of free food, continuing education classes, a raffle, and a showcase of Almo’s manufacturers in a miniature trade show environment.  It was a good crowd, balanced between local AV integrators, design consultants, regional sales managers, and national experts of the AV industry including Gary Kayye of rAVe publications.

Infocomm CTS-D Certified Technology Specialist logoIn addition to the new gear and obvious networking potential, I also attended E4 largely because of the free CTS-D renewal units (or RUs) available for attending the 1-2 hour classes.  I wasn’t the only one; a few of my Bay-area CTS and CTS-D-toting friends also mentioned how much they appreciated the free Infocomm renewal credits.  (I’ve said it before: Don’t you just love free?)

For readers outside of The Land of AV: Infocomm Intenational® is a nonprofit association serving the professional AV communications industry, since 1939 A.D. (or 1 A.V.) I like to think of Infocomm as the clergy of the AV industry, teaching us the Best Practices (The Golden Rules) of AV design and integration.  If 25% or more of your company’s sales and technical staff is certified as an Infocomm CTS, CTS-I, or CTS-D, your company can also call themselves an Infocomm Audio Visual Solutions Provider, or AVSP.  To maintain your individual Infocomm CTS certification, you must obtain 30 RUs every 3 years, and pay them some money of course.  (Hey we all gotta eat, right?  Even clergy.)

C Is For Continuing EducationAlso starring The Letter C, the other major AV industry association is CEDIA.  A CEDIA Membership is a company membership, and employees of those companies are considered Members.  Their renewal credits are called Continuing Education Units or CEUs.   Both Infocomm and CEDIA host trade shows every year, showcasing new audio, video, touchpanels, and other audiovisual products.  The main difference between Infocomm and CEDIA is this: CEDIA is mostly centered around the home theater and consumer integration market, whereas Infocomm is largely focused on commercial integration and unified communication.   There is plenty of overlap between the two markets, and there are other audio, video, and broadcast associations out there too.

AV geeks are not the only geeks that need these renewal units to renew their licenses.  Architects and need AIA and CES renewal credits, as do Professional Engineers (the requirements vary state to state).  This past week, I was invited to co-host a lunch and learn presentation at the City and County of San Francisco’s Bureau of Architecture office.  About half of the 25 attendees signed up for the AIA/CES renewal credits; I guess the other half were there for the free lunch.  Hopefully, they all learned something.

Hopefully, you did too.

What types of continuing educations credits are you required to obtain?  Does your company offer formal classes, or lunch and learns, that include AIA, CTS, CEU, or other renewal units?  Please comment below, or email the author Paul Konikowski at pkav.info at gmail.com