My Technology Wish List: Mac Program Software, IP Control/Drivers, and More

2/8/2017 12:01:00 PM
It’s that time of year again when I have to buy a new laptop. That may sound like an exaggeration, but I feel like I’m replacing my computer every year, because they invariably get bogged down with bloat and run slowly. I’m sure I could figure out how to service it and improve performance, but it is a lot of work and just is not something I see myself doing.

That is why I love Macs; they run great for years and do not seem to suffer from performance impairment nearly as quickly as PCs. Unfortunately, I have to run Windows for all of my programming software. While I could use BootCamp or another Windows emulator, it just doesn’t seem to run as well as native Windows on a PC, and there are always issues and trade-offs. This led me to start thinking about my technology wish list items for the industry.

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1) Mac Platform Software. No surprise here, based on my introduction to this blog, but I really wish Crestron, URC, Control4, Savant, ELAN, and all of the other control system manufacturers had programming software for both the PC and Mac platform. I’m sure that there are Savant dealers out there who love PCs, but need to stay on a Mac to support the Apple-centric products in the Savant line.

2) More Third-Party Integrations, Particularly Among Competitors. Several times we have walked into project takeover scenarios, and clients are not happy to hear that their lighting system and/or their shades need to be replaced because they are part of a closed ecosystem that can’t be integrated into another system. In this situation, the customer is getting punished, and it creates a bad taste in their mouth. Sometimes I feel like we should all just sell and install Lutron since it integrates with everything.

3) Speaking of Lutron – Integrate Without Programming Twice. Lutron makes amazing products and is the industry leader in lighting and shading. But having to program in the Lutron software and then program again to integrate into Crestron, Savant, Control4, ELAN, etc. is a huge waste of time and resources. I wish we could natively program Lutron in our control system of choice.

4) Apple Integration. It’s been said before, but this is a wish list, and it wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the challenge that Apple products present. I would love to easily and reliably integrate Siri and have an authorized Apple TV API.

5) More IP Control/Drivers. Especially when integrating Samsung TVs and most Blu-ray players, we are still relying on IR emitters, and that is just insane.

6) Additional IR Drivers. OK, but sometimes IR is the best (or only) option. I know Control4 and Crestron can have limited IR drivers for newer, networked product lines like AVRs and Sony TVs. But often in a take-over or retrofit situation, the wiring isn’t there for a network or serial communication solution to the TV or AVR, and IR is necessary. I have found that I have to keep an old URC CCP remote on hand to learn discrete codes into the Crestron system, as URC has a very robust IR library.

7) More One-Stop Shopping Via Manufacturer Partners. Control4 has partners in its online store for everything from AVRs to outdoor speakers, and Crestron is beginning to add accessories to its line, including patch panels, wall plates, and cables; they have sold private-label speakers for years. The more we can buy from our key partners, the easier our lives are, the less likely we are to make a mistake and miss a PO, and the higher our partner levels will be with select partners.

8) More Flexibility and Openness from ISPs. Here’s one I am sure almost everyone will agree with. Most notably, I would like to see FiOS no longer require their network hardware. We should be able to connect our router directly to the ONT and still get on-screen information and not have to keep the FiOS router as a weak link in the system.

All of this sprang from my desire to not replace my PC every year and my pining for a Crestron software suite on the Mac platform. What else is on your technology wish list? Let your partners know your thoughts. The more people they hear it from, the more likely they may be to change.


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