Start a Career in Robotics Process Automation (RPA)

There is an immense chatter, stories, news and even movies about an automated future everywhere-a future of bots and robots-a bot of every kind and robots mimicking humans. Did you realize, why everything, everywhere the talks are flooded with these robots or should there be an attention towards this new keyword – Robotics Process Automation, which has crazily encircled the workplace.

Indeed, you got it right, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has not just overhyped the noise, but it has also proved to intensify unique and high-end skills, bringing remarkable productivity, most importantly, huge customer satisfaction ensuring reduced cost. Robots are making human efforts simpler and precise. Top-notches are focusing more towards investing into People, Robots, and Technology and bag highly competent resources, clients, and opportunities.

The spate of headlines featuring heavily about the power of Smart bots, intelligent automation, and intellectual robots, but, when we talk about hiring, a very few get it right. There is a thought-agitated list even accounting for the very fact that RPA has been an explicit application of synonym’s once making a number of the roles titles.

The fear of losing jobs in IT Firms has been hawking the minds because of Robotics and Rapid Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, etc. But the fact is, RPA will create an unbelievably greater scope of work and opportunities for humans, which can be achieved by spotlighting on re-skilling of resources, sounds interesting, isn’t it? This will not only help in taking strategic steps towards new RPA journey, but will also significantly, yet effectively increase the productivity of low-high-skilled jobs by offering creative, high-valued tasks, and brilliant salaried jobs.

When we say this, the questions start flooding. Will it be really challenging to re-skill ourselves? Can we get better options as training centers to learn more about RPA or Can we enroll ourselves for some free online training, as we are working, so time is a bigger constraint? What are the types of RPA Jobs we can look for and how much could we expect? Can we look for top firms, located in high-tech cities? Well, you are moving to a right pathway now, and we are here to answer all your brain-stormed questions, and the best part is, the answers to all your questions are quite simple. Let’s take a closer look at how can we achieve this.

Develop Skills or Re-skill the Potential Resources

Every career demands an angle of skills. This means that RPA ought to be an excellent mixture of two opposite skill sets. “Investigative” individuals usually prefer to solve issues by Thinking, Reading, and Learning. And the other side, “Realistic” individuals are extremely sensible – they prefer to solve issues by “getting their hands dirty”.

Just like any career, RPA demands a novel set of exhausting and soft skills. You may be smart at natural philosophy theory; however, does one have a head for “systems thinking”? Are you able to create abreast of choices in a very wide selection of various disciplines? Smart Roboticists have a variety of skills that support our wide technical awareness across completely different engineering disciplines.

In order to be effective in such a various vary of disciplines, smart roboticists support their technical data with varied exhausting and soft skills. So here’s the list:

• System like Thinking: As robots are quite complex systems, so you would need to grow your skills towards Systems Analysis and Evaluation.

• Programmer Mindset: Programming is like soul to Robots. This doesn’t mean you need to be well-versed with 1500+ programming languages, you must have a Programmer Mindset, who can easily learn new languages, to lead nicely onto.

• Spirited Learning: To get into an RPA project, you do not need to have 5 years of Robotics Degree or a 3 Year Ph.D., through this, you won’t even scratch the shell of RPA. Be a spirited learner throughout your career, with added features of Reading Comprehension and Learning strategies.

• Mathematics with Logical Science: Succeeding into RPA without Mathematics (geometry, calculus, and algebra) is next to impossible. But applying only Mathematics is not exactly as it seems, real-world runs based on how the result of calculation would be good and logical enough to be used.

• Analytical Thinking and Decision Making: RPA requires taking continuous engineering decisions. RPA is full of choices, having no single correct solution. Which program/system to be used? What sensors to be used? Robots should have fingers, then how many? The thoughts never end. To make the most of RPA Position, you need to be excellent into taking right decisions and judgments and have an eye for critical and Analytical thinking.

• Excellent Communication: You don’t need me to explain this. Having the effective communication (verbal and written) and instructing skills would lead to explain high-end programming concerns to non-techies efficiently like mechanical engineers or vice versa.

• Designing Technology: This means designing something that can actually work and propose effectual solutions. Having a magical ability to repair and get the things working.

• Complex Troubleshooting: A skill to resolve complex issues and fixing foreseen problems before they arise and troubleshoot them if they do.

• Perseverance: It is pretty an essential skill of trying to discover solutions to any challenging problem or trying to make it easier for others. Along with proving to be dependable, adaptable and knowledgeable, as Robots need them to be.

Dream, yet Demanding Jobs in RPA with Exciting Remuneration

There have been some record-breaking announcements made by various RPA-Based industries and IT Firms and how Robots are bringing more opportunities of employment for humans rather than making them unwaged. Here are some instances:

• Jon Battles, Amazon Director, stated that the key focus should be towards optimum utilization of vacancies in the near future. He gave an important pronouncement of creating 100,000 permanent jobs with all perks in the US and across the country, and doing the recruitment at every job level and class. He highlighted a point that they are t of this massive level after installing around 45,000 Amazon Robotic systems in their center.

• One of the famous US-Based Automotive Industry announced of installing an amazing record of around 17,500 Robots in 2016. IFR published that in the past few years, the operational production of goods has raised by around 52,000 units. To achieve this, during the same period, unbelievable recruitment rose by 260,600, as stated by US Bureau of Labour Statistics.

Currently, Robotic Process Automation holds the highest remunerated technology vertical that can offer Rs 400,000 LPA up to Rs 7,000,000 LPA from junior to high-level RPA positions. The RPA Roles in Development, Testing, Training, and Support laid down by various top-notches are: RPA Developer/QC, RPA Sr. Developer/QC, RPA Automation Lead, RPA Solution Architect, Process Consultant – RPA, RPA Business Analyst, RPA Implementation Manager, RPA – Vice President, RPA – Data Scientist/Machine Learning, RPA Process Trainer, RPA Support, etc., well it is a never-ending list.

Top-Notches Focusing on RPA

Recently, there has been inept at making new employment-generating sectors. Our burgeoning young population is clearly troubled for jobs, despite being within the world’s quickest growing economy. Often when we talk about introducing Robots in the workpool, the picture of robots replacing humans leads to the thought of increasing unemployment.

But, this far away from the case, as Mr. Mike Wilson, President of the British Automation and Robot Association, presented his research and study on Positive Impact of Industrial Robots on Employment at 19th Annual Robotics Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida. And, the research highlighted that due to Robotics and scope of Direct Employment, 2-3 Million job will be created Worldwide. To be more precise, 2-3 occupancy for each functional robot. This research caused us to revisit our thoughts and attitude towards RPA and realize that robots can just not bring a wider spectrum of jobs, but will also change the global economy in the near future.

The industries offering RPA-based jobs would obviously require humans for creating robots, analysis for implementing and mechanizing robots with the help of high-skilled resources. A great investment towards time and efforts are done by various leading IT-RPA-Based organizations: Accenture, Cognizant, Blueprism, UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Worksoft, and Symphonyhq, etc. to have RPA as their greatest one-stop solution. And, here’s list of those top companies who are into Industrial Robotics Market: ABB Ltd., Fanuc Corp, Yaskawa Electric Corp., Adept Technology Inc., Apex Automation and Robotics, AuroTek Corp., Axium Inc., etc. So, RPA DO create jobs.

Certified RPA Learning Centers and Free Online Trainings

Education and Learning is a seed to harvest the benefits of RPA, as strongly supported by IFR to adapt and enable existing and future workpool. This is more pertinent to all the public and private segments and introduces more pieces of training on RPA. Jon Battles, Amazon, states that their 8 million baby boomers would keep their workpool motivated and enthusiastic for another 10 years. That moment has arrived when we need to internally inspire to re-skill the upcoming generation and the existing pool we have stored, and give them a bigger picture to achieve a greater career in RPA. Let’s be more optimistic to learn and train more about RPA and associated technologies and have an amazing future and bring industrial revolution.

And, when we talk about exploring unbelievable career opportunities in RPA, you need to take a one-step forward in this gung-ho world and at the same time, there has to a platform to introduce RPA erudition. Well, as per the study, it has been founded that there is a remarkable count of RPA Institutes and IT sectors (like Automation Anywhere, Blueprism, Open Span, UiPath, WorkFusion, Intellibot, Accenture, Intel Nervana AI Academy, Anexas, TheNextSpace, Blend InfoTech, and The RPA Academy, SpiritSofts, Inventateq, etc. the list cannot be exhaustive) who are pioneering revolutionary classroom and online trainings at over 52 locations in India and the cream cities are Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Gujrat. The expected duration and fees of RPA training (fulltime/Part time) are ranging from 3 Days-30 Days-3 Months and the cost ranging from Free Sessions-13000-72000 INR. At these institutes, to simplify, they provide Less Theory and more Practical sessions, provide LIVE Project Assignments, and at the end of these sessions, they give Certifications, but also assist in preparing RPA-based Resumes, and conduct mock Interviews for their final skirmish.

Electronic Music History and Today’s Best Modern Proponents!

Electronic music history pre-dates the rock and roll era by decades. Most of us were not even on this planet when it began its often obscure, under-appreciated and misunderstood development. Today, this ‘other worldly’ body of sound which began close to a century ago, may no longer appear strange and unique as new generations have accepted much of it as mainstream, but it’s had a bumpy road and, in finding mass audience acceptance, a slow one.

Many musicians – the modern proponents of electronic music – developed a passion for analogue synthesizers in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s with signature songs like Gary Numan’s breakthrough, ‘Are Friends Electric?’. It was in this era that these devices became smaller, more accessible, more user friendly and more affordable for many of us. In this article I will attempt to trace this history in easily digestible chapters and offer examples of today’s best modern proponents.

To my mind, this was the beginning of a new epoch. To create electronic music, it was no longer necessary to have access to a roomful of technology in a studio or live. Hitherto, this was solely the domain of artists the likes of Kraftwerk, whose arsenal of electronic instruments and custom built gadgetry the rest of us could only have dreamed of, even if we could understand the logistics of their functioning. Having said this, at the time I was growing up in the 60’s & 70’s, I nevertheless had little knowledge of the complexity of work that had set a standard in previous decades to arrive at this point.

The history of electronic music owes much to Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007). Stockhausen was a German Avante Garde composer and a pioneering figurehead in electronic music from the 1950’s onwards, influencing a movement that would eventually have a powerful impact upon names such as Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Brain Eno, Cabaret Voltaire, Depeche Mode, not to mention the experimental work of the Beatles’ and others in the 1960’s. His face is seen on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, the Beatles’ 1967 master Opus. Let’s start, however, by traveling a little further back in time.

The Turn of the 20th Century

Time stood still for this stargazer when I originally discovered that the first documented, exclusively electronic, concerts were not in the 1970’s or 1980’s but in the 1920’s!

The first purely electronic instrument, the Theremin, which is played without touch, was invented by Russian scientist and cellist, Lev Termen (1896-1993), circa 1919.

In 1924, the Theremin made its concert debut with the Leningrad Philharmonic. Interest generated by the theremin drew audiences to concerts staged across Europe and Britain. In 1930, the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York, experienced a performance of classical music using nothing but a series of ten theremins. Watching a number of skilled musicians playing this eerie sounding instrument by waving their hands around its antennae must have been so exhilarating, surreal and alien for a pre-tech audience!

For those interested, check out the recordings of Theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore (1911-1998). Lithuanian born Rockmore (Reisenberg) worked with its inventor in New York to perfect the instrument during its early years and became its most acclaimed, brilliant and recognized performer and representative throughout her life.

In retrospect Clara, was the first celebrated ‘star’ of genuine electronic music. You are unlikely to find more eerie, yet beautiful performances of classical music on the Theremin. She’s definitely a favorite of mine!

Electronic Music in Sci-Fi, Cinema and Television

Unfortunately, and due mainly to difficulty in skill mastering, the Theremin’s future as a musical instrument was short lived. Eventually, it found a niche in 1950’s Sci-Fi films. The 1951 cinema classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, with a soundtrack by influential American film music composer Bernard Hermann (known for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, etc.), is rich with an ‘extraterrestrial’ score using two Theremins and other electronic devices melded with acoustic instrumentation.

Using the vacuum-tube oscillator technology of the Theremin, French cellist and radio telegraphist, Maurice Martenot (1898-1980), began developing the Ondes Martenot (in French, known as the Martenot Wave) in 1928.

Employing a standard and familiar keyboard which could be more easily mastered by a musician, Martenot’s instrument succeeded where the Theremin failed in being user-friendly. In fact, it became the first successful electronic instrument to be used by composers and orchestras of its period until the present day.

It is featured on the theme to the original 1960’s TV series “Star Trek”, and can be heard on contemporary recordings by the likes of Radiohead and Brian Ferry.

The expressive multi-timbral Ondes Martenot, although monophonic, is the closest instrument of its generation I have heard which approaches the sound of modern synthesis.

“Forbidden Planet”, released in 1956, was the first major commercial studio film to feature an exclusively electronic soundtrack… aside from introducing Robbie the Robot and the stunning Anne Francis! The ground-breaking score was produced by husband and wife team Louis and Bebe Barron who, in the late 1940’s, established the first privately owned recording studio in the USA recording electronic experimental artists such as the iconic John Cage (whose own Avante Garde work challenged the definition of music itself!).

The Barrons are generally credited for having widening the application of electronic music in cinema. A soldering iron in one hand, Louis built circuitry which he manipulated to create a plethora of bizarre, ‘unearthly’ effects and motifs for the movie. Once performed, these sounds could not be replicated as the circuit would purposely overload, smoke and burn out to produce the desired sound result.

Consequently, they were all recorded to tape and Bebe sifted through hours of reels edited what was deemed usable, then re-manipulated these with delay and reverberation and creatively dubbed the end product using multiple tape decks.

In addition to this laborious work method, I feel compelled to include that which is, arguably, the most enduring and influential electronic Television signature ever: the theme to the long running 1963 British Sci-Fi adventure series, “Dr. Who”. It was the first time a Television series featured a solely electronic theme. The theme to “Dr. Who” was created at the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop using tape loops and test oscillators to run through effects, record these to tape, then were re-manipulated and edited by another Electro pioneer, Delia Derbyshire, interpreting the composition of Ron Grainer.

As you can see, electronic music’s prevalent usage in vintage Sci-Fi was the principle source of the general public’s perception of this music as being ‘other worldly’ and ‘alien-bizarre sounding’. This remained the case till at least 1968 with the release of the hit album “Switched-On Bach” performed entirely on a Moog modular synthesizer by Walter Carlos (who, with a few surgical nips and tucks, subsequently became Wendy Carlos).

The 1970’s expanded electronic music’s profile with the break through of bands like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, and especially the 1980’s when it found more mainstream acceptance.

The Mid 1900’s: Musique Concrete

In its development through the 1900’s, electronic music was not solely confined to electronic circuitry being manipulated to produce sound. Back in the 1940’s, a relatively new German invention – the reel-to-reel tape recorder developed in the 1930’s – became the subject of interest to a number of Avante Garde European composers, most notably the French radio broadcaster and composer Pierre Schaeffer (1910-1995) who developed a montage technique he called Musique Concrete.

Musique Concrete (meaning ‘real world’ existing sounds as opposed to artificial or acoustic ones produced by musical instruments) broadly involved the splicing together of recorded segments of tape containing ‘found’ sounds – natural, environmental, industrial and human – and manipulating these with effects such as delay, reverb, distortion, speeding up or slowing down of tape-speed (varispeed), reversing, etc.

Stockhausen actually held concerts utilizing his Musique Concrete works as backing tapes (by this stage electronic as well as ‘real world’ sounds were used on the recordings) on top of which live instruments would be performed by classical players responding to the mood and motifs they were hearing!

Musique Concrete had a wide impact not only on Avante Garde and effects libraries, but also on the contemporary music of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Important works to check are the Beatles’ use of this method in ground-breaking tracks like ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, ‘Revolution No. 9’ and ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite’, as well as Pink Floyd albums “Umma Gumma”, “Dark Side of the Moon” and Frank Zappa’s “Lumpy Gravy”. All used tape cut-ups and home-made tape loops often fed live into the main mixdown.

Today this can be performed with simplicity using digital sampling, but yesterday’s heroes labored hours, days and even weeks to perhaps complete a four minute piece! For those of us who are contemporary musicians, understanding the history of electronic music helps in appreciating the quantum leap technology has taken in the recent period. But these early innovators, these pioneers – of which there are many more down the line – and the important figures they influenced that came before us, created the revolutionary groundwork that has become our electronic musical heritage today and for this I pay them homage!

1950’s: The First Computer and Synth Play Music

Moving forward a few years to 1957 and enter the first computer into the electronic mix. As you can imagine, it wasn’t exactly a portable laptop device but consumed a whole room and user friendly wasn’t even a concept. Nonetheless creative people kept pushing the boundaries. One of these was Max Mathews (1926 -) from Bell Telephone Laboratories, New Jersey, who developed Music 1, the original music program for computers upon which all subsequent digital synthesis has its roots based. Mathews, dubbed the ‘Father of Computer Music’, using a digital IBM Mainframe, was the first to synthesize music on a computer.

In the climax of Stanley Kubrik’s 1968 movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, use is made of a 1961 Mathews’ electronic rendition of the late 1800’s song ‘Daisy Bell’. Here the musical accompaniment is performed by his programmed mainframe together with a computer-synthesized human ‘singing’ voice technique pioneered in the early 60’s. In the movie, as HAL the computer regresses, ‘he’ reverts to this song, an homage to ‘his’ own origins.

1957 also witnessed the first advanced synth, the RCA Mk II Sound Synthesizer (an improvement on the 1955 original). It also featured an electronic sequencer to program music performance playback. This massive RCA Synth was installed, and still remains, at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, New York, where the legendary Robert Moog worked for a while. Universities and Tech laboratories were the main home for synth and computer music experimentation in that early era.

1960’s: The Dawning of The Age of Moog

The logistics and complexity of composing and even having access to what were, until then, musician unfriendly synthesizers, led to a demand for more portable playable instruments. One of the first to respond, and definitely the most successful, was Robert Moog (1934-2005). His playable synth employed the familiar piano style keyboard.

Moog’s bulky telephone-operators’ cable plug-in type of modular synth was not one to be transported and set up with any amount of ease or speed! But it received an enormous boost in popularity with the success of Walter Carlos, as previously mentioned, in 1968. His LP (Long Player) best seller record “Switched-On Bach” was unprecedented because it was the first time an album appeared of fully synthesized music, as opposed to experimental sound pieces.

The album was a complex classical music performance with various multi-tracks and overdubs necessary, as the synthesizer was only monophonic! Carlos also created the electronic score for “A Clockwork Orange”, Stanley Kubrik’s disturbing 1972 futuristic film.

From this point, the Moog synth is prevalent on a number of late 1960’s contemporary albums. In 1967 the Monkees’ “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd” became the first commercial pop album release to feature the modular Moog. In fact, singer/drummer Mickey Dolenz purchased one of the very first units sold.

It wasn’t until the early 1970’s, however, when the first Minimoog appeared that interest seriously developed amongst musicians. This portable little unit with a fat sound had a significant impact becoming part of live music kit for many touring musicians for years to come. Other companies such as Sequential Circuits, Roland and Korg began producing their own synths, giving birth to a music subculture.

I cannot close the chapter on the 1960’s, however, without reference to the Mellotron. This electronic-mechanical instrument is often viewed as the primitive precursor to the modern digital sampler.

Developed in early 1960’s Britain and based on the Chamberlin (a cumbersome US-designed instrument from the previous decade), the Mellotron keyboard triggered pre-recorded tapes, each key corresponding to the equivalent note and pitch of the pre-loaded acoustic instrument.

The Mellotron is legendary for its use on the Beatles’ 1966 song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. A flute tape-bank is used on the haunting introduction played by Paul McCartney.

The instrument’s popularity burgeoned and was used on many recordings of the era such as the immensely successful Moody Blues epic ‘Nights in White Satin’. The 1970’s saw it adopted more and more by progressive rock bands. Electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream featured it on their early albums.

With time and further advances in microchip technology though, this charming instrument became a relic of its period.

1970’s: The Birth of Vintage Electronic Bands

The early fluid albums of Tangerine Dream such as “Phaedra” from 1974 and Brian Eno’s work with his self-coined ‘ambient music’ and on David Bowie’s “Heroes” album, further drew interest in the synthesizer from both musicians and audience.

Kraftwerk, whose 1974 seminal album “Autobahn” achieved international commercial success, took the medium even further adding precision, pulsating electronic beats and rhythms and sublime synth melodies. Their minimalism suggested a cold, industrial and computerized-urban world. They often utilized vocoders and speech synthesis devices such as the gorgeously robotic ‘Speak and Spell’ voice emulator, the latter being a children’s learning aid!

While inspired by the experimental electronic works of Stockhausen, as artists, Kraftwerk were the first to successfully combine all the elements of electronically generated music and noise and produce an easily recognizable song format. The addition of vocals in many of their songs, both in their native German tongue and English, helped earn them universal acclaim becoming one of the most influential contemporary music pioneers and performers of the past half-century.

Kraftwerk’s 1978 gem ‘Das Modell’ hit the UK number one spot with a reissued English language version, ‘The Model’, in February 1982, making it one of the earliest Electro chart toppers!

Ironically, though, it took a movement that had no association with EM (Electronic Music) to facilitate its broader mainstream acceptance. The mid 1970’s punk movement, primarily in Britain, brought with it a unique new attitude: one that gave priority to self-expression rather than performance dexterity and formal training, as embodied by contemporary progressive rock musicians. The initial aggression of metallic punk transformed into a less abrasive form during the late 1970’s: New Wave. This, mixed with the comparative affordability of many small, easy to use synthesizers, led to the commercial synth explosion of the early 1980’s.

A new generation of young people began to explore the potential of these instruments and began to create soundscapes challenging the prevailing perspective of contemporary music. This didn’t arrive without battle scars though. The music industry establishment, especially in its media, often derided this new form of expression and presentation and was anxious to consign it to the dustbin of history.

1980’s: The First Golden Era of Electronic Music for the Masses

Gary Numan became arguably the first commercial synth megastar with the 1979 “Tubeway Army” hit ‘Are Friends Electric?’. The Sci-Fi element is not too far away once again. Some of the imagery is drawn from the Science Fiction classic, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. The 1982 hit film “Blade Runner” was also based on the same book.

Although ‘Are Friends Electric?’ featured conventional drum and bass backing, its dominant use of Polymoogs gives the song its very distinctive sound. The recording was the first synth-based release to achieve number one chart status in the UK during the post-punk years and helped usher in a new genre. No longer was electronic and/or synthesizer music consigned to the mainstream sidelines. Exciting!

Further developments in affordable electronic technology placed electronic squarely in the hands of young creators and began to transform professional studios.

Designed in Australia in 1978, the Fairlight Sampler CMI became the first commercially available polyphonic digital sampling instrument but its prohibitive cost saw it solely in use by the likes of Trevor Horn, Stevie Wonder and Peter Gabriel. By mid-decade, however, smaller, cheaper instruments entered the market such as the ubiquitous Akai and Emulator Samplers often used by musicians live to replicate their studio-recorded sounds. The Sampler revolutionized the production of music from this point on.

In most major markets, with the qualified exception of the US, the early 1980’s was commercially drawn to electro-influenced artists. This was an exciting era for many of us, myself included. I know I wasn’t alone in closeting the distorted guitar and amps and immersing myself into a new universe of musical expression – a sound world of the abstract and non traditional.

At home, Australian synth based bands Real Life (‘Send Me An Angel’, “Heartland” album), Icehouse (‘Hey Little Girl’) and Pseudo Echo (‘Funky Town’) began to chart internationally, and more experimental electronic outfits like Severed Heads and SPK also developed cult followings overseas.

But by mid-decade the first global electronic wave lost its momentum amidst resistance fomented by an unrelenting old school music media. Most of the artists that began the decade as predominantly electro-based either disintegrated or heavily hybrid their sound with traditional rock instrumentation.

The USA, the largest world market in every sense, remained in the conservative music wings for much of the 1980’s. Although synth-based records did hit the American charts, the first being Human League’s 1982 US chart topper ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby?’, on the whole it was to be a few more years before the American mainstream embraced electronic music, at which point it consolidated itself as a dominant genre for musicians and audiences alike, worldwide.

1988 was somewhat of a watershed year for electronic music in the US. Often maligned in the press in their early years, it was Depeche Mode that unintentionally – and mostly unaware – spearheaded this new assault. From cult status in America for much of the decade, their new high-play rotation on what was now termed Modern Rock radio resulted in mega stadium performances. An Electro act playing sold out arenas was not common fare in the USA at that time!

In 1990, fan pandemonium in New York to greet the members at a central record shop made TV news, and their “Violator” album outselling Madonna and Prince in the same year made them a US household name. Electronic music was here to stay, without a doubt!

1990’s Onward: The Second Golden Era of Electronic Music for the Masses

Before our ‘star music’ secured its hold on the US mainstream, and while it was losing commercial ground elsewhere throughout much of the mid 1980’s, Detroit and Chicago became unassuming laboratories for an explosion of Electronic Music which would see out much of the 1990’s and onwards. Enter Techno and House.

Detroit in the 1980’s, a post-Fordism US industrial wasteland, produced the harder European influenced Techno. In the early to mid 80’s, Detroiter Juan Atkins, an obsessive Kraftwerk fan, together with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson – using primitive, often borrowed equipment – formed the backbone of what would become, together with House, the predominant music club-culture throughout the world. Heavily referenced artists that informed early Techno development were European pioneers such as the aforementioned Kraftwerk, as well as Yello and British Electro acts the likes of Depeche Mode, Human League, Heaven 17, New Order and Cabaret Voltaire.

Chicago, a four-hour drive away, simultaneously saw the development of House. The name is generally considered to be derived from “The Warehouse” where various DJ-Producers featured this new music amalgam. House has its roots in 1970’s disco and, unlike Techno, usually has some form of vocal. I think Giorgio Moroder’s work in the mid 70’s with Donna Summer, especially the song ‘I Feel Love’, is pivotal in appreciating the 70’s disco influences upon burgeoning Chicago House.

A myriad of variants and sub genres have developed since – crossing the Atlantic, reworked and back again – but in many ways the popular success of these two core forms revitalized the entire Electronic landscape and its associated social culture. Techno and House helped to profoundly challenge mainstream and Alternative Rock as the preferred listening choice for a new generation: a generation who has grown up with electronic music and accepts it as a given. For them, it is music that has always been.

The history of electronic music continues to be written as technology advances and people’s expectations of where music can go continues to push it forward, increasing its vocabulary and lexicon.

How to Not Get Robbed and Ripped Off When Hiring a CCTV Company or Buying a CCTV System (Part 2)

How to Not Get Robbed and Ripped Off When Hiring a CCTV Company or Buying a CCTV System

Part 2

· Camera Resolutions. Analog and digital camera resolutions are rated for consumers in TV Lines (TVL) and mega pixels (MP). Below is a list of CCTV resolutions and the corresponding camera formats. There are 2 things to remember when choosing cameras:

(a) the quality of the image you get depends on the quality of “the glass” (lens) and the CCD image sensor on the camera. Do you really think you’re gonna get jaw-dropping images from that $50 blow-out camera?

-and-

(b) the proper camera resolution and type must be matched with the proper recording format. Also, “too much” or “too little” resolution or the wrong format are both really a waste of time and money or simply won’t work.

analog

1. CIF cameras will be between 420-480 TVL. Known as “standard res.”

2. D1 cameras should be 600 TVL (although 500+ TVL cameras exist for D1). Known as “hi-res.”

3. 960H cameras should be at 700 TVL and used with a 960H DVR. Known as “super hi-res.”

digital

4. IP cameras vary from 1MP to 5MP. IP cameras can only be used with IP systems and NVRs

5. HD-SDI cameras should be at 2.1-2.2MP and will only be used with HD-SDI DVRs.

6. HD-CVI will use 1.3MP (720p) and 2MP (1080p) HD-CVI cameras and can only be used with HD-CVI DVRs (well, you can use HD-CVI cameras with analog DVRs, but they won’t be hi-def, so what’s the point).

Just because a camera boasts “700 TV Lines” or 8MP does not mean you’ll get superior video resolution. Mentioned above, many things come into play: quality lenses, image processors, outright lying, etc. One way to test this is with an ISO line chart and software to analyze the results and some CCTV companies will take this upon themselves to do this. Oh yes: larger MP cameras means smaller pixels. More is not always better. So, anything less than these camera specs for each format is really a waste of time because you’re not getting the full resolution out of each format. Also keep in mind, for example, that if an installer tries to sell you a 700 TVL camera with a D1 system (600 TVL max) you will see no added resolution and a 420 TVL camera will not provide the full resolution, either (“too much” and “too little”).

· Frame Rate. How many frames per second (fps) the DVR can record per channel (camera). 30fps per channel is the maximum and will use the most hard drive space. 15 fps is more than adequate. In a lot of cases I have used 7fps on a client’s system with excellent results. If a DVR isn’t capable of recording at least 7fps on ALL channels, do not buy. The option of at least 15fps on ALL channels is preferable. You can always reduce or raise this later. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Some manufactures will use “ips” in their marketing material. IPS is “images per second” (not frames per second). So, for example, you may see a 16 channel DVR that lists “30ips on all channels.” Looks good, right? WRONG! It is nothing but one big lie. 2ips=1fps. In other words, you would need 60ips to equal 30fps. So, if you did see the above DVR listed as “30ips on all channels” you would only be getting a max of 15fps on all channels. All this is, is an attempt to scam the consumer by using “impressive” numbers so you’ll buy their product.

Important Points

· Beware of “techno babble.” Usually, but not always, this is used to scam you by keeping you in the dark and uneducated. It sounds impressive when you hear it, but if you are not educated, you won’t know what you’re getting. Ask the salesperson or installer to clarify before you make the deal. This is a good test to see if they actually know what they are talking about. Of course, now that you have this report, you may be able to school them. Either way, I think it’s just poor manners to talk over someone’s head to begin with. Explain what you are saying.

· You need to know and ask the company all of the above tech specs before you hire. Actually, they should be more than happy to explain everything to you before you ask (see 3 lines above).

· Get all of the specs in writing or get some type of tech spec sheet. You want to be sure you are getting the exact system installed as promised and that you’re paying for.

· You need to know about the hard drive(s) in the DVR. Specifically:

(a) how many days of recording do you need/want?

(b) how big are hard drives in the DVR and how many days recording will you get?

-and-

(c) all hard drives go bad-what, if any, warranty is included?

· Remember, if an installer or salesperson tries to sell you a camera with a resolution that is under or overrated for any particular format (D1, 960H, HD-SDI) you’re getting scammed or dealing with incompetence.

· If you are replacing or upgrading an older CCTV system with an existing quality (I.e. 100% copper) RG-59 coax cable infrastructure in place that works/tests just fine, you do not need to pay for new cable, wiring and labor to install it. Remember that.

· And lastly, the above DVR and Camera specs only cover the basics and is a very good place to start and will ensure you are getting what you need, want and what you are paying for, but is no way complete.

7.) Contracts (or: Get Everything in Writing)

Real simple: get a written contract of everything from start to finish concerning the system and installation. Some things to consider:

· Everything should be spelled out in plain English and nice and neat (watch that small print).

· Detailed system components should be listed-what you are getting, how many, tech specs, etc.

· What about tech support? There should be something about rates, labor, etc.

· Are you leasing or buying?

· CCTV systems are complex electronics. There will be glitches and there may be problems from time to time. What is the warranty/guarantee terms? Do they guarantee your system? This is very important. Obviously, the longer the better.

· As for the above, if your system does not include a PC based DVR, you will be getting a Linux based electronic embedded DVR (the software is loaded onto the CPU). This means you will need firmware updates for the life of the DVR. Is this included? Is there a charge? Is it free?

Obviously, these are just a few things to consider and every CCTV company will have different terms and every respectable company will have a written contract that is fair. For example, my contracts are 2 pages long, easy to read and understand and lists free phone support, free lifetime firmware updates, 5 year DVR, camera and hard drive guarantees as well as the legal responsibilities of my company and of the client. But, that’s just me.

The Biggest Misconceptions When Installing A CCTV System

The company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire/buy from (sometimes this works, but usually not). Here are a few things to consider:

1) The price you see offered may not be for what you want or need

· Goals. Before you select a company, decide what you want to accomplish. Why do you want or need a CCTV system? What are your goals? What are you trying to do? What are your worries? What problems do you have, what do you want to stop, keep from happening, protect, etc? Make a list of important features and functions that you want, need and can’t live without before you decide on a CCTV company and system.

· Price. Price is usually an indication of quality. The best DVRs and cameras cost more. Extensive warranty coverage costs more. Better trained service people cost more. Reliable service and products cost more. Don’t let price be the deciding factor when choosing a CCTV company and system. There is a local CCTV/Security company in town that will install a DVR and 2 cameras for $450.00. Do you honestly think you’re getting a quality, hi-end reliable 2 camera CCTV system installed for $450.00? Or, how about these 16 channel “CCTV systems” online for $800.00? Seriously, think about that. You’ve heard “you get what you pay for?” Well, with CCTV it’s true.

2) The price you see advertised may not be the price you pay

Many people have learned that the low, low price they saw advertised was not the amount they were charged. And if you’ve hired a CCTV installer, you too may have been the victim of false or misleading advertising. You may get different cameras than what you were sold or you realize too late that the DVR doesn’t do exactly as promised. You may have learned the hard way that some CCTV companies offer a cheap price and then pressure you into paying a lot more once they get inside your business. Some of them may even break the law by using illegal bait and switch tactics.

3) The low, low prices you see online are low for a reason

Unfortunately, many people are only interested in the lowest price possible so they go to the Internet. This is unfortunate because they are not educating themselves and as a result are getting a system that is not very good and they are left confused, frustrated, angry or even in the dark as they think they bought a good system or this is how CCTV video should look and work. They never realize what they could’ve had. Too bad, too bad…

· Quality. Simply put, usually junk or low quality cameras and DVRs, lenses, CCDs, software, CPUs, etc. There are much better systems available.

· Reliability. How long will this system last? A year? Maybe longer, maybe not.

· “Great” Tech Specs. Incredible camera and DVR specs for the money (too good to be true).

· Warranty. Short warranty (90 days, 1 year). Every company should stand behind their product or service for a decent amount of time.

· Hardware/Software Platform. A lot of companies will sell cheap knock-offs with bootleg software based on reputable DVRs and cameras. When you try to get warranty coverage or firmware updates… you’re outta luck.

· Country of Origin. Do you know where these systems are manufactured and shipped from? Probably China. Those are the fact today. You’ll save time, money and frustration by knowing which company is developing the software platform and the manufacturing process. If not, you may be dealing with knock-offs and/or lousy quality control.

· Price. That low, low price is low for a reason. Please re-read the above.

These are probably the most important things you need to know if you are seriously thinking about buying a CCTV system online, from the big box stores, membership clubs and the big box home improvemnet stores (dread the thought). Actually, these are the types of things you need to know and be aware of when in the market for any CCTV system online, from a store or from an honest, reliable CCTV company.

Recommendations

(installing/upgrading/replacing a CCTV system)

1) Ask questions

The way you learn about a company and the systems they install is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers.

Here are some questions I suggest you ask:

· Do you have a Vendor’s license? Are you bonded or insured?

· Can you provide any references of recent jobs?

· Do you offer financing or take credit cards (not necessary but you may need this)?

· What training have you had?

· Are you a member of any trade associations, and if so, which ones?

· Can you be reached in an emergency?

· Can you provide a demo? Onsite or over the Internet or Smartphone?

The above are basic, good questions and should help you decide if you want to move forward. The next questions will really tell you if this is the right company for you.

· How “real” are the camera resolutions (TV Lines)? How are they tested? Are they line chart tested?

· What is the DVR’s recording frame rate? On how many channels?

· What is DVR’s recording resolution? On how many channels?

· If there is a technical problem, how long before it is fixed, repaired or replaced? Do you offer loaner cameras/DVRs?

· Do you offer system training?

· Do you offer tech support? If so, is it onsite or over the phone? Are there charges for this service? How long (months, years) is this service offered?

· Unless you are getting a PC based DVR, this will be an embedded electronic device and will need firmware updates. Do you get them? How do you get them? Are they free or is there a charge? How long are firmware updates available (months, years)?

· What type of warranty coverage or equipment guarantee(s) are offered? What is covered? How long does the coverage last?

· Body language. When asking these questions, keep an eye on this. This will tell you a lot.

2) Go for it

Only after you’re satisfied that you’re working with an honest, competent professional, you can begin the installation process.

By following all of the above recommendations, you’ll gain all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision.

As in all business and professions, the CCTV industry has its share of crooks and thieves. I know. I worked for one and 2 of our 3 competitors were no better. I take no pleasure in telling you this. Also, I have talked to more than one business owner showing me where they gave the CCTV installer money, he ran a few feet of cable and then… left. And I’ve upgraded or added on to existing systems that looked like they were installed by a 5 year old. Add to this their B.S. advertising and false promises, they cast a dark shadow on our entire industry. Then you’ll find other companies-professionals like me who work hard to earn your trust and respect.

As a way of improving our profession, I’ve dedicated my business to

(a) helping people

-and-

(b) educating the public.

The only way you can make an intelligent CCTV buying decision is to have all of the facts you need. This is why I offer this report. This is why I offer free newsletters. This is why I am there for my customers before, during and after the job is done. If you want a cheap (I.e. junk) system and service, there are a lot of companies in the phone book and online that can help you with that.

Glossary: Basic CCTV Terms and Definitions

Below is a list of everyday, common CCTV terms and definitions. These terms are used by every CCTV installer, website and in most product literature. Familiarize yourself with these terms and make the best hiring and buying decision possible.

1080p– I wanted to mention this because you see this everywhere: flat screens for your home, PC, Blu-ray discs and in digital video surveillance products. Just know that 1080p (1920×1080 progressive scan) is the standard for all true hi-def display technologies. If your CCTV system boasts 1080p recording, playback, real time view, etc then this is hi-def.

ASC– Auto Signal Compensation. Applies to the new and exciting HD-CVI format (see below). One of the many exciting innovations of HD-SCI is the ability to run long lengths of video cable (over 1500 ft) which would easily lend itself to all kinds of interference and noise, etc. Well, simply put, ASC does not allow that to happen and is a very important consideration to have in place when dealing with cable runs ¼ mile long.

bullet camera– A camera with a round, tube-like shape. These cameras can range in size from a tube of lipstick to can of soda. There are indoor and outdoor designs and some come with infrared features.

CCD– CCD stands for “charge-coupled device”. First invented in the 1970s, this technology uses a shift register combined with photodiodes to create the modern day imaging device. A what? The size of the CCD chip is normally 1/4″, 1/3″ or 1/2″. As a rule of thumb, the larger the size, the higher the quality of the image and the higher the price.

CCTV– Closed Circuit Television. Simply put, this means that the video (cameras) is on a closed circuit-it goes to one place only (the DVR) and is viewed by one person or authorized persons only. In contrast, broadcast TV, for example, is “open” and the video being shot is blasted out to a million viewers. Think of a live news program. Technically speaking, CCTV today really refers to analog (D1, 960H) video surveillance systems but I use it to refer to any and all video surveillance systems (IP, HD-CVI, etc) and companies and you should, too.

dome camera– A camera with a dome-like shape usually mounted on ceilings and walls. They are very unobtrusive and some come with infrared lighting and weather and vandal proof designs.

Dahua Technology-These guys are one of the best and biggest CCTV companies in China. In 2001, they introduced the first 8 channel embedded–software is on the CPU and is a non-PC based DVR–to the world. Nothing’s been the same since. In the fall of 2013, they released the new HD-CVI systems which I believe will change CCTV as we know it (the next year or two will prove me right or wrong).

DVR– Digital Video Recorder. Used with CCTV cameras. Similar to a computer in that it has a hard drive (HD), software and GUI (graphic user interface) and mouse, it converts the incoming analog signals from video cameras to digital, compresses it, and stores it on the HD. The DVR replaces the old-school, pain-in-the-a** time-lapse analog VCRs (remember those?). The advantages of a DVR over a VCR include video compression, remote view capability, burning video to CD-R or DVD-R and not wasting hours locating footage. You will either get a Linux based DVR or a Windows based PC DVR.

fps– Frames per second. For CCTV this refers to the number of video images that can be recorded and/or displayed in one second. Also referred to as the “frame rate” or “refresh rate”, 30fps is considered “real time” and uses more HD space.

Gb– Gigabyte. Digital info is stored in binary code, or lots and lots of 0’s and 1’s. All CDs, DVDs, digital cameras and digital video surveillance is stored this way. Eight (8) 0’s and 1’s make a byte. 1 Gb = 8 billion bits of information. Hard disc drives in PCs and DVRs usually express size in Gigabytes (250 Gb, 320 Gb, 500 Gb) and terabytes (see below).

H.264– This is one of the most commonly used codecs (computer program) for recording, compressing and distributing video as in Blu-ray and videos on YouTube. As far as CCTV is concerned, this allows the recorded video files to be compressed onto the hard drive to save space, but without losing quality for later viewing or archiving.

HD-CVI– This is a new hi-def video surveillance technology developed by Dahua Technology and released in the fall of 2013. There are two resolution formats: 720p and 1080p. This is very exciting news for users who want the quality of an IP system (or HD-SDI system) without the cost and tech issues. Very affordable and very promising.

HD-SDI– High Definition Serial Digital Interface. This system is hi-def 1080p (1920×1080). The use of hi-def mega pixel (MP) cameras and HD-DSI DVRs will record hi-def video with 2.2MP cameras.

IP– An IP camera is a networked digital video camera that transmits data over an Ethernet link. IP cameras (also called “network cameras”) are most often used for video surveillance which is a digitized and networked version of CCTV. IP cameras offer a wide range of MP (mega pixel) cameras with very high resolutions and Decentralized IP cameras have the recording function built-in so there is no need for an NVR. Very popular, IP camera systems can be expensive and sometimes troublesome (but many, many people would disagree). Note: be careful because there are 2 camps out there: one pushing IP and the other not. You must decide what is best for you.

IR– Infrared. Infrared cameras (a.k.a. night vision cameras) have special infrared lights (LEDs) installed around the camera lens. This provides special light that “lights up” the area at specific distances (50 ft, 100ft, etc) that the camera uses to capture images in the dark. Very popular.

lux– The amount of light needed for a camera to capture a good image. Infrared cameras usually have very low lux ratings (0 lux). The smaller the number, the less light is needed. A 0.0001 lux rating, for example, would “see” in complete darkness. This time, smaller is better.

MP– Mega Pixel. Digital images are made up of of tiny, tile-like picture elements. The more pixels, the higher the image resolution should be. This depends on the quality of the CCD sensor, lens, camera, etc. 1MP (megapixel) is one million tiny colored dots in an image, 2MP is two million and so on.

motion detection– The software feature in DVRs to only record video if something moves or changes. Because of this, you don’t have to look through hours of recorded video. It also saves space on the hard drive.

NVR– Network Video Recorder. Used with IP cameras. The easiest definition is that this is like a DVR (above) in that it looks like a DVR and acts like a DVR and can even have a hard drive like a DVR… but, is not a DVR. Unlike a DVR, an NVR does not need to be in the same area as the cabling of your cameras but can be, well, anywhere as long as it is on the same LAN (local area network) as the IP cameras. Video is encoded and processed at the camera, then streamed to the NVR for storage or viewing/remote viewing. Hybrid NVRs use both IP and CCTV cameras and this allows for easy upgrading from the later to the former.

outdoor cameras– Cameras in special weatherproof housings that allow them to function in tough weather and temperature conditions.

progressive scan– For video surveillance, the main advantage of progressive scan is that motion appears smoother and more realistic. It is also a way of displaying, storing or transmitting moving images in which all the lines of each frame are drawn in sequence (different from “interlaced video”). Progressive scan produces a higher quality video frame every time, because it is using every line of the recorded image.

remote view– Viewing your system (live or recorded files) over the Internet, your iPad or Smartphone. You must have an Internet connection at the same location of your system to do all this and this is a standard function on all modern CCTV systems.

resolution– This is probably the most important part of choosing a DVR and cameras. CCTV resolution is measured in vertical and horizontal pixel dimensions. Note: you need to know what you’re doing or deal with an honest company or you’ll end up very unhappy, mad and confused. Note: resolutions are discussed in greater detail above.

Surveillance-1- a watch kept over someone or something, esp. over a suspect, prisoner, etc.: under police surveillance. 2- supervision or superintendence. [1790-1800;

(French, =surveill(er) to watch over (sur- sur-1 + veiller ) Latin vigilare to watch].

TB– Terabyte. 1 Tb = 8 trillion bits of information. See Gb above. Used for the hard drives I install. I do not use anything less than 1 tb.

TVL– Television Lines, or TVL, is one of the most important resolution measurements in a CCTV system and is a specification of an analog camera’s horizontal resolution. It’s also known as TV Lines, “Lines of Horizontal Resolution” (LoHR) or more commonly just “lines of resolution.” A higher number of TVL should mean that a camera will have more detail.

Varifocal– A camera lens in which the focus is not fixed, but can be manually or automatically adjusted. You may see 4-9mm or 2.8-12mm lenses on varifocal cameras.

OK, I think that’s it. As mentioned at the beginning of this report, this glossary is by no means complete but the above info will arm you with basic knowledge and a better understanding of the different terms, formats, definitions and the technology involved with CCTV and will give you more buying power and protection when hiring a CCTV installer or buying a system.

Here’s one last point: I know that many consumers are skeptical about contractors. So am I. As mentioned above, unfortunately, catching crooks does not always apply to customers, thieves or even employees, but from the CCTV industry as well. I hope that you’ve found the information in this report useful, helpful and I hope you have learned things that you didn’t know before. You should now be prepared and feel more confident when it comes time for you to buy a system or have one installed.

-JK