Oklahoma Passes New Criminal Legislation to Reduce Pressure on Jails

criminal in handcuffsFor more than 10 years, the state of Oklahoma has had one of the highest overall rates of residents ending up in prison.  A significant number of these people were convicted of non-violent crimes.

Oklahoma’s Difficulties with Drug Crime

Since the early nineties, the state has had the largest incarceration rate percentage of all the U.S for female offenders.  It’s overall incarceration rate is nearly 80% higher than the average across all states according to data from 2015.

The state’s prisons also contain a higher per-captia number of African-Americans than any other state in the union.  Furthermore, a significant proportion of this population is either currently suffering from mental illness, or has a history of them.

Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform finally managed to pass significant reform by taking the matter to the people of the state.  This was addressed in State Questions 780 and 781.  In the most recent November elections both measures passed by fairly comfortable margins.

After their passage the state has seen continued lively debate around the matter.

Here is a quote from a local Oklahom paper.

Mike Boring, district attorney for Beaver, Cimarron, Harper and Texas counties, is among a group of district attorneys concerned about the impact that State Question 780 will have on drug courts.

Boring said because simple drug possession is no longer a felony, prosecutors no longer have a way to motivate people to choose drug court.

“Check the people in drug court right now — people in drug court are not there because they want to be in drug court,” said Boring, who has served as a district attorney for 14 years. “They’re there because it’s the only alternative to going to prison for 10 or 15 years, and they know if they don’t stay in drug court, they’re going to end up going to prison.”

Meanwhile, mental health advocates and proponents of Oklahoma say a lot of questions remain surrounding the proposed drug courts.

Oklahoma law allows for the creation of these misdemeanor drug courts, but the necessary funding to start  the programs has never been approved by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  Without funding these drug courts will remain a pipe dream.

Mark Levin, policy director at the conservative criminal justice group Right on Crime, said even though drug possession is a misdemeanor, there will be Oklahoman’s who commit various other crimes and other felonies related to their problems with drug addiction.

These people would be perfect candidates for drug court, said Levin, who serves as a member of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

Impacts on Criminal Defense

All of these recent changes to the law have given criminal defense attorneys in Oklahoma City new options in terms of strategies for defending their clients.  While not all drug related charges will fall into the domain of 780 and 781, there is hope that the law will have an impact.

There are many other states around the country watching what happens in Oklahoma because of these recently passed laws.  After all, the U.S. has one of the highest incarceration rates in the entire world.  And the amount of money spent by state and Federal agencies to detain, feed, and care for these prisoners is not insignificant.  This is especially true when more and more states are discovering massive shortfalls in their pension funds.

Should You Get Involved In Your Employee’s Health Care?

food pyramid of nutrition

As business owners it’s important to look at everything when trying to improve your bottom line.  Picking the right product mix, employee pay, benefits, and target market are all things that can have a big impact on your bottom line.  One of the biggest areas for improvement is often employee efficiency and happiness.  It turns out the two are very closely related.

Insuring Your Employees Are Healthy

Health care costs can be a significant line item in any business’ budget.  And even though costs since the introduction of the ACA have gone up considerably, health plans have always been somewhat expensive.

Corporate America learned long ago that healthy employees are often happy employees.  There’s also another benefit.  They typically have lower insurance costs.  These are a couple reasons why larger companies started offering gym memberships to their employees.  Prevention is an important part of lowering health care costs overall.

After all, once employees start having issues their costs rarely if ever go down.  And while you can’t force them to go to the gym and workout, you can encourage them to stay as healthy as possible.

Diet and Nutrition Advice

As with exercise you can’t force your employees to eat healthy, but you can at least create an environment with healthy choices.  Some employees choose to have diet and nutrition experts come in to give talks on such things as weight loss, proper nutrition, lowering cholesterol, and avoiding diabetes.

Obviously most of this information can be found on the internet simply by searching.  But there is also a ton of garbage out there in terms of diets as well.  Programs like the military diet are shortcut solutions that have nothing to do with nutrition.  You can look through 3 day military diet reviews and see that most people yo yo up and down and end up heavier than they were to begin with.

Having someone come in house to discuss long-term diet and nutrition solutions is a much better way to go.  Some businesses will even offer their employees an opportunity to work with a nutrition coach.

Other Options

The world of home theater and home automation is a construction intensive profession.  Crews are always on job sites.  While this is good exercise, food choices in this particular industry are generally pretty poor.  Technicians are generally in a hurry, or are rushing from one location to another.

Unfortunately this means fast food is not an unusual choice.  And while it’s convenient, it rarely translates into good health.

For that reason it can be good to help your employees come up with a plan that can improve their health and happiness and at the same time improve your bottom line.

Integrating Backup Power with Your Automation System

generac house generatorWith every passing month there are more and more systems that integrate with today’s home automation systems.  Everything from audio/video and climate control to lighting and security.  But what happens when the power goes out?  Well now you can integrate your homes backup generator system into your smart home to monitor all the diagnostics of the associated equipment.

In addition these systems can send out alerts to your smartphone or tablet when power is disrupted or spikes occur.

A New Type of Energy Management

For over a decade control systems like Control4 and Crestron have allowed the integration of solar panels and other energy devices into your system to monitor your home’s efficiency.

Industrial generator companies have now created interfaces with apps and other API’s to allow these same systems to monitor a host of readings coming from your backup power system.

While most generators are essentially an engine combined with an alternator to generate electricity, the control panels included with newer models can relay all of the important information to your control system so that you can stay informed about your homes backup systems.

Items they monitor might include:

  • Voltage from utility company
  • Recent self-test run by the generator
  • Oil or fuel information including scheduled oil changes
  • Service needs

Choosing a Standby Generator for Your Smart Home

There are literally hundreds of options to choose from when looking at standby generators for your home.  They range from the very basic and lower power models that supply only the essential services to higher powered models that can power your entire home and all it’s electronics.  We’ve highlighted some important buying tips below.  You can also reference this handy buyers guide from The Tool Report for standby generator reviews for your home.

How Much Power Do You Need?

One of the first things you should determine is how much power you need.  Generators are rated by kilowatts (kW).  There are portable models that can be used as standby’s that start as low as 6kW.  Then there are larger, permanently installed models that go up to as much as 35kW.  These can EASILY power a large home and all of it’s electrical systems.

You just have to decide what level of functionality you want if the power service from your utility were to be interrupted.  Most larger homes with large electrical systems, home theaters, lighting control, and automation require at least 25kW.  But the larger the house, the bigger the generator you’ll need.

Features to Look for In a Standby Generator

One of the most important considerations when buying a backup generator for your home is the cleanliness of the power it produces.  Electronics such as home automation equipment, high end AV gear, and computers are very sensitive to the voltage with which they are powered.

In generator speak this is generally expressed in total harmonic distortion (THD).  The lower this number, the better.  Generally anything under 5% is considered pretty clean.  In fact, many times the power you get from a high quality generator will be cleaner than what you get from your power company on a regular basis.

Companies like Generac pride themselves on providing units that can supply your home with abundant an clean power during blackouts, storms, or any other type of disaster.

Fuel Source for Your Generator

Another important consideration for your backup power is the type of fuel your generator will use.  Generally they run on natural gas, liquid propane, or diesel.  Both diesel and liquid propane require on-site storage tanks.  These can be either below or above-ground.

Natural gas offers the advantage of not needing a storage tank. But in areas that are prone to earthquakes it’s important to consider that your NG service might get knocked out at the same time as the power, so having a propane tank makes more sense in these areas.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve selected the backup system that can adequately power your home you need to ensure that it can properly integrate with your particular control system.  You can check with both the generator manufacturer and your home automation systems website to ensure compatibility.

Choosing the Best Tampa Home Theater Installation Company

tampa home theater installationThe home theater and home automation industry has been booming in recent years due to a resurgent real estate market.  In areas like Tampa, FL, his has led to a proliferation in businesses that service the industry.  But not all of these companies are the same.  Many companies have just entered the market in the last couple of years and lack the experience and service mentality necessary to deliver a high quality finished product.  Here are a few things you should look for in the company you choose to install your home entertainment or automation system.

Referrals Referrals Referrals…

Scott A of Innovative Sight & Sound in Clearwater says a big part of a home entertainment installation company’s success is the effective use of referrals.  This works to the advantage of the business, but it is also an effective method of finding a integrator for homeowners as well.  The reason for this is pretty simple.

When a homeowner has had a good experience with a business, they are often very vocal about sharing this business with others.  Let’s say you are in the market for a custom home theater system.  One of the first things you should do is seek out friends of yours who have had a system installed in the past couple of years.  They should be able to tell you a great deal about who to go with.

They will have first-hand knowledge of several important factors in choosing your contractor.

1.  How smoothly did the installation go?  Was the project well organized?  Did the design and installation team work well with other contractors on the job?

2.  How happy are they with the performance of the system?  Has it lived up to their expectations?

3.  What kind of service do they provide?  Are they responsive when problems come up with the system?  Are they proactive about new technologies that might interest their clients?

These are all very important pieces of information when choosing the best integrator for your home entertainment system.

Kicking the Tires

Many people get sucked in by companies that have an impressive showroom and sales pitch.  But you need to look behind the curtains as well.  Ask to see a couple of installations that they have performed in the last couple of years.  This will give you an idea of the type of consistency with which they perform.  If you find that one job looks incredibly neat while others seem to be somewhat messy, ask why.  Sometimes this comes down to one particular installation team versus another.  But a good business should take pride in ensuring that ALL of their work meets certain standards.

Spend some time looking at their Control4 website.  It should contain lots of pictures and testimonials of past clients.

Often this means that owners or managers are out on-site on a regular basis to inspect that standards are being upheld.  This is crucial.

Find out what their typical response time is for service related issues.  The last thing you want is to have an expensive system that is broken down and unusable because they don’t respond to your requests for service.

One of the most important things you can ask is how usable is the system.  Many home entertainment systems are somewhat complicated since they incorporate so many different devices.  A high quality integrator should give you a simple method of controlling all of these various parts.

If you are looking for a Tampa home theater installation company one of the best places to start is online.  A good integrator should have a solid list of referrals on their website.  Innovative Sight & Sound is one such integrator in the Tampa area.  They also have an office in the Panama City Beach Destin home theater area.  You can also see some of their home automation installations on their Facebook page.

Control4 Is This Atlanta Home Automation Integrators Forte

From customized installations at home to high-end system integrators for corporations, Control4 is laced with superlative design and functional features. The products are offered through a series of Atlanta based distributors who excel in handling projects from Audio, Video and Automation control. If you are looking for thoroughly professional service, distributors and installers of Control4 offer just that!

What is Control4?

The idea of homes is changing. They crave for the same smartness that your phone has. Control4 brings in a dazzling package of home automation to simplify things at home. An integration of everyday appliance with super-cool features and functionality make life not only productive but also an enriching experience. From music to climate control, Control4 is the perfect idea of a Smart Home.  Starting with an experienced Control4 home automation expert as your guide is key to a successful project.

It is integrated with the latest set of iOS, iPads, iPhones and Androids. You can control your lighting, music, audio, video surveillance and climate control with a swipe at the screen of your tablet. You not only save the time in operating these appliances manually, but also add enticing dimension to New-Age technology.

Create a sophisticated personalized experience at home and office.

Now, you can focus on things that really matter and spend time with people you love in a ‘Smart’ ambience controlled from your pocket.

How to begin with Control 4?

Always start with living area or a small space so that you can bring out the magic in true form. Once you are done with the small space with Control4, you can magnify the results to other parts of the house for an unforgettable date with technology.

What are the outstanding features of Control 4?

Control4 brings in its package with the Sight with Anywhere Access. You have a virtual presence at your base even when you are shopping, vacationing or simply taking a Spa. From garage doors to window access, every point in the home can be screened from anywhere, anytime!

If you have forgotten to switch off your bathroom lights before leaving, the Control4 will do it for you with a single tap on the screen, no matter where you are.

Welcome to the World of Universal Remote function

Control4 automates everything with integrated scenes and specific set of commands. You can eliminate the need for multiple devices to control different gadgets and functions with a single ‘Universal Remote control.’

The single instruction on the tablet screen can transform the way you see your home or enliven your movie experience in the Home Theater.  If you’re looking for a  Control4 dealer in the Alpharetta area you’ve come to the right place.  Having the system installed from best set of dealers will surely enlighten your house and office with new zealous automation at an affordable rate.

Home Automation, Should You Look at Apple’s HomeKit?

apple homekitHome automation systems have been around for a long time.  As an integrator I first started working with Crestron in 2002.  But they had been doing commercial and residential automation systems long before then.  One of the biggest complaints from those in the tech industry is that systems such as Crestron, Control4, and Savant are too proprietary in nature.  And while they most certainly are, there are good reasons behind this. (such as, gasp! making a profit)

Of course for most in the tech industry typically drools all over themselves and ANY product that Apple brings to the market.  The tech bellwether has recently stepped into the world of home automation.  It might seem a like a natural progression for a company that makes computers, phones, and phones that look like watches, but they are going up some very established players with significant dealer bases.

Products Must Be Profitable

One of the most important decisions an integrator has to make when choosing their product lines is the level of profitability it offers.  This isn’t as simple as choosing which product has the best margins.  In fact there is A LOT more that goes into it than that.

The interface and product reliability are of course on the top of the list.  But the smart home automation system must also be easy to configure and install.  If an integrator can only perform a few installations a year because jobs are difficult to finish it becomes a money loser.  Many installers experienced this with Crestron not that long ago.  And this led to the success of Control4 and Savant as dealers looked for better (and more profitable) solutions.  They focused on helping installation companies finish jobs on time and on budget, rather than burning through tons of time trying to program a complicated system.

And while Apple will undoubtedly have a beautiful interface for their system, if setup isn’t completely painless, it will require a professional to install.  However, Apple products typically have a razor thin margin.  This means that most integrators won’t want to sell it as there is very little money to be made.

Dealing with Multiple Apps

One of the biggest complaints with the system so far is that it requires using multiple apps.  You can bridge all of the apps together using something like iDevice, but even then the interface can be clunky and slow.

A typical home automation system might include lighting, home audio video, climate, security system, and door locks.  This means you could be dealing with up to 5 apps to get it up and running.

To date the user experience has been less than ideal.  While I’m sure Apple will eventually sort things out, they have a long way to go to catch up with the established players in this field.

A Trial Run

One company in did reach out to us to talk about their experience with the HomeKit system.  Wicktors of Bend Oregon recently installed HomeKit for a customer.  They gave it relatively good grades for ease of installation, but they had to handle all of the setup as the homeowner was unable to do it themselves.

This is just one indication that the system still has a ways to go before it’s ready for mass consumption.  Their thoughts were the same as mine.  Until there is more money in it, there would be little reason to offer it as a product line.

Balancing Technology with Decor

smart home automation devicesIn recent years the amount of technology that goes into high end homes has increased dramatically.  It is not uncommon for some homeowners to have TV’s and other devices in nearly every room of their house.  This has led to a push back from some home owners as they feel overwhelmed by seeing technology in every room of their house.

A Delicate Balancing Act

Since many homeowners spend a great deal of money creating the exact look and feel that they want for their home, it can often come as a shock when TV’s and other devices change the entire look of a room.  But there are ways of minimizing the impact that technology has on a home.  Much of this involves hiding devices in creative ways.

TV’s are by far the most noticeable and common technology in the modern home.  As screens have become larger in recent years, they have become more difficult to hide.  This is true even with TV’s that are now less than one inch thick.  One response from home automation experts has been to hide TV’s in creative ways.

Mirror Mirror On the Wall…

One creative way to hide displays is to use mirrors or artwork.  The TV is placed behind the mirror and only shows up when it is turned on.  Art can also be used to hide TV’s.  A client’s favorite piece of art can be recreated in digital format.  This digital print is then rolled up or down when you’re ready to watch TV.  These types of technologies can keep your living room from looking like a playroom all of the time.

Used in combination with invisible speaker and in-wall subwoofers you can create a legitimate surround sound system that is completely invisible when not in use.  There are several manufacturers of such technologies including Seura, and Artisan speakers.

Plan Early

If you want to be able to hide the majority of the technology in your home you should plan well in advance.  Have your home technology integrator meet with your architect, interior designer, and builder to ensure that everything is in place to hide devices that should be out of sight when not in use.  Even home automation devices such as touch panels, thermostats and lighting keypads can all be installed to have a minimal impact on the overall look of a home.

By planning for your technology in advance you can preserve the look of your home and reduce it’s technology footprint.

Heat Management Can Extend the Life of Your Equipment

One of the biggest concerns when working with high end electronics is properly managing heat.  All electrical components produce heat in some way or another.  Properly managing this heat can significantly extend the life of the equipment.  Many high end systems are installed in equipment racks that are built for looks but aren’t necessarily the best when it comes circulating the air.  Over the course of years this can cause circuits to degrade.  Even if this doesn’t cause the equipment to stop working, it can cause a substantial degradation of the quality of the sound.

Creating the Proper Ventilation

What makes up an ideal home theater is not just about the audio components that you installed nor the videography effects of your screen that you can play. Installing an ideal one also means installing with much assurance that any possible cause of trouble is minimized and as much as possible, be eliminated. You really need to make smart choices in all aspect for your home theater room. There is no need for you to be too overwhelmed on the audio video system so soon not until you are sure that you can use them all with much safety assured. What you need to know is not just about keeping away with the trouble but knowing the real cause of such trouble so that at the early stage, you would already be able to have them prevented.  By visiting http://www.pickeringaudio.com you can find more on proper ventilation procedures.

All equipment in your media room need energy for them to perform their function. In return, they too are emitting energy, still with the purpose of optimal performance. Basically, everything that consumes energy has to let go of an energy and this is an endless cycle. Thus, these equipment that you have are also letting go of those heat energy for it not to malfunction. You, as their owner should make sure that the heat they are heating are properly exhausted out of your media room. The best thing you need to do is to provide your room with the proper exhaust and ventilation system. This will not just add comfort to you but this will also preserve your audio video equipment for a longer period.

Other Ways to Extend the Life of Equipment

Now what about that choppy sounds that surely annoys you whenever it happens? As soon as you start to plan out your home theater, take time to be more critical with the cables that you use for connecting your system to the audio source. Some of these wires come in cheap prices but are quite not within the quality that could sustain for a longer time. There are also times that the problem do not lie with that long wire but usually happens on those wires’ end points like the jack. That is why there are different jacks being sold in the market that comes with different prices. So choose the right wires. And one more thing, make sure that all the wires that you will be needing comes with a back-up. So in case when one fails, you have the immediate replacement for you to still get to continue with your entertainment time.

Comfort should come along with the entertainment that you want to achieve. One trouble that might cross your way and could possibly ruin your movie session is having a seat of seats with no cushion or totally hard at all. Always keep in mind that your entertainment room should have as many soft seats and pillows as possible for you to enjoy your room at the fullest. Not being able to offer good seats to your friends is also quite embarrassing so highly consider in investing with those pretty good home theater chairs.

Home Theater Excellence in Los Angeles

In a town like Los Angeles it takes a lot to set yourself apart. High end home theaters are certainly no exception in a town of movie stars. So when we got the opportunity to check out this ultra luxurious theater room done by the well known Audio Video Experts in L.A. (also at http://www.avxhomtech.com) we decided we had better jump on it.

It’s one thing to spend a small fortune on high end components like Meridian processors, speakers, and source equipment. It’s quite another to design a special building just for your home entertainment purposes. But that’s exactly what this one home owner wanted. Now he has a place he can go that’s far away from the hustle and bustle of his home. Not to say that it’s quiet in his private theater. But it is private.
meridian 861v8

On The Equipment Side

This theater system is Meridian components all around. Meridian has been a stalwart in the high end audio business for decades. Their special claim to fame is their digital speakers in which each driver has it’s own separate amplifier. These amps are specially designed for just the frequencies produced by that particular driver. This means that there are no crossovers, and very little loss of electrical energy.

This makes for a very efficient speaker design. And it also makes for one amazing sounding system. While many integrators may choose to go with a different type of speaker for a theater. This particular homeowner wanted a system that sounded amazing for movies, and absolutely perfect for music.meridian dsp8000

This is exactly what he got. The system utilizes 7 DSP8000 speakers for the surround sound system. The 861V8 controls all of the audio processing. And finally the system is capped off by an 810 projector capable of 4k resolutions. As far as equipment goes, this system is tough to beat.

The Room Itself

While the number of people that can spend this kind of money on equipment is pretty small, the number that can drop the cash necessary to build their own theater BUILDING is even smaller. This homeowner wanted a one of kind structure that resembled an old downtown theater. On the outside you would never suspect. But on the inside it is literally a place of wonders.

There’s a snack bar with popcorn maker of course. There’s also video games and other details to complete the theater look. This particular homeowner is a big fan of ice cream, so he’s even got a scoop shop built right in.

But lets get to the important part, the theater itself. The room is a bit bigger than what you might picture for a home theater. It’s sumptuously decorated with theater seating, sofas, and pillows. All of the components are hidden from view, which is a shame for those that love to see the A/V gear.

All of the decor serves an important role in controlling sound waves in the room. It is perfectly balanced from an acoustical perspective. It took a team of audio engineers several weeks of work to incorporate all the features the home owner desired with the sound performance he demanded.  And even thought the building is isolated, the didn’t skimp on soundproofing materials.  The main reason being that the homeowner has an office above the theater.

In the end the project turned out to be a spectacular success. Both movies and music are perfectly represented by this remarkable system.

For more information on Meridain Audio check out their website at http://www.meridian-audio.com

Here are just a few of the places Audio Video Experts has performed installations.

This Atlanta Integrator Has A Portfolio Full of Dream Jobs

We’ve all dreamed of what it would be like to have the home theater of our dreams, but one company in Atlanta, Georgia is delivering these systems week in and week out.  Scott Ross and his team at Atlanta Home Theater have been in the custom design and installation business for nearly 20 years.  In that time he has amassed an impressive resume of industry awards and an extremely loyal customer base.

AHT theaterScott attributes their success to following a very simple strategy.  Set proper client expectations, and then exceed them whenever possible.  He also maintains an extremely well motivated and well educated installation team. Populating your staff with self starters is extremely important in a business that deals almost exclusively with high end clients.  These clients are extremely demanding.  And with good reason.  They expect nothing but the best from a team that has delivered nothing less for more nearly two decades.

Custom Home Theaters

While there is typically more to a custom integrators work than just theaters, this is the area that gets most of the attention.  Big screens, big speakers, and rumbling subwoofers are the hallmarks of a high performance theater system.  But there’s much more to it than that.  It’s knowing what components work best together and in what setting.

It’s easy to throw a bunch of high end equipment together get decent sound, but using the proper equipment together in a properly designed room is what sets a truly high performance theater apart from the rest.  Some of the brands that Atlanta Home Theater uses include Krell, Wilson Audio, Classe, and Definitive technology.  It’s the knowledge and expertise to design, install, and properly calibrate these high end products that allows AHT to consistently provide a product that exceeds their clients expectations and even their imaginations.

Starting from the very beginning Scott and his team work hand in hand with builders, interior designers, and other trades ensure the project runs as smoothly as possible. Many times this means running to last minute meetings and consultations on-site.  But this all pays off when the finished product delivers both exceptional audio and video performance.

Smart Home Automation Systems

Most home theater integrators also dabble in home automation.  The team at AHT wrote the book on smart homes.  They’ve been installing systems from industry pioneers such as Crestron and Control4 for well over 10 years.  When properly installed and programmed an automation system should make controlling a home a snap.  But when it’s done poorly, it can make things more complicated and prone to glitches.

The team at AHT designs their systems from top to bottom.  They rely heavily upon their own expertise as well as that of the manufacturers whose products they install.  This ensures that the client gets a system that allows them to easily control and monitor their home from both within the house, and from anywhere on the road.  This is often accomplished with devices such as an iPad or an iPhone.

You can see more of what they offer on their services page.

Building a Business on Referrals

One of the most important avenues of driving business in the world of home entertainment is referrals.  When you deliver a product that causes your client to grin from ear to ear, it’s easy to ask them to refer a friend.  And this is one way in which Scott has leveraged AHT’s clients.

He has also formed strong relationships with builders, architects, and interior designers.  They know that they can rely on AHT to deliver a system that will exceed their clients dreams.  It is this network that has allowed AHT to grow into what it is today.  Sure there have been some industry awards.  But it’s the solid work and consistent performance that keeps people coming in the door.  And it doesn’t hurt when you have an amazing portfolio.  Check out the Youtube channel to see some of their work.

You can see more of what Atlanta Home Theater has to offer at their showroom in Roswell, Georgia.  They’ve recently expanded into a beautiful 12,000 square foot space that allows them to show off everything they do.  You can also visit them at their website at http://www.atlantahometheater.com.