The Importance of Internet…

The world has changed in the last 20 years.  Think about this… What is the first thing you do when you wake up?  And what is the last thing you do before you go to bed?  For me, when I wake, I turn off the alarm that is on my phone and I check to see if I have any messages.  Before I go to bed, same thing.

We are connected to our friends and colleagues in a way that we could never have imagined 20 years ago.  We expect to be able to contact everybody at any time, whether it’s by phone, text, email or instant messaging.  All of these methods of communication now use the Internet.

Approximately 30% of the planet’s population using the Internet.  To put that in perspective, around 8% of the population have money in the bank.  The Internet is connecting the World and bringing information and knowledge to every corner of the Earth (almost).  There are now 300,000,000,000 emails are sent every day.

So what about us?  I’m going to talk about conferences and meetings because that’s what I know.  If I’m in a conference or in a meeting, I need to know that people can contact me.  I might have to join a last minute conference call or send some urgent documentation to a colleague.  So why is it that hotels and conference centres don’t provide me (a paying customer) with free wifi?  Well, many of them do.

Even governments and councils recognise the importance of internet.  O2 provided free wifi in London during the Olympics and Virgin have been trialling free wifi on the London Underground.

ABPCO (Association of British Professional Conference Organisers) have a campaign called ‘The Conference Cloud’.  I am a massive supporter and I think more venues should sign up and adhere to the rules.  It’s easy and cheap to make sure your guests can do their work when they’re on your site.  That’s what 15 Hatfields Conference Centre have done by recently upgrading their wifi and their ‘pipeline’ to ensure everybody gets a very decent connection.  I know it’s good, we installed it and guests love it!

Balanced audio?

I work in so many places and with so many people where the concept of balanced audio (and the problems associated with unbalanced audio) haven’t quite hit home. But what is the difference?  Well, despite what you might have heard, it’s really quite simple.

Balanced-Audio2

We ‘balance’ the signal.  Essentially, the signal in the cable is carried down two wires, instead of one.  Each one is affected differently by any interference and can be compared later to find where the interference is and eliminate it.  That’s the easy explanation and not entirely accurate…

Ok, now if you get that, we can explain it properly.  How can you compare two signals and eliminate any interference in a simple analogue circuit?  Firstly, take the signal and create an identical but opposite signal.  So that is ‘phase inverted’.  These two signals are carried down two separate wires, the hot and the cold and they share a common ground giving a balanced signal 3 pins instead of the 2 pins used by an unbalanced signal.  So far, simple.

 

 

Now we can imagine that every interference ‘spike’ is a separate problem and deal with them individually.  Interference will cause an alteration in the sin wave as you can see in the diagram on the left and that alteration will be identical on both the hot and the cold wires.

 

Now if we just reverse the polarity of one of those signals again, both signals will look the same except for the interference spike which will be exactly opposite on both pins.  Now if those signals are joined back together to create a single signal, the interference will be completed cancelled out.

 

There are a number of other things that help such as impedance matching and shielded cables and perhaps we’ll look at those next…