Old School? Really.

feddxfeddx Junior MemberPosts: 138
A rant. Sorry. This is my day.

A salesman with his head on fire just stopped in to ask what the turnaround on reprogramming an old system would be. Their projector just died and no one has the source. Of course they don't.

He described the system. 2 Displays, a DSP, a switcher and a few sources. Simple enough

I asked what they user interface was, he said a TXC-32 remote.

"Hmmmmm...."

"Any pictures?" I ask.

He shows me a few pictures. And I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.

"That's an Axcent2." I tell him. He looks at me blankly.

"It's four generations behind the current processor and the last one was made over 20 years ago." Still nothing.

I tell him, "You need to explain to the client that even if we reprogram this, when this system fails, the only way to replace that device will be to buy something new, and then we will have to write new code for them again. The Axcent 2 barely uses AMX's early code, and new processors will work better if you use current code."

"So how long?" he asks.

Now it's my turn to stare. "50 hours. Maybe more," I tell him.

Now he wakes up. "Are you kidding me?" he asks incredulously. "You programmed a system twice this size, with VTC a month ago, and it wasn't that many hours!"

I reply, "It will take me a lot longer to figure out what they were doing with the system, and then try to reprogram that system for them with code I barely use, and AMX no longer supports (NS4 has no Axcess compiler), then it would for me to write new code using NetLinx on a new NX Master." I continued, "Now ask yourself, what would be more cost effective? Giving the client a new system with a new processor? Or reprogramming a system that is obsolete, over 20 years old, and cannot be replaced, all for the same price?"

He grumbled something about how he was going to talk to the client. No head on fire now, but certainly steaming.

I have in the past taken a hard stance. NO programming the Axcent 2 anymore. I have no problem programming Axcess, and still do the occasional Axcent 3, but I HATE the Axcent 2.

Am I alone in this? I understand the want for a client to stick with something that works (and FFS those old Axcent 2's keep going and going...) but even I am perplexed why a salesman wouldn't want to help himself, and his client by upgrading antiquated gear.

Just sharing to see what everyone else thinks.

I'd hate to think I keep that old XP laptop for no good reason.

Comments

  • a_riot42a_riot42 AMX Wizard Posts: 1,619
    I think every case is unique. If they had the code, and wanted to update something, I think I'd just do it if I was capable and had the appropriate software on a laptop. I've certainly done this type of thing before, although not on a system of that age. A complete reprogram though is a different beast. The time and money required to redo an ancient project isn't really money well spent, but if that's what the client wants and is prepared to pay for it, then what the hell, why not? Since you were talking to a salesman, then I don't really understand why you would be so surprised at their reaction. They know not what they do.
    Paul
  • feddxfeddx Junior Member Posts: 138
    a_riot42 wrote: »
    Since you were talking to a salesman, then I don't really understand why you would be so surprised at their reaction. They know not what they do.
    Paul

    Not all salesman are bad. And usually this guy isn't. But he's being short-sighted this time.

    He could make a sale, make a little commission money on the new gear, help his client out, all for right around the same money. It's always surprising to me when a salesman is so willing to spend my time especially when there is a serious reduction in cost of my time is he'd get new equipment.

    I do see it a lot, but still it is surprising.
  • a_riot42a_riot42 AMX Wizard Posts: 1,619
    feddx wrote: »

    Not all salesman are bad. And usually this guy isn't. But he's being short-sighted this time.

    He could make a sale, make a little commission money on the new gear, help his client out, all for right around the same money. It's always surprising to me when a salesman is so willing to spend my time especially when there is a serious reduction in cost of my time is he'd get new equipment.

    I do see it a lot, but still it is surprising.

    Well many salespeople are afraid of their clients, especially AMX clients who tend to be wealthy and can be demanding, and fear usually trumps greed. So while the commission may be much better on a complete upgrade of the system to modern spec, and its better for the AV company and the client as well, the fear of blow back from the client when they tell them what it will cost easily overrides any benefit in increased commissions. At least that's what I've noticed. I hope you get it worked out.
    Paul
  • John NagyJohn Nagy CineTouch Product Manager Posts: 1,427
    Sometimes a band-aid fix on a customer's awful system is the best way to make a good customer. We've nursed a local customer's frankenmix of non-AMX systems for the last couple years. Each time it acts up, we bid a proper replacement, which is rejected. Each time we agreed that we'll do what we can on time and materials, and we repeat that if a major control unit failed, we could not repair it. We've been lucky with stupid little repairs, and gradually we've adding a very high-end projector, a premium security system, some lighting control, and most importantly, confidence. Now the processor that controls the theater has died, and they are facing a complete rebuild... and they now know we've done everything we could for them, and we are the ones to move them forward.

    If we had flatly said NO, new or nothing at any prior point along this path without trying, we'd have gotten nothing, and some hack would make yet another wedge for them, and so it goes. Now we're looking at a major job and a customer who trusts us implicitly.

  • richardhermanrichardherman not-so-junior member Posts: 135
    I also don't do Axcent2 anymore. Got a nasty surprise when I last programmed one, that it couldn't do something basic like 'FIND_STRING' or 'REMOVE_STRING' (can't really remember now), that could only be fixed by a firmware upgrade. That meant ordering two 40 pins PROMS and physically exchanging those... seeing that was about 10 years ago, you can forget about that now, even then it was like someone at AMX finding some forgotten old stuff in a drawer. Even Axcent3 we only do when there is absolutely no other way.

    But most important, nothing of this is supported by AMX anymore, they won't even give out RMA's for NI-x000 anymore, and most, if not all NI-x100's. Or any equipment from that time period. So no more repairs on dead RS232 ports.

    Quote:
    'Get Refreshed'
    With immediate effect, HARMAN will be withdrawing repair services in the EMEA region for out of warranty AMX products not currently on the price list.
    HARMAN is therefore delighted to announce 'Get Refreshed?, a trade in program that allows customers to easily upgrade their obsolete equipment to the latest equivalent product.
    The program is easy to use, and offers attractive discounts against current products when older, like for like products are traded in against them. Discounts may only be applied once per serial number, and only against equivalent ?like-for-like? products.


    So, I don't think it makes sense to invest time and the customer's money into 'upgrading' equipment that could die anytime, with the only option to throw it away Although AMX seems to think that I should be 'delighted' about this, I'm really not. It does mean that you probably have to make a disclaimer when programatically upgrading AMX equipment older than 3 years, that the investment made would have to done again (whole or in part) when the equipment dies.
  • ericmedleyericmedley Senior Member - 3709 Posts Posts: 4,119
    Without exception every orphaned old AMX systems I've tried to help out the client have ended up being "death by a thousand cuts." I no longer accept them. It starts with the initial grumbling about the cost of reprogramming from scratch followed by endless phone calls about how "the old system didn't do it this way" and "this isn't how I expected it to work" so therefor, I'm not going to pay you until it's done. (Where "done" is really just the client tweaking and scope creep)
  • fogled@mizzou[email protected] h4x354x0r Posts: 506
    Get Refreshed - somehow I missed this announcement (then again there are reasons I don't pay attention anymore). My campus has a LOT of NI-xxxx controllers, about 30 of them. Anyone know what the "attractive discount" is to replace an NI-3000 with an NX-3200? I'd love to replace some NI-3000's controlling Kramer HDMI switches, with a single DVX cage, too, if the price were right.
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