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Post 1 made on Saturday December 31, 2016 at 17:23
MGregory
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Hello i think this would be a great career for me, I was told there is a need for remote programmers but I do not know where to start can anyone help me?
Post 2 made on Saturday December 31, 2016 at 20:06
simoneales
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I'd start by telling everyone, with some degree of detail, where you are and what your background and experience is.

Most people get their start by working for a CI firm and learning how to program on the job and via supplier product training.

My own experience with guys that want to be programmers is that they often just want to do a course or 2 and get hired to program which pretty much never happens.

I've been through this before with results as follows:

Give a young guy a job as an installer so he gets an understanding of how systems work and go together (on the basis of him becoming a programmer) and send him off to do courses on RTI, Crestron programming, Pronto (at the time)and C-Bus and give him ample opportunity during work hours to hone his programming skills up until he reaches a point where he is given his first project of any substance (but not a big or difficult one).

Up until this point he is super confident in his abilities and as soon as he is given this project he wants an office of his own to work in, which he got and started demanding more money befitting a Crestron programmer. He was told that before he gets a big pay rise that maybe he should deliver at least one completed programming project before he gets it. 3 weeks later and it's clear that he is in over his head. Bugs everywhere in the system and he is trying to roll the system back to becoming RTI controlled. Before the first project is completed he left to become a C-Bus programmer for an electrical company, taking his 100K education at our expense with him.

My point is that if you have no experience, you need to start with the basics and put time in there to learn the craft. You will never be a great programmer worth hiring if all you can focus on is getting to the full time programming bit. It's one thing to learn the software, it's another to create a nice UI that people like to use and is simple. Likewise you need to know how to trouble shoot why some things are not working and how to correct those things.

This ended up way longer than i intended.
I guarantee I'll tell you the truth and I guarantee I'll tell you what you need to know but I can't guarantee that I'll be telling you anything you want to hear.
Post 3 made on Sunday January 1, 2017 at 04:29
buzz
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MGregory,

Why is this career path attractive to you?

I don't know where you are in terms of age, skills, or requirement for current income. A good plan for a young person would be to adopt a remote control system as a hobby and program a remote. then try to convince someone to adopt this as their remote. Ask what is good and bad about your scheme. Try this with as wide an audience as possible. If you enjoy the process and the result is accepted by a group of potential users, you have a career path.

You don't need much remote hardware to do this. Global Caché offers a range of hardware interfaces for IR control and a growing number of products can be controlled over the home network without using any hardware "boxes". You can find very inexpensive software platforms that can send IP commands to Global Caché and directly to Receivers, Blu-ray, etc. For less than $150 or so you can get started. The user interface is up to you to work out.

What kind of human and machine interactions do you want? How confident are you in your own abilities? Are you a generalist or a specialist? Can you solve a wide range of problems? Do you want to be a super specialist or a generalist? An example of a super specialist would be someone who exclusively programs one system, such as Crestron, URC, RTI, or whatever. Do you want to work for yourself or someone else?

I have encountered programmers who never go to a site. They work with furniture companies and similar that deliver and hook up boxes, then contract with the programmer to stitch things together using online tools. There are merits to this approach. These are essentially "cookie cutter" systems and the programming can be done in a few minutes by an experienced person. The goal is to crank out as many installations as possible. While this is a perfectly acceptable business model, it is not for me. I am a generalist and prefer to be thrown into an unfamiliar environment and "shoot my way out." There are advantages to both approaches. The super narrow specialist is much faster at programming, but more limited in terms of problem solving. I can drop into a site, very confident that I'll be able to solve the problem, whatever that might be. In some cases, solving the problem for the customer involves calling in an appropriate specialist, such as a licensed electrician, HVAC guy, or plumber.

The disadvantage of being a generalist is that there is always a specialist who can be more efficient at each little task. The disadvantage of being a super specialist is that when technology changes, that specialty may become worthless in the marketplace.

A good approach to break into any career is to "sweep floors" for a while and learn as much as possible. A warning: If you are a formal software engineering type, I think that you will find this branch of "programming" irksome because there is a strong tendency to shoot from the hip.
OP | Post 4 made on Sunday January 1, 2017 at 11:52
MGregory
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I am 28 yrs old, I have no formal training all I know is what I have learned from trial and error, I am very willing to learn all I would need to know to be able to work across multiple platforms.
Post 5 made on Sunday January 1, 2017 at 21:22
buzz
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MGregory,

Find a local integrator and offer your services. You'll be sweeping floors for a while, but gaining valuable experience. Hang out with their programmers and take on small projects whenever possible. From time to time, RTI and URC offer free or inexpensive local training. Even if you need to take a day off, go to these classes.

When I watch someone else work or encounter the results of their programming, the takeaway for me is often "don't do it that way!". Initially, you'll probably need to follow the lead of your coworkers, but don't ever forget this valuable lesson. Eventually, you'll develop and be able to sell your own style to coworkers and customers.

I have developed a user interface style that I have found resonates well with customers. Part of my "style" is face to face interaction with the customer. I need this interaction because I want to discover what "easy" means to that customer. "Easy" means different things to different people. For some it is the absolute minimum number of buttons. Anything beyond "Watch TV" and a numeric keypad for the channel numbers is "complicated". Then there is the customer who loves buttons and wants buttons for this, that, and the other "scene" -- this drives his wife crazy. His custom remote probably includes more buttons than the combined total for the native remotes, but he loves it. If you work for someone else, initially you will probably not have the opportunity for much interaction with customers. For me this "quarantine" period was short to non existent, but your mileage will vary. (but back then universal remotes were still products in my imagination and I couldn't raise enough capital to bring out a product)
Post 6 made on Tuesday January 3, 2017 at 14:43
Mac Burks (39)
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No two CI (custom installation) firms are the same. At one company a "remote programmer" could be very busy with a full time job of just programming remotes for single room systems. At another company all of the installers are expected to be "remote programmers" leaving more advanced programming for the full time programmer.

Most of the full-time-job programmers i know fit into 2 categories.

#1.They started as an installer.
#2.They started as an IT professional.

The installers typically have an easier time learning the programming tools because they know how "signal flow" and how systems ought to be designed...while the IT pros typically do well because our systems rely so heavily on computers & networking.

If you are not already an IT pro or an Installer you have a longer road ahead of you. Follow the advice listed above about looking for work with a local integrator.
Post 7 made on Wednesday February 1, 2017 at 21:29
cgav
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Don't do it!!! If I had it to do over again, I'd just go into IT instead. Customers, and sometimes employers, never fully appreciate you. There is a definite plateau in terms of earnings that is very easy to hit quickly. Then you'll basically be at this same spot for the rest of your life. Go get some networking certifications. You'll thank me later.
Post 8 made on Monday February 20, 2017 at 11:13
radiorhea
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2,802
Programming is an art. Some people "get" art and some do not. Our art is a blank remote. To make it come alive, you have to know the system that you are programming. To know the system that you are programming, you have to install said system or watch it being installed to get the signal flow...what device is connected to what. If you know how to connect a system, then you are in a better place.

Scenario 1

I have seven rooms of audio, an audio switch, a few sources, and an amp. Unless you install it or have a diagram, how do you know which "zone" to turn on to get music to play in the Dining Room.

Scenario 2

I have a client that wants to trigger on lights when the Garage door is opened after 8:00 PM. Where do you start?

Scenario 3

I have four new TVs mounted to a wall in a video wall configuration and I want to turn them on and see one big picture....where do I start?

I could go on and on. Lighting control is a whole other animal.

It is not as easy as some people think. What a client touches is one of the most important parts of the job as a whole. If the wife can not figure it out....then you will be in REAL deep do do.

Programming is bringing the whole install to a device for control. One room systems are where you need to start.

Get with a local install shop.
Drinking upstream from the herd since 1960
Post 9 made on Monday February 20, 2017 at 12:00
sirroundsound
Advanced Member
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Also don't forget the programmer is always the last guy left on site.
First, the install crew will do everything they can to finish....by the end of their day, leaving you to stay and get things working long after they are gone.
Second, if the installers have not completely done a manual check of everything working, you had better know your install stuff as you will find yourself alone after 6pm ( in many cases with no tech support open from some brands) trying to figure out why something doesn't work. It must be your programming as they said everything was tested right?
Dumb dumb puts an IR in the wrong port, or wires one backwards, placement is incorrect. No, they all know what they are doing so none of those things could have happened, could they?
So, as a programmer you should really have some good trouble shooting skills too, which really only come from being a good installer for many years.
Post 10 made on Monday February 20, 2017 at 16:21
goldenzrule
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On February 20, 2017 at 12:00, sirroundsound said...
Also don't forget the programmer is always the last guy left on site.
First, the install crew will do everything they can to finish....by the end of their day, leaving you to stay and get things working long after they are gone.
Second, if the installers have not completely done a manual check of everything working, you had better know your install stuff as you will find yourself alone after 6pm ( in many cases with no tech support open from some brands) trying to figure out why something doesn't work. It must be your programming as they said everything was tested right?
Dumb dumb puts an IR in the wrong port, or wires one backwards, placement is incorrect. No, they all know what they are doing so none of those things could have happened, could they?
So, as a programmer you should really have some good trouble shooting skills too, which really only come from being a good installer for many years.

What is this separate installer and programmer you speak of?
Post 11 made on Monday February 20, 2017 at 18:26
sirroundsound
Advanced Member
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November 2003
941
It is something I have heard about...could be a myth.
Post 12 made on Thursday July 27, 2017 at 03:15
MindyMagic
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July 2017
17
On January 1, 2017 at 21:22, buzz said...
MGregory,

Find a local integrator and offer your services. You'll be sweeping floors for a while, but gaining valuable experience. Hang out with their programmers and take on small projects whenever possible. From time to time, RTI and URC offer free or inexpensive local training.

Yup, this is the best advice that you may receive, my friend. Experience is always the best teacher.


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