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A Geek Leader interview of Jim Jachetta by John Rouda

Published on Oct 12, 2023 | Podcast, Jim Jachetta

AGL 274: Jim Jachetta

About Jim

Jim Jachetta, CTO & Co-founder at VidOvation

Jim Jachetta is the driving force behind VidOvation’s world-class technology that makes the “impossible” and “never been done before” a viable solution within your daily business operations. Using modern, easy-to-support technology, Jim and the talented VidOvation team creatively design, implement, and support wireless, cellular, IPTV, video over IP, and fiber optics installations that meet your organization’s business goals and at a price point that fits any size, scope, and budget.


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AGL 274: Jim Jachetta

John Rouda:

This is A Geek Leader Podcast, and I’m your host, John Rouda. This show is all about helping us grow as leaders, become better technologists, and improve our lives both at work and at home. I hope you enjoy the show and learn a lot.

Hello world, and welcome to A Geek Leader Podcast. I’m your host, John Rouda. Today’s sponsor is A2 Hosting. I’ve been using A2 Hosting’s solid state hosting solutions for our website at ageekleader.com for many, many years now, and absolutely love their support, their service, and all the features that you get. You get access to cPanel. You get all of the things that you can imagine for a great WordPress experience, including their A2 optimized WordPress, which does extra security checks, extra lockdown. You can lock down your editor file so you can’t edit anything inside there. You get alerts whenever there are file changes that are done. You can also do automatic updates, backups and more with A2 hosting, so highly recommend it. Go to ageekleader.com/a2 to get more information and to sign up for their solid-state turbocharged speed hosting today. Again, that’s ageekleader.com/a2.

All right, Geek Leaders, today on the show I am honored to have Jim Jachetta from VidOvation on the show. He is the CTO, co-founder, and they do some really cool stuff when it comes to the broadcast and media technology realm, which is the industry that I work in, so it’s very self-serving to have him on the show today. Well, anyway, we’re going to talk about leadership, we’re going to talk about new tech that’s going on, especially in the video world, and with all that being said, Jim, welcome to the show.

Jim Jachetta:

Hey, John, thanks for having me. I’m honored to be one of your guests. I’m looking forward to this conversation.

John Rouda:

Yeah, me too. If you don’t mind, just tell the audience a little bit about how you got to where you are in your career, what your background’s been like, and what is it that you guys do over at VidOvation.

Jim Jachetta:

Well, I hope you got a couple hours, John. I could go back pretty far. As a kid, my dad was an Italian immigrant. He came to this country with $12 in his wallet and met my mom, got married at a young age, and he was very proud of the 30 to 35 different jobs he had over the years. He started as an HVAC repair man. He welded windows. He got a job at Emerson Radio manufacturing radios, and eventually ended up in the television industry, the broadcast industry. His first job was in the industry was the very early days the WWF. Is it John McMahon or Jim McMahon?

John Rouda:

Jim McMahon, yeah.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah, Jim McMahon, the founder. I remember years after I go to my dad like, “Was there a guy, Jim McMahon, there in those early days?” He’s like, “Yeah, he always bought us pizzas at the end of the day. Very nice guy.” So, my dad was from Italy and he didn’t understand why grown men in tights were hitting each other over the head with chairs. Then that led to him working at NBC, ABC. His last job in television before starting his own company was at NBC. He worked at 30 Rock for about 12 years. He was just a technician. You know, my dad took a couple of engineering classes in Italy but didn’t really take to the structure of class. He was kind of a self-taught person.

He started his own company called MultiDyne in the late seventies. The company made the first portable color bar test signal generator, and so it was like 1978, 1979-ish, and then CNN came on the scene in about 1982, I believe, 1981 or 1982, and they bought hundreds of these color bar generators, test signal generators. NBC bought them, CNN bought them, and that’s what launched the company. My brother and I were always involved in the business as kids. We soldered circuit board. This was before things were surface mount. I don’t know how much you know John, but everything’s made by robots now, but circuit boards were made by hand back in the day, and it was my brother and I were involved in that. It was always a business marketing engineering conversation around the family table as a kid.

Then about actually June 27th of this last, June 17th of this last month was our 13th anniversary, so VidOvation. My midlife crisis was to… My wife’s from California, so my wife wanted to move from New York to California, and what do they say? Happy wife, happy life.

John Rouda:

Yeah.

Jim Jachetta:

I also felt it was time for a change. My dad had passed away, so you really can’t have two CEOs of a company, so I think one of us needed to take the primary leadership role in the lead of the company.

John Rouda:

Awesome. I still have a soldering iron, because I remember soldering stuff when I was younger, as well.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah.

John Rouda:

I had a 8086 and I remember soldering more ram into it because it wasn’t like chips back then. It was [inaudible 00:05:34].

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. According to my dad, I was an excellent solderer. You know, you have the right amount of heat, the right amount of solder, right amount of flux. Then you got to clean the boards. You know, it’s a whole. It’s all automated now. So, one of us needed to step away. My dad wasn’t, towards the end of his life, he really wasn’t involved in the day to day, but on the rare occasion where I wanted to go right and my brother thought we should go left, my dad was the tiebreaker. So, I wanted to move to California, so my brother bought me out of my share and I started VidOvation.

John Rouda:

Awesome.

Jim Jachetta:

At the time, the company was fiber optic communications based primarily, so I wanted to get into IP. That was a new thing. So I wanted to get into IP, wanted to do more with wireless. I wanted to do things other than fiber. Then my brother realized like, “Well, wait a minute. You’re not supposed to sell other people’s fiber. You can sell MultiDyne fiber.” So early on we did this crazy contract with the NHL. The NHL approached Dustin and he’s like, “Hey, you got wireless expertise. Can you design an in-net camera to watch the red line in hockey?” And when I was at MultiDyne, we did a lot of the fiber optic infrastructure for the venues for the NHL. So, it’s kind of all in the family, so the NHL was like, “We got Jims. We got Frank Jachetta who’s the wire fiber optic expert, and then we got Jim Jachetta doing all our wireless.” So they had everything in the Jachetta family

So that was our first big project. That was the NHL. And then IP, you know, we have a very successful IPTV offering, and IPTV is kind of a broad concept. Our definition of IPTV is enterprise IPTV. So you might see John in some of these stations that you bought, they might even still have coaxial television distribution in the plant. You know, I’m talking about a cable TV kind of a distribution. So if they want to watch video feeds in another office or on stage or in another studio without having to go to master control to watch videos, they would distribute like cable TV in the facility or like cable in your home. Well, a lot of new buildings now are not being built with RF coax in the wall anymore for television purposes. It’s just all IP. So we have an IP offering where we can distribute DirecTV, dish, cable. We convert everything to IP. Studio feed, stage feeds. So these were areas I wanted to get into with starting VidOvation, and we’ve been doing it now for almost 13 years.

John Rouda:

Awesome. Yeah, it seems like the more I learn about broadcast side of technology, that there’s been so much that are moving into IP. It’s more moving into networking, and it sounds like the line is being blurred between like network infrastructure and broadcast infrastructure.

Jim Jachetta:

For sure, for sure. And then this poses challenges, like the older engineers are forced to learn IP, but then a lot of the tech folks coming up don’t have the fundamental video skills. They might be an IT expert or they got IT training in school or from Cisco, but the video element is lost. So, that’s been some of the challenges with personnel, marrying those two skills together. I have some really good people working with me that understand both sides of the biz. You know, the video and audio basics, and then the IT side of it. So you almost have to have two degrees, an engineering degree and an IT degree, to survive.

John Rouda:

Yeah. So how is it like when it comes to managing and leading people in an area like this that’s changing so frequently and has changed significantly over the last decade and is continuing to advance and move into areas that are kind of the unknown?

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. Yeah, it does pose its challenges. You know, I like to lead by example. I’m not the kind of manager that likes to point, “Hey, you go do this. You go there.” If we’re doing a big installation with a new customer, I always try to be on site. You know, I’m not just telling my guys what to do. I’m in the trenches. If we hit a snag, we’re figuring it out together. My dad kind of had this philosophy, too. It’s that yes, we serve our customers. Our customers are important. You need to keep your employees and your team at the same level, if not put them before the customer. If you put your employees before the customer, then that trickles down to the customer. You know, I think companies that have bad customer service, there’s something wrong in the back end. There’s something, yeah. I think my old man had a, I don’t remember how to say it in Italian, but the fish stinks from the head down. You know, if there’s a problem with the company, it starts at the top.

You know, we all work very hard. I work hard alongside my team. I’m still learning to delegate. You know, you got to delegate more and more. You know? You can’t do everything yourself. Even if it’s like a five minute task, if it takes 15 minutes to document how to do a certain thing. I’ll even record a little screen grab with me narrating, “Hey, you go over here, you click there.” We use collaboration and documentation tools. I like Evernote. I have notes from every project, every vendor, and then we really started using Slack during COVID. I’ve fallen in love with it. You’ll have to ask my employees if they like it. Internally, I don’t want to be emailed from internally. I want, you know, my folks will Slack me and I use it as a punch list. You know, “Here’s the five things you need to knock off, boss, or you need to approve.” Boom, boom, boom. I go in there, or I do, there’s little icons like little eyeballs, like, “Okay, I got it. I see it. It lets my team know that I’m working on it, and then later, “Okay. I approve it. It’s good.”

So I think we’ve adapted pretty well with most of us now working separately and remotely using technology, using tools. But I’ll give you an example. A curious customer went into one of our IPTV systems and they were, “Oh, how do I program this?” I have no idea what they did. They wiped all the settings on some appliance and we got the tech support phone call or email, and we use Zendesk for our support, so you can call and then it will hunt for an agent that’s available. I’m on the chain. I’m the last person on the chain, so if my guys are busy, you know, I don’t wipe my hands like, “Hey, I’m above doing frontline tech support.” It’s rare, but if my guys are busy, I will take a support call.

It’s 24/7. We all support our customers 24/7. So, you can email or call in, and customer calls in on the support line. “Hey, I don’t know what I did. I wiped out the settings.” So go into our library, go into Evernote. You know, look at the notes for that particular project, and within minutes we’re keying back in all the settings. “Wow. You guys are so smart, man. How do you remember all these settings by hand?” I didn’t let on the secret. “Oh, well we know this product really, really well.” So I’m a firm believer of communication documentation. I like to plan for contingencies, too. My dad was always a firm believer that something’s going to go wrong that you don’t anticipate, so make sure the simple things are covered. You know, do you have the right tools? Do you have the right documentation? If this doesn’t work, what’s your plan B? What’s the tech support number for a vendor so you’re not scrambling in front of the customer, “I don’t know what to do.” You know, you’re proactive.

So that’s kind of how we roll, and I have a really, really great team. I have a great operations team. I have a great tech support team, great engineering. Believe it or not in business I find one of the challenging positions to fill is sales.

John Rouda:

Really?

Jim Jachetta:

Finding sales people that are legit, that are good. Here’s a common problem with sales people right now. They don’t want to pick up the phone. A lot of sales people coming up. I’ll do a lot of phone interaction with someone I’m interviewing, you know, see how good they’re on the phone. They’ll call in and I purposely won’t answer. I want to hear how they sound on the voicemail. Modern sales people now like, “Well, I sent out a couple of hundred emails yesterday.” “Did you talk to anybody?” Now, emails is part of it, but I think the old… You know, yes, the modern tools of email, text messaging, marketing is a big part of business development, but old school dialing that phone, at least in our business, that’s one of the most-

John Rouda:

Do you think that’s kind of generational?

Jim Jachetta:

I think so. That could be part of it. I’ve [inaudible 00:16:28]-

John Rouda:

Because I know when I talk to like kids, you know, I say kids. I teach part-time at Winthrop University and I talked to students that are there, and I remember back when if you wanted to go on a date with someone you had to call their house and their parents would answer, and then you would talk to them on the landline. It had to be home at that point. You know, you didn’t have cell phones. You didn’t have text messaging.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah.

John Rouda:

And now it’s like people were so used to just text messaging everything. You know, the phone conversation’s kind of a rare thing when they’re growing up so they’re uncomfortable with that.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. And we don’t call it cold calling. We call it warm calling, and what’s the difference? Well, we might have a list of people we don’t know. So they’re cold, but it’s targeted. We’re not calling the Yellow Pages going alphabetically. So, we have some idea, so if we’re kind of targeting a certain type of say production company and we’ve helped someone similar and then we might name drop. So it’s like, “Hey, we helped XYZ production do this crazy live reality TV show. Have you guys ever had aspirations of doing a live reality TV show?” We’ll call. Now 90% of the time or 95% of the time you get a voicemail, then you do an email, then might do a text message if we have a mobile number. Might hit him up on LinkedIn. But yeah, my VP Sales, he could sell ice to… He could convince an Eskimo that he needed ice. See, it wouldn’t be like he’s tricking him. He would find a reason why the Eskimo needed the ice and he would sell it to them.

John Rouda:

Wow.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. I like people with a good attitude, too, that you can get people that are really well educated. I think a good attitude and a willingness to learn can go a long way. Granted, having specialized skills is always a positive, but if you get someone who’s really good at their craft, sometimes a little arrogance comes along with it and they think they’re above going to meetings and they’re a little bit prickly with other employees, prickly with the customer. So, I think attitude and a willingness to learn sometimes can out trump specialized skills, because the specialized skills can be taught.

John Rouda:

Yeah.

Jim Jachetta:

You know, and I think some of that DNA in sales, too, you can’t teach that. That’s part of it, too. I think a lot of people think they can do sales when they’re really not cut out for it.

John Rouda:

Yeah. Yeah. I understand that completely. I know when I was, many years ago I had my own company that me and a couple of friends started and we ran that for about seven years before selling it off, but sales was always the most challenging part for me because it didn’t come natural. It’s like I had to force it and I wasn’t comfortable with that, and luckily I had one of the partners that was much better at that side of it than I was.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. Well, that’s important. You know, if you’re putting a team together, have backfill people in your weak spots. You know?

John Rouda:

Yes. Yes. So let me ask you about that a little bit. When it comes to hiring, have you seen it more difficult to hire now with post COVID world or is it easier for you?

Jim Jachetta:

It depends. I think a lot of it is luck. Things are ramping up right now. I’m probably guilty of not doing this, but one of, we as a team… So, I wear a lot of different hats, and when I was a kid I was painfully shy, and now if you asked my five year old self I’d be doing a podcast right now, I’d be like, “That’s crazy. I wouldn’t speak in front of hundreds or thousands of people. That’s crazy.” Well, we’re not live, but you understand. I do webinars. I’ll speak in front of a room of a hundred people. Some people that have known me my whole life, “He was such a nice, quiet, sweet kid. Now he just doesn’t stop talking. He’s out there.”

So, I came from a shy kid, went to engineering school, went into my dad’s business, and my dad was the primary salesman. He was working off of referrals, really, people he knew. So I was like, “Dad, we need a way to grow this.” So, I taught myself to overcome my shyness. I guess I’m kind of contradicting myself. I said there’s certain inherent skills. You can’t teach someone sales. It’s got to be in your DNA. I don’t think sales was in my DNA, so I guess if I could do it, anybody could do it. You know, a lot of reading, a lot of practicing. I learned a lot.

Out of college, I came back to work for my dad and then got approached by a head hunter to work at aerospace. It was a company that made electronics for the aerospace industry and head hunters like, “Oh, we’re looking for somebody with video engineering experience.” My old man’s like… I was getting my masters at the time, and back then in the late eighties, your employer paid for your masters, like if you got a B or better.

John Rouda:

That’s how I got my masters for free.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. Yeah. You know, that’s unheard of now. I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sure there’s some companies out there that’ll do it. So, my dad’s like, “Hey, get them to pay for your masters, but I think you’ll learn a lot,” and he was so right. It wasn’t a huge company, but it’s a couple hundred people. They had manufacturing in Taiwan, and I had two amazing bosses. The Director of Engineering, my direct boss, and then his boss, the VP of Engineering. You know, it was a military, so it was all about organization and the documentation. There was a form for everything. So, I think it taught me a lot of structure. It taught me a lot of, you need to document. You know, it was the law. We were building equipment for the government. So, I think I learned a lot. I worked there for maybe about two and a half, three years.

So then I came back with a lot of ideas, and I would go to lunch with the sales guys a lot and ask them a lot of questions, and then the sales guys love having access to an engineer in case they got a technical question, so the sales guys loved sharing with me and say, “Well, could you answer this tech question? Oh, I got a conference call at 3:00.” So the other engineers make fun of me and they’d be like, “Why are you hanging out with those cheesy sales guys?” Pardon, not all sales guys are cheesy, but the engineers thought these sales guys, “Well, why are you hanging out with those guys? It’s like, “Well, my dad’s business needs sales. I want to learn how these guys tick,” so I learned a lot in that process.

I don’t really read anymore for entertainment. It’s usually sales, marketing and leadership books or podcasts. I listen to them while I exercise in the morning. I try to go for a hike or something. But, yeah. So I kind of deviated from your question, John. Is it easier or harder to hire people? Part of what HR folks recommend that you should always be looking for people, you should look for your new hire before you need it, and I think I’m guilty of not doing that. They say as a manager you should spend 10% of your time looking at resumes. Unfortunately it kind of leads candidates on. You know, like you’re not really ready to hire, but you want to have some potential candidates in the pipeline because you might need somebody unexpectedly, and I’m sure we’ve all been in those situations. It can take you months to find the right person if you’re not planning for it.

John Rouda:

Yeah. Yeah, for sure, and I think we all fall into that role where, you know, you don’t want to hire if you don’t need the role because then you have to let someone go or it becomes that you’re wasting company resources and that person’s time if you hire outside of that. But I think that’s where it comes into it’s important to network and get that group of people around you that you can pull from. Like for example, if I needed to hire someone in a leadership role, I’ve been around a lot of tech leaders and I’ve had this podcast. I’ve been talking to a lot of them. There’s a vast community that I can reach out to and maybe find someone that’s looking for a change or that knows somebody that’s looking for a change and we can try to go that route and build that area. So, I think that’s where going to meetups and just building that network of people that are in those realms where you might need to hire someone from is important to help you out when you get in that situation.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. No. No, definitely. I don’t know if maybe you disagree and I don’t really do this, but they say you should be at minimum scanning resumes even, I don’t know, I guess maybe the approach is to be honest with contacts. You know, like, “Hey, your resume looks good. I’ll keep you in mind. I might need someone in six months.” So you just start some initial dialogue. I’ll tell you one example. I’ve hired someone and years later that person moved on or maybe didn’t work out. I’ve gone back to the second or third runner up from the prior interview and I’ve kept in contact, or particularly in sales or even engineering, the person will say, “Hey, Jim, I really enjoyed our interview. Is it okay if I keep in touch?” You know, if a position opens up.

You know, in hiring, second or third place doesn’t… A silver or a bronze medal in HR doesn’t really help the candidate much, but keeping in contact with them, and then I’ve gone back and actually hired one of those runner ups from a prior round of hiring and it’s worked out. So, keeping in touch with people that you’ve interviewed in the past. Don’t just ghost them. Thank them for applying. Tell them it was a really hard decision. “I encourage you to keep in touch. I’ll keep your resume.” Don’t burn that bridge because that runner up might be ideal for a slightly different position down the road.

John Rouda:

Yeah. No, I think that’s a great idea. I think it’s always good to be transparent with people and let them know, and also to be scanning, because you may find a person for a position that you don’t have yet, but it may enlighten you to, “Hey, we need to add that position. We need to grow our team because this person’s too valuable to let get away.”

Jim Jachetta:

Right. Right. Right. Exactly.

John Rouda:

Yeah. What have you seen on the horizon as far as broadcast technology and video over IP and things that are changing, and of all these changes with broadcast kind of coming more of the network type infrastructure, have you seen any increase in concern when it comes to security?

Jim Jachetta:

Yes. Yes. I don’t want to name names, but it’s pretty common knowledge. One of the major broadcast groups got hacked at the enterprise level, or ransomware. Really bad, really bad. I don’t want to mention the name. You might know.

John Rouda:

Yeah. I’m familiar with that. I’m familiar with one that got hit not too long ago.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. Yeah.

John Rouda:

I think they reported about $35 million worth of lost revenue from being off the air temporarily.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They-

John Rouda:

When the live news goes off the air, it’s a big deal.

Jim Jachetta:

Well any kind of live. Well, also dead air, you know, you get fined by the FCC.

John Rouda:

Yeah.

Jim Jachetta:

You know, your transmitter goes down-

John Rouda:

And you lose your revenue from advertising. You lose all that. Yeah.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. Yeah. But also FCC, you no broadcast, that’s very bad. I think you got a certain grace period to get back up online, or you’re supposed to have backups, a backup transmitter. But, yeah, that’s very bad. Yeah, no, it is a big concern. So, I’ll give you some examples. So when we do our IPTV… You said it’s okay if I geek out a little bit, John, so your IT listeners may appreciate this. So when we distribute television on the enterprise network with our IPTV offering, you know, management, operations, sometimes even the marketing department of an organization, because we do digital signage as part of our television offering. So it might even be like a casino, and it’s a mix of television and signage, so it might be the marketing department that brings us into the opportunity, and we always encourage IT needs to be involved in the conversation early on, early on.

You know, I think IT departments, because they’re so overwhelmed, they’re so worried about security, because if there’s a breach, they’re going to be blamed and they might get fired over it even if it’s not their fault, so they’re very nervous, very nervous. So in our offering, we like to distribute the television streams in multicast. I’m sure most of your listeners probably know this, but I’ll explain it if there’s people out there that don’t know. So when you’re any kind of communication on a network, but particularly video, there’s two modes. Most communication on network is unicast. I’ll use my work computer here. I want to print to the printer down the hall. Well, that sets up a point to point or a unicast communication. I don’t need to let the whole organization know that I intend to print. I don’t need to broadcast that to every terminal. “Jim’s printing something.” I just need to talk to the printer. So, those are one to one communications.

Multicast, It’s in its name. We’re casting to multiple endpoints, so the stream is allowed to propagate. It’s allowed to replicate across the network. Most corporate networks have multicast or internet group multicast protocol or IGMP turned off, so we have to get it to turn that on all the switches, and while it’s rare, we’ve run into some organizations where multicast is for verboten. They won’t allow it. A multicast stream if not managed right could cause damage. It could ping around the network indefinitely and cause damage, but we set the TTL or the time to live of the stream that if it hops more than a couple a dozen times, it dies naturally on its own. It can’t cause damage. So, it can be set up right. Rules can be set up in the switches so the multicast streams propagate on the ports they’re supposed to propagate on and nothing malicious can happen. So, that’s a fundamental change on the enterprise. We got to get IT on board to enable multicast. So I’m sure you can imagine, John, in some cases that might be challenging, right?

John Rouda:

Yeah. I know when we had to go through that process for some of our streams, it was like, well, let’s enable it on the switches and then limit which VLANs we can do and segment things off the best we can to prevent any kind of crossover on any of that, but also to make sure the devices are set up, like you said, with proper TTLs for everything.

Jim Jachetta:

Exactly, exactly. On an existing install, setting up a physically separate network may not be practical, but we’ve done quite a few projects for… Well, so Viacom became Viacom CBS. Now Viacom CBS is Paramount. So the joke I have with my Viacom Paramount customers is like, “Who’s printing those business cards? You just printed 10,000 business cards that said Viacom CBS, then six months later, now you’re paramount.” So I think it’s to promote the Paramount streaming platform. They’re changing the whole company. So, we’ve done the Viacom HQ in Gower. It’s a Hollywood facility. Viacom a few years ago built a centralized building in Hollywood to… They were kind of a fragmented, at least in Southern California. You know, BET was in one building, Comedy Central was in another building. So they brought most, the leadership team or most of the operations all under one roof. At least in some cases there might be satellite facilities, but at least leadership so they can collaborate and have meetings together. They’re all under one roof. So, they built a brand new building, and the nice thing about building a brand new building is they brought fiber connections to each floor and the blue cabling was for television, the red cabling was for voice and data, so they took it more than just a VLAN separation. Physically separated the television infrastructure from the business operation infrastructure, but, yeah, certainly putting things on their own VLAN is highly recommended.

John Rouda:

Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. If you can physically air gap, I definitely recommend always doing that for broadcast, that way if you do get hit with ransomware, some kind of other malicious thing, it’s not going to bleed over into that on air and affect on air systems, and I know that’s one of… We had a project a couple of years ago to do that, to actually separate everything off and go through that separation between broadcast on air and in the business units, and that was a big deal. Once that was completed, yeah, it’s a little bit more difficult when it comes to putting content on the network, but it really saves you if you do get hit with anything.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah, even just troubleshooting, too, if there’s some… Again, then if they don’t want to have the corporate switches multicast enabled for whatever reason, security or whatnot, so then the video streams would, even if they tried to propagate on the wrong physical network, just won’t propagate. It’s not multicast enabled. Another thing we do is we can stream to the desktop. Because we work with a lot of media companies, there’s a business use case to watch TV at your desk. You know, maybe you’re an analyst at a sports league. We did a big project with Big 10 Networks, so there’s analysts at their computer. They got to watch games. Other sports. We did the tennis channel. Tennis channels, Sinclair Bally sports facility, a new facility in Santa Monica. So, people need to watch TV at their desk. Now, if you’re in an office, you’re an executive, you have a screen on the wall. You have a couch and a little kind of area with a TV in your office.

If you’re in a cubicle and you need to watch TV, there’s no room to put a monitor, so it’s very desirable for customers to watch TV in their browser. So if that’s the case, we tie our IPTV middleware into the Active Directory. We have an LDAP module that our professional services will work with the customer’s IT department to do a full Active Directory integration. So, I’m a mid-level employee at my desk and I want to watch ESPN and I go to the… You know, there’ll be a special URL you go to to watch TV. You click on the URL. I log in with my… I may not even need to log in. The network knows I’ve already logged into the computer with my Active Directory credentials, so it knows who I am. It knows my computer, and it says, “Well, Jim’s not allowed to watch ESPN because he’s supposed to be working. Only executives can watch ESPN because they need to watch ESPN.”

I’ve been in meetings where people, C level execs are like, “We need ESPN, ESPN classic.” And I’m like, “That’s owned by Disney. Why do you?” “Well, we need to keep an eye on the competition. That’s why I need ESPN.” Yeah, but you’re not in sports. I guess it’s a common thing now, if you work 80 hours a week, you should be able to get your ESPN in your office.

John Rouda:

Yeah. Yeah. Understood.

Jim Jachetta:

If you’re living at your office, that’s the least we could do for you is give you ESPN. So at the desktop, because it’s a network terminal now, all that can be locked down. Then we had rolled out an IPTV system, the fall, I believe it was the fall or late summer of 2019 to the Paramount studio lot. It was hundreds if not a thousand end points. You know, television. That, I always thought it was comical. Before we got into IPTV, you go to a place like Paramount. Every trailer has a DirecTV dish on the roof, every building. You’ll see dishes lined up on the roof of all the studios. I’m like, “That’s insane. Who’s paying for all those accounts?” So all that went away. If any trail or any office, any sound stage, if you have a network connection, we can bring TV to you.

So, we built a DirecTV headend. We bring certain studio feeds to the headend because execs don’t want to have to get up from their desk to go see if the show is being produced. You know, time is money, right? I don’t know, a production might be $50,000 an hour to have the lights on. You know, to have the staff, the support, the catering, the craft services, et cetera. The union support folks. You know, a hundred grand an hour just to have the lights on, essentially. Well, if everyone’s standing around, nothing’s happening, execs want to see that and they want to see it from their office, see it from the conference room. They don’t have to walk downstairs to the stage. So now COVID hits. Productions were shut down, but then productions slowly came back online.

Now the execs didn’t want to come in for the safety concerns, COVID concerns, health concerns. How do I watch those stage feeds from home now? Well, the system was built just to be for the enterprise, so we put a secondary server in a DMZ outside the firewall, and Paramount loves Okta for dual authentication, so they’re like, “We want to have Okta dual authentication.” So, users from home, we pass the streams through the firewall to this server outside the firewall, and people would log in from home. They would use their work Active Directory credentials. Now, not everyone is a Paramount employee, so that gets complicated. If you are a tenant of Paramount, you may have your own Active Directory server because you’re renting space. You’re not an employee of Paramount. So, some users were Active Directory, some were not, so we needed to keep the login credentials that people used on campus safe and secure for when they logged in from the outside, and we protected it not only with a login and a password, but dual authentication. There’s some IT departments that don’t like dual authentication with text messaging because phones can be closed. They can be cloned. The phones can be cloned. I don’t know. Have you heard of a, I actually haven’t heard of a real, I don’t know if it’s a theoretical thing or if it actually ever really happened. So, Okta-

John Rouda:

Yeah, I think that happened with Jeff Bezos. That’s how they got his is they cloned his SIM card and when he reset his Twitter password, it went to, the SMS message went to the attacker who then was able to gain access to his Twitter.

Jim Jachetta:

Okay. Well, there you go. There you go.

John Rouda:

It’s typically only really high value targets that someone’s going to spend that type of effort to.

Jim Jachetta:

Well, and we’re talking about a studio, and in television, you’ll learn this, especially if it’s an episodic kind of a show. If something leaks before… My kids when they were younger did some extra work, so if you’re a parent, they put tape over the lens of your camera on your phone or they even take the phone away. You know, while they’re shooting, no phones are allowed on set or near the set, because, I mean, you’ve seen it. You know, something leaks out, it ruins the dramatic ending for some TV show, so security is very important.

So, dual authentication to protect access to the streams, internally and externally we are very good at what we call digital rights management or DRM. Now there’s different levels or different applications of digital rights management. Digital rights management could even be, do you remember like the DVD players?

John Rouda:

Mm-hmm.

Jim Jachetta:

The content on a DVD is encrypted, but there was a hack about that, right? You remember that where then DVDs could be bootlegged? Some Taiwanese vendor, all the access keys were hacked, so then that caused a debacle. This could be going back 20 years.

John Rouda:

And you can go back even further than that where you had the cassette tapes where you put the little piece of tape up over them so you can record over them.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah, right. You realize the thing was punched out, you couldn’t write over it or record on it.

John Rouda:

Mm-hmm.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. So digital rights management where in the satellite world, in the cable world, Pro:Idiom is a very common form of encryption. It was invented by Samsung, LG and others as a common protocol for encryption, and it’s very sophisticated. The keys are constantly changing. So unlike other systems, if a key gets hacked or misplaced or misused, key’s constantly changing. It’s like having a lock on your door where the key’s changing every few seconds, or the passcode, the keypad to your data center, the code is changing every 15 seconds. With Okta, you can do text message authentication or you get an Okta app. The app has to be registered with the IT department, tied to your Active Directory, so it’s a closed loop. That employee gets fired, their Active Directory account gets disabled, everything dies. Everything is disconnected.

I’m sure you’ve seen this with financial accounts, like my E-Trade account. I got to use the authentication app where the code changes every 15 seconds. So, Pro:Idiom works very much like that. Now in the case of Paramount, because we wanted to stream to the desktop, decrypting Pro:Idiom is problematic at the desktop, so we work with DirecTV and get Pro:Idiom turned off. In exchange, we use Verimatrix encryption, which Pro:Idiom and Verimatrix are kind of the two industry standards that are most utilized when it comes to encryption of streams. I hope I’m okay, John. This is kind of geeky stuff. You said it was okay. So we’re experts in Pro:Idiom and Verimatrix. So depending on the type of application, we chose [inaudible 00:45:59] because then we have more flexibility then, or then we can convert to AES encryption for certain end types of endpoints that can’t decrypt Pro:Idiom or Verimatrix.

So these streams, someone logs in doesn’t mean someone in the recipient’s house couldn’t hack in. You know, a clever kid at home could hack into the father or mom watching the stream from work, or it’s coming through the public internet, so that Verimatrix encryption was carried through to the end point, so that was a big concern. So it was like May or June of 2020. “Hey guys, how quickly can we turn up dual authentication and allowing people from home to watch the stage feeds?” Took us a couple of weeks. The customer’s like, “Well, when did you need it?” “Well, we needed it three weeks ago,” so it was one of those. But, you know, we [inaudible 00:47:04].

John Rouda:

That’s the way it always happens, right? They always needed it in the past.

Jim Jachetta:

Yeah. Obviously it was urgent, but we didn’t want to rush it. We did a lot of testing. We were able to get it up in a couple of weeks, and customer’s very, very satisfied. Kind of a side note-

John Rouda:

Oh, no. Go ahead.

Jim Jachetta:

People want to bring DirecTV to their house. Now, that’s a distribution violation. You can’t. So they could only bring their content home. DirecTV, if we start moving content laterally off campus, we start to look like a cable operator and that’s not allowed, so if somebody wants to watch DirecTV in another building. This is the rule of thumb. DirecTV, cable or Dish Network content cannot cross a public thoroughfare. That’s kind of the rule of thumb. But DirecTV can cross a public thoroughfare if you’re streaming to consumers. So the rules and the laws are a little outdated, but they’ll change, I’m sure.

John Rouda:

So how can people learn more about the things that you guys are doing at VidOvation and connect with you online?

Jim Jachetta:

Oh, great. Yeah. So VidOvation, sometimes people want to put an E in it. It’s VidOvation. V-I-D-O-V-A-T-I-O-N.com. That’s our main website. You can find me on Twitter on my own name. The company doesn’t have as many followers as I do. So it’s just Jim Jachetta, J-I-M J-A-C-H-E-T-T-A. I’m on Twitter. I’m on LinkedIn under my name. There’s another Jim Jachetta, but he’s not in media. But definitely email. You can visit our website. You can email me at JimJ, J-I-M-J@VidOvation.com or give me a call. 949-954-5290. That’s my direct dial, so I’m accessible, so you can reach me anywhere, and thanks so much, John.

John Rouda:

If you enjoyed that episode, please leave a rating and review in Apple Podcast. I’d greatly appreciate that, and also don’t forget to check out merch. We have some t-shirts that I’ve designed that are on a ageekleader.com. You can click on the merchandise section there and check that out, and also don’t forget about the books from our guests, so if you like this guest and other guests that have written books, please go ahead and check that out at ageekleader.com. I would greatly appreciate it, and I’m sure they would too.

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TV Distribution, Digital Signage & Property Management at VidOvation booth – Indian Gaming Tradeshow

TV Distribution, Digital Signage & Property Management at VidOvation booth – Indian Gaming Tradeshow

See what's new from VidOvation and DirecTV, Vantiva, LG, Samsung & Agilysys at Indian Gaming Trade Show & Convention 2024Visit the VidOvation booth, and we'll buy you a coffee and a treat. Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and Chickasaw Nation...