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How Eddie Breen earns allowance

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Friday, May 1, 2009
Wanted to follow up yesterday's post on Tyco's 2nd quarter earnings with some information about Tyco chief Ed Breen's perks. Here's a nice nice AP story about how, despite the fact that overall CEO pay may have dropped in the last year, CEO perks have increased. Jeez, I'm relieved to hear that. Some, like Ed, have new "perk allowances." It's not like the allowance you may have received as a kid, you know, the kind that you had to do some work for, and then your folks gave you like one dollar a week. Nope. CEOs like Ed get a different kind of allowance. You don't have to actually do anything extra, but you do get a big pile of cash that people like Ed can draw from! In 2008, Eddie got $70,000 for his perk allowance, and he didn't even have to do the dishes.

That's how they roll in Kansas

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Friday, May 1, 2009
I got a hit from my Google alerts that a news video surveillance system is being installed in Wilson, Kansas. So I checked it out. Here's what I found.
Those who break the law in the Czech Capital of Kansas may soon find their actions clearly recorded day or night on “candid camera,” thanks to action taken April 21 by the Wilson City Council.
This is very typical coverage of these new systems. Generally, a mention of either Candid Camera (which claims to be the most-watched reality show on TV - I'm skeptical) or Big Brother is mandatory, preferably with meaningless and unnecessary quotes around the term. Did someone say the words "candid camera," and you just didn't feel like attributing them to anyone? Are you worried people are unfamiliar with the term candid camera and the way you're using it? Anyhoo, I was about to move on, since I can't exactly write up every new municipal surveillance system that gets approved, despite the fun I might have with headlines that refer to this town's strange claim to fame: Czech it Out! A Czech in the Video Surveillance Box! Microphone Czech one-two! (Sorry, that last one is really just a Beastie Boys reference and not really related to anything video. Couldn't help myself.) But then I kept reading.
Council members approved the purchase and installation of a $14,995.66 video surveillance system from Wondernerd Technology in Salina. The system consists of five night-vision capable, mobile, wireless cameras and software.
What? There's an integrator calling themselves Wondernerd Technology. Wondernerd? Like Wonder Woman, but a nerd? I have to speak with these folks immediately! Unfortunately, Google turned up exactly two returns for "Wondernerd Technology": this very story, and a cut-and-paste of this very story on a Web site dedicated to Eastern European technology news (they were thrown by the Czech reference, I'm guessing). Where are you Wondernerds? If you're so nerdy, why do you not have a web presence of any sort? I thought nerds lived on the web. I was expecting a social networking experience where I could talk in a forum with other wondernerds who enjoy talking about video surveillance. I'm highly disappointed. Further, www.whitepages.com, which is pretty reliable, has no listing for Wondernerd in Salina, Kansas. What's going on here? Is this some kind of back room deal for video surveillance with a made-up company? I call for some kind of investigation. At least one council member agrees:
“I’m glad,” said council member Charline Stoppel. “I think we should get them.”
Okay, so Charline was talking about some mythical bad guys that the video would catch, I guess, but still...

Kastle owner is newsy like Trump

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Friday, May 1, 2009
Kastle owner Mark Ein was featured in the same gossipy column as Donald Trump - must be a red-letter day (I have a secret fascination with Donald Trump, not sure why). Anyway, good for Ein, who received recognition for his charitable endeavors from the National Foundation for the Teaching of Entrepreneurship. Also for having his company deemed "ubiquitous." Maybe he can get me a tee time on Trump's new DC golf course.

ADT parent posts earnings

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Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tyco International today reported second quarter earnings. From the release:
Tyco International Ltd. (NYSE: TYC) today reported a loss of $5.40 in diluted earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations for the fiscal second quarter of 2009 and diluted EPS from continuing operations before special items of $0.55 per share. Revenue in the quarter of $4.2 billion declined 15% versus the prior year, mostly due to the impact of the stronger U.S. dollar against foreign currencies. Organic revenue declined 5.5% in the quarter. Second quarter income from continuing operations was negatively impacted by special items, which totaled $2.8 billion after tax or $5.95 per share
Those special items include Tyco's decision to reassess goodwill and intangible assets, legacy legal matters, and, restructuring, asset impairments and divestiture charges However, here's a quote from Ed Breen:
"The diversified nature of our business mix, including our recurring and service revenue, combined with the actions we have taken to reduce our cost structure, allowed us to exceed our earnings guidance this quarter despite the difficult conditions in the global economy," said Tyco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ed Breen. "We continue to aggressively manage our cost structure and working capital, generate strong cash flow and invest in our businesses for long-term growth."
Here's the full release. For more, tune into the earnings call, which is scheduled to begin at 8:30 this morning.

And now something lighter (and about security)

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Thursday, April 30, 2009
Congratulations to Charles S. “Scott” Mandel, president of Asset Protection & Security Services LP, for taking home the Entrepreneurial Success (regional and district winner) award at the Corpus Christie Small Business Association luncheon this week. Unfortunately, Mandel lost out on the Small Business People of the Year Award to the owners of Mr. Fancy Pants. Please also note that the Women in Business Champion was Yvette Maldonado, co-owner of Pete’s Chicken-N-More. Which raises the question: Is the other co-owner named Pete? Or is that just a catchy name developed by the marketing department?

You knew this was going to happen...

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Thursday, April 30, 2009
After yesterday's rant about the swine flu, of course it would be reported last night that we now have swine flu here in Maine.
Baldacci and Dr. Dora Anne Mills of the Maine Center for Disease Control said all three victims are adults who are recovering at home, two from Kennebec County in central Maine and one from York County in the southernmost part of the state. Details were limited. One of those stricken had a "travel history," Mills said.
Yikes! I have a "travel history!" I travel all the time! I better never leave my home. How did the other two get it? Did aliens come down and drop swine flu in their mouths while they slept? Can swine flu now jump across state lines in a single bound? Two kids apparently have it down south (we mostly consider Kennebunk Massachusetts, anyway - it's not really Maine), too, and thus they've closed a couple of schools for seven days. (This is breaking news. They interrupted Lost last night to tell me about it.)
According to the guidelines, the schools and day care will be closed for seven calendar days. Parents are advised to keep their children home. State officials say if the children exhibit symptoms such as fever and respiratory symptoms, parents should bring their children to a medical professional to be examined. If their children exhibit none of those symptoms and feel well, parents should monitor their children for signs, but do not need to take action.
Also, we got an email from our school superintendent telling us about washing hands and not coughing in each other's mouths. Of course, this winter, when 40 percent of my daughter's school was out sick with the flu, we heard a deafening silence from the administration and everything was business as usual. So, people sent their kids to school sick like they always do because, you know, they had to work and stuff. Thus, my kids got poisoned any number of times and missed all kinds of days of school. But swine flu? Lock the doors, people. Lock the doors. What am I missing here? I guess cautious is better than sorry, but there's a panic situation brewing here in Maine and I'm just not sure it's justified. People are calling in to radio stations and asking if they can get swine flu from eating pork. What's the balance between safe and ridiculous?

False alarm ordinance compliance push pays off in Seattle

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Following up on an earlier story I wrote for SSN, false alarm ordinance compliance efforts in Seattle have been successful, according to a recent press release from SIAC. False alarm dispatches have fallen by 26 percent. That's a good sign that something's working. Earlier in the year when I wrote about the initial compliance push, Seattle PD detective Christopher Hall, false alarm administrator at the SPD, said compliance was not about cracking down. “In 2004, they rewrote the law that basically started billing the alarm companies instead of the consumer, and it included all these provisions, and now we’re finally getting around to enforcing them,” Hall said. “This past year has really been the first time we’ve done a real big push and started enforcing the no response aspect of our ordinance. And we’ve seen some good results from that.” According to Ron Haner, alarm response manager for the WBFAA, "Seattle is an excellent example of the positive effects that come from enforcing a cooperative alarm ordinance between law enforcement and the alarm industry." Everyone wins when false alarms are reduced. A recent ordinance passed in Lynn, Mass. was also lauded for it's involvement of private citizens, the security industry, and public officials. In the words of SIAC executive director Stan Martin when he discussed with me a nascent ordinance in Chicago, "A little communication is good for everyone."

Media=bad at flu reporting

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
This is tangentially related to the security industry, but ASIS is tracking the swine flu and people do sell flu-detecting cameras, so I figure it's fair game for me. Basically, the mainstream press sucks at reporting about this whole swine flu thing. Sure, it could be a worldwide pandemic, and I'm not underestimating the potential loss of life and general scariness a flu pandemic can really cause, but it's not quite there yet and what we generally have are a bunch of breathless reports that quote people postulating that things "might get really bad," or some other such nonsense. And what really gets me are the caveats that are always thrown in at the end of reports that "36,000 people die of the flu each year in the United States," etc. Well, if that's true, why is this story a big deal in the first place? For example, let's look at this story that's the top story on Yahoo this morning. Here's the first couple graphs:
WASHINGTON – A 23-month-old Texas toddler became the first confirmed swine flu death outside of Mexico as authorities around the world struggled to contain a growing global health menace that has also swept Germany onto the roster of afflicted nations. Officials say the death was in Houston. "Even though we've been expecting this, it is very, very sad," Dr. Richard Besser, acting chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday of the infant's death. "As a pediatrician and a parent, my heart goes out to the family."
Is it very, very sad that a 23-month-old child died yesterday. Yes. Absolutely. My heart goes out to the family, too. As a father of a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, this scares the pants off me. However, by my math, 36,000/365 means that roughly 99 people died of the regular old flu yesterday. Were none of them children? Why isn't there a pediatrician being quoted about how his heart goes out to their families? Why isn't there a story every single day about how many people died of the flu yesterday? Because no one cares. We know that 36,000 people die of the flu every year, if not consciously then unconsciously. Bad stuff happens and people die. It's something we've come to accept. Every day on the way to work I hear about some poor teenager who died in a car accident or an ATV accident or, here in Maine, a snowmobile accident. Some poor teenager got killed on my road this month walking home from work in the dark when a pickup truck didn't see him and hit him. All of those things are tragedies, and they sometimes make the cover of my local weekly newspaper, but none of them makes the front page of Yahoo. So why does swine flu make the cover of Yahoo? Because it's called swine flu? Here's the explanation I get in the story:
Sixty-six infections had been reported in the United States before the report of the toddler's death in Texas. The world has no vaccine to prevent infection but U.S. health officials aim to have a key ingredient for one ready in early May, the big step that vaccine manufacturers are awaiting. But even if the World Health Organization ordered up emergency vaccine supplies — and that decision hasn't been made yet — it would take at least two more months to produce the initial shots needed for human safety testing.
Dang. 66 people sick. Now that's a huge problem. And this whole talk of vaccine - has none of them ever got a flu shot? I've taken a flu shot every year since I was teaching high school 10 years ago and it never really works. And does no one remember last year how, oops, they sort of made the wrong vaccines? I got the flu this year. It hammered me. Sickest I've been in years. I had to miss three days of work. Maybe loyal blog readers remember. Did anyone care? Not especially. When I went to the doctor, did she recommend Tamiflu or any other drug to make me feel better? Nope. She told me I was screwed, to go get some rest, and to drink lots of fluids. Could this swine flu be more deadly than whatever "human flu" I was rocked with? Of course, but it's killed one person in the U.S. so far, vs. 36,000 every year, so that evidence hasn't quite presented itself yet. Could it be a pandemic like the one that killed millions of people in 1918? Somehow I doubt it. I think we're a little better prepared these days for that kind of thing. In 1918 people were lucky if they had indoor plumbing. That 1918 is even referenced in some of these stories is irresponsible. Christ, people used to die of simple infections and things like "consumption," which I think was a cold. What's my basic point? Maybe I just felt like a rant. It's not like people shouldn't be informed of what's going on out there. And it's not like people need the latest news on who got voted off Dancing with the Stars more than they need news on swine flu. But I'd like some perspective with my news, a little less idle speculation and more simple reporting. They don't even bother reporting when a U.S. soldier dies in Iraq anymore, but a kid dies of the flu in Texas and it's being read by 50 million people. Doesn't there seem to be something intrinsically wrong with that?

Monitronics announces ISC West '09 contest winners

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monitronics last week announced the winners, selected at random, of the contests it held out of its booth at ISC West this year. Monitronics gave away to Spokane, Wash.-based King Marketing owner/operator Brady Nelson an all expense paid trip to see a UFC match between Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua which took place April 18. Liddell had been a celebrity booth presence for Monitronics at ISC West. [caption id="attachment_1845" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Monitronics UFC fight giveaway winner Brady Nelson with Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell at the Monitronics booth at ISC West '09"]Monitronics UFC fight giveaway winner Brady Nelson with Chuck [/caption] Monitronics also awarded a tropical cruise to the Caribbean for two to Jesse Depew of Canadian alarm dealer Liberty Security. I spoke with Montronics' Mitch Clarke at ISC West this year, and I wish he'd mentioned the contest to me. I love winning stuff. Congrats to Nelson and Depew! And condolences to Liddell, who many are saying should think of retiring. Shogun Rua beat the Iceman with a TKO in the first round.

Municipalities getting into residential video monitoring

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I just came across this story from the Silicon Valley Mercury News. Looks like another municipality is contemplating getting into the security industry. I wrote a story a while back about another municipality getting into intrusion alarm monitoring. I've got calls out to the appropriate AHJ and will follow up on this story as it develops.

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