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Feds have screwdriver-proof system

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Great story out of the Kansas City Star exploring the heights of human idiocy: "Man tries to break into KC's Federal Reserve Bank with a screwdriver." Well done by Christine Vendel, with perfect just-the-facts writing and a beautiful last sentence: "Police believe he was intoxicated." Hilarious.

Another contest winner

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
As I do some reporting on who won the American Security Challenge (I'll have that up later today), I did come across this release (maybe password protected) from AlertEnterprise, a company that didn't return my phone calls when they recently grabbed some venture capital money. They've won the Security Summit's "coveted Most Innovative Product and Service award in the Information Assurance, Cyber Security and Security Software category." (And it's true - I hear people all the time saying, "Gosh, I really hope we win the Most Innovative Product and Service award in the Information Assurance, Cyber Security, and Security Software category at the Security Summit! Do you think we have a chance?" I always tell them, "no, that award is much too coveted by other people. You have no shot.") They do seem to have cool secret sauce that allows you to correlate physical and logical access control, which Imprivata and a few others can do, but maybe not quite as easily, since AlertEnterprise works like this:
AlertEnterprise products are available as COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) software that works with existing enterprise systems and physical access control systems delivering incremental return on investments in applications like ERP systems, IT security automation solutions and critical infrastructure management solutions for energy management, oil and gas, chemicals processing and mass transport.
I think other solutions require an appliance of some sort and can't be done simply with software, but I'm not totally sure about that. Anyway, awards are fun, right? I know I like to win awards. I got a really spiffy mug for being the bestest soccer coach ever this past fall, for example. I still drink out of it every day and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It doesn't say what AlertEnterprise got, but "AlertEnterprise delighted attendees and judges in all categories and was also named runner up for the Best in Show award," so I'm sure they got a plaque or something, at least. Can't drink out of a plaque, though, so what good does it do you, really?

Tune in Thursday to see NBFAA's Merlin Guilbeau & 'Safety Chick' talk security

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Look what just popped into my inbox: NBFAA's executive director Merlin Guilbeau is ginning up some nice publicity for the industry. Mark your calendars, on Thursday, May 28, Merlin will do a live satellite broadcast from ADT's central station in Aurora, Colo., where he'll discussing safety tips and answering questions from the media. He'll be joined by the 'Safety Chick' Kathleen Baty. Below are listed the TV and radio stations that will be participating.    6:50-7:00 AM ET WHO     NBC / 073 - DES MOINES - TV / LIVE   7:15-7:20 AM ET KGAN    CBS / 089 - CEDAR RAPIDS - TV / LIVE   7:35-7:45 AM ET WLKF-AM / 013 - TAMPA - RADIO / LIVE   7:45-7:55AM ET WFNC-AM / 028 - RALEIGH - RADIO / LIVE   8:10-8:20 AM ET WYAM   IND / 084 - HUNTSVILLE - TV / LIVE   8:45-8:55 AM ET KRNV    NBC / 110 - RENO - TV / LIVE   9:05-9:10 AM ET WSAT-AM / 025 - CHARLOTTE - RADIO / LIVE   9:10-9:15 AM ET KWTX   CBS / 095 - WACO - TV / TAPE   9:15-9:20AM ET WXMI   FOX / 039 - GRAND RAPIDS - TV / TAPE   9:20-9:30 AM ET WTVR   CBS / 061 - RICHMOND - TV / LIVE   9:30-9:40 AM ET WFIN-AM / 088 - TOLEDO - RADIO / TAPE 9:40-9:45 AM ET KVAL    CBS / 120 - EUGENE - TV / LIVE 9:45-9:50 AM ET WNEM   CBS / 066 - FLINT - TV / TAPE 10:05-10:10 AM ET KCMN-AM / 091 - COLO SPGS. - RADIO / LIVE 10:10-10:20 AM ET CABLE RADIO NET - NATIONAL - RADIO / LIVE 10:20-10:25AM ET WFTX   FOX / 062 - FT. MYERS - TV /TAPE 10:35-10:40AM ET WBRC   FOX / 040 - BIRMINGHAM - TV / TAPE   10:50-11:00 AM ET WDIS-AM / 009 - BOSTON - RADIO / TAPE   11:00-11:15 AM ET KTOK-AM / 048 - OKLAHOMA CITY - RADIO / TAPE**   11:25-11:40AM ET Something You Should Know - NATIONAL - RADIO / TAPE#   11:15-11:25 AM ET KWIX-AM / 137 - COLUMBIA, MO - RADIO / TAPE   11:40-11:50 AM ET KBFX    CBS / 126 - BAKERSFIELD - TV / LIVE   11:50AM-12:00 PM KPQ-AM / 176 - YAKIMA - RADIO / TAPE   12:20-12:25 PM ET WDTN   NBC / 058 - DAYTON - TV / LIVE   CUST. GENERIC KGNS    NBC/187 - LAREDO - TV/GENERIC **This Oklahoma City booking will also air on the following stations: KEBC-AM, KJYO-FM, KHBZ-FM, KTST-FM, KXXY-FM   # Something You Should Know airs nationally on 150 radio stations  

AMS '09 Dealer Conference a success

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Alarm Monitoring Services 2009 Dealer Conference exceeded expectations as AMS dealers gathered together in New Orleans for three education-filled days, according to a release from Richard Hahn and Associates. I think it's a good sign that conferences appear to continue to do well, despite a poor economy. An industry needs investment in the form of educational endeavors, of which there were many at the 09 AMS Dealer Conference. Conference speakers included AMS' dealer services manager Brad O'Malley, Stiel Insurance's Marvin Brosset, C.J. Bruno of Compass Capital Management, industry lawyer Ken Kirschenbaum of Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum, PC, Roger Wahden of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc., Louisiana-based CPA Pat Buckley, OzVision's Stan Silberstein, and AMS' own Rick and Dera Jolet I've written about it before: Keep participating, keep learning and continue to be good stewards of the industry. Plans are already in motion for next year's event, which will also celebrate Alarm Monitoring Services' 30th anniversary.

TSA: Out with the puffers!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Not that I find this remotely surprising, but those puffer machines some of us have had to stand in at airports are no longer. Does this have anything to do with GE Security's decision to sell its Homeland business to SAFRAN? Hmmmm. TSA says the puffers were a pain. Yeah. No kidding. 94 machines were deployed, at $160,000 each, and managed to wrack up $6 million in maintenance just since 2005. $6 million/94=$63,830 per machine=holy crap! I love how sanguine Smiths Detection is:
"They got frustrated with the technology and moved on to something else — I think is the short story," Smiths Detection vice president Brook Miller said of TSA. Miller said the puffers had maintenance issues early on because they puff air and then suck it into the system to analyze it. "It just wasn't to be in the airport environment," he said. Puffers are still used at facilities with less human traffic to detect drugs, he said. Smiths Detection, which is based in England, is one of the manufacturers of the full-body imaging machines that will replace the puffers.
Oh well. You don't like our $160,000 machines? I guess they just weren't meant to be. Who really could have predicted that? Certainly not us, who make them and tested them extensively. We had no idea they'd crap out in an airport environment. But, here, we've got some other machines you can buy. We're pretty sure they'll work. And don't mind that privacy stink people are putting up. We're sure that won't be a problem. We'll even give you a deal: 10 percent off if you buy 200. As a frequent traveler, I'm not sure which is worse: Having to stand in an enclosed tube and be puffed or knowing that some TSA employee is staring at my junk.

Special delivery for ASG's Bob Ryan

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Friday, May 22, 2009
Big news this week out of super-regional ASG. Yeah, they acquired another company. Here's that newswire story. The bigger news, though, is that ASG's marketing guy, Bob Ryan, (and his wife Angele) this morning welcomed their twin daughters to the world. Elizabeth and Ava are beautiful! (I'd post the picture, but you know the deal, our techies can't figure out how to get me permission to do that.) Congratulations Bob and Angele!

New 5D disks the future of storage?

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Friday, May 22, 2009
I just came across this story from ScienceDaily, and I thought I'd put a link up. The story cites security as one of the potential benefactors of the new storage medium: "They would be valuable for storing extremely large medical files such as MRIs and could also provide a boon in the financial, military and security arenas." Storage is becoming such an issue in the security industry with the continuing conversion to IP, I thought security readers at SSN might find it interesting. Maybe advances such as this will help bring the high price of video storage down. I can't imagine: 2,000 times the storage capacity of a normal DVD. Wow. That's a whole lot of archived video on one disk.

Doug Marman crushes compression questions

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Friday, May 22, 2009
He's on the blog roll, but because he posts only once a month or so and doesn't have an RSS feed, I don't always get to Doug Marman's posts right away. Thus, I'm only now reading this very good treatise on the ridiculousness of court admissibility problems with compressed video. Make sure you read the comments because he provides more evidence for his arguments there. It's especially heartening because the session we had at TechSec tackling this very same issue traveled along the same lines. The video expert we had there, who works often with the Dallas prosecutor's office, didn't care a whit about compression, etc. All he cared about was whether the image was good enough to see what was happening. Sure, watermarking was important, but way more important was chain of custody, just like any other piece of evidence. If the gun that was used in the murder just happened to take a swing through Burger King, where it was left on a table, forgotten, and retrieved later, then it's going to be a problem when it's submitted as evidence. Same with video. You have to know where it's been and who's handled it. But, big deal. That should go without saying. There's some good stuff from Doug about the differences in compression types in general, too. The whole thing is a must-read for people selling video systems where the video will likely be used in court.

In odd Twitter speak, Air Force says GPS is fine

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Friday, May 22, 2009
This is one of the strangest stories I've ever come across - and only emboldens my extreme dislike of Twitter (despite the fact that I use it regularly). So, people are rightly concerned about the GPS satellite system because the GAO, a pretty respectable body, issued a report saying the GPS system was in danger of failing, at least in part, because the Air Force was way behind and over budget in its satellite upkeep and repair schedule. And what does the Air Force do to reassure people? They tweeted, or twittered, or whatever the past tense is of acting like jackasses. To quote (and I had to retype this because ABC has figured out a way to make it so you can't copy text from its web site - how very convenient): "Agree w/ GAO thr's a potential risk, but GPS isn't falling out of the sky--we have plans 2 mitigate risk & prevent a gap." Oh, well, if you tweet so... Seriously, is no one else offended by the fact that the Air Force is answering these very serious (for business and common usage) issues with 140-character asinine tweets? Who said GPS was falling out of the sky? The GAO indicated there could be gaps in service. Maybe the Air Force doesn't think a few gaps in service is a big deal, but I'm thinking that if I'm tracking my child with GPS and all of a sudden she disappears off my map, I'm going to think that's a pretty big deal. The dismissive tone, the dismissive medium, the lack of attention shown by using the number 2 as a frigging preposition pisses me off, quite frankly, especially coming from an agent of the government whose salary I pay with my tax dollars. (You can check out the whole Twitter conference here.) I'm sorry you're being held accountable for your terrible planning and budgeting in the past, Colonel, but the least you could do is take the situation seriously. I love mealy-mouthed statements like this: "Since 1995, GPS has never failed to exceed performance standards." This is like when an employee calls in hungover and says, "I've been on time every day this month." Good for you! You've been doing your job! Huzzah! How many medals have they pinned on your chest for making sure you don't suck at your job, Colonel? Or here's a great tweet: "Good article in terms of the risk...very, very low. However, one of the best things about GPS is it's free to the world!" So, Space Command, you pay for all these satellites with the gold you found at the end of the rainbow? I thought you used billions of dollars in tax money collected from people like me. How silly. Look, I know a bunch of you are thinking about how magnanimous the Air Force is for opening themselves up to the public and answering questions from the average Twitter Joe, but don't be fooled. In these forums they control the message, they control the questions they answer and don't, and they love that they can't write more than 140 characters because it's impossible to say anything of substance in 140 characters, therefore they can't be accused of not saying anything of substance. It's a bunch of PR-orchestrated crap, and a way to avoid actually addressing the issue. They've got GAO egg on their faces and they don't like it so they hit the web for a counter offensive. Good plan by them, but I'm not buying it.

Analytics poll

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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Here's a somewhat random poll of random linkedIn members regarding where best to host video analytics. Take the results for what they are. It was set up by Mate's Alon Blankstein - Mate might be the largest "analytics company" I didn't include in my virtual roundtable. I didn't intentionally exclude them. They just weren't someone I've talked to in the last couple months.

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