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High level integrator exec is moving on

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Just heard that George West, vice president and head of Siemens Building Technologies Security Solutions business unit, is leaving the industry to head up an energy company in Boston. There hasn't been an official press release, but Siemens called our offices to let us know, which was cool of them. His last day is Friday, if you want to drop him a line. In my opinion, it's the industry's loss. He's a good thinker and definitely had some vision for where the industry was headed. Here's the interview I did with him when he was hired, in early 2006. Interesting that I mention his desire to return to New England in the first paragraph. Guess the family REALLY liked New England. Personally, I've lived in New England most of my life and I don't think it's any great shakes, but you can't account for taste. Interesting side note: There is apparently a George West, Texas. Who knew?

Some post-election insider dope from an industry member

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Monday, December 1, 2008
Some of you may know Frank Baitman, who ran Petards' North American operations until the company sold off its secret sauce and things went south. Well, Frank took the time off and went to work for Obama's campaign (insert joke about why Petards didn't succeed here...). If you're interested, he's posted some stories about his experiences on his blog. It's a good read and pretty interesting, regardless of your political persuasion. Read from the bottom up. Further, I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, and I'll get back on the blogging.

Intelli-Tec owner in tragic boating accident

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Monday, December 1, 2008
Sad news came over the wire just now: Intelli-Tec owner Marty McMillan was killed in a boating accident on Sunday. Marty L. McMillan, 51, of Westbury, founder and president of Intelli-Tec Security Services, was fishing on his 30-foot boat Xiao Mu Ji 11 miles southeast of Montauk and 5 miles southwest of Block Island when the accident occurred about 9:30 a.m., said Coast Guard Petty Officer Annie Berlin. "They were attempting to pull anchor and try fishing another area and he became tangled in the anchor line and went overboard," said East Hampton Town Police Det. Sgt. Christopher Anderson. McMillan, who has been in the security industry since 1977, was not wearing a life jacket, Berlin said. I've never had a chance to meet Marty. If anyone would like to leave a thought or two about him in the comments sections, please do. Intelli-Tec is a Security Net member doing residential and commercial work out on Long Island. Here's a nice write-up of Marty from a local Real Estate Journal. Edit: Newsday has posted an interview with Marty's son Cody. It's heartbreaking.

Did anybody get any footage?

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
People looking for a way to get on ssnTVnews need only search their recordings (or the recordings of their customers) for footage of that 10-ton meteorite that hit last Thursday night. I would love to check out some of that. Thousands of people in a 400-mile radius saw the fireball created as the object entered the atmosphere and exploded with the force of 300 tons of dynamite. That's how you know it happened in Canada: "thousands of people in a 400-mile radius." Harkening back to 8th grade math class, that's, what, 500,000 square miles? And they didn't say "tens of thousands." So that's (tops) 10,000 people in 500,000 square miles, for a population density of, say, 1 per 50 square miles? Whooo, boy. They must have some parties there! Anyway, scientists are asking for any footage they can get of the event: Several people filmed the fireball on Thursday night and researchers are urgently attempting to track them down. "We are now trying to get all the transient information about the fireball before it is lost," Mr Hildebrand said. He added: "Many motels and gas stations only keep their security recordings for one week or less, so we urge everyone to check their systems to see if they recorded the fireball or the moving shadows that it cast." I'm sure there are cameras at just about every gas station and motel in the area (all five of them), since the crime must be through the roof there on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. So, where (other than to me) do you send the footage if you got some? It's unclear. The "Small Bodies Discipline Working Group" doesn't appear to have a web site, so try the contact page at the Canadian Space Agency.

Security yogis take note: New restrictions in Cali

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Here's hoping we have more problems along these lines. Did you see the story on the front page of the New York Times today about too many people exercising (and making too much noise) in Santa Monica? Here's the link The problem area is along a median near Fourth Street and Adelaide Drive. People have used this area for walking and jogging for years, but apparently, now, some fitnessphiles are gathering pretty early in the a.m. for organized exercise classes. They're blowing whistles and counting loudly and doing stuff you don't really need to do to get a good work out. The people who live nearby complained, understandably, so in the last six months, the Santa Monica Police Department has park rangers patrolling the area enforcing a 'no-hanging out in the median' ordinance. They've posted these signs that say you can walk or jog, but no other exercise is allowed. The story says they warn about 600 people a month to move along and they've issued eight citations (for $158) For non-compliant exercisers. A couple observations: Isn't the noise, and not the exercising, the issue here? I'm assuming these loud exercisers are the same people who are so frightfully important that they need to talk on cell phones loudly and for extended periods of time in enclosed spaces like trains and planes. I understand that Santa Monica just found an existing ordinance to enforce to get rid of these noisemakers, but it seems like the loud exercisers just need an etiquette lesson. You know, a reminder to observe some basic tenets of the social contract. Don't disturb the peace and no one will care that you're practicing yoga instead of sprinting on the median. Loud exercising, or exercising of any kind for that matter, does not seem to be widespread in the security industry, but just in case you were planning to channel Richard Simmons on the median during breaks at the March Security Growth Conference, you've been forwarned. No Ashtanga on the median until further notice. Stick to walking and jogging.

NetVersant files for Chapter 11 protection

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Monday, November 24, 2008
This is a breaking story I'm working on, and was tipped off to by a loyal reader and a press release from Anixter. Here's what I've got. Anixter International Inc. Comments on Customer Bankruptcy Anixter International Inc., a leading global distributor of communication products, electrical and electronic wire & cable, fasteners and other small parts today commented on the anticipated financial impact from the bankruptcy filing by NetVersant Solutions, Inc. ("NetVersant"). On November 19, 2008 NetVersant filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. In those filings, NetVersant showed Anixter and its subsidiaries to be unsecured creditors in the amount of $28.6 million. At this time Anixter is evaluating its position with respect to lien or other rights which it may have in connection with sales to NetVersant. Specific to this bankruptcy filing Anixter anticipates recording an expense of approximately $20 to $22 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 to increase its reserve for doubtful accounts. Commenting on the NetVersant bankruptcy, Bob Eck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Anixter said, "We are obviously disappointed with the bankruptcy of a customer with whom we have a long term working relationship. In this challenging economic environment we are continuing to work closely with all of our customers and suppliers to maintain constructive business relationships. A current assessment of our key customer relationships shows this situation to be unique in terms of the circumstances and relative size of the exposure." So, you know what I know. I'm going to go find the bankruptcy filings and put in some calls.

Getting what you deserve deptartment

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Monday, November 24, 2008
My Google alerts just picked up this items about fans of High School Musical getting fed viruses. The infected files are distributed through popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks such as eMule, eDonkey, etc. and when users search for files related to "High School Musical" using these programs, some of the results include files infected with malware. As someone would say on one of my favorite forums: LOL, Boo-Hoo. Maybe if you didn't try to steal bad Disney music, you wouldn't get a bunch of viruses. What did that have to do with the security industry? Exactly zero. Just couldn't help myself.

BHS talks about rebranding, economy

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Friday, November 21, 2008
Brink's Home Security's earnings call yesterday was its first as a standalone company. Most of the earnings information was publicly released and discussed more than a week ago during The Brink's Company's—BHS's former parent—earnings report. This call, for most of the investors who dialed in, appeared to be an opportunity to talk about the rebranding, and how the poor economy is affecting BHS. Unlike many companies, BHS is pretty liquid. It's starting its new life with no debt, a $50m infusion of cash from BCO and a $75 m. line of credit, which can be expanded to $125m. Of course, one of the hedge fund guys (John Powers Millbrook Capital) wanted to know if BHS would be spending a bunch of its cash doing a stock buy-back real soon. BHS president Bob Allen said not in the short term, that BHS wants to conserve cash on hand, since they're entering into a rebranding effort, on which they expect to spend $100m to $150m. BHS president Bob Allen characterized the quarter as one of “solid growth in a challenging economic environment … [including] continued expansion in the customer base, which grew by 7 percent in the third quarter.” Revenue was up 8.9 percent over Q3 last year ($135.4m from $124.3m last year). Operating profit margin was up to $22.8 million from $14.8m last year. The disconnect rate was up over last year, something Allen was asked about during the call. Asked if they will adjust monitoring rates to save an account, he said for a customer with a good payment history, possibly. Asked if BHS will adjust upfront costs (to the customer) to make a sale, he said no. The new name will be announced in the third quarter, as Allen has said before, and they're open to suggestion. Any of you have any good ideas?

Hey, you can search the blog now

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Friday, November 21, 2008
See the new nav bar at the top of the page? Now you can actually search the blog. Cool, right? Not sure why I didn't have that functionality before...

Another good way to use the web

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Friday, November 21, 2008
I don't know a lot about Homeland Integrated Security Systems, other than the fact that their name seems a bit foolish and opportunistic and that they make a product called the Cyber Tracker that's a GPS-based fleet management tool. There are some security applications, sure, and I think there's a resell opportunity for both the integrator and the central station, but that's mostly irrelevant to what I'm interested in here. What I like is their new ROI calculator. It's just the way to use the web, much like IQinVision's "pixels per foot" tool, for example. Get people using your web site to help solve their problems, not just find contact information and read product specs. Here, with the ROI tool, you fill in the number of vehicles in your fleet, what you're paying in gas, etc., and the calculator shows how much you'll save with the Cyber Tracker. For dealers, this would be a place to send your end users: "Wow. I'm going save $1,000 a day and only pay $500 a day? That's a no brainer." Whether the ROI calculator is accurate or not is another question. You sort of have to take their word for it. Still, if you can get something like this going on your site (and it's pretty simple to set up), or encourage your vendor partners to get it going on their sites, it's a very helpful thing to have. Selling biometric access control? Why not an ROI calculator showing how much will be saved in not having to invest in smart cards (or cards of any kind, if you go with single authentication)? Selling HD cameras? Have a calculator that shows how many analog cameras will be negated and show how one more expensive camera is actually cheaper than x number of inexpensive cameras. ROI right now is the crucial sell. Yes, keeping people safe remains important, but in this climate, if you can show the cost-benefit comes out in their favor in real-dollar terms, that's huge.

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