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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.

What's an "IT security company"?

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Thursday, November 20, 2008
This seems interesting. Network World has released its "10 IT security companies to watch" list for 2008. Now, one would think that "IT security companies" are companies that provide IT security - protecting the network, spam filtering, firewall stuff, that kind of thing. However, there's notably a few companies that I would consider physical-security companies. What makes them IT? Let's look. First up is at the top of the list, BRS Labs. I wrote about them when they launched back in September. Focus: AISight is video-analytics technology that can convert images captured by a camera into machine-readable output that provides real-time intelligence about the surveillance to generate an alert. Why it's worth watching: As use of video-monitoring grows, business and government may want to automate surveillance to be warned of unexpected events. AISight can be used with existing video-monitoring systems. Um, yeah. Don't a lot of companies do this sort of thing? It may be true that BRS can do some things (learn, basically) that other analytics companies can't, but you wouldn't know that from this write up. So why does Network World single them out? How company got its start: Founder Ray Davis saw a gap in the effectiveness of video surveillance systems and backed a team of scientists working on artificial-intelligence recognitions systems for video. How company got its name: The BRS artificial-intelligence technology uses adaptive learning to anticipate behavior based on knowledge it accumulates over time. CEO: Davis is an entrepreneur involved in technology start-ups from the '90's, including SimDesk, CyNet and OnDisk. Ah-ha. Because Davis if one of their own. This is interesting to note. Because "IT" has come to mean "wicked smart guys," and IT publications are inherently the ones who've created this glow around IT guys, physical security companies with executives with IT backgrounds will get bonus points from these kinds of publications, but also from IT directors who are part of security buys much more often now. Here's the next one, Envysion. We're written about them here and here. I like this company's model, and I think video as a service is a great RMR generator for integrators. But how is it "IT security"? It's the classic physical security solution of preventing theft and damage and physical harm, like any CCTV system, it's just done remotely and over the network. Focus: Its managed video-surveillance services include installation of cameras in business locations, then remotely managing them through the Denver-based data center. Envysion can also enable detection of theft through correlating sales data generated electronically through cash registers and bar-coding with video-surveillance recordings of activity. Why it's worth watching: IP-based digital-surveillance systems are becoming more popular in business, but not every organization wants to install and manage them. Envysion's approach provides businesses with a managed service that has Internet and Web-based access to live and stored video feeds. Again, other companies do this. We wrote about another company getting into it just this month. Maybe they're the best at it. Maybe they're not. But why did Network World take notice? How company got its start: The company, now with 35 employees, was founded by CEO Matt Steinfort, Chairman Dan Caruso and CTO Rob Hagens. All were formerly with Level 3 Communications, where they saw growth in business video surveillance occurring and became convinced a managed service would prove popular. Yep. They're "IT guys," so, smarter than everyone else. Still, they do have good customers, I have to admit. Customers: About 40, including Chipolte, IHOP, and Captain D’s seafood chain. Have you had Chipotle? (There's a typo from Network World's write-up above. I left it in because I'm petty.) Their burritos are amazing. We don't have any in Maine, unfortunately. Anyway, all the other companies on the list do thinks like analyze data packets or detect malware or keep bad stuff from being done on desktops, etc. Those are "IT security companies." Envysion and BRS Labs are physical (or "electronic," maybe) security companies that just happen to have been launched by IT guys. I don't think this is just an exercise in semantics. I think it's important for traditional security players to watch out for this and raise red flags with a media that tends to lionize IT vendors and pooh-pooh traditional security guys as guns-and-fences types. There's plenty of sophisticated technology in physical security, and not all of it was created by IT guys with lots of "start-ups" on their resumes.

Raefield following through on Mace promises

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Looks like Dennis Raefield is following through on his promise to re-shape Mace. Word went out today that Mace has replaced Security division head Devin Benjamin, who was only back with Mace a short time, with John O'Leary, who worked with Raefield at Rosslare and Honeywell, from what I can tell, and who comes from a most-recent position as Security and Privacy Leader of IBM Global Services. I can't tell if he was under Julie Donahue there or not. I'm putting in a request for an interview, so hopefully you'll hear from John relatively soon.

CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar

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Friday, November 14, 2008
I had a chance to go to the last day of the CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar on Nov. 11 at the Boston Marriott Peabody in Peabody, Mass. It was nice to meet so many of you upon whom I report, and to get a chance to learn a little more about the industry and its concerns. The opening segment on day three, a talk about liability issues and how to avoid sticky situations, was delivered with a little fire and brimstone by Jeffrey Zwirn, president of IDS Research. Pictured above is Zwirn speaking to about 75 attendees at the morning's opening session. Around midday, attendees were bussed out to Wayne Alarm Security Systems, Inc. in nearby Lynn, Mass., for a tour of the Wayne Alarm facility. Wayne Alarm founder and president Ralph Sevinor was on hand to start the tour off right with a stop by a table laden with fresh fruit, doughnuts, cookies and other pastries, bottled water, coffee, and soda before visiting the station's Antique Corner. Sevinor, showing off his extensive, pristine collection of all things security, obviously has a passion for the security industry. Of Wayne Alarm, Morgan Hertel of The Command Center, Inc., said "That guy's got the greatest museum in the industry. Nice clean facility. It was a nice tour." Pictured above is Hertel setting up for his talk, the last of the day before the closing Open Forum. Overall, attendees seemed pleased at what they found at the CSAA's Fall Ops Seminar. Loretta DiVincenzo of Cleveland, Ohio-based Gillmore Security Systems (in the video clip below) was especially impressed with the sense of camaraderie and honesty that seemed to pervade the weekend's sessions, as potential competitors came together to discuss and perhaps help each other solve common problems. video CSAA education committee co-chair Pam Petrow, chief operating officer at Vector Security would have made Phil Donahue proud, roving from one corner of the banquet room to the other to provide her microphone to each and every attendee who desired to speak and contribute. There was no constricting format, and some of the topics discussed were absent/tardy policies, and the enforcement thereof, as well as creative interviewing/hiring practices, and where to go to find staff when you were starting a new central from scratch. Pictured at the right is Pam Petrow and her microphone facilitating discussion.

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