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Okay, I'm on Twitter now

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Monday, September 22, 2008
I can't imagine how often I'm going to use this yet, but I am now on Twitter if you want to be my Twitter follower (I believe that's the right terminology) or want me to follow you: http://twitter.com/Sam_Pfeifle. I've also got a LinkedIn page, which you can find in the sidebar on the lower right, and a Facebook page, which I'm keeping for personal stuff right now, and a Myspace page, which is for my band, the Grassholes. Plus, I've got online identities in half a dozen online forums. All of this is getting time consuming...

Have you seen my lawnmower?

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Monday, September 22, 2008
It's been a while since I've blown up some local television station's "security" story, so I'm going to indulge myself today. It's Monday, I'm eating lunch, and I can't help myself. Today's insanity is provided by NBC 12, out of Richmond, Va. It's titled "Break-in reminds homeowners of the risk of property crime." I'm entertained by the premise alone of this story. Essentially, homeowners in tony neighborhoods need to be reminded that they can be victims, too. It's not just in the ghettos that crime happens, you know. I mean, We did a search over the past three months, to see what other kinds are reported here. During that time, we saw three cases of theft, two cases of vandalism, and one report of burglary. Holy smokes. So three times, the housekeeper stole Ma's jewelry; twice, a couple of brat kids egged someone's house; and once, there was a burglary. In three months. In all of Colonial Place, a large part of Richmond, Va., which is a pretty big city. I'm floored by that. I'm shocked the National Guard hasn't been called in. Luckily, however, neighbor Todd Flowers is coming to the rescue: A recent shed break-in prompted a Richmond man to make a quick fix to his home security. And his ideas may help cut down on other area crimes. Excellent. Can't wait to hear what those ideas are. I'm all ears. This happened near Malvern and Stuart Avenues. Sweet. "The minute I saw the doors wide open I knew that they broke in," said homeowner Todd Flowers. Flowers did everything you're supposed to do. It just didn't matter. "And I had it latched right here," he said. "They just came with bolt cutters and snapped the lock right off." Everything you're supposed to do=put a lock on it. Good to know. Somewhere there's a book with a paragraph on what you're supposed to do to keep your gardening shed safe. That paragraph reads like this: Put a lock on the door. But the lock turned out to be the least of his worries, on a recent morning. The lawnmower was the first thing they grabbed. It's unclear how they've established the chronology of the crime. I'm assuming CSI guys were brought in to establish the timeline. "It was sitting right here," he said. "They stole the gas, but left me with the gas cans." I find this incredibly entertaining. So the thieves stole a lawnmower (virtually worthless - what are they going to do, put it on eBay?), but didn't want to carry the gas cans, so transferred said gas into another container? That makes zero sense. But, whatever. Not only that, but the thieves stole hundreds of dollars worth of other yard supplies, which all have to be replaced. "My blood pressure shot up and it was disappointing to see all my lawn toys stolen," he said. "You just feel violated." I know I feel violated. Anyway, weren't there going to be some new ideas on home (gardening shed, really) security here. I haven't found them yet. I'll skip ahead and look for them. Hmm. This might be them: "I think that people just need to be aware and do what they can to deter this kind of thing," he said. "Stay in communication with your neighbors, install lights." New ideas="be aware"; "do what they can"; "stay in communication with your neighbors"; "install lights." Do you think Todd can patent those? I'm guessing those ideas would be valuable in this whole anti-crime campaign the nation has embarked upon. Maybe he could get some signs made up. Or a web site. Todd's now taking his own advice. "So it's not a whole lot of light but its enough so you can see if there's anyone back here," he said. And hopes others do, too. Light pollution comes to Colonial Place, as gardening sheds everywhere are bathed in light. Odds are, those thieves won't be getting inside his shed again, anytime soon. "They, essentially have to rip the doors off," he said. Everything you're supposed to do now=get a bigger lock than you thought you needed. Also, this television station has no qualms about putting commas between subjects and their verbs. None whatsoever. They're grammar lawless, I tell you. Unfortunately, you can't be 100% safe from anything. So you do what you can to deter crime, but it happens all over the community so be aware. I think I saw that on a coffee mug once. Or maybe it was a bumper sticker. It's just so true. There might have been more commas on the bumper sticker, though. It's hard to remember. I've seen so many.

More fun at NFPA 2009

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Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tomorrow, Sept. 19, is the deadline for proposals for presentations for the 2009 NFPA Conference and Expo, which is going to take place in Chicago June 8-11. Here's more info on the call for presentations. I'm looking forward to the event, as I always do, 'cause I get to see my fire people, and because I love Chicago. Read on for another reason: I was talking to NFPA's Cheryl Pozner-Green last week. Cheryl put together the behind-the-scenes tour of the fire systems of the Beatles' LOVE Cirque du Soliel show for the 2008 NFPA show, and she did a great job. I always learn more when I can see the systems they're talking about. Plus, I felt like a daring adventurer up in the rafters of the Cirque set, 70 feet above the stage. So, the good news is that Cheryl and her group are trying to pull together another fire tour in Chicago. They've got some great ideas about locales, but nothing's nailed down yet. I'll let you know when I hear more.

Some light reading for the plane

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Thursday, September 18, 2008
I think everybody's more than a little curious how the financial crisis is going to affect the security industry. Just so we have a baseline for what's going on, I'd suggest reading this great analysis of what caused the crisis, from the WSJ. Very well done.

Quiet in Maine; Apx goes green

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008
So, I'm holding down the fort here in Yarmouth while all my colleagues are running around the show floor, and apparently up and down lots of escalators at the ASIS show in Atlanta. I hear that there's lots of fire news coming out of ASIS this year--check Sam's blog, (there are links to it on nearly every Web page on this site) for more details. I'll have more on any of the really good stuff for you next week. In the meantime, it's very, very quiet here. Phones are not ringing, and people are not returning my calls. Guess they're in Atlanta, duh. I did see one interesting tidbit on line about ApxAlarm's new campus that they're building on 17 acres in Provo, Utah: They're actually thinking about the design of the buildings and they're going to be careful to use green design. Now isn't that cool? It should be way more commonplace than it is in our industry. Here's my original story and here's their press release.

Honeywell's coolest thing here

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I forgot to mention how cool this new spec-writing tool is from Honeywell. I got a demonstration from Michael Linebarger yesterday and it was very impressive. Basically, it asks you questions about the system you'd like to install, you do some pointing and clicking (it even talks to you if you want it to) and the end result is a furnished parts list, CAD drawing, and even a Microsoft Word document that's professionally written and will serve as your complete A&E proposal. Coming from someone who knows his way around Word, I've got to say that's some seriously nerdy stuff put together by Linebarger and Dave Combes. Big hat tip to them. And after you've got all that, you can also download a PowerPoint presentation to go along with it so you can turn your brand-new sales engineer into someone who looks like a 20-year veteran. Sure, it's all Honeywell products, so it's obviously a little self-serving on their part, but there are plenty of dealers who don't do anything buy Honeywell and this has got to be a huge leg up for them. It's up right now, but they'll start pushing it in November. In my opinion, this is where the smart manufacturers will separate themselves: By making it really easy for integrators/installers to sell their new technology.

ASIS, day 2

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Finished off by the very good Stanley party at STATS, where you could pour your own beers from taps in the tables and smoke cigars on the top floor, I've got to say today was pretty productive. I learned more than a few things, and though today just didn't seem to have the verve yesterday did in my meetings, there were clearly more people walking the floor today and exhibitors weren't quite so cranky. Alas, I missed our booth wine and cheese party, but I'll get to that. Anyway, things started very well, with our TechSec Advisory Board breakfast, always a highlight of the ASIS show. We got great turnout and great feedback (hell, everything's great tonight!) about our 2009 educational program. We're working now on a keynote speaker to fill the bill. If you've got any suggestions, lay them on me. After that, a meeting with Dean Seavers at GE Security went very well, with continued talk about focusing on solutions rather than products. It's clearly the way to go, but there are still a number of people who slander GE just about any chance they get. I'm not sure if they have unrealistic expectations of what is still a relatively new security operation or if they just know something I don't from having worked with them. All indications to me are that Seavers and company have really revamped the security operation and they're easy to work with. Who knows. Did I mention that SimplexGrinnell went with an Irish pub theme for their booth? Oh yeah, there ware plenty of darts being thrown. I have to ask, though: Do Irish pub employees really wear berets? Maybe they do. I've only seen the Dublin airport. No berets there, though. It all somehow supports SimplexGrinnell's message for the show, "Powering an Evolution in Emergency Communications underscores the reliability, survivability and vision of using voice-enabled Simplex fire alarm systems to drive emergency communications solutions." They had some other announcement about Microsoft certification, too, that you'll probably see Martha write about. Other than Stanley's sports bar, there weren't many other themed booths. I'm not sure whether to lament or celebrate that. Other notable things from the show: 1. Pivot3's serverless computing stuff is real-deal interesting. If you're doing more than 4 terabytes of storage on a job, why wouldn't you work with a company that can make your server investment - money and power - quite simply go away? If this doesn't take the industry by storm, the industry isn't paying enough attention. 2. I also really like Smartvue's stuff. I know they've kind of come and gone and come again in this industry, but their wireless installation and NVR options really look nice and make sense for a progressive integrator with good ideas. 3. Xtralis is more than fire. The Australian company has launched new access and video lines. Now it's up to you to hop on board that train. 4. If you want a good product lesson, check out Sielox. They've made some major changes to their controller, and you're going to like most all of them: SD storage on the board, with the ability to leave service notes and access manuals; much faster, with a native Ethernet connection, taking database downloads from potential hours to minutes; a new system architecture that's going to allow them to future-proof in a big way. 5. Did I mention Johnson Controls isn't messing around? I met with them more formally today and they talked my ear off about partnering and acquiring. Now's a good time to cash out, no doubt. 6. The Apple/videoNext event was a major let down. The speakers were solid, and there was a good conversation, but not only did Apple not speak on the panel at all (so it's hard to see how they co-hosted), they wouldn't even talk to me after the event. They were apparently scared I would use some quote against their will, when all I was really trying to do was make small talk. What's Apple going to do in this market? I guess just sell a lot of servers. They didn't make any other plans clear, but there were a number of the 100 people in the audience who were just there to show off their iPhone apps. Many were cool, like the one that allows touch-screen PTZ control on the iPhone from Lextech Labs. This makes me kind of salty because the event was very much "what video can do now" and not so much the intent, "The Future of Video Surveillance." I don't think you should still be feeling the need to promote IP over analog, but that may be a skewed view on my part because I've seen so many presentations about IPs benefits at TechSec for the past four years and I get so many new product demonstrations and haven't seen anything analog in two years. Also, I went to this instead of our own booth party, which was just your basic wine and cheese thing, but had a lot of interesting end users in attendance and some old industry contacts. Plus, it took forever to get to the videoNext thing and back because of the crappy convention center layout, whereby meeting rooms are literally more than a mile away. That sounds wine-y, I'm sure, but everybody else was complaining about it, so I will, too. 7. If you're looking for a fully integrated banking solution, you could do worse than calling Pacom. More news coming tomorrow.

ASIS, day 1

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Monday, September 15, 2008
Grrr. Blogger is being more than a little wonky and has twice wiped out all of the brilliant content I've been trying to offer. Very frustrating. Anyway, here's the rundown of today's salient points: 1. Johnson Controls isn't messing around. They've committed to doubling their security workforce organically in the next year, and they'll be buying people left and right. If you're ready to get our, and you've got a fairly sophisticated local integration firm, give JCI a call. 2. People are talking more about fire systems here than they have in years. It's the new leader for security sales. It's almost impossible to escape. Last ASIS I didn't hear word one about it. 3. This show floor configuration is more than a little not good. It's just not okay to have a straight line for a show floor, so that you're constantly traveling a mile at a time to go from booth to booth. 4. Stanley's new eVideo and eAccess offerings are game changers. There's no one who understands RMR better than them. 5. Uninterruptible power supplies are more interesting than you thought. What happens to your awesome security system when the power fails? That's what I thought. 6. No one actually cares all that much about standards. I asked five different IP video companies today if standards were important and not one said yes. I'm getting the feeling that the hard standards push is coming from under-funded start-ups who need to get their stuff out there right away, and don't have the time to be integrated by the major players. Thus, standards are important. Most of the integrators I talked to today said standards weren't that big of a deal and they weren't really paying much attention to what was going on with that. 7. Why am I writing like Larry King?

ASIS, day 5

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Monday, September 15, 2008
Okay, so there are all kinds of things working against me as this big ASIS show starts up. First, my favorite writer of all time, David Foster Wallace, has killed himself. I won't go into the whys and wheres, but this is an unbelievable loss for people who care about writing. It's my opinion that there wasn't anyone alive with a better command of the English language than Wallace. Second, I've managed to come down with my daughter's first kindergarten cold and I feel like someone just ran through my sinuses with a pipe cleaner. Third, we're in Atlanta. I'll leave it at that. Finally, my Internet connection here at the Georgian Terrace (don't ask) completely stinks. Slow as death. However, I won't be remiss in my blogging duties, I promise. I've already met up with fellow blogger Shawn Flaugher, and he's all up with the Twitter stuff here, so there are high standards to be met and I won't be outdone (okay, maybe I will be out done - depends if everyone's party is as good as the HID gig last night. Have you seen the Georgia Aquarium? The place is flat-out rad). Anyhoo, the schedule's packed today. Here's whom I'm meeting with: Johnson Controls IQinVision Verint Pacom Dedicated Micros Entrance Controls Arecont Vision Stanley Pixim Alpha Technologies (This would be an impressive list, but that Geoff Kohl dude is probably going to twice as many booth visits, thanks to the time machine he owns that allows him to somehow do twice as much work as everyone else - knock if off, Geoff!*) Then I think I'm going to the Smartvue and GE receptions. We'll see. I might actually just fall over and die at some point on the show floor and then, well, there won't be much action on this blog for a while and you can send flowers to my family. It's unfortunate that I'm mostly meeting with manufacturers here, where there are so many integrators with booths, but it's hard to say no to all the booth visit requests without seeming like a jerk (and we wouldn't want people thinking I'm a jerk (huh? What's that? Oh, ha, ha. Everybody already thinks I'm a jerk. That's real funny)). So, say hi if you see me frantically running the show floor, and put anything you'd like me to ask of the people I'm meeting with in the comments below. I know the comments are scary, but you can do it. I believe in you. *Hey Geoff, is it okay if we're arch enemies? We don't have to try to kill each other or anything, but I think it would be kind of fun. If you're like me, you've already got a dartboard at home set up, so it shouldn't be much of a stretch for you, either. Great. That's settled then. Next time you see me at a reception or something, just dump a drink on my pants and pretend it was a mistake, but then make it clear that it WASN'T a mistake. Everybody will get the idea.

How is this helpful?

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Thursday, September 11, 2008
Any number of stories are on the wire today about the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. I understand the impulse. It's important to remember the people who died in those attacks, both former schoolmates and perfect strangers. It's important to remember that the United States is not as invulnerable as we would sometimes like to believe. It's important that we maintain a sense of history in a world that's increasingly focused on the micro news cycle, and a time when truth and reality are so malleable on the Web. But when people are constructing these 9-11-related stories, I have to wonder what the point is. Take this one, which I link to on Newsday, but ran in many places, about DHS chief Michael Chertoff's remarks to the National Press Club yesterday. Here it is in its entirety: WASHINGTON (AP) _ The nation's top domestic security official said Wednesday aviation remains vulnerable to terrorist attack seven years after 9/11. How is that news? And what purpose does it serve for Michael Chertoff to say that out loud? Anyone with half a brain can see numerous vulnerabilities. Wouldn't it be news if aviation was deemed invulnerable? Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the al-Qaida terrorist network continues to focus on the aviation system as a target. He said that the Bush administration has made strides in reducing the nation's vulnerability but that the risk remains. Glad the AP has crack reporters to cover this stuff. I'm shocked by that news. Shocked. Chertoff was speaking at the National Press Club. Thursday is the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, in which terrorists crashed hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Space filler. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president thinks about 9/11 every day and is always concerned about another attack. "The terrorists are very determined, and they have to be right only once, and we have to be right every single time," she said. A: I wonder if the AP even actually called Perino or if they just have those two paragraphs on file to stick in any time they're writing about 9-11. B: If they did actually put in a call, or if Perino was at the same event as Chertoff (it's not clear), I'd love to know how that conversation went. Did somebody ask, "Um, does the president still think about 9-11?"? C: Aren't "the terrorists" (as though they're a giant group who all work together, and have business cards) right pretty often, as when they blow up troops in Iraq on a regular basis? How is it that when American troops die - and it happens all the time - it's not newsworthy. But if five people were to die in a terrorist attack on a Target, it would be the biggest story since 9-11? I just can't stand the public perception of "security." That all of these people feel like someone else should be taking care of them and keeping them from harm, but if that is in any way inconvenient, then it needs to be justified with some grand statement from someone "in charge." And every time something horrible happens, everyone acts like they never could have seen it coming. What? Someone shot up a class at a university? I'm shocked! How could this happen?!? Yes, aviation is vulnerable. You know what else is? EVERYTHING ELSE. Aviation is actually probably the least vulnerable of all of the modes of transportation. Every tunnel is vulnerable. Drive a car full of explosives completely unfettered into a major tunnel in Boston at rush hour and create chaos. That's impossible to prevent. Get on any bus or train in the United States with a bomb in your backpack and create chaos. Right now, you can pretty much do that any time you want. Walk into any mall, movie theater, etc., with a bomb strapped around your waist and create chaos. Nothing would prevent that right now. Think about what a bomb would do on a subway car at 8:15 a.m. in New York, Chicago, Boston, etc. And we're talking about aviation being vulnerable? That's news? I'd say it's considerably safer than just about every other way of getting around.

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