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ASG buys a piece of NetVersant

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Monday, May 4, 2009
There have been some rumors about this as far back as ISC West, but I just had the first conversation on the record about NetVersant selling off pieces of the company. Joe Nuccio at ASG said he's closed on the Mid-Atlantic portion of the company. No details on the price, etc., but I'm hoping to speak with NetVersant management soon, and I may get a better feel there of how big a piece of the NetVersant pie this is. For reference right now, in the six weeks that ended Dec. 31, the Mid-Atlantic portion of the company did $420,000 in revenue, out of a total of $12 million for the company, according to papers filed with the bankruptcy court. However, everyone knows how bad the fourth quarter was, plus the company was in bankruptcy proceedings, etc. So that's probably not representative. Also, ASG told me they picked up 20 employees, but the salaries and benefits for that six weeks only amounted to $43,000, so unless everyone's making an average of $25k a year, something's wonky there. This helps ASG build their growing heft in the DC area, and fits right in with their footprint, so this makes sense on a number of levels, but this is also one of the better pieces of NetVersant's business, Joe Nuccio, said, with happy customers and a net profit even in that poor six-week period. I'll have more on the wire Thursday.

How manufacturers can use the web

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Monday, May 4, 2009
A little bit of a slow weekend in the industry, so I thought I'd get to something that's been kicking around my in-box for a while. Basically, I really like the way Bosch followed through on their ISC West presence with a dedicated spot on their web site. Hate to be a suck up, and please send me the spots on other manufacturers' web sites that are similar, but this is the kind of follow through that helps companies create an online relationship with customers (and they even have a little fun while they're doing it - imagine that: Fun in the security industry). Most manufacturers follow up their ISC West experience with a press release about how awesome ISC West was for them, with many booth visitors impressed with the new technology presented to them. As a reporter, it's probably pretty unlikely I'm going to run with that story since, a: I was there, and b: nobody really cares. But if you've got customers coming to your site anyway to look up product specs or sign up for training or to get support, why not have a bit on the site where they can check out what you were up to or follow up on something they saw at the show? Some of you may remember my discussion with Bosch Americas president Jeremy Hockham about bag inflation at the show. Well, good for Bosch for not taking themselves too seriously. They lead their ISC West recap by making fun of their own bags:
40 ways to use your Big Bosch Bag: a rain poncho to carry your friends when they are tired a collection bag for recyclables a walking Bosch billboard inflate for emergency floatation device a bag to hold all bags eco-friendly grocery bag carry clothes to donate to charity stand out in a crowd trick-or-treat bag for Halloween to carry gifts during the holidays potato sack sleeping bag under-bed storage for clothes, pillows, comforters diaper bag for OctoMom
Okay, so really only that last one was funny, but still, not bad - I'm fairly certain 95 percent of other manufacturers would have put out a press release about how their customers were finding "new and environmentally supportive strategies for maximizing the ROI (which was, ha, zero) on their show bag investment." But they'd have been serious. And I like the fast facts and stats and the picture of the people in the booth, etc. Of course it's self-involved and -congratulatory, but so what? They're preaching to the choir here. The point is to create a choir. When you combine this with their IP issues blog (not bad really, though they've haven't posted since April 15 and they can't seem to spell my name right even when they're linking to my story, and jeez, it's the first name you got wrong?) and their video site (they get a good amount of views for those videos, too), I'd say Bosch has one of the better web presences in the industry, especially among the larger established manufacturers. Got something you think is better or comparable? Send me a link.

Indian company wants you to outsource your managed services

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Saturday, May 2, 2009
My fearless editor Sam sent the link for a company he'd stumbled across called Hi-Tech CCTV Monitoring to me the other day. My first thought was, "Cool, another managed services company I can report on." Then, upon investigating the site, I realized that they were based in India. I don't cover the security industry in India, so I put the link away and relegated my initial curiosity to the back burner. Then I realized, "Wait a minute... Their business model is to try and get U.S. security companies to outsource their managed services, specifically Video-as-a-Service, to India where cost savings is a huge selling point. VaaS is something I'm interested in, and have written about for SSN before. From the section of Hi-Tech's site called "Why Outsourcing Business to India":
Outsourcing businesses to India enables global business to effectively contain the expenses associated with handling non-core functions and concentrate their resources in other areas. Clients will not have to spend any more on advanced tools and skilled workforce to fulfill their needs. Outsourcing to India implies the best in quality and cost savings.
Well, it seems like every time I need to call someone, some creditor or service provider, I end up speaking with someone in Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore, so maybe this is just the way things are going, and security is sure to follow suit. However, I have to imagine that U.S. security companies offering VaaS have something to say about this. I'd love to hear from anyone with an opinion on the matter. I've tried to contact Hi-Tech via their online job quote form, as well as through direct email, but have yet to hear back from them. Again, I'd love some feed back on this trend.

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."

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