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So long, VIP

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Well, I hate to see companies go out of business and people probably lose their jobs, and money thrown down a hole in general, but it does sometimes feel good to be right. Remember when Steven Brill conned people into giving him $44.4 million to fund Verified Identity Pass and the Clear lanes? Here is how I scoffed at that:
I don’t know. Back of the envelope, it just doesn’t make that much sense to me. Maybe there are a bunch of sponsorships they could sell - advertising in the lanes and partnerships with hotels and car rental joints, etc. But I think the average security experience is going to get better, not worse, as fewer people will fly now that it’s more expensive and those fewer people flying will be more experienced. Plus, the laptop and shoes and jacket things will go away fairly soon for most people as technology is developed. So I’m not even sure they would ever get a quarter of their target market to sign up. Maybe I’m wrong. Steven Brill is a smart guy, and the investors aren’t dummies, but it seems like irrational exuberance to me.
Yep, Brill is so smart he bailed on VIP a few months back. And now the company is going out of business. They blame the economy, the TSA, just about everybody. But, really, it was just a bad business plan selling a not good enough product to not enough people. Simple as that. How else do you burn through $44.4 million in less than a year?

Bound for Baltimore

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Monday, June 22, 2009
Heading out now to get ready for the trip to Baltimore for the second ESX show. We get in in the afternoon and I'm going to try to catch at least part of the session: "Anatomy of a transaction: How to buy or sell an alarm business," starring FOPs (friends of the paper) Eric Pritchard, Ron Davis, Bud Wolforst, John Lombardi and Les Gold. We'll see if Air Tran gets us in on time. Sam and I will be at the Young Security Professional's reception tomorrow. (Sam will play the part of the young security professional; I'll just be a reporter on scene.) Looking forward to meeting some of SSN's "20 under 40" who I've spoken to but not met in person. After that, we head to the Weinstock & Jackson awards and reception, which in addition to being a really nice event, is always a fun networking event. On Wednesday, Sam and I will be doing live interviews for ssnTVnews in our booth #1102. Please stop by. No heckling allowed, but it's OK to wave at the camera. Oh, and planning for Thursday, make sure to put Sam's two sessions on your calendar. He's leading the "Rising Stars Forum" at 1:30 and the "Next Generation Forum" at 3. Oh, and get there early; it was SRO at his sessions last year.

Here's a depressing way to start the week

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Monday, June 22, 2009
Maybe it's the fact that it's been raining here in the northeast for about six weeks (there are frameworks for arks popping up everywhere), but something about this story in the LA Times this morning strikes me as woefully depressing. It's about improving church security, since churches appear to be the sites of an increasing number of shootings (there is some data to support this, but it's still a really small number and it could be a statistical blip). On one level: Great. The security industry is ready and waiting to provide potential solutions to the problem. It's a new revenue stream and all that. But, jeez, listen to some of these quotes the men of the cloth are throwing out there:
"I think that we're living in a violent time and we have a duty to ensure the safety of our flock," said Fred Rodriguez, a senior pastor at Elsinore First Assembly in Lake Elsinore. Rodriguez said he came to the seminar because he worries that church violence will get worse. "The Scripture says we're living the last days," the clergyman said. "A person doesn't have to look too far to see evidence." "There are practical things we can do," he added, "and we let God take care of the rest."
Yikes! Are these guys Mayans? But, somewhat seriously, if the end of days is upon us, why bother with increased security? Everybody's dust in a few years anyway, right? (Hmmm, maybe we better pretend I didn't write that.) Actually seriously, the solution to the problem seems depressingly worse than the problem itself:
Traditional security measures, like metal detectors or pat-downs, might compromise that sense of sanctuary, Baker said. So he proposed other, subtler methods. He suggested that churches organize undercover security teams -- and recommended that some members come armed with concealed weapons. If violence breaks out at church, it could take minutes for even the fastest police and rescue crews to respond, Baker said, "and there's a whole lot of bad that can happen in two to three minutes."
Which disrupts your worship more? Coming through a metal detector or being part of an undercover armed response team? And exactly how does that conversation go? Pastor: Charlie, I've heard you're pretty good with a handgun? Charlie: Sure, father, I spent 5 years in the Army and I shoot on the weekends. Why? Pastor: Well, we're worried about potential shootings, given what's been in the news and all, and I was wondering if you'd start coming to church on Sundays with your pistol, so that if anything should happen, you could take the guy down before too much damage happens. Charlie: Hmm, well, you know, I always have my wife and kids with me. How do I explain to the girls why daddy's bringing a gun to church? Pastor: Well, just hide it real good... Decorum keeps me from making that a lot funnier (to me). But, c'mon, how can asking more people to bring guns to church be a good solution? I find that mind-blowing (and depressing). But here's the counter-argument to that:
Baker, like other security consultants, said churchgoers need to fight back instead of hiding if they're being attacked, as many students have been coached to do in the event of a school shooting. "If I'm going to get beat, I'm going to get beat doing something," Baker said. "I'm not going to get beat doing nothing."
There's a turn the other cheek joke there that I won't bother with. There's also a big difference between kids fighting back at school and parishioners getting into a fire-fight in the pews. I'm guessing they don't let kids pack heat, but I'm starting to get to the point where I'd believe anything. And we know teachers are bringing guns to schools, certainly. What's the solution to keeping churches safe? I have no idea. But I hope the electronic security community can come up with something better than arming the congregation.

Hurry!! Still a couple hours to sign up for CSAA's ESX tweets

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Friday, June 19, 2009
I got my latest edition of the CSAA's Signals yesterday, and I noticed that there's still time (but only just) to sign up for CSAA tweets during ESX. If you already have a Twitter account (and who doesn't these days?), all you need to do is text "follow CSAAintl" to 40404 by close of business today (that's Friday, June 19, 2009) and you'll be all set. If you don't already have an account get going! It's free so there's no excuse. Have a good weekend all ... Try to stay dry :-( Hurray for summer in New England.

Congratulate Bob at ESX

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Thursday, June 18, 2009
Going to ESX next week? When you go by the ASG Security concession booth (ASG is Baltimore-based and one of the sponsors of this year's event), you'll definitely see ASG marketing guru Bob Ryan. Make sure to congratulate him on the arrival of his twin girls. With my new photo-posting ability, I thought you might like to see a shot of Bob's kids.[caption id="attachment_2031" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Elizabeth and Ava Ryan"]Elizabeth and Ava Ryan[/caption] One thing, when you see Bob at the booth, you may have to wake him up before you can congratulate him. He told me Elizabeth and Ava are keeping he and his wife, Angele, very busy. "I go to the office to get some rest," he told me today.

Do you think this is a legit request?

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Thursday, June 18, 2009
Today I received a letter. That's sort of news in itself, since no one sends mail anymore (except for a few PR people who've either not been introduced to the Internet or who think hard copies make their emails more noticeable - they don't). But, also, it was hand-written on notebook paper and contained the following message: "I am interested in the 'Security Systems News' trade journal that you offer. Please send me any info I need to obtain your journal. Thank you! for your time. Sincerly, Stephen Faye 1 Administration Rd., Bridgewater, Mass. 02324" Hmm, I thought to myself - an enterprising high school student looking toward a career in the security biz? I guess you don't really have to know how to spell "sincerly" to install systems, right? Then I looked at the back of the envelope: "This correspondence is forwarded from a Massachusetts Correctional Institution. The contents may not have been evaluated and the Department of Corrections is not responsible for the substance or content of the enclosed material." So, do you think they're a good fit for our subscription base? Also, here's what Google pulls up for 1 Administration Rd.:

View Larger Map Looks like they've got a nice ballfield. I wonder if Stephen can turn the double-play...

More on HDCCTV

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
So, like savoir faire, HDCCTV is everywhere. I haven't really seen a ton of information that's not in the story I wrote, but here are a couple of posts that offer a little more background or a different way of explaining it, and maybe have more links that I was too lazy to put out there. John Honovich's take is that there still isn't actual product to test and use, and that it's going to take a big push by the major manufacturer's to derail the current IP camera growth and takeover of the market. I think this is going to be the conventional wisdom for the time being: wait and see. Steven Titch interviewed all the same guys I did, but went a little longer form. If you can't get enough of this, it's worth reading. I even had a guy from the EE|Times call me to get some background on it. (They ended up talking to Honovich instead because I was too scattered to call the guy back, since he was on west coast time and I kept remembering to call him at 10 a.m. Eastern, and, then, well, I forgot by the later part of the day when it would appropriate to call him.) Network World wrote about it, too, actually breaking the embargo they requested. Why they would bother to break the embargo with a one-source story that doesn't tell you anything more than a press release, I'm not sure. And, well, actually, that's pretty much it. I think there's something at securityinfowatch, too, but it didn't come up in google and I'm not going to go look for it. So maybe it's not EVERYWHERE, but more people are talking about it than normally talk about stuff in the security industry. We'll see how the actual installers and integrators react. If they push their vendors to get on board, that's where the difference will come.

Intergraph and City of Richmond, Va. implement CAD-to-CAD ANS

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I just found out the City of Richmond, Va. has moved beyond the testing phase for the External Alarm Interface Exchange project I wrote about earlier in the year. The two year pilot program saw more efficient handling of data transmission from alarm panels to centrals to PSAPs and eventually led to the computer aided dispatch system being designated as an American National Standard. Vector helped with the program, and now Intergraph has put the program into practical application in Richmond. Proponents of the alarm signal automation standard say two to three minutes per alarm signal could be saved, allowing emergency responders to get on the scene of the emergency much more quickly, improving the chance of saving lives and protecting property. Look for a story on this at Security Systems News.

Stop the presses, I can post photos

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I received the good news today. I can now post photos in this here blog. To celebrate, here's one you missed:[caption id="attachment_2020" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="It\'s Bart Didden as he appeared in the New York Times yesterday and May 28."]It's Bart Didden as he appeared in the New York Times yesterday and May 28.[/caption]

HDCCTV Alliance details

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009
For those of you wondering about this amorphous HDCCTV Alliance, check out my full story here. I've known about this stuff for a couple weeks, but I was honoring an embargo until they got their web site ready and the specification posted. You can find further information at their web site. Since this is the blog, I'll say that some of this HDCCTV stuff does sound attractive. Certainly, if the picture is as good as they say it is for live viewing, people are going to dig that. I've yet to see something on a show floor that's as good as a high-def TV viewing experience, and they say they can deliver that. End users will eat that up. And for upgrading a current analog system to HD or "megapixel" capability without having to rewire? That does seem like a no-brainer in some instances. As long as the DVR is still addressable, there are a lot of places were an IP camera would just be overkill if you could get two megapixels with analog. It's going to be interesting to see how this shakes out.

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