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Fire inspectors in hot water

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I'm waiting to hear back from the press person at the Chicago Fire Protection Bureau about the eight fire inspectors who are in deep trouble for working on weekends. Here's a Chicago Tribune story , but it doesn't give much detail. Seems these inspectors were coming in on weekends to test sprinkler systems in several of this city's big buildings. They were paid by building owners to do this, that report said, instead of by the fire department. (The report does not say how much they were paid.) Building owners were doing this because it's more convenient for them. Apparently, testing involves taking the water pressure away from the building, and that's something owners want to avoid during the work week.

Taking the taser

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Remember my taser guy? Well, apparently tasers aren't as tough to take as you thought. I'm guessing lots of crazy stuff goes on in NFL locker rooms. Not sure I'd want to be a team's security director, that's for sure: Offensive tackle Marshal Yanda is No. 4, but could easily be No. 1. Word has it -- and there is truth to it -- that teammates bet Yanda last season that he couldn't handle getting hit by a taser gun. Not only did Yanda handle it once for three seconds, but two more times afterwards before finally collecting $1,500 from some of his teammates. "You got to have those kind of crazy people on your team," said Rolle. "Yanda is nuts." And, yes, I was just looking for an excuse to link back to the taser video. It's my favorite.

Improve business with your charisma

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Want to inspire your employees to sell more security systems? Make more killer business deals? According to this Boston Globe story , upping your charisma quotient could help. What makes a person charismatic? Yale professor Joseph Roach said it’s the "effortless embodiment of contradictory qualities simultaneously: strength and vulnerability, innocence and experience, and singularity and typicality among them." The story says people like Oprah Winfrey; Abraham Lincoln, Lady Diana, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama have got it. OK, so how do you become more charismatic? Well, the Globe story is long on observation and short on instruction, but it does include a consultant’s ideas on how to convey strength and warmth, which he says is key: "Strength is conveyed primarily with posture and gestures … Good, erect posture is strong. Holding one's hands palms up and facing away is weak, as are ‘self-comforting’ gestures, like rubbing one's arm. Warmth is conveyed mostly by a genuine smile (in which the eye muscles smile in addition to the mouth muscles); but one must not smile in a way that undermines strength.” Got it? Palms down, smile, no arm rubbing. Let me know how it works.

Sad news for the industry

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Some very sad news came across the wire today: Industry Veteran Mike McGrath Loses Battle with Cancer Security industry veteran Mike McGrath passed away on July 5 at the age of 66, following a long battle with cancer. When Mike arrived in the United States 16 years ago, he brought with him two decades of experience in the security industry in England. As the marketing director for Central One Monitoring, he quickly became a familiar face in the industry, and was often quoted in industry publications on topics including trends in new technologies and the business of central station monitoring. Following Central One's acquisition by COPS Monitoring in June 2006, Mike was asked to remain with the company in order to provide the expertise and experience necessary to expand COPS' market in Florida. "Mike was not only a knowledgeable leader in the alarm industry, but a colleague and a friend as well. His presence will be missed," said Jim McMullen, president of COPS Monitoring. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike's family in this difficult time." Mike is survived by his wife of 40 years, Diane McGrath, a son, Perry McGrath, and four granddaughters who live in Ireland. Memorial contributions may be made in Mike's name to: Hospice by the Sea, 1531 West Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, Florida 33486. When I was first hired here to edit Security Systems News, our publisher, then Tom Curry who was also new, decided we needed to meet the industry as quickly as possible, so he set up this crazy trip with the help of our salespeople here, that took us from DSC in Toronto to Central One (which had just been bought by Devcon, at the time) to HID in Irvine to Pelco in San Jose, all in the span of three days. It was a brutal trip, though very instructive. Partly because of Mike McGrath, who met with us at Central One. He was a soccer fan, had a thick and fun Irish accent, and was very laissez faire about his predicament, having just been acquired. I think he said he'd been part of 15 acquisitions in his lifetime, and he hadn't been laid off yet. Something about that seems like a ringing endorsement. I didn't know Mike well, but I knew him enough to know that a lot of people must have loved him very much and I'm sorry to hear about his passing. You can find quotes from him here that give you an idea of his outlook on things: COPS buys Central One from Devcon

Who's the alarm company? Naturally.

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Friday, July 18, 2008
Is this Tennessee alarm company engaging in deceptive sales tactics? Can you tell who the alarm company is? "The Alarm Company"--that's their name--of Cordova, Tenn., says they're not trying to make anyone think that they're ADT when they sell their wares door-to-door, according to this story A sales rep from The Alarm Company said he knocks on doors that have ADT signs out front, and uses this sales pitch: "We're with The Alarm Company. We saw your ADT sign and decided to stop by to offer you an upgrade to your coverage that will protect your windows." The sales rep says people have been confused before, but he's not trying to confuse them. You see, he doesn't tell customers that he's from ADT; he tells people he's from The Alarm Company. Does this guy's sales pitch remind anyone else of Abbott & Costello's "Who's on first?" routine? Here's a reminder of how that went: This is not the first time there have been complaints about The Alarm Company. The Mid South Better Business Bureau lists the company as unsatisfactory. I blogged about this company, which is owned by Tom Brady, on May 2 when a local TV station pulled a Mike Wallace on them. ADT says it's looking into the complaints. Meanwhile, the Abbott and Costello sales guy told The Tuskegee News: "The hardest thing about my job right now is gaining somebody's trust."

This is progress

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Friday, July 18, 2008
Our 20 under 40 issue comes out in August, and it's going to be a hum-dinger (actually, it is a hum-dinger already, you just can't see it until it's printed). Working on it, there's been a lot of talk about how we bring not only young people into the industry, but also people from other walks of life (you know, not 55-year-old paunchy white guys).
Then I got the ESX photos in my email box. I'm sorry, but something about this picture says that the security industry is moving in the right direction. From left to right, that's Dean Seavers, CEO of GE Security; Cris Carter, Chairman of Carter Bros. (and he's done some other stuff, too); Bud Wulforst, president of the CSAA, and George Gunning, outgoing president of the NBFAA. Cool shot. Now, if we could just get a woman into that picture...

Maybe the best press release ever

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Thursday, July 17, 2008
This came into my email box today. I'm pretty happy about it. Dear Boss, Please check our new product information and waiting for your reply. Thank you, keep in touch and have a nice day. Our products also have some advanced features: Simultaneous MPEG-4 and Motion JPEG Two-way Audio with Built-in Microphone Mobile Phone Streaming Live Video through 3GPP/ISMA RTSP Built-in Multi-window Motion Detection James Sung Okay, there are a bunch of product descriptions, too, that I cut out. Boring. I mean, "No way! Your camera has superior low-light performance?!? Wow. And a 1/3" Sony CCD?!? It's like I've been searching for you all my life, but no camera maker could ever fulfill my every dream the way you can. Let's get married." Products don't matter. It's the form of address that counts. If you start out your email with "Dear Boss," it's just about a guarantee I'll read through it. Other greetings you might try: "Hey Champ"; "How's it hanging, Big Guy"; and, maybe if you're of the opposite sex, "Dear Sweet-Cheeks." Those are almost certain to get my attention. On a serious note, how on God's green earth are integrators and end users supposed to make heads or tails of all these camera manufacturers? And how do all these camera manufacturers all turn a profit? The mark-up on those things must be amazing.

PC drops suit

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I like art, I like movies, I find influential people interesting, why do I not like the Hollywood "Power Couple" that was suing ADT? My question is rhetorical. (Unless of course you, too, don't like PC, then send me a comment.) Don't know the PC? They're former Paramount Pictures honcho Sherry Lansing, and her husband Exorcist director William Friedkin. They sued ADT earlier this year saying ADT didn't respond to an alarm at their house in a timely manner and they had a bunch of "irreplaceable jewelry" stolen. (I'm getting weepy writing about it again.) In March, I blogged about how ADT got permission to go in and take photos of the house for three hours. Well, this week, PC petitioned to drop its lawsuit. Both PC and ADT are mum about details. Here's the story

On the Fence

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Here's a profile article by CE Pro Magazine about Wayne Alarm Systems in Lynn, Mass. The owner, who if you're at all keyed into the monitoring industry, will know as Ralph Sevinor posing in his well-known alarm museum. Even a relative newbie to the industry like me knows Ralph (but I always want to call him "Wayne"- Does anyone else have that problem?). The premise of the article is exactly the topic we here at SSN continually tout: How can security companies increase their RMR by entering the home automation space? I think this paragraph makes a good point about some of the insecurities felt within the industry: A company like Wayne Alarm Systems can't snap its fingers and start offering control, according to Sevinor. "It's a philosophical change," he says. "When somebody looks at a home automation system or a TV, they're looking at a life expectancy of two or three years. When somebody is looking at a security system, they're looking at 20 years." According to the article, Sevinor has tasked an employee (the other guy in the photo) to investigate the profitability of entering the "control" space, as CE Pro refers to it. This is probably a decent and smart business strategy and I hope the next article about Wayne Alarms (perhaps done by yours truly) will be about its entrance into the space. It would be a good, reassuring example for the rest of the industry, many of who are also on the fence about all this ding dang new technology, and proof that, yes, it can be done. Show us the way Ralph, I mean Wayne, I mean Ralph.

InGrid knows whom to pay off

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008
When it comes to media manipulation, the InGrid has few peers in the security industry. Not only have they launched a great set of ads, employing Jerry Zucker, but now they've managed to weasel their way into the annual "Summer Home Security Tips" piece that every crappy newspaper in the country eventually runs. Here's a version of it from the Elk Grove Citizen. The story is provided by ARA Content, which "provides free, high quality feature articles to reporters, editors and print publishers. These features are copyright free and in a variety of categories coordinated to fit the editorial calendars of a typical newspaper. Whether you have a seasonal need or a regular space to fill, our content is available online and updated regularly. All articles are written or edited by professional journalists and the majority include high-resolution photos." When most small-town editors see these pieces come across, they think: "Sweet. Free content. Time to go fishing." Of course, they're paid for by companies like InGrid. Take a look at the actual content the American people are getting from their friendly neighborhood local paper: * Make your home look lived in Ask a friendly neighbor to make sure the lawn is mowed and keep an eye out for unusual activity around your house. Suspend newspaper and mail delivery or have someone collect them for you and make sure the trash cans are put out and brought in on time. The more lived-in your home appears to be, the less inviting it is to thieves. Okay, der, obviously. * Leave a light on Put a few lights and a radio on timers set to go on and off at random times during the day and evening. Leaving one light on the entire time you're away is an obvious sign that no one is around to turn it off. Close most of your window shades, but keep a few open on upper floors for light to shine through and make it look like someone is home. Install motion detector lights by each entry to your home, including the garage. Thieves don't want to be in the spotlight! Yep, that's pretty similar to your first point there. * Don't invite a climber Don't leave toys or ladders around your yard, they can easily be used to stand on or climb up to break into your home. Likewise, prune back any tall trees with branches near upper windows. Hmm. Haven't heard that one before. If the thief is going to break into a window anyway, why would he/she climb up a ladder to do it on the second floor? * Lock it up It sounds obvious, but lock the doors and windows - more than 50 percent of thieves burglarize homes by walking right in. Use deadbolt locks that can only be opened with a key and forget about hiding the key under a doormat. If you must keep a key nearby, purchase a steel lockbox with a combination that is specifically made to store keys. Yep. Lock your house. Good tip. * Sound the alarm A survey by Temple University found that alarm systems, when used with other precautions, reduce the likelihood of burglary by more than 60 percent. InGrid Home Security is one of the first home security solutions that works wirelessly through a home's broadband connection and is built with multiple system backups for added safety - that means there is no single point of vulnerability such as phone lines that can be cut. Wireless home security systems also allow for monitoring, arming and disarming from anywhere, via a Web site to let you double check on your home while away. InGrid offers around-the-clock professional monitoring and the money-saving option for homeowners to install the system themselves, allowing them to set up sensors wherever they would like, for both emergency and non-emergency alerts. Whoa. Seems to me lots of companies offer wireless backup. But Johnny and Sally Consumer might think, 'Gee, that's a new idea. I'm going to buy an InGrid system! Sign us up!' This is not responsible newspapering. This is, however, insidious marketing. Good for InGrid. Ethically bad for the crap newspapers who print this garbage. They are not serving their readers unless the piece is clearly marked as advertising. * Don't squirrel valuables away Thieves aren't dumb, they know people like to stash their goods under the bed, between the pages of books and in the sock drawer. Store your valuables in a safe-deposit box at the bank or in a safe you can bolt to the floor. Taking a few simple precautions before taking off for vacation can provide the peace of mind you need to relax during your time off and come back to home sweet, secure home. Thanks Elk Grove Citizen. I totally feel safe now!

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