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Can't say I'm overly sympathetic

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Certain of us northeasterners won't exactly be crying for the New York Football Giants, now that they've had their Super Bowl rings stolen. Ha, ha. The thieves disabled the alarm system at E.A. Dion Inc., cut a hole in the roof and made off with a safe that weighed at least 1,000 pounds. The loss was discovered Sunday by a Dion employee, who went to the business when she was unable to access her work e-mail from home, apparently because phone lines had been cut. The heist could have taken place at any time over the weekend, Sgt. Jim Keane said Wednesday. Well, I don't think it was the phone lines that were carrying that employee's e-mail messages, but you get the idea. Maybe there should have been a radio back-up? How is it possible there wasn't one? Unfortunately, only the Giant staffers got hit by this one. The players received their rings already. Bummer. And you conspiracy theorists out there, go ahead and get started. The company is in Attleboro, Mass., which is quite possibly the single greatest concentration of Pats fans in the world. Can you say, "Inside job"?

No sprinklers in Texas Gov's mansion

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The Texas governor's mansion was set to be retrofitted with sprinklers, but eight months into a renovation project that hadn't happened yet. No one was injured, but the mansion suffered major damage in a fire last weekend. Here's the story The mansion was equipped with a security system, which will hopefully help apprehend the arsonist, who is said to have set the fire around 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

Assa Abloy's Innovation Corridor

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Normally, I'm pretty loathe to travel to Connecticut - there are more cars on the 10-mile stretch of the Mass Turnpike I have to cover than there are in the whole state of Maine - but I spent a day earlier this month at the Sargent manufacturing facilities to see the new Assa Abloy Innovation Corridor, built under the direction of Stacey Callahan, who heads up marketing for the Door Security Solutions division and is working to bring together all of the many Assa Abloy brands: Sargent, Securitron, Yale, McKinney, HES, Adams Rite, etc. They've put together a nice facility. At the open, you get a demonstration of their evacuation products, like Beacon, which combines strobes, white noise, spoken instructions and lasers to get you to the door pretty quickly. There's also a comparison of photoluminescent vs. electroluminescent technology, which becomes quite interesting when the smoke machines get going and you can't really see a dang thing. Then you move into the electrical access control section, and they've got a nice demonstration area for their locksets with keypads and RFID, etc. This is where the special sauce is, too, that I'm not allowed to talk about. But trust me they've got some interesting stuff to bring out in about a year. Finally, you get the door area, which isn't the most interesting thing you've ever seen, but does at least make you think about what your doors are made from. Then you move into a training area. Seems Assa Abloy's forays into electronic access control has led them to develop a certified dealer program, and soon training will be required before installation of its products. Looks like they've spent a few bucks to make that run smoothly. Maybe the best thing about the tour through the corridor was the obvious pride Assa takes in its products, and the seriousness with which it takes life-safety and security. Too many manufacturers seem to be commoditizing and commercializing security and safety and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Not so, here.

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In other news, the United States bans apple pie

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Monday, June 9, 2008
As security measures increase for the upcoming Olympic games in China (why are they being held there again? To reward China for their great gains in granting basic human rights? No, that's not it? Something about their giant economy or something? Oh, it's just totally unclear? Swell), there comes this notice about China banning fireworks in and around Beijing. Now, banning fireworks in Maine is one thing. We're not the brightest bunch and we can barely be trusted with sparklers. But the Chinese kind of invented fireworks and take a national pride in them: A Chinese monk named Li Tian, who lived near the city of Liu Yang in Hunan Province, is credited with the invention of firecrackers about 1,000 years ago. The Chinese people celebrate the invention of the firecracker every April 18 by offering sacrifices to Li Tian. During the Song Dynasty, the local people established a temple to worship Li Tian. [tangent]Anybody else send away for M-80s when they were kids and then stick them inside lego-built cars and light the wicks just as you rolled the cars off the roof so that the cars blew up into a thousand lego shards in mid-air?[/tangent] So, in the name of security, the Chinese government are taking away the equivalent of, like, jazz music (the only enjoyable thing I can think of right now that we Americans invented). If they're really worried about keeping people safe, maybe they should stop executing 1,000 people a year.

Sensormatic, Tyco

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Friday, June 6, 2008
When Tyco buys a company for $90 million, it's generally a good story for us anyway, but this bit about Tyco buying the last remaining bit of Sensormatic is pretty interesting. I'm still looking into it, but this Winner Security company seems to have done pretty well for itself. Check out this court decision from 2005 (warning: that link goes to a pdf). Basically, it bought a Sensormatic franchise in 1977 for $66,000, then leased it back to Sensormatic for more than $6 million over 20 years, then didn't allow Sensormatic to buy the franchise back when the 20 years was up because Sensormatic missed the 90-day notice deadline by 47 days, and now finally has sold the franchise back to Tyco (which bought Sensormatic in 2001) for $90 million. I've got to think Mr. James Winner has his face on a dart board somewhere in the Sensormatic/Tyco offices.

Brink's Home Security name going away

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Thursday, June 5, 2008
Industy analyst extraordinaire Jeff Kessler's got a great new blog that I know I'll find very handy and I thought you might too. Jeff found a couple of nuggets in BHS's May 30 SEC filing that totally escaped me. Apparently Brink's Home Security will not be able to use the Brink's name three years after it spins off to become its own entity. In addition, BHS has apparently been paying royalties (more than $30 million in 2007, according to Kessler) to use the name. More on this later.

Survey says: Cellular!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008
ABI Research just released a new study reporting that the market for digital cellular transmission of alarm signals to central stations is expected to increase to 7.5 million in 2013. In 2007 digital cellular communication was at fewer than 2.5 million. That's three hundred percent growth in six years. Wow, integrators and manufacturers better be paying attention. The report cites the Feb. 18, 2008 AMPS sunset deadline as a significant driving force for the adoption of digital cellular communication (which, if you're reading this you certainly remember as the date that the FCC allowed cellular providers to discontinue the analog portion of their service). I think the adoption of cellular transmission is a given in this day and age, but that's just because I'm of the Millennium Generation and have owned a cell phone for a large part of my adult life. However, I realize there's a lot of hesitation and concern from security providers about the reliability of cellular networks, especially as primary communication methods. There's been more than one occasion when I've received the network-is-currently-busy-or-unavailable message from my cell phone carrier, so I think security providers are rightfully insecure. However, there isn't a lot of doubt in my mind that cellular communication will not only improve but will be largely accepted by the monitoring industry. That said, it's not always the cellular provider that lies the problem. During the whole AMPS scramble, I heard a lot of complaints (off the record, of course) directed toward manufacturers who were not releasing products in time to provide installers with a solution to replace AMPS units. But, I'm sure they're paying attention now.

Museum heist update

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Thursday, June 5, 2008
Remember those crack security guys who ignored alarms while invaluable national treasures were being thieved from the University of British Columbia's Anthropology Museum? Well, it wasn't their fault. Someone called up and told them to ignore the alarms. Clearly, this was heist impossible to prevent. Four hours before the break-in on May 23, two or three key surveillance cameras at the Museum of Anthropology mysteriously went off-line. Around the same time, a caller claiming to be from the alarm company phoned campus security, telling them there was a problem with the system and to ignore any alarms that might go off. Campus security fell for the ruse and ignored an automated computer alert sent to them, police sources told CBC News. Meanwhile surveillance cameras that were still operating captured poor pictures of what was going on inside the museum because of a policy to turn the lights off at night. Wow. That's really all I've got. Wow.

I'm not sure if this is funny or sad

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008
It's happened again. A burglar was dumb enough to break into a security company's showroom and offices. Ha, ha. The company, HomeLogic, manufactures IP monitoring software for all manner of home control items, including security and cameras that record on motion. So, it's not surprising they caught a bunch of video of the intruder, who kicked in the door at 3 a.m. and stole "a package that is used by the company to demonstrate the key features of their products to potential customers." Bet that was a good score, right? Later, this arch criminal was found sleeping by the side of the road and arrested. This would be funny (and still is, kind of) if it made any sense. What manner of desperation must this guy have been going through, at age 21, to kick in the door of some random business at 3 a.m. and steal something/anything that might have been of some value? What drugs was he on? Is he homeless? How? It's one thing if you catch someone who's, like, a professional burglar or something, or some organized retail theft types, but it's hard to cheer when some kid is going to the clink when he can't even find the wherewithal to get a roof over his head. Sorry to be a downer. Here's the video, which at least proves HomeLogic's stuff works. Okay, actually, it's pretty funny how long it takes him to knock the door down...

Location, location, location

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Now I'm not sure if it can be seen from space, but Underwriters Laboratory is making quite a splash on the Vegas strip for this week's National Fire Protection Association World Safety Conference and Exposition with the enormous banner it placed on the front of The Luxor Hotel in Vegas. See the photo above. The banner says: "UL is Safety. Find the Mark on 21 billion products worldwide." In case you don't know Vegas as well as trade reporters like me, who are required to spend an inordinate amount of time in that town, the Luxor Hotel is the one that's shaped like a pyramid. It's got that light that shoots out of the peak of the pyramid that can supposedly be seen from space. It's right next to Mandalay Bay, where the NFPA conference is taking place. Here's a nighttime and daytime shot of the Luxor. I was at the opening of day of the show yesterday and had a brief visit with Rob Toch, my contact at UL and did a drive-by visit of UL's sizeable booth on the back center of the showfloor. I did notice that FM (one of the other testing labs, a competitor in some ways to UL), while it's booth was smaller, had scored some prime show floor real estate, stage right, near the entrance.

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