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DeFina retires from Panasonic

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Friday, July 25, 2008
It's an old trick to release big news at the end of the day on a Friday. Well, Panasonic is old school: They've just announced that Frank DeFina has retired as president of Panasonic System Solutions Co. A J.M. Allain will take over for DeFina. He was most recently head of Duos Technologies, a company I don't know well. I also didn't know DeFina well, but I did have a really cool conversation with him at the most recent ISC West. I was waiting around for Julianna Benedick, Panasonic's head of marketing, and Frank just walked up beside me and we started talking about how really cool the giant-screen TV was that people could win from their booth. Then we talked about the Super Bowl (he's a Giants fan). He was a normal guy in a way that many high-level execs aren't. I hope he enjoys retirement. I'll try to drum up an interview with Allain. Probably won't come soon. Edit: Okay, so now I know more about who J.M. Allain is. For example, his LinkedIn page is here. Turns out he was a VP with Adesta for a year, preceding Rob Hile, from what I can tell, then GM with NetVersant for a year before coming on as VP of operations for Duos just about a year ago. That makes him a bit of a job-jumper, no? Though I suspect president of Panasonic is a gig he'd be slightly more likely to keep. Still, I love seeing quotes like this: “J.M. Allain’s expertise in seamless and timely deployment of comprehensive security systems and existing system upgrades will be an invaluable resource for our company and our clients,” said Gianni B. Arcaini, Chairman and CEO of duostech. “I expect J.M. to play a significant role in our company’s growth.” How'd that work out for you, Gianni? I hope you grew in a hurry.

Are you biking?

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Thursday, July 24, 2008
There is an upside to rising oil prices. People are thinking about conservation (I'm writing a story this month about Pat Egan of Select Security buying 13 new fuel efficient trucks that get double the gas mileage of his previous vehicles); they're using public transportation, and best of all, they're even riding bikes. I was listening to an NPR story yesterday about efforts in Portland, Oregon to expand the network of bike paths/lanes and making biking to work safer, and more convenient. Click here to listen to the story. Six percent of Portland residents commute to work and the number of bikers has doubled since 2001, this story said. This is nice, you say, but what does this have to do with security? Well I'm wondering if any of you are biking to work? Encouraging your employees to bike? Supporting efforts in your community to build bike paths or set aside bike lanes? In Portland, authorities said they're emulating the bike-friendly culture found in many European cities. American cities and employers could definitely take a cue from them on this. All new employees at Axis Communications are given a bike. (At least at their Lund, Sweden HQ; not sure if the employees in Chelmsford, Mass., get bikes as well?) I was in Lund and Copenhagen last year for an Axis event and I was struck by the number of people—old and young—riding bikes at all hours. In both cities, bikes, cars and pedestrians all coexisted effortlessly. (see photo above) It's healthy, it's green, and there's another benefit to this pro-biking culture: I didn't see anyone in Lund or Copenhagen who was overweight.

Fake iris scans?

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Thursday, July 24, 2008
A loyal reader of the blog in Taiwan alerted me to this article from Arabian Business: Dubai arrests three for fake iris-scan smuggling I know: Fake iris-scan smuggling? What's that? For some reason, I was under the impression that iris readers were pretty fool-proof unless you were doing that whole Minority Report thing, where you rip out people's whole eyeballs. But get a load of this: The Naturalisation and Residency Department in Dubai (DNRD) has referred three people - two Russians and a Moldovan - to Dubai International Airport police, on suspicion of smuggling forged eye biometrics recognition stamps" with intent to facilitate the entry to the UAE of previously-banned individuals, it said. I still kind of don't know what that means. "Eye biometrics recognition stamps"? What are those? And how can they be put in a bag, which is how the Russians were carrying them? And then there's this: A third suspect, a 21-year-old Moldovan woman, was arrested at the airport with a laptop and five ink pads and later she admitted that she had intended to deliver them to the first suspect, it added. The report said that number of individuals arrested through the Iris Scan System at the airport amounted to 1,325 in 2006, 3,626 in 2007 and 4,382 in the first half of 2008, according to Major-General Mohammed Ahmed Al-Marri, DNRD director. So, ink pads are involved in the iris stamping? How does that work? And they've arrested 4,382 people at the Dubai airport just via iris scanning? How do they have everyone's iris already on file to know that they're bad guys when they come back through? And how are the bad guys so dumb that they don't see this whole iris scanning coming. I'm very confused. Please, someone, enlighten me on how this all works.

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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.

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