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Alarm One's harassment is OK as long as it's equal?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008
Alarm One of Anaheim, Calif., which should have won some kind of "most likely to be mistaken for a trogloydyte" award for seeking to motivate its employees by corporal punishment and humiliation, has been one-upped, in my opinion, by an attorney who helped reverse a sexual harassment decision against the company. Please read on. In 2006, Janet Orlando was awarded $1.7 million in a sexual harassment case against her former employer, Alarm One. That judgment was reversed this week by an appeals court according to this story which ran in the Fresno Bee today. Orlando and other employees were subjected to spankings as part of Alarm One's “team building exercises.” Here’s our story on the lower court decision. According to today's Fresno Bee story, the jury of the lower court should have been instructed to determine if Orlando was spanked because she's a woman. Orlando's attorney Nicholas Wagner indicated he'll attempt to bring the case back to trial and said, "I'm kind of surprised that the court has taken the position that, if men and women are harassed the same way, then it's OK." I saw in an AP story that Alarm One had gone out of business. Maybe something good will come out of this after all.

CCTV in "Little Guyana"

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
It's hard to pass up these mainstream videos from news organizations covering the proliferation of cameras in public spaces. It's such a great window into how the general population feels. We talk often about educating the end user, but maybe not often enough about educating the level below the end user. Is this something SIA could take on? A general public educational campaign about the benefits of CCTV? It might get more municipalities buying, I think, with less public uncertainty and cynicism. Go here to check out the latest from NYC. Pardon the ad that starts the video - everybody's got to pay the bills somehow.

Nice mainstream piece on a courthouse installation

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I always point out when the mainstream press gets security wrong, so I thought I'd point out this article that really does a nice job of explaining to the general public what's going on at their local courthouse. Nothing revolutionary, but the installer is interviewed and the nuts and bolts are outlined well. On a smaller note, I can't decide what to think about this quote: "The courthouse can be a violable place," Armentrout said. "If something were to happen, we hope to be able to respond to it adequately." Did he really say volatile or violent, and violable is a typo, or did he really say violable, using an archaic adjectival form of the verb to violate? Meaning, I guess, the courthouse can be a place where people are violated, in the broad sense of the word?

Media/public disconnect

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Monday, January 14, 2008
When will the mainstream media disabuse themselves of this whole "Big Brother" filter with which they see all video surveillance projects? Check out this news broadcast from New York: Edit: For a while, the video was right here, but I couldn't figure out how to stop it from automatically playing every time the page loaded, so I got rid of it. To view the video, go here. Do you notice how they lead wondering "how neighbors feel being so closely watched by big brother"? It's absurd. Have they read 1984? Big Brother was a bad dude. He was the head of a government that went around rewriting history and had monitoring devices in people's homes. Somehow, that's been extrapolated to security cameras in public places, where you have no expectation of privacy whatsoever. It's a street corner. What are you worried people are going to see you doing there? But that's not even the problem here. The problem is that the media is supposed to accurately reflect the news as it's happened. Is there anyone complaining about the possibility of cameras here? Um, no. In fact, everyone they interview is completely in favor of the cameras. Why? Because, oh, I don't know, they're scared and they want someone to help them? The simple fact is, they're not going to be watched by Big Brother. They're going to be watched by their friends and neighbors, the fine folks that make up their police department, and they're going to be overseen by elected officials like County Executive Tom Santulli. This is the exact opposite of Big Brother. It's the people getting what they want, not having it imposed upon them against their will. Does the TV station listen to its own broadcast? “There's a lot of older people that live around here, it's a protected community and if the cameras will control the violence and drug affiliation then I'm all for it,” says Mitchell. “Everybody feels that there's some degree of invasion of privacy with things of that nature, but something has to be done about the crime that's starting to overrun our county,” says Christine Alington. Those sound like rational people to me. The broadcaster, however, sounds a bit hyperbolic. If the security industry doesn't push back on all this Big Brother talk, the implementation of real potential benefits will be hampered by such hyperbole.

InGrid partners with many, names one

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Monday, January 14, 2008
Lou Stilp, pictured here, principal of InGrid Inc., a new self-installed professionally monitored home security system company, is working with Shenandoah Telecom in Virginia to bring its product to market. Lou told me he'd be announcing some partnerships in the near future when I spoke to him this fall. Here's that story. According to this Philadelphia Business Journal story he’s lined up 10 other partners, but he’s mum on who they are for right now.

Free Lunch costly for security industry image

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Friday, January 11, 2008
Good thing there’s no snow in the weekend forecast up here in Maine because it turns out I have some reading to do. I just read an article from The Oregonian about a new book written by Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston titled “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)” that apparently has a large section dedicated to the public cost for false alarms. Of course, I haven’t read it yet, but based solely on this excerpt, I’m thinking this isn’t a good thing for the security industry: "The burglar alarm industry," Johnston writes, "charges hefty fees for a service that costs it very little. Then the industry dumps onto the taxpayers the real costs of providing the very service it sells. This is economic pollution sold to people under the guise of making them safe. In fact, it makes them less safe." Uh oh. My dad was the first one who directed me to this book after he heard an interview on NPR, so know your customers are reading it and you should, too. But, in case you've already made weekend plans, I’ll take some notes and give you a better summation on Monday.

Devcon to save $1.2 million with staff reduction

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Friday, January 11, 2008
Devcon International, the Florida security company that shed the last of its non-security-related businesses last year, announced this week that it will let 42 employees go--that's about 8% of the staff. The company expects to save $1.2 million as a result. The move was made possible by the consolidation of back-office operations as the result of acquisitions, the company said. Here's the announcement.

This seems like a bad idea

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Thursday, January 10, 2008
Does this company just not have a security director? The plan is to put data centers on boats and then move them around to where they're needed, for disaster recovery situations and what not. Okay, for the temporary disaster recovery market, maybe I can see the need for this. But for a long-term data center solution? Aren't the risk factors a little too numerous? While every other data center does its best to remain anonymous, surrounds itself with bollards and two-foot-thick concrete walls, and talks about hot-redundancy, these guys float around on the ocean, open to the weather, with crazy people looking to pull a USS Cole, and talk about using the heat from the servers to warm their staff. In an ideal world, this might be a great idea. In the risk-laden world in which real people do business, this strikes me as borderline insane.

Michael's got more mail

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Thursday, January 10, 2008
I’ll have more on this later, but [CEO of The Brink’s Company] Michael Dan’s mailbox runneth over these days with missives from hedge fund land. This note was sent Jan. 9 from Steel II, which owns 6.5 percent of Brink’s stock. Like the mail he’s getting from Pirate Capital and MMI, the message is this: spin off either Brink’s Home Security or the Brink’s armored trucking biz. Here’s the AP story

Curious about the CES show?

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Well, there's plenty of security-related news coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas right now, but I don't feel like getting into much of it because I'm trying to get a paper out the door. Instead, I'm pointing you to this blog, where people seem to have the same opinion of giant shows in Las Vegas that I do (people who don't like naughty language, do not follow this link - you've been warned). My favorite bit? You can't walk five feet on the show floor without hearing some horrible line of moronic marketing speak come out of the mouth of an overly perky 5-foot-tall PR girl in a pantsuit, and it makes me want to stab myself in the ears. Not that I would know anything about that.

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