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Who needs on-site storage?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Word's getting out today about Google's plan to offer storage as a service. Clearly, this is targeted first toward the consumer market, so people can have all-the-time/everywhere access to their photos and music, either to share with Grandma or hipster friends (wallet pics and iPods just don't cut it anymore, apparently). But it's also targeted toward the burgeoning online backup industry, which makes a hell of a lot of sense. The big question, of course, is how long it will be before everyone's storing just about everything in giant, hot-redundant storage farms, and whether the central station industry, for example, might want to get in on that as a service to provide both dealer customers and end users. If I'm an end user, why would I want to buy a bunch of RAID storage and have it sit in a closet when I could just store all my video off-site and access it through a web browser from anywhere in the world (not that I couldn't access it from anywhere anyway, it's just now I don't have to worry about my closet flooding)? Well, for one thing, off-site storage is still price prohibitive: As you can see, online storage is pricey. For instance, if you bought a Maxtor OneTouch 300GB external hard drive for $296, your one-time cost would be 99 cents per gigabyte. However, if you backed up just 2GB of data to IBackup, you'd pay $162 per gigabyte. Just think what 90 days of bank video from megapixel cameras would cost! But it's going to get cheaper soon: Even EMC Corp. has driven a stake into the hosted-storage landscape with its October agreement to buy start-up Berkeley Data Systems Inc. and its popular Mozy online backup business for $76 million. So, you might want to check out a service like that being provided by OzVision as a way of moving in that direction, if you're a central station. End users just want to look at video - they don't want to have to store and keep clean and safe a bunch of humming black boxes.

Brink's evaluates sale

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Activist hedge fund Pirate Capital’s relentless foot-stomping appears to have yielded some initial results. Today Brink’s—parent company of Brink’s Home Security and Brink’s Incorporated, the cash-handling business—announced that it’s hired the consulting firm Monitor Group to “evaluate its strategic alternatives. Pirate (along with other major shareholders like MMI) have been after The Brink’s Company to consider selling off one of its divisions for more than a year.

The Times weighs in on Registered Traveler

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007
might decide I have thoughts on this later, but for now, check out what the New York Times has to say about the slow-moving Registered Traveler program.

Many bars and nightclubs still unsprinklered despite deadline

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Nov. 14 deadline passed almost two weeks ago for bars and nightclubs to install sprinkler systems, but according to this front page story in the Boston Globe only 22 Boston establishments have installed sprinklers. The Globe reports that a total of 283 bars and nightclubs needed to install sprinklers to comply with the 2004 Massachusetts Fire Safety Act, 22 have installed sprinklers, while 109 got waivers and 85 waited until the last minute to get extensions. The law was passed shortly after the 2003 Station Nightclub fire in Rhode Island.

Just 11 days later...

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Monday, November 26, 2007
Once you start looking into this kind of thing, you see it everywhere. I've been harping on guards (especially those employed by alarm companies for the purpose of pre-police response) being armed, and the possibility for mistaken killings that could lead to tragedy along with public relations disasters. This doesn't appear to be one of those cases, but it's indicative of the type of situation that would be better handled by the police, for a variety of reasons. Basically, a guard noticed something fishy, entered a vacant apartment, encountered two thieves hiding in a closet, got attacked with a power saw, and killed one of the thieves, allowing the second to escape. That's all well and good, and I'm pretty confident that the guard was justified in defending himself against what was probably a drug addict desperate enough to do just about anything to escape, but these paragraphs give me pause: Indianapolis-based Trinity Security had given a security guard who shot and killed a power-saw-wielding intruder at an Eastside apartment this week about four hours of general guard training and at least another two hours of specialized firearms training. That is more training than required by the state. Wow. Six whole hours of training? I'm not sure which is more scary, that a guy is working with a concealed weapon with only two hours of weapons training or that the state of Indiana doesn't require more training than that. And I'm not really scared for the potential thieves the guard might encounter, rather for the guard himself. Poor aim, poor handling and cleaning of the weapon, any number of factors could lead him to real harm in a future confrontation. Maybe in this situation the thieves were a total surprise and there wasn't opportunity to call in police who would have had second and maybe third officers ready for backup, to possibly both disarm without deadly force and catch the fleeing second man, but I'd much rather have representatives of the people killing criminals than private security guards. Dying for copper just seems so sad and pathetic and police officers have extensive training on when and where to use deadly force. It's possible a death in this case could have been avoided. In the case of a vacant apartment, there are definitely portable and temporary cellular-based intrusion systems that could be used to set off an alarm when the thieves enter and send a signal back to a central station, which could then dispatch police to the scene. I doubt that would be much more expensive than a contract guard, and it would certainly avoid situations such as this one, where a young guard making less than $12 an hour, and still enrolled in school, now has a death on his conscience.

This is the language police: We're surrounded

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Here's reason #354 why I should never have been handed the keys to a blog: A prolonged rant on compliment/complement. This particular rant has been triggered by a release posted by Imperial Capital, an investment bank that just bought another investment bank, USBX (one of their four vertical interests is security). Here's the offending sentence: "The addition of the USBX team is the perfect compliment to our existing professionals and will increase our M&A capabilities and expertise. So, basically, the deal is a way of saying, "good job," to the existing professionals. "Hey, guys, you've done such a nice job with that whole merging and acquiring thing that we're going to go out and buy another banking firm. Sound good? Good." Why is this particular homonym pair so difficult for people? I even recently discovered that if you google "compliment" and "deal" (don't ask why I was doing that) it returns pages with the word "complement" as well. And vice versa. I find that to be messed up. It's wrong in press releases more often than it's right, I'd swear. (It's ironic that USBX CEO John Mack is quoted using "complementary" correctly later in the release.) For reference, here's the Oxford American's explanation of the conundrum: USAGE: Complement and compliment (and the related words complementary and complimentary) are frequently confused. Although pronounced alike, they have quite different meanings. As a verb, complement means 'add to (something) in a way that completes, enhances, or improves,' as in: Janet's new necklace complemented her pearl earrings nicely. Compliment means 'admire and praise (someone) for something,' as in: They complimented Janet on her new necklace. Complementary means 'forming a complement or addition, completing,' as in: I purchased a suit with a complementary tie and handkerchief. This can be confused with complimentary, for which one sense is 'given freely, as a courtesy': You must pay for the suit, but the tie and handkerchief are complimentary. Try not to hate me.

Panasonic to buy Sanyo

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Monday, November 19, 2007
Well, it looks like the rumors and speculation had merit: Panasonic has made a formal offer to purchase Sanyo. Not surprisingly, the WSJ doesn't mention either company's security divisions, as they are small pieces of a very large puzzle, but I found this paragraph particularly interesting: For Panasonic, the deal comes down to Sanyo's green technology products. Sanyo, the world's largest producer of rechargeable batteries for laptop computers, digital cameras and mobile phones, is poised to capitalize on the auto industry's shift to hybrid and electric cars. Maybe people remember Sanyo's solar-powered "green" cameras at IFSEC 2007? I'd of course love to see Panasonic embrace green practices in the security industry as part of this greening of the company in general. Still, this deal isn't exactly done yet: Panasonic said it will commence by the end of February a tender offer for Sanyo shares at ¥131 ($1.50) each, a 4% discount to Sanyo's Friday closing price of ¥136. Panasonic plans to issue up to ¥400 billion in debt from next year to finance part of the acquisition. A lot of things can happen between now and February.

Rothman reads Security Systems News

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Monday, November 19, 2007
Speaking to a crowd of 800+ at the opening session of the Nov. 7-11 Honeywell First Alert Professionals conference in Scottdale, Ariz., Honeywell Security and Custom Electronics president Ron Rothman shows exceedingly good taste in his choice of newspapers. Rothman was talking about Yvonne Hao's first one-on-one-interview in her new role as head of ADI North America, which appeared on the cover of our November issue.

It only took 22 days

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Sunday, November 18, 2007
On Oct. 25, I wondered about the wisdom of advocating for armed private guards as the appropriate first responders to burglar alarms. Lone Star Security Regional Manager Bruce Boyer asked: Why have high-trained, highly-skilled police officers responding to burglary alarms when their time could be put to much better use? Then offered this nugget: The gun stays in the holster and only comes out when an officer faces deadly force. And that deadly force must have the ability to deliver it against an officer or customer, said Boyer. "If the deadly force is across the street holding a knife, the gun stays in the holster," he said. "Our job is to investigate alarm calls. If there's criminal activity, we call the cops. We are not Rambo." I was pithy at the time and said, "Well, not only are you not Rambo, you are also not a police officer. Let's hope deadly force is never used, but it's hard to rely on hope in that potential situation. ... What happens to a community when a private security company shoots a kid reaching for a cell phone? If a police officer does that, it's one thing. In this case he was placed on leave. I think it's a very different situation if it's a private security officer, where the city doesn't have recourse and the company is not accountable to the citizens." Well, look at the response to this police shooting today. Would you want this photo to have your yard sign in the background? I'm thinking not.

Access source book is up

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Friday, November 16, 2007
While our December issue content is still a week or two away, you can check out our December source book, covering access control and biometrics, right now, right here. It's easy to put up, because all we do is post a pdf, which you can download or print out. Eventually, we'd like to get the product grid working online so that you can quickly search for which companies make which stuff, but that ain't happening yet. Also, for those of you who are wondering why your company isn't listed, here's how we put together the product grid: First, we make up a survey that we host online. Second, whichever of our papers is running a particular source book first, in this case Security Director News, sends out an email to every company we know of in the marketplace, using both our editorial and sales databases of email addresses. Yes, people quit and we don't know and emails get sent to nowhere. Yes, our emails sometimes get caught by spam filters. These are things we can't help. It's impossible for us, with our current staffing, to either individually call every company or to send individual emails. Further, it is a fact that most of you manufacturers don't return our calls anyway, for reasons we're not clear about, unless you've already sent out a press release. So, what you can do to make sure you're included in the future: 1. When we send you a survey, fill it out. 2. Add our email addresses to your "not spam" list. 3. When a product marketing person quits, make sure their email stays redirecting to a new person for at least a year (a pain, I know, but then again I'm still getting Chelsie Woods' emails, and she quit more than 16 months ago - I still get 10 emails a day from marketing people, often people I've spoken to recently, addressed: Hi Chelsea (because they apparently think Chelsie not only still works here, but also spells her name like the part of London)). Dear integrator readers, if you have suggestions to make the source books better, leave them under the comment button below.

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