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Kermit's in da house

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Sunday, January 6, 2008
I was reading in the New York Times this morning about Clorox’s (yeah, the bleach) effort’s to become greener and how their purchase of Burt’s Bees (originally a Maine company that makes lip balm and other natural products) is going to help it do just that. Interesting story and smart move, but I think it'll be a while before we hear "Clorox" and think "green." The next “green story” I came across today was about how consumers’ resolve to be green may push home automation mainstream in 2008. And, of course, residential security is an important piece of the home automation package. The story notes that the “environmental benefits of home automation will be touted at this week’s Consumer Electronic Show in Vegas.” The first wave of home automation adopters may have been the fabulously well-to-do and techy nerds, the story says, but the home automation industry believes “high energy costs and environmental awareness” will help drive widespread adoption, and soon.

AMPS-It's everybody's problem

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Despite all the clamor in the security world about the looming analog deadline, this mainstream news article points out the more widespread panic about analog getting the axe. Since I've personally experienced tunnel vision about this issue from a security-only perspective, I enjoyed reading about irked GM customers who discovered that the cars they bought were equipped with analog OnStar units that wouldn't work come February and couldn't be upgraded despite being less than five years old. BUT, GM did issue some customers a $500 voucher towards the purchase of a new GM vehicle ... And people say the US car industry is floundering. AND, I thought the author did a decent job of including the woes of the security world in the article--towards the bottom of course, but how else will they get you to read the whole thing? However, this article, I can't say the same for. It too was about the analog issue, but frankly, it was just awful. Here's a few of my favorite choppy sentences (granted, it is broadcast writing - never trust anything you hear on television): In home security and fire alarm systems, the change only effects back-up systems. Primary systems function using land phone lines. But if those lines are ever effected by weather or cut by burglars the security system switches to its back-up. The back-up is usually a cellular phone line. If the connection is analog, it must be changed or else security companies would never receive an emergency signal alerting it to call 911. "As long as your [land line] telephone is working, we're going to receive signals from the [security system]," said Vinton security expert Scott Bolen of Alert Security Services.

CEA says digital TV conversion opportunity for integrators

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Thursday, January 3, 2008
For those of you eyeing the home automation space, it might be interesting to note that the CEA now believes at least half of all U.S. homes have a digital television. I'm not sure about the logic that HD TVs equal a need for surround sound and other home automation perks, but it's probably true that HD TV buyers are early adopters of technology in general and have more disposable income for home technology in general. Is it worth trying to partner up with HD TV retailers, a la the Geek Squad, so you know when a new HD TV has been purchased and you can swoop in and offer your services? Anyone got numbers on how much crossover there is between HD TV owners and home security owners? I bet there's a fairly high correlation.

Whall departs HSM/Stanley

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

We just received word here at SSN HQ that Tim Whall has left his post as CEO/headman at HSM (A Stanley Works Company). National sales manager Tony Byerly has taken over the job, effective immediately. I'd link to the news, but there's apparently no official release yet. Guess they'll want to change this page. When Stanley paid big bucks for HSM not much more than a year ago, there was a lot of talk about how Whall's presence was part of the value there. As in these quotes: Sandra Jones, head of consultant group Sandra Jones & Co., said buying HSM is "like buying the Hope Diamond, a one of a kind thing, and so it becomes much more valuable ... You're better off paying a high multiple for a good company than less for a company built on smoke and mirrors." Jones singled out Tim Whall as one of the best executives in the industry. Les Gold, a lawyer with Mitchell, Siberberg & Knupp who brought Stanley and HSM together roughly a year ago, echoed Jones's praise of Whall: "He's just as good as they come." In an interview with Stanley Convergent Technologies Group head Brett Bontrager, I got this: "What we've wound up with is a world-class management team. What Tim [Whall, HSM COO] has put together is really exciting. The culture that they have for winning starts and ends with providing world-class service; everything else will fall in place. It's a culture we'd like to spread throughout our entire convergent security group ... They put their metrics in place and diligently manage to those metrics and they're based on service to the customer." Let's hope Stanley made quick work of spreading Whall's culture throughout the group, or that Byerly and his team have plenty of that culture in petri dishes in the storage closet. Anyone want to hazard a guess on where Whall winds up? He's been in the business a long time; seems like he'd be sticking around.

10 Manchester, NH bars, clubs without fire protection

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Thursday, January 3, 2008
For ten years Manchester, NH fire officials had been reminding (but not forcing) a local restaurant, T.R. Brennan's, to install a fire alarm system. Before the holidays, the fire department put its foot down and sent notice to install or else. The current owners got an estimate, but no system had been installed by Christmas day when the building burned to the ground. There are more details in this Manchester Union Leader story, as well as some curious talk about how a fire alarm may not have made a difference. Huh? Couldn’t have hurt, right? Who knows, maybe it’s a quote out of context. The most interesting part I thought was the list of 10 other Manchester bars and clubs that are not yet compliant with state fire regulations that will take effect Jan 31: Here they are: American Legion Post No. 43 Eleven Eleven Mad Bob's Saloon Knights of Columbus Council No. 5260 Yee Dynasty Club Mount Royal Begy's American Legion Post No. 79 Liquid The Chateau

Mission:Possible - Door to desktop (bear with me)

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Okay, so I'm watching the original Tom Cruise remake of Mission:Impossible, and it gets to that very famous scene where Cruise is hanging from the air conditioning duct and can't make the temperature go up, or make a sound or touch the floor or the security system goes off and he's toast. As he's doing this (catching his sweat drop along the way), he's logging into the single most important CIA computer mainframe (do they still call them that? Mainframes?) with the password that he got from the guy who normally mans that ultra-secure room (who's in the bathroom because they poisoned him just a little). This is all very exciting, but the whole time all I can think is: Jeez, how hard is it to link the security system to the computer network so that it knows that the network can't be accessed by a person who hasn't just keyed in the door? Of course, the movie was made in 1996, and Tom Cruise emails people through a little program that shows him a digitized post card with a digitized stamp, but it really doesn't seem like it should have been that difficult even back then. It really blows my mind how late IP communication came to security.

Grillo lands a full-time gig

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008
In our January issue, you'll find an article about former HID/Assa Abloy boss-man Joe Grillo joining XceedID's board of directors. In the piece, he talks about looking around for other opportunities "focusing on the RFID space outside the security-and-lock industry." Well, here it is. Grillo has been named CEO of the newly enlarged Digital Angel, which just merged with Applied Digital Solutions and does lots of stuff with RFID and GPS tracking, including implanting chips in your dogs and making sure they never get lost. Or, to quote: Digital Angel's products are utilized around the world in such applications as pet identification using its patented, FDA-approved implantable microchip; livestock identification and tracking using visual and RFID ear tags; and GPS search and rescue beacons for use on aircraft, ships and boats, and by adventure enthusiasts. That doesn't sound like Grillo will be working much with the security installation channel, but maybe he'll bring more of the products into our arena. It's worth watching.

Congratulations Nick!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008
I learned yesterday that one of my best sources—an expert on all things fire—went and retired on me! ( And before I could talk to him for a story I'm writing this week about IP technology and fire installations. Not happy about this, Nick.) Guess who? It's Fire-Lite director of marketing Nick Martello. In case any of you can't place the name, here's his photo. Recognize him now? Probably. Nick spent 25 years in fire and integrated systems and besides working for the Honeywell Fire Group, he also worked for Kidde Automated Systems, Thorn Automated Systems, Medeco Security Electronics, Medeco Locks and Matrix Systems of Dayton, Ohio. And here's some stuff you might not know about Nick... He spent 14 years as a public school music teacher (K-12) and was also a middle school principal. He worded at Sea World of Ohio for eight summers, where he found, according to his bio, that he "really liked electronics and went back to get electronics training. I then started my own wireless central station." After selling out to his partner, he developed intelligent fire systems for Kidde. He then transferred to marketing and worked extensively in the integrated security business including integrated fire, security, access control and CCTV. Next was Medeco Electronics, where he did marketing for SiteKey, an intelligent r/w keying system, and then, full-time consulting for Matrix Systems of Dayton, Ohio. In 1997 he joined Notifier, where he helped develop the Uninet Integration platform and served as marketing director and, finally he took over as Fire-Lite marketing director My sources at Honeywell say he's going to play golf, but they also say he likes to be busy, so may do some consulting. He's also got a blog to write. Here's the link. I like the tagline, "the online home for all things Martello" Congratulations and good luck Nick! Security Systems News will miss you!

This is why analytics seem so attractive

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Sunday, December 30, 2007
Wondering why analytics seem like such a good idea? See this story. The big question is whether alarm events can programmed to produce small electronic charges.

Another Christmas break-in story

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Sunday, December 30, 2007
Here's another classic Christmas break-in story. Yet again, we have a homeowner working with an anonymous security company, and the incredibly incurious reporter doesn't bother to investigate further into this technology that allows the homeowner to view video cameras over the web. Ho hum, why bother reporting on the interesting part of the story? Especially when you can make awesome sentences like these: Treanor has changed his locks, deadbolts and installed motion lights around his home, however, these aren't not the only steps he's taking to protect himself. and Moreover, the cameras will allow him to view whatever the camera has record even if they get stolen. The second is particularly nice. Not only do we get a butchered past participle, but we also get subject-pronoun disagreement and confusion. Brilliant. People wonder why the evening news isn't taken seriously....

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