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Flir is getting hot (or should I say, "thermal"?)

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
My European counterpart alerted me to the fact that Flir has agreed to pay more than $40 million for Cedip Infrared Systems, a provider of infrared cameras and stabilized gimbaled systems, based in suburban Paris. First of all, how can you not get psyched about using the word "gimbaled," but, second, I think it's clear now that Flir is taking names in the infrared/thermal market. Check out the awards they've announced here. That's more than $60 million in business in the last two months. Not too shabby. Speaking of thermal cameras, have you heard about these SARS/Avian Flu detecting cameras. Basically, they provide alarms for people with high body temperatures, or, as the site says, "fever-like symptoms." What, exactly, would be "fever-like"? Don't you either have a fever or you don't? Supposedly, this would make sense to install in an airport at customs. But wouldn't it pick up anybody with a fever? Just because I have the flu doesn't mean I should be retained as a potential SARS case.

Security and OJ Simpson

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I've got to admit that I am beyond shocked that video footage of OJ Simpson in the Palace Station in Vegas hasn't appeared yet. We all know how much has been invested in security at casinos and hotels in the city of sin, yet all we're being given is a bad audio tape made by one of Simpson's victims and some footage from Simpson's bail hearing. I'm deeply disappointed in the security director at the Palace - shouldn't he or she have sold that footage to Fox News for a million bucks by now? Maybe the Palace hasn't upgraded to IP yet and they're still looking for the video on their VCRs....

Piling on

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Okay, so the New England Patriots cheating scandal has officially reached the realm of the ludicrous. Now comes word from Kimmons Security Services, an outfit based in Houston doing investigations and debugging and the like, that head honcho Rob L. Kimmons thinks law enforcement should investigate the team for possibly audio-recording opposing teams' offensive audibles. "If this is true," Kimmons writes in a press release that was distributed through all the normal channels, "and conversations were covertly intercepted without participants' knowledge, this could very well be a criminal offense. In most states, at least one party in a conversation must know it is being intercepted or taped, or a criminal law has been violated. Some states require all party consent for audio monitoring." Okay, that's all well and good, but is this really the way you'd like your tax-payer-funded law-enforcement officers spending their time? Investigating whether the Patriots illegally taped their opponents? Mightn't we simply let the league police their own on this one? If Kimmons was serious about this, woudn't he have researched which laws actually applied in New Jersey? Hey, I'm all for attention grabbing by companies who'd like to get themselves on ESPN or CNN. That's what American mainstream media is today, a giant opportunity for building your brand. But this seems particularly shameless. For one, it implies that the law-enforcement types whose jurisdiction is the Meadowlands aren't aware of laws surrounding audio surveillance. For another thing, something makes me think this guy is a Texans fan. Look, it's not the Patriots' fault your team didn't draft Vince Young. And just because you're 2-0, don't start thinking you're going to the Super Bowl.

Fun with franchising

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Friday, September 14, 2007
There seems to be some interest in the EYESthere franchise story, so let me point you to their competition: MonitorClosely.com. I wrote about them here. It's a totally different idea, actually, in that MonitorClosely franchisees have zero inventory, and really just act as outside sales people, from what I can tell.

EMC's sex-discrimination woes

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Friday, September 14, 2007
This is pretty ugly. I've written in the past that the new blood entering the security industry could be good for ushering out a conservative and chauvinistic aura that can surround the marketplace. Apparently, the IT industry has chauvinistic problems of its own, as represented by storage giant EMC. There was a disturbing article on the front page of the Journal this week about the way women are treated there, and since EMC has made a security play already, I'm afraid I have to comment. It's a long article, so I'll highlight a few paragraphs (Journal's words in bold): EMC says it has long had a written antiharassment policy. It prohibits conduct that, "if unwelcome," could constitute harassment, including "sexual epithets, jokes...gossip regarding one's sex life" and downloading suggestive material from the Internet. The Journal is right to highlight the "if unwelcome" part, as it adds a ridiculous burden of proof. I can just hear a manager saying in a courtroom, "well, she seemed to welcome it at the time." Of course, at the time, she was trying to impress her boss or her coworkers with her tough salesperson-ness. I mean, what woman wouldn't want to go to a strip club, really? Only one who wasn't tough and savvy, I'm sure. Twelve former saleswomen who worked for EMC between 1997 and 2006 said sales offices often were places where men freely made disparaging remarks about women. Four former saleswomen said that between 2000 and 2003, EMC national sales meetings and meetings with customers were sometimes followed by trips to strip clubs. A saleswoman who used to work in the Denver office says that at the annual sales kick-off meeting in Atlanta in 2001, managers, from vice presidents on down, took groups to such clubs. Though the lawsuits are more about equal pay than workplace environment, this kind of stuff is completely baffling to me. What manager at any company would think it's appropriate to mix strip clubs and a workplace environment? Even if it's after hours, a gathering comprising only employees is essentially a business meeting and I can think of zero reason why naked women (or men, for that matter) would be welcome at such a meeting. Mr. Hauck says that when he took over the sales force in 2001, he tried to make it clear that EMC wouldn't tolerate a hostile environment for women -- consistent, he says, with previous policy. Shortly after he took over, he says, a controller showed him an expense account from a salesman who wanted to be reimbursed for taking a client to a strip club. Mr. Hauck says he told the controller to refuse to pay the bill and to tell the sales force EMC wouldn't reimburse that type of client entertainment. He says he was reiterating an existing corporate policy. Oh, what a big man Mr. Hauck is. He won't reimburse a salesperson who took a client to a strip club. No. He. Won't. Um, how about you fire that salesperson for embarrassing the company and insulting the intelligence of the client. Even if it was the client's idea, it shouldn't be that hard for a good salesperson to say something along the lines of, "gee, sir, I'd be pretty uncomfortable looking at naked women with you while we're talking about your company's storage needs." This is absurd to the highest level and shows that Hauck simply doesn't get why women aren't all that keen on working at his company. With women making up ever higher percentages of college graduates and advanced degree seekers, the security industry needs to make hiring and retaining women a higher priority than ever. One good way to retain female employees? Don't make it clear that your business does business in strip clubs.

Big doings in Dallas

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Thursday, September 13, 2007
Verified response took a major hit this week when the Dallas City Council voted to repeal its commerical verified alarm policy. The simple fact is that business owners, the life-blood of any city, were very unhappy, and dangerous situations were becoming too commonplace. Politicians paid attention, because business owners fund their campaigns. This should quell fears in the industry that verified response will quickly become the norm, but let's hope that monitoring centers and installers don't become too smug - verified response is an outgrowth of a very real problem in false alarms and if false alarm reduction efforts don't continue, verified will look more and more attractive. Mark Thompson's advice from 2003 continues to ring true.

Pelco's sandbox

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Notice that Pelco is making a concerted effort lately to show that they're not as proprietary as people make them out to be. For example, they're friends with Milestone. No, I mean, they're really friends. Of course, Pelco has been accused of being slow to act in the past. Maybe that's why Milestone said they were friends way back in March. I'm having some fun, but it's clear that Pelco and soon-to-be new parent company Schneider Electric/TAC are going to influencing the market by making choices in whom they interface with and what technology they choose to open up. It bears watching. Also, would it kill Pelco to post press releases on their site NOT as pdfs?

Vuance buys again

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Jinkies, these Vuance guys are busy. See below for their buy of HSCC's subsidiary, and yesterday they announced the purchase of the credentialing division of Disaster Management Solutions for $100,000 in cash and up to $650,000 in royalties. That last part means that Vuance will give to DMS 10 percent of net revenue on sales of the RAPTOR Advanced Authenication and Validation System over the next 18 months. I've honestly never heard of that kind of arrangement in the security field, but I haven't been at it that long. Also, Vuance are no longer known as SuperCom in the states. That change went through back in May, but I didn't see it. The acquisition gives Vuance a product that can credential first responders, which ties into its homeland security play.

More on IP over powerline

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Okay, judging by the stats on stories you're reading, you want to know more about this IP-over-powerline business that VisualGate has going on. Well, you're in luck, as I've collected some resources for you here: This is a very basic primer, and is consumer focused, but isn't a bad introduction to the concept, which can seem too good to be true, I'll admit. This Wikipedia entry is more informative and technical, and talks about all the different ways we'll be using powerlines to communicate in the future. Good stuff. From what I can tell, Telkonet is the leader in the market in general, more often called "Broadband-over-powerline" than "IP-over-powerline." Actually, the concept is new enough that people can't even agree on whether it's "power line" or "powerline." We need some standards development around here, clearly. It's so new, actually, that DirecTV seems to have announced the first actual consumer service. There is a difference, however, between what DirecTV is doing and what VisualGate is doing, and that's important to remember. DirecTV, and soon many others, provides the broadband access to the building. VisualGate, and maybe others soon, creates the internal network in the building. If any of you have experience with this technology, please do post a comment.

Who's the mystery alarm company?

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Thursday, September 6, 2007
Another of the security trade publications picked up this story from Reuters (I think they put it out on the wire first). The security mag headlined the story, "Hollywood Power Couple Sues Leading National Security Provider." Okay, that's accurate, I guess. So, we'll find out which security provider is getting sued once we read the story right? No? Huh. That's odd. It was ADT. It says so in the Reuters story. It says so in our story. ADT didn't deny it. Their spokesperson even gave us some background on the story when managing editor Martha Entwistle called her up. Wonder why the other publication couldn't figure out which company it was. Huh.

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