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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.

Manufacturers' claims

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007
People wonder why editors get jaded and drink lots of whiskey. Reason one: Journalists are lower than car thieves in public opinion nowadays. Reason two: lots of people lie to them. Here's a great example: The world's first security system designed for temporary construction sites. Well, except for this one. Ooops.

Homeland Security Capital Corp sells subsidiary

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Looks like at least a few people in the industry decided to work the last week of summer. Homeland Security Capital Corp., the busy company run by former baller/Congressman Tom McMillen, completed on Aug. 31 the sale of its subsidiary, Security Holding Corp., which it just bought about a year ago. Is that like buying a house, painting it, and flipping it? Well, I guess that's what HSCC has said it was going to do all along: consolidate the industry and make a few bucks doing it. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. Also, what to make of the buyer, Vuance? Starting out in asset tracking, its quickly built a security arm with the addition of Security Holding, which contains Security Inc., most notably, an access control outfit. Based in Israel, Vuance has a U.S. subsidiary called SuperCom (sorry, no link), based in McLean, Va., naturally.

Sedaka + ASIS = just plain dumb luck

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Thursday, August 30, 2007
Am I the only one who's pumped to see Neil Sedaka at the Orleans in Vegas during the ASIS show? Oh, I am, huh? Have you not heard 1969's Working on a Groovy Thing?

Raefield out of retirement to lead Edge-Integration

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Dennis Raefield has left the sweet world of retirement to join up-and-coming IP access control manufacturer Edge-Integration. Some of you may remember him as the former head of Honeywell Access Control, or the guy who bought Ademco. Or maybe you remember him from his days at Ortega. I talked to him on the phone the other day, and he said, "This is the hottest thing I've ever seen in access control." And he's seen a lot of stuff.

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