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Sprinkler mandate upheld

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Friday, October 30, 2009
There were so many sprinkler supporters in the house at yesterday's ICC meeting that the Baltimore fire department said they were creating a fire hazard by exceeding the limit of building's occupancy limit. Fortunately, there were no fires, and advocates will be pleased to learn that the sprinkler crowd prevailed in their goal of keeping a sprinkler mandate for new one- and two-family homes in the ICC building code. Here's the link to the story

ISC East day 2: still quite good

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Friday, October 30, 2009
After a 10:30 p.m. flight home last night, and the combined effects of me being allowed to enjoy myself as I chose in NYC, I'm a little groggy and slow-moving this morning, so I'm going to do a little photo narrative thing for day 2, and then follow up with some more newsy stuff when I'm thinking clearer. But, the short story is that day 2 was also strong for ISC East. There was some drop off in attendance, but still good crowds and enthusiasm, and even a decent crowd as 5 p.m. and the end of the show approached. While there wasn't a ton of news made at the show, I had good and productive conversations with a number of integrators and manufacturers and most people seemed to think the show was more than worth their while. So, first, let me just show you the sweet neighborhood my hotel was in. I actually didn't have a problem with the Best Western Convention Center Hotel. The rooms were small, but the bed was decent (if made out of a strange foam that didn't give much), the shower was hot with good water pressure, the iron worked, and they had Fruit Loops, milk, and decent coffee in the lounge in the morning. That's good enough for me. Actually, the Internet didn't work, but I had one of those wireless cards so I didn't complain. However, next door was this: img_0446 Yes, we were next to the horse barn. And it smelled like it. Oh, and what's that up on the left behind the horse? Why, yes, that is a strip club. Classy! But the location was actually to my liking because it was roughly a two-minute walk from the convention center and that allowed me to roll out of bed at a reasonable hour, to say the least. When you got to the Javits Center, I thought it was interesting how Reed chose to position the show on the outside sign, something I didn't notice on day one: img_0447 Hmmm. Actually, it might be hard to see for you. Basically, it says: "The premier event for security professionals in the Northeast." So, that positions it first as a show for both end users and installers, pretty clearly, and Reed's not ashamed of being a "regional show." It is what it is. When you consider that some 40 percent of our readers are in the Northeast (assuming DC is in the Northeast), I'd say it's fine to be a Northeast show. But it's definitely not the national show it used to be, or maybe "aspired to be" in the last few years. A good decision to position it that way, in my opinion. It allows the locals to think of it as "theirs" and take some ownership. Also, if it's competition with ESX Reed's worried about, they can now say, "hey, our regional show is like five times bigger than their national show." Not that they would do that. Probably only a jerk like me would even think of that. Anyhoo, another new initiative at ISC East this year was the Career Center, put on by us and Security Director News. Check it out: img_0448 It kind of flopped in one way, as it was meant to allow people to enter into the booth and use the computer inside to check out what jobs were available, and no one really did that. I think Bob Beliles used it as a quiet spot to eat lunch, though. However, there was a lot of interest in the online Career Center in general, and a lot of people stopped to talk with Jenna Grant, who runs that piece of our web site. Amie at Reed made a good point: Most people attend with colleagues, and you can't exactly say, "hey, guys, don't wait up - I'm just going to pop in here and look for a better job." Still, you'll see something like it at ISC West. Let me know if you've got a better idea for how to do it. Ideally, we'd be hooking up job seekers with people hiring. There are a lot of the former, maybe not as many of the latter, but it seems like there could be a use for it. People who already had jobs could at least spare a second day for ISC East, though. Here's the crowd waiting to get in at 10 a.m.: img_0449 Not bad, right? And here's a mid-day overhead shot from the balcony. Right about 1 p.m.: img_0453 And this shot was taken at 4:30 p.m.: img_0454 HAI must be doing something right. And that would jibe, actually, with a couple of integrators who told me they're getting much more heavily into automation, lighting, A/V, that kind of thing. Jon Ecker at Peace of Mind Technologies, an integrator in Manhattan, told me non security low-voltage work now was as much as 30 percent of his business. Also, SW24, an integrator that focuses on video as a service and investigation with ex New York cops, had a very good show in general. They were very prominent in discussions and had good traffic. This is what they looked like late afternoon: img_0457 However, not everybody was flying high on the show floor. The Chinese and Korean sections seemed to always be pretty deserted. Here's a typical scene: img_0462 This booth may have been busy, may have not been - I was too busy chuckling childishly to myself: img_0459 I know I wouldn't want to be the guy standing in front of the arrow. Also, doesn't this seem like a strangely indifferent booth on the part of Panasonic? New York is their backyard, right? They were on a wall, easy to miss, and you can see there wasn't much to see: img_0461 I guess I was surprised. I'm used to Panasonic going the show-of-strength route. Also somewhat underwhelming was the new product showcase area: img_0456 That just doesn't say to me, "wow! I'm so happy to be looking at this!" But I'm not sure exactly what they could have done differently. I think one of the problems is that most of the exciting new technology doesn't show all that well - software, in general. I guess I would have liked to have seen some video screens and some cool color images to jazz things up. As it was, the only product I spent more than five seconds looking at was this: img_0455 Not exactly high-tech, I know, but I could see how it would be really useful in an installation and I sort of want one for when I tackle the refurbishing of my bathroom. Finally, in terms of gossip and chattering, just about everyone was talking about the GE Security story that went up on Bloomberg recently, saying UTC is now "the leading bidder," whatever that means, for GE Security. One person straight-up told us (well, he told Martha) he knew that UTC had bought GE Security for $1.6 billion. Another told me that JPMorgan Chase had the fire portion of GE Security all but sold to UTC over the summer, but GE balked at splitting up the property, and that's what led a JPMorgan employee to leak the info that GE Security was for sale in the first place. Someone else said the hold-up was that GE was trying to extract a premium for buying everything in one bundle, which wouldn't make a lot of sense, I guess, to the people who think the fire portion is the only thing of value in GE Security's portfolio. Yes another person speculated that Bosch might be interested in the access control portion of the business if it does get split up, since they're somewhat weak in access. But they might be interested in the fire portion, too, since they've recently made such a big commitment to fire. I don't know what to believe. If, in fact, UTC does buy GE Security for $1.6 billion, that would be a pretty bad deal for GE. They bought Edwards alone for $1.4 billion, and Interlogix cost them $600 million. Even a $2 billion price tag seems like egg on the face, I guess, considering the other pieces that have been bought. As food for thought, I thought these paragraphs particularly interesting from the Bloomberg article:
United Technologies has walked away from deals in the past, including an effort to buy Honeywell International Inc. in 2000. GE offered more for Honeywell than United Technologies, which didn’t raise its own offer. The GE-Honeywell transaction was eventually blocked by the European Union. United Technologies also withdrew an unsolicited bid for North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold Inc., the maker of automated bank teller machines. The bid was pulled in October 2008 after Diebold’s board spurned requests for due diligence and management discussions.
You never know how things might shake out.

ISC East day one: Actually quite good

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Thursday, October 29, 2009
On my way here to New York I wrote about a decided lack of buzz surrounding ISC East, yet day 1 yesterday was pretty terrific by most standards. Does this mean I'm woefully out of touch and nobody wants to talk to me? Possibly. But I think I was right about the lack of buzz. Basically, everyone went into the event hesitantly, unsure of what it was going to be like and not wanting to commit to too much. A lot of companies clearly downsized their booths - GVI was in a 10x20, I think, same size as us. Pelco was maybe a 30x30. Honeywell was going with the same strategy they used last year, smaller booth, big people contingent. Also, the weather, like last year, was crap: img_0424 Then, everyone discovered there were actually quite a few people there, saw the throngs of people entering and looking around, and I'm telling you that the mood in the hall was as way up as I've seen it since I came into the industry in 2005. People were happy to see each other, there were bad jokes being cracked, small wrestling matches were going on in the aisles, people were psyched. And it wasn't the gallows humor that's been going on at some shows lately, like where people at two booths play catch across the aisle with booth swag to emphasize how there's NO ONE around. That's because the place was packed. Here's an aisle scene from about 11 a.m. (and I was at my booth, which is sort of in the back corner of the hall (not that I'm complaining - thanks for the great booth, Reed Exhibitions! That first born child is totally in the mail!)): img_0432 I really am joking about Reed, though. They've made huge strides in ingratiating themselves to the industry lately. Don't believe me? Not only did they just sign an agreement to run PSA-TEC, they went out of their way to move the show so that it no longer coincides with ESX, a show that was created solely to compete with ISC East/ISC West. They could have easily just thrown up their hands and said, "oops, no more dates at the convention center in Rosemont - sorry, you're hosed, PSA." But they didn't. You'll see a story on our newswire about the move, but here's the proof: img_0431 I think I probably could have gotten a better picture of that, one that actually shows the PSA-TEC at ISC logo that's cropped on the bottom, but I was so floored by the date change as I walked into the hall yesterday morning that I wasn't working with a full-capacity brain. I'm not sure you understand what a pain in the ass it is to move show dates once you're committed. Our booth was hopping with people coming in for video interviews. It was a neat little set-up, actually, because we're right across from B&H Photo, and Shaun, our video guy, just happens to buy all of his camera equipment from B&H. Here's a look at how we do the video, with the first pic being of the video and audio mixing equipment, the second being of Martha interviewing Lance Dean, head of 2GIG Technologies, who scored a big customer yesterday in Apx (check the newswire later today for that one): img_0434 img_0439 Do they, or do they not look like rock stars? I'd say they do. So, what were the themes of the actual content of the show? I'd go with these three: 1. HD video continues to be the talk of the show floor. Those manufacturers that have committed to it say it's the best thing since sliced bread. Stardot, for example, had a very nice booth with some awesome video resolution on display. Very pretty. img_0435 I know the booth looks empty. I took it before the show opened. However, not every manufacturer is on the HD bandwagon. Even Canon, which makes nothing but IP cameras, still does not have a significant megapixel offering. Why not? Ricardo Chen told me it was because Canon doesn't yet believe the low-light performance is good enough in the high megapixel offerings, which is why the company is working on its own secret-sauce digital processor that will solve that problem. We'll see what happens. 2. Money, money, money. It's a trend that's been developing since the economy went south, but manufacturers are way more interested in helping integrators and installers make better margin. First, they're emphasizing RMR opportunities like never before. And Napco does a good job of that with its iSee Video product line, which makes selling residential and light commercial video monitoring really easy. img_0443 Right now all the storage is on site, just a 50 MB SD card, but they'll soon be releasing a light NVR, I'm told. But manufacturers are also trying to reduce labor costs for manufacturers. Pelco recently touted the ease of installation for its IP dome series, and the thing Axis wanted to talk about above all else at the show yesterday was the ease of installation on its new dome series: img_0441 How does never having to use a mounting bracket again sound? How does, "even a marketing guy can install this in about five minutes" sound? How does, "you can still bill your customer for an hour of labor if you want" sound? (Yes, that last one is tongue in cheek. Security Systems News is not endorsing deceptive business practices.) 3. Beer still wins. Northern Video's booth is never empty. That's all I know: img_0440 Finally, the day ended with a very successful Tri-Association Awards dinner, where the CSAA, NBFAA, and SIA all get together to honor industry lions. This year was the first they completely sold out the event, we're told, and there certainly was a huge crowd at the Lighthouse, a very nice place down on the Chelsea Piers. Alan Forman of Altronix and John Murphy of Vector Security were honored in a very nice ceremony, and the industry associations as a whole donated $10,000 raised from the ticket sales to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, an amazing organization that honors those who've lost their lives in the line of duty. This year, we were told, we have lost 100 law enforcement officers. Last year, it was 133. The good news, however, is that 133 represents the lowest number since the 1960s. Crime really has been turned around in this country, even if it doesn't feel like it because of the non-stop news cycle. Anyway, here's a bad picture of the event: img_0444 So, that's about it for day 1. I'll try to get something as extensive up about day 2 tomorrow.

ISC East exceeds expectations

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It's what you try to do in political campaigns, and it's what's been going in repeatedly at trade shows since ISC West in March. I don't know what the numbers look like. But, more people than expected showed up at the Javits Center for ISC East today, a rainy day in the city. They didn't arrive at the show opening at 10--made the exhibitors sweat till about 11 this morning. I've got much more to report... and I can tell you all about Jude Law's phenomenal performance in Hamlet on Broadway last night and the Kandinsky retrospective, which I caught an hour of at the Guggenheim yesterday before I got down to what I really like, SECURITY of course ... but time's up. Plus Sam needs the wireless card because the "free wireless in every room" of the damn fine hotel we're staying is supposed to be, but it's not to be. Off to the Tri Association Award dinner right now. Stop by Booth 1746 tomorrow to say hi. I've got some time open for ssnTVnews interviews as well.

The great NRTL debate!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Got my email newsletter from Ken Kirschenbaum today and was interested to see lots of input from various industry players on the NRTL debate and the rise of Intertek/ETL. I wrote about this before, as did my colleague, Martha. I like Kirshenbaum's email's. They're frequent, touch on important issues and include input from many industry luminaries. You can sign up for Ken's newsletter here. Ken opens the newsletter thusly:
The issue is NRTL and ANSI. Nationaly Recognized Testing Labs. American National Standards Institute. Most familiar, at least to me, is UL. you need to be UL listed in order to issue UL Certificates. In NYC you need UL listing for your central station before applying for approval to monitor fire alarms in the City of New York. But NYC FD will accept any NRTL listing. UL isn't the only NRTL. ETL/Intertek is another. FM, which stands for Factory Mutual, is another NRTL that lists central stations for fire alarm monitoring only. ETL and UL list for fire alarm and burglary.
So what's the big deal? Why is ETL's entry into the NRTL space ruffling some feathers? Ken then goes on to add newsletter reader commentary. Mark Hillenburg of Digital Monitoring Products had this to say:
Actually, the Standards are not UL standards; they are ANSI standards and are therefore available for any NRTL to test to under the authority of OSHA ... We recently brought a new control panel to market. A WHOLE NEW PANEL. ETL had all the testing done and completed by the time that UL got back to us with the quote. You guys couldn't stay in business if you were that lax in getting your customers quotes. We're talking about testing to the exact same standards as ANSI in the exact same rigorous manner. The costs are only slightly lower, but the time savings is a fraction of the time to do a UL project. This is why most of the manufacturers are moving to ETL, because they will actually get your project done in a time frame that the product is still relevant when you can introduce it. At the end of the day, our economic system is founded on competition and competition makes all of us better.
That makes sense to me. More competition on any playing field assures better pricing, better service, better quality, better standards, etc. It's the American way. Thomas F. Connaughton of Intertek spoke up with the following:
Why did Intertek enter the Life Safety and Security space? Manufacturers wanted and needed CHOICE in NRTLs ... During our product service launch to the manufacturing community it became clearly evident that these companies [central stations and ASCs] were also in in need of a choice in third party certification. Why? Their current service provider accepts only 1 NRTL brand (their own) which puts owners, operators and service professionals at a distinct disadvantage as the manufacturing community continues to diversify their NRTL providers, be it Intertek and our ETL brand, FM, CSA, etc. Their pool of acceptable and available equipment will continue to shrink as competitor market share grows. History shows that as the goods pool shrinks, the costs of these goods will rise directly impacting these organizations. In addition, when an organization has a CHOICE regarding the equipment that they can purchase and use they can effectively manage their bottom line (while still complying with the OSHA NRTL third party requirements).
Again, it's all about choice, and as long as their testing to the same standards as the other NRTLs, choice is a good thing. Bart Didden of U.S.A. Central Station Alarm Corp. was pleased with the discussion but advocated for UL more than some others.
So many correct points have been made about the Standards and ANSI and NRTLs, I love it--more great information ... Remember, I am all about increasing PROFITS, maximizing return on investment (ROI), and separating my organization from those who are substandard ... SOON WE WILL PRESS FOR AN ADDITIONAL LISTING CATEGORY FROM UL FOR MULTI- OFFICE CONFIGURATION, and if UL won't author it with us we can go to NBFAA (ESA) and get it done. But back to certificates because that is where the money is. Let's hear about how is ETL going to support the creation of more jurisdictions requiring certificates. UL, for all its faults has been working with various CSAA committees to expand these jurisdictions for years. If equality for ETL begins to dilute that effort, as small as it may be and does not pick up the shortfall, we will be the ones that lose in the long run.
Pete Tallman from UL added his voice to the discussion as well:
The alarm industry really consists of two parts: 1) manufacturers of equipment and 2) alarm services companies. OSHA's NRTL program only addresses organizations that assess the equipment and materials for manufacturer's so that an OSHA inspector can determine a product installed int he work place is safe. The eveluation of alarm service companies and the alarm systems they install, service, maintain and often monitor is beyond the scope of OSHA's NRTL program. So being a NRTL has no relevance to the certification of alarm services or the evaluation of central stations. Does that mean being a NRTL is a bad thing? Of course not. Nor does it mean that as a NRTL the organization necessarily has competency in the alarm service side of the industry. What is important is to tone down and clarify the sweeping claims and broad statements being made by others that have in effect brought confusion to a relatively simple question. What is relevant in a discussion about the certification of alarm systems and central stations is competency of the staff performing those assessments. Competency of staff which can only be determined by technical certifications such as NICET and independent accreditation agencies assessing the process by which staff makes certification decisions, not by having an OSHA designation of being a NRTL. All will agree that the industry should have choices; but let's agree to ensure that the industry has correct information from which to make an educated choice.
It's an interesting debate.

Off to ISC East

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009
There's a strange vibe to ISC East already this year. While there was much speculation that ISC East might be a bigger show this year, since people on the east coast with trimmed travel budgets wouldn't want to hit either Las Vegas for ISC West or Anaheim for ASIS, I haven't exactly picked up on increased activity for what's probably the third-largest security show in the U.S. First of all, the requests for visits are way down. I was contacted by maybe 20 people this year, vs. at least 50 last year and a good solid 200 for ASIS in September. It seems like no high-level executives are coming from the major manufacturers unless they're New York-based, just regional sales people to man the booths. As for the attendees, I've been booking integrators and installers for video interviews for the past two weeks and striking out with a lot of people. Siemens' Carey Boethel is going, but just about no one else. Diebold has someone coming Thursday that I'm interviewing, but it looks like they're sending a small contingent, even with them having a New York office from the Antar-Com acquisition. PSA's annual convention ends today, so I'm guessing people aren't coming back from St. Thomas to attend the show, which will keep the heads of more than a few of the mid-sized integrators from attending. I know Jim Henry's there - he answers email even in St. Thomas. That's a man dedicated to getting back to people. Further, with ESX having been in Baltimore in June, I wonder if we'll have the same throng of alarm guys from the NY, NJ, PA, MA, DE, MD, CT region. Maybe they've seen the people they need to see for the year from their various manufacturers? It's hard to know, obviously, but I'll get you reports from each day. Here's what I've got on tap: Wed.: I've got a pretty solid schedule today, just about completely full, though a lot of these meetings were actually set up back when I couldn't see people at ASIS. • Ray Dean to talk about what Niscayah's seeing in the market • Doug Curtiss to talk about how the Sonitrol franchises are doing • Steve Walin to talk about GVI | Samsung going private • Ed Nichols to talk about what's coming up for ISC West (can't start too early) • Leon Chlimper to talk about new plans from Deister, which got its start in pigeon racing, apparently. Who knew? • Fredrik Nilsson to talk about how Axis is adapting to new competition • Judy Jones to talk about Napco's success with the iSee product line • Ricardo Chen to talk about Canon's new initiatives in security Then I'm going to the Tri-Association Awards Dinner, which is "black-tie optional," so I brought a white shirt and a black tie to wear with my black suit (sort of a dark charcoal, actually). I don't own a tux. Will I be over-dressed or under-dressed, that's the question. (That was a little Hamlet reference there for you - Martha's attending Jude Law's Hamlet performance tonight on Broadway, if anyone's potentially jealous of that. I almost went, but tix were $125. I don't like Hamlet that much.) Thurs.: We still have a slot or two open for the video booth if anyone wants to swing by first thing. We're booth 1746 (I didn't tell you that until now because I want only you loyal readers to show up at the booth. Actually, that's not true. I just forgot to do it until now and can't scroll up easily because my up arrow recently go broken by the woman who services our laptops. It's very frustrating). • I'm talking with the guys at TimeSight, including Charles Foley, for reasons that are not entirely clear. They invited me to come by. I asked what they wanted to talk about. They said, well, nothing specific. I said, alright, I'll come. See how slow ISC East seems? • Scott Schnell at VideoIQ to just chat a bit. He's been helpful in covering the video monitoring industry and I want to see how it's going. • Ari Erenthal, of B&H Camera, to argue about cameras on camera. I'm hoping this is going to be entertaining. • Jon Ecker from Peace of Mind Technologies, a Manhattan integrator. He says he might have swine flu, though, so this might not happen. (Seriously, is anyone staying away from New York because of the swine flu? It seems like shaking a bunch of hands in New York City might be a bad idea right now. Are we all going to switch to fist bumps as greetings? Can I get a consensus?) • James Rothstein at Tri-Ed mostly because I think of Tri-Ed as very New York and so I thought of him. • Kevin Englehardt, vice president of Diebold Security's enterprise division, to talk Diebold, though this is only theoretical at this point. I was supposed to have a Wednesday meeting, then he said he was coming Thursday (through a PR interpreter) and now I'm waiting to hear back on a time for Thursday. We'll see what happens. See, not that crazy packed. I might be able to get away with getting a little tipsy on Wednesday night and still be okay to get through my Thursday. I fly out at 10 p.m. or so. Let me know via the comments if there's anything you want me to investigate. I should have some time here and there to actually walk the show floor.

Who's watching you? And are you okay with that?

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Monday, October 26, 2009
Came across an Oct. 22, 2009 Reuters story that highlighted the results of a Harris Poll Survey that showed 96 percent of Americans were okay with video surveillance used in public in order to combat terrorism. I wrote a piece on the opportunities available to security companies in an age where people expect more public surveillance. I actually couldn't find this "recent" Harris Poll at Harris Interactive, the company that runs the Harris Poll. The most recent Harris Polls on video surveillance I can find online are from February and August of 2006... not really that recent... I've got an email back with the hard data from Harris. Looks like this poll was conducted from May-June 2009. Hopefully they'll put it up online soon. Regardless, it appears the piece is less a news story on a recent poll and more a sales pitch for Behavioral Recognition Systems, a software development company that provides "cognitive video analytics software," that purports to learn the particulars of an environment. Their website also has an audio pitch that starts up automatically and plays regardless of whether you want it to or not... I hate that. The problem, according to the Harris Poll piece, is that "citizen support of video surveillance rests on the assumption that more cameras will result in more secure environments, but that isn't the case. Recently, the security staff at the George Washington Bridge in New York City--responsible for monitoring bridge cameras and security kiosks--was photographed sleeping on the job. Thus, camera proliferation alone ... will not solve the problem." Enter the MacGuffin, in this case analytics from BRS Labs. We here at SSN have written about this problem before, highlighting what many of you are doing to combat the problem of too-thin human resources, including easily overwhelmed or fatigued human attention span. We're all aware that adoption of analytics has been slower than it could be due to over promising capabilities. The November issue has a stats piece (linked in the previous sentence and available in SSN's premium section) on the drivers for future analytics growth. It seems to me, however, that with the price of video coming down, coupled with advances in analytics and wide-spread acceptance of being monitored there should be a lot of opportunity out there for the security industry to get into monitoring of public spaces.

Which dealer is the social media shark of the day?

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Monday, October 26, 2009
The social media shark of the day is Smith & Wesson. I was moved to make this award when Wayne Wahrsager sent me a link to the new Smith & Wesson Security’s You Tube station. Wayne said they’ll be using it mostly for instructional videos for customers and dealers. The stuff on there now is pretty straight-up, but Wayne is promising that they'll post some humorous commercials. I can’t imagine what they’ll be like, but I’m ready to view. Wayne said he’d let me know when those are posted, and I, in turn, will let you know. Or you can subscribe, just follow the link below. So this is good, but to earn social media shark status with me there's gotta be more. And there is: S&W is busting out a Facebook page and they’ll be on Twitter too. I asked Wayne if he was going to tweet and he said, no that'll be someone else's job—likely his son Aaron (who was on our 2009 "20 under 40" roster of up-and-coming young people in security industry.) Wayne told me: “I’m not going to be the Tweeter, someone else is gonna be the Tweeter.” I can't blame you Wayne. Here’s the You Tube link.

An insight on venture capital

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Monday, October 26, 2009
Got the newsletter from 21 Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in Israeli-U.S. technology the other day. They're investors in analytics maker AgentVI. Here's what managing director David Anthony opened with:
According to a recent survey by the National Venture Capital Association, venture capitalists will invest far less in 2009 than the $30 billion invested by VC’s in 2008. Not surprisingly, venture capitalists are shifting away from seed and early stage investments and reducing their risk by investing in more mature companies i.e. companies with proven technology and sales. The Venture capitalists with whom I have spoken are in a “triage mode”- carefully assessing each company’s strengths and weaknesses and supporting only those companies likely to reach cash flow profitability in 12 months or less. The companies that survive in this market place will be those that succeed in recognizing the reality of reduced venture capital availability. In the past, companies depended upon multiple rounds of VC financing to support research and product development with barely a thought towards achieving cash flow profitability. This is no longer a viable business model. Companies must rapidly become cash-flow positive and those companies that do will attract investors and raise all of the capital they need to grow and prosper.
So, does that mean AgentVI is profitable? Does that mean that analytics companies that aren't profitable, and don't see profitability on the horizon, are going to be shutting down or selling in the near future? I sort of thought the worst of this was behind us, since the economy is clearly rebounding, but is it possible that some investors have actually learned some lessons? Later in the newsletter, Anthony tells Reuters this:
“We changed our strategy to making our companies cash flow positive as quickly as possible,” Anthony said, adding that 25 percent of his portfolio are cash flow positive with a number of others close. “We feel we can hold on to them and sell them in two years if there is a turnaround (in the economy).”
Is this consistent with the way most VCs are operating right now?

I suggest walking around like a crazy person

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Friday, October 23, 2009
Well, it's Friday, so how about some lighter fare? Today, while sipping my coffee, I ran across this interesting tidbit in Akron's West Side Leader about a presentation on personal safety. I personally found it fairly entertaining. Of course, I'm a mean-spirited know-it-all, but let's not let that stop us from taking a look-see:
WEST AKRON — In the United States, 83 percent of Americans own their own homes, according to Summit County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Mark Carroll. There are many things people can do to feel safe in their homes.
Yeah, um, A: what does it matter whether you own your home or not? Am I not allowed to feel safe in my home if I'm a renter? And, B: It is not in any way true that 83 percent of Americans own their homes. Pretty sure Officer Carroll just completely made that up. Good lede, though. Solid. And, of course, I hate to be all critical of a well-meaning article about keeping people safe (not true. I love it! I don't hate it all! I'm a bad person), but there is a lot of stuff here that just doesn't make sense:
There are many things people can do to help protect themselves against crime. Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Greg Peacock stressed prevention, whether you live in the inner city or a suburb. He said to have a safety plan in case of a break-in — a designated room to go to, an escape plan — and keep a phone close to the bed to call 9-1-1.
Those things do not prevent crime. They are things to do when a crime is happening.
He stressed that women as well as men can be pursesnatchers and they often work in pairs — one to distract and one to snatch. Don’t talk on a cell phone as you walk to your car; be alert and keep looking around as you walk, Peacock said. In fact, “walk around like you’re a crazy person and they’ll leave you alone,” he advised.
Be alert=good advice. Walk around like a crazy person=seems impractical.
To help emergency response teams, display your house number clearly on the front of your house, but do not include your name. Once every three seconds, someone is the victim of identity theft, said Carroll, and the thieves “want to put a name to an address to a phone number. They’ll start researching you if they have a name and address.” For the same reason, don’t put your address on your luggage, he said.
Okay, I don't really see how this advice could be harmful, but I'm trying to figure out how it could be bad to have a would-be thief connect your name with your address with your phone number. Aren't those three things linked in about 200 million entries in phone books all over the country? Have these people not heard of the Internets? Basically, if you have any information about anybody, you can discover their address and phone number. Does anyone think crooks go around walking neighborhoods looking for names attached to house numbers and then starting the identity theft process that way? Also, how is having my address on my luggage going to come back to haunt me exactly? The airlines will be even worse at delivering it? That one I just don't get.
If you come home and suspect your house has been burglarized, don’t go in — call the police. If you call from a landline, 9-1-1 will automatically identify the address and send help right away, he said.
Classic. You just told me not to go in the house. If I go to a neighbor's, it will be the wrong address.
Signs — such as “Beware of Dog” or a security company sign — are another good deterrent to intruders, said Carroll, as is a dog itself or an electronic barking machine if you don’t have a dog.
This is the first we've heard of a security company or security system. Should I get a system? No, not necessarily, but I should get a sign, apparently.
Never give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call, Carroll stressed. “Forty or 50 years ago we could trust people. Things are different now,” he said.
This might be my favorite part of all. Back in the day, people were nicer and we could trust people. Right. I hate revisionist history about as much as any form of intellectual dishonesty. Drives me insane. In reality, we're about as safe as we've every been in the last 40 years, though, yes, 50 years ago is a different story, I guess. Look at the crime statistics: 1960 - population 179,323,175, total crimes 3,384,200, burglaries 912,100, all larceny theft 1,855,400. So, there was one crime for every 53 people in 1960. A burglary for every 197 people. A theft for every 97 people. That's 50 years ago. 1970 - population 203,235,298, total crimes 8,098,000, burglaries 2,205,000, all larceny theft 4,225,800. That's a crime for ever 25 people. A burglary for every 92 people. A theft for every 48 people. 2008? Well, population 304,059,724, total crimes 11,149,927, burglaries 2,222,196, all larceny theft 6,588,873. So, that's a crime for every 27 people, a burglary for every 136 people, a theft for every 46 people. So, yes, 50 years ago, maybe you could trust people. Forty years ago, you were considerably more likely to have your house broken into. I wouldn't trust those people as far as I could throw them (and with my bad hip...). And don't even get me started on 1980: One crime for every 17 people! No wonder people elected a cowboy to the White House. They must have been scared to death. Nor is it true that the age of the Internet means you can trust people less. While identity theft is on the rise, only 11 percent of it occurs via the Internet. In reality, we are safer now than we've been since 1968 or so, and crime has been falling continuously since at least 1991. Maybe there's been an uptick in 2009 because of historically bad economic conditions, but we don't yet have data on that that I've been able to find. And now that I know people are walking around like crazy people so that they'll be less likely to be victims of pursesnatchers, maybe I trust people even more. The people I thought were crazy are actually just practicing good safety habits.

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