Product Spotlight – Utilizing Monitoring Groups

By Josh Tafoya, Technical Trainer, and Caryn Morgan, Manitou Elite Certification Mentor

An interesting topic came up on BoldTalk a while back, discussing the different ways people utilize monitoring groups. It got us thinking…most of the monitoring centers that we train only have one monitoring group in their configuration. Many of them likely believe that’s all they will need, or they don’t realize their options because they didn’t have any other choice in their old software. But Manitou allows for multiple monitoring groups, which creates a number of possibilities.

Windows Automatic Updates with Manitou

by Josh Tafoya, Technical Trainer

I get the reason why Microsoft forces Windows automatic updates to be enabled. I get it. Unpatched workstations and servers face potentially catastrophic weaknesses which, if left unpatched, could allow viruses or other malicious activity to spread. Let’s face it… a large percentage of the ONE BILLION Windows machines throughout the world would not get updated on a regular basis if Microsoft didn’t default them to automatically update. So few people do updates on their own (and I include consumers and IT people alike) that Microsoft had to force the settings for automatic updates to be done.

So yes…I get it.

Health Tips for Holiday Travelers

Many people will be heading out for holiday travel this weekend, and more than a few will end up with an illness, courtesy of a fellow traveler. Airports, planes, buses, trains, even subways and taxis…they all have the potential to harbor germs and bacteria. How do you protect yourself? Here are a few tips to keep you healthy so you can enjoy your time away:

Before you leave:

  • Power up your immune system before your trip with vitamin C and probiotics. While there isn’t scientific proof that these can protect you, many frequent travelers swear by them, and they certainly won’t hurt!
  • You’re too late for this one if you are traveling abroad this weekend, but there may be an immunization or series of immunizations recommended for your destination. It’s best to visit a health clinic four to six weeks prior to traveling to make sure you have enough time for any treatments you may require.

Stop Porch Piracy During the Holidays

The holiday season brings a surge in festive decorations, joyful celebrations, family gatherings and of course, retail sales. But as online shopping becomes increasingly popular, the crime of “porch piracy” is surging, as well.

Porch piracy is the act of stealing packages from the front porches of homeowners after they’ve been delivered, and it’s becoming a lucrative form of theft for criminals. While some thieves just drive around checking porches, some have taken to following delivery trucks through residential areas. As soon as the driver leaves a package, the thief pulls up and grabs it. Recently in the news, a California homeowner caught a porch pirate on his home surveillance system, backing a U-Haul truck into his driveway and taking two packages from his porch. The footage gave police enough information to track down the thieves and led them to an apartment filled with stolen merchandise.

Situational Awareness in Your Monitoring Center

by Josh Tafoya, Technical Trainer

If you have a technical background, you get used to knowing certain things. Simple things like the operating system on your computer, or less simple things like the version of the operating system on the servers.

Having a technical background myself, these are things I just know without having to look them up. I can tell you right away the version of Windows on my work desktop, on my personal laptop, and on my personal desktops at home. I can also tell you my model of printer and scanner, wifi router, and a hundred other little details. Details that rarely come up.

Of course, many in the alarm business don’t necessarily have a technical background. Any number of us got into the business as operators, and when it was discovered that we had people management skills, or organizational skills, or sales skills, we moved up in our organizations. Therefore, because it was never strictly necessary to our jobs, we didn’t pay attention to the servers or the receivers. Somebody else took care of that for us.

Protecting Your Home During Holiday Vacation

We are heading into one of the busiest travel times of the year, as people head out to spend the holidays with family. If you have a trip scheduled over the next six weeks, put some planning into securing your home to protect you from Grinch-like criminals.

Because you want your home to still look occupied while you’re gone, the obvious best plan is to have a friend or relative stay there. But if that isn’t possible, you can still give it a lived-in feel:

Training Spotlight: The Value of Retraining

By Josh Tafoya, Technical Trainer

I’ve been here at Bold for just shy of 15 years. During that time, I’ve worked with hundreds of our customers on one level or another. Whether it was related to my original job in the support office, during various times when I worked as an implementation technician, or in my current job as a trainer. I’ve helped monitoring centers of all sizes: retail and wholesale, public, private and governmental.

There are several monitoring centers I’ve worked with who have had the same staff in the same roles for over ten years. But of course, there are also many situations where the staff has changed since the original training happened. For various reasons, what we sometimes see is that nobody currently working in the monitoring center was originally trained by Bold. The training has been passed along to each user, sometimes simply by whoever was working their first shift with them.

Corporate Health – Setting Goals for Employees

(This is the tenth and final in a monthly series about Corporate Health, where we examine different methods and ideas for improving efficiency, your company culture, and employee morale.)

As 2017 winds down, we focus on a topic that is often a regular occurrence when a new year approaches: setting goals for employees. Goals are a critical part of any company’s corporate health. Not only do they contribute to the business strategy as a whole, but they also help employees stay engaged and motivated. Here are five questions to consider when setting goals for employees:

Smoke Alarm Safety & Best Practices

Each year during Fire Prevention Week in early October, the National Fire Protection Association chooses a theme for their education efforts. For instance, this year the slogan was “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” In 2016, however, they chose to educate on smoke alarm safety, an important topic which bears revisiting.

Smoke alarms, also known as smoke detectors, are a critical element of life safety in your home, and there are numerous best practices to consider when installing them. You should have one placed in every bedroom, one in each hallway, and at least one on each floor of your home, including the basement.In addition, one should also be installed near any heating source. For the best efficiency, smoke detectors should be mounted on the ceiling, at least a foot away from any corners. If it is possible to interconnect your smoke alarms, do it. That way, if one goes off, it triggers the sirens in all of them.

Fire Safety Education for Children

We’re observing Fire Prevention Month with a series of blogs about fire safety. Last week, we talked about the importance of regular fire drills. This week, we take a look at fire safety for children.

It’s easy to see why kids are fascinated with fire. It’s comprised of beautiful colors, its movement is mesmerizing, and at the proper distance, it provides warmth and comfort. But it’s also easy to see why kids sometimes get into trouble with it. Think about the fire safety education you received as a child. You probably had a visit to your school from a fireman or took a field trip to a fire department. You might have been told stories and shown pictures of huge flames and burned homes, and reminded never to play with matches. It is a fairly standard method of teaching children about fire safety, but is it really giving them an understanding of fire as they know it?