Troublesome News About False Alarm Fines

By guest blogger The Monitoring Association

If you are not concerned about the situation in Sandy Springs, GA, this update should change that. The onerous ordinance in Sandy Springs does not allow for proper due process with respect to false alarm fines. If the ordinance is allowed to stand, alarm companies will be likely held financially responsible for false alarms generated by alarm users. One member was recently fined for the following occurrence:

The Lost Art of Telephone Conversation

By Josh Tafoya, Technical Trainer

In a recent training session, I was discussing the High Priority and Low Priority fields on the User screen in the Supervisor Workstation. As you may know, these fields exist so the Central Station Manager can limit which alarms a particular operator sees. The idea is to keep brand new operators from getting a fire alarm on their first day, thus giving them a chance to ease into the alarm handling process.

But the discussion shifted to the fact that many young people, who make up a great deal of the entry-level employment pool, have never spent appreciable time speaking on the telephone. An 18-year-old has spent their entire teenage life texting. Or Snapchatting. Or Tweeting. (If I keep going, I may betray how old I actually am by listing something that hasn’t been used in years.)

GDPR – Is Your Business Affected?

The new EU General Data Protection Regulation, known as GDPR, goes into effect as of May 25th, 2018. This policy was designed to protect the data privacy of European Union citizens. While it’s true that the regulations probably do not apply to most U.S-based companies, there are many who may not realize their business is affected. The penalties for non-compliance are severe, so knowing your requirements is important!

Fire Safety Lessons from “This Is Us”

Whether you are a fan or not, you’ve likely heard of the popular television series “This Is Us,” a story-driven show which follows the life of a family from multiple generational angles. It has recently been trending in social media circles due to the most recent few episodes, which finally answered a question fans had been waiting to learn for well over a year: how did family patriarch Jack Pearson die?

The buildup in earlier episodes had made it pretty clear that a fire was involved, but when the actual moment arrived, many fans were stunned by how quickly the fire spread from its initialization point in the kitchen to the upstairs living areas. But the truth is, in today’s homes, fires have a big advantage.

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.