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.

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.

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 – Employee Performance Reviews

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

Employee performance reviews. Depending on the employee and even the supervisor involved, the term can be met with enthusiasm, dread, or flat-out disdain. Even a good employee who knows their worth and contribution to their company can have mixed emotions when it comes to a performance review which offers them little meaningful feedback. Even a supervisor who enjoys engaging with their staff can become frustrated if the process of evaluating them is inefficient or inconsistent.

Preventing a Data Breach at Your Monitoring Center

by Josh Tafoya, Technical Trainer

We’ve seen the recent news about the data breach at Equifax. Half of the adults in America were affected by it through no fault of their own. How, or even if, Equifax makes good on its mistake remains to be seen. But similarly, we are all in the business (beyond responding to alarms) of protecting sensitive data. Whether it is implicit because we have a reputation for keeping our customer’s information private, or whether it is spelled out in our privacy policy, our customers expect that their personal information will not be made public.

There are the small monitoring centers who can’t afford for information to be leaked because any kind of data breach might have consequences too large from which to recover. There are proprietary customers (retail or private business) for whom a data breach might give others a competitive advantage. There are medium and large monitoring centers who might experience a mass exodus of dealers if private data were to get out. Finally, there are government customers who face far more serious consequences for data breaches.

7 FAQ’s About the Changes to UL

The changes to UL 1981 and UL 827 affect the monitoring industry in different ways. While a small or proprietary monitoring center may not be affected at all, larger centers monitoring thousands of accounts may need to make significant changes to comply with UL requirements. Here are seven things you should know about UL 1981 Revision 3 and UL 827 8th Edition:

Q) Why are these changes happening?
UL 1981 sets requirements for alarm monitoring software, while UL 827 places standards on physical buildings and hardware. Over the last decade, technology advances, including virtual machines, and overlaps between the two standards created ambiguity and conflicts that required addressing. UL 1981 Revision 3 and UL 827 8th Edition solve these conflicts and better define the separation between them.

Corporate Health – The Pros and Cons of Employee Relationships

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

Employee relationships in the workplace is a polarized subject. For every article about the problems and issues that it causes, there are an equal number of articles praising the benefits of strong employee engagement and camaraderie.

Employee fraternization isn’t just romantic relationships; it also includes friendships that develop within the workplace. The first thing to understand is that friendships between colleagues cannot be avoided. Co-workers already have one thing in common, their employer, to build a relationship upon, and it doesn’t take long to find other commonalities in their personal lives.

How Monitoring Centers Can Reduce False Alarms

by Josh Tafoya, Technical Trainer

We are all in the alarm business. Here at Bold, we provide software and services to the monitoring center. There are commercial monitoring centers, from very small to very large. There are proprietary monitoring centers serving their own clients. There are governmental organizations and law enforcement agencies. The entire extended Bold family is over 590 monitoring centers strong.

The one issue we all must manage is false alarms. I can’t think of a monitoring center that doesn’t have to contend with them. To some, false alarms are a minor annoyance. For whatever reason, they have little impact on the monitoring center. This isn’t related to the size of the monitoring center or even necessarily to the type of customers.

Corporate Health – Employee Perks That Won’t Break the Budget

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

Employee perks. The words alone can strike a certain amount of dread into company owners and managers. After all, Fortune 500 companies have made the term synonymous with lavish business expenses, such as climbing walls, fitness rooms, daycare centers, full tuition reimbursement, and other costly effects.

While the employees who receive them appreciate these perks, they are certainly not an option for all companies to offer. The good news is, affordable perks are equally as appreciated by employees. Here are some things you can offer your staff at little or no cost to you:

Bold Product Spotlight: BoldNet Neo/BoldNet Mobile

If you’ve ever though mobile technology was only a small part of our lives, consider this new information from Pew Research:

  • Over three quarters of Americans (77%) now own a smartphone. That’s more than double the number reported in 2011.
  • Ownership of smart phones is growing quickly among older generations. Now, 74% of adults 50 and older are smartphone users, up 16 percent since 2015.
  • The popularity of tablets is on the rise too, with 51% of Americans owning a tablet, up from 3% just seven years ago.