TechSec worth the trip
So I'm back from TechSec Solutions, and I have to say the action was pretty awesome. This was my first time at TechSec Solutions and I really enjoyed meeting all the presenters and exhibitors. TechSec presented a valuable opportunity for me to meet a portion of the people who comprise this industry upon which I report, as well as a chance for me to learn a little more about what makes security such an important and resilient industry. My trip to TechSec was not without its challenges. I traveled from Portland, Maine on Monday morning, February 23. My flight (which the airline assured me repeatedly was due to depart "on time") was supposed to leave at 6 a.m. Now, being a conscientious traveler, I wanted to be there two hours early, which meant I had to be there at 4 a.m. I live about an hour from Portland Jetport, which meant leaving my house at 3 a.m. Okay, that's pretty darn early, but when you factor in the blizzard we were having (complete with downed trees across the major roadways and area-wide blackouts) that actually meant getting up at 2 a.m. to ensure quality shoveling time with the 14 inches of heavy wet snow blocking my driveway. I arrived at the Jetport at 4 a.m. and was a little gratified and a little irritated when the x-ray machine operator at the security check point chuckled and said "Buddy, you're the first one through... hope your plane actually leaves." "You mean 'leaves on time,' right?" I asked. "Yeah, whatever you say, man," he said, shaking his head. My plane did leave, but not until around 8 a.m., after we'd sat at the gate for two hours, the tug trying and failing on the icy tarmac to taxi the plane out of the gate. It had been a long day already, and I wasn't even off the ground in Portland yet. Once in the air, things got a little better. I had some pretzels and a Diet Coke and took a little nap, waking up just in time to land in Newark, N.J. Ten minutes after my connection took off. The first thing I did was call NMC's Irving, Texas central station manager Stefan Rayner with whom I had a scheduled visit that afternoon. Obviously, I would be later than we had planned. He said not to worry and that he'd wait around until I could make it out there for a visit to NMC's cool new facility. I then got myself on a later flight and settled in for my layover, feeling kind of uncomfortable and sticky (I lost power while shoveling my way out of my house in Maine. I thought nothing of it while shoveling, and didn't realize the full implications of having an electric water pump until I'd finished shoveling and tried to take a shower--no such luck. Fortunately, Portland Jetport had power, and I had lots of time to kill since I'd gotten there two hours early. So I grabbed a shave and cleaned up a bit, much to the later delight, I'm sure, of Stefan and everyone setting up at TechSec.) I was rewarded in several ways on landing in Dallas. First of all, the snow I'd battled in the wee morning hours that morning was nothing more than a chilling memory in warm, sunny Dallas. Secondly, my visit to NMC's new monitoring center in nearby Irving was all I could have hoped for. My predecessor Leischen Stelter visited NMC last year, but it was before the center was fully staffed and operational. The facility is all glass and steel and concrete and chrome with stylish blue shaded lights hanging from the shadowed recesses of a high ceiling filled with ducts and piping. Stefan met me in a conference room off of the lobby, and when I asked to see the actual operator area, he walked to a wall of frosted, opaque glass and pushed a button. The glass wall immediately faded to clear, and I could see the banks of work stations on the other side, positioned below two large ceiling-mounted monitors dominating the room. I had a nice tour and talked at length with Stefan about NMC's Irving facility, the monitoring they do there, and what it was like to move from Aliso Viejo, California (where NMC's other monitoring center is) to Texas. Stefan was one of only three people to move from the original California center out to Texas to oversee the launch of the new facility. The third way in which I was rewarded upon my arrival in Texas was checking in at the Fairmont in downtown Dallas, where I finally took a shower, dressed in a clean suit, picked up my badge and began meeting and greeting attendees. The show went well. Everyone I spoke with enjoyed the networking and educational sessions. See ssnTVnews for highlights.