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The Ease of Automation

The Ease of Automation

The Ease of Automation


What is home automation? To put it simply, it’s about making the complex simple. Considered a luxury by many, and indeed custom lighting control, motorized shades and music streaming throughout your home add elegance, warmth and a layer of luxury, but the true purpose of home automation is to make the everyday easier. Home automation automates features such as your lights, window shades, door locks, HVAC, garage door, security and more. It makes them talk to one another, work together as one. Without question, it’s convenient to pull up in front of your home late at night and, right from your phone, be able to activate a welcome scene that lights your path and home’s interior while unlocking the door and disarming the alarm. But it also helps keep you safe. And imagine if faced with a life-threatening medical emergency or house fire – an integrated lighting and security system could flash the outside lights to quickly alert first responders.

Home automation is about enjoying life’s moments, freeing you from simple tasks. Along with saving time, it also helps save you money by adding energy-saving efficiencies. Occupancy sensors can trigger lights to turn off in an empty room. Window shades can raise and lower to either take advantage of the sunlight or block it out when the AC is cranked up. Lighting control with pre-set scenes of slightly dimmed lights also yield savings, while adding ambiance and convenience.

Parents appreciate getting an alert when their teenager arrives home safely after school. Caregivers are thankful that simple features like voice-control can provide an aging parent greater independence. How could you simplify your everyday with home technology? Are you ready to enjoy life’s little luxuries? Let’s get started.

Put Your Smart Home to Work

Put Your Smart Home to Work

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Put Your Smart Home to Work

Throughout the year we endeavor to keep you abreast of the latest in technologies and trends. 2017 has witnessed the adoption of integrated voice control, amazing advances in LEDs, incredible strides in virtual reality and so much more! Our smart homes are truly getting smarter and smarter, but how can we use their features to make our homes safer? Well, here are some simple ways to put your home automation system to work, ensuring you and your family a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

1)     Light it Up! Every deterrent counts when a would-be burglar assesses your home’s vulnerability. A well-lit home is your first defense. Use landscape lighting, flood lights, and motion-activated lighting around your entire home.

2)     Fake them out! Create lighting scenes that truly mimic your patterns while you’re away. Control4 calls it Mockupancy™. Indoor and exterior lights, shades, televisions and even the Christmas tree are set up on alternating sequences to simulate that lived-in look.

3)     Lock it Up! Automated door locks (smartlocks) with integrated alarms and anti-pick shields add an extra layer of security and convenience.

4)     Lock it down! If you’ve got a home security system, use it. If you don’t have one, call us. If you’ve got one and haven’t used it for a while, call us to schedule to check. Aside from deterring potential thieves, a monitored security system alerts first responders to fire and medical emergencies. And this is a great time to check that your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

5)     Keep an eye on it! Enhance your security system with cameras and motion sensors. Their presence alone is a great deterrent.  You’ll be able to keep an eye on things while away and access recordings should any misdeeds occur.

6)     Download the App! Embrace the technology and use the various features available. They offer incredible convenience and peace of mind.

 7)     Gate it off! Be cyber safe by updating your home network. We’re savvy to the latest potential threats and can help protect your home’s critical infrastructure.

8)     Pull the plug! Eliminate the possibility of having your garage door breached. Pull the plug when you’re planning to be away.

9)     Resist the urge! We’re our own worst enemies. Don’t flaunt those beautifully wrapped gifts in the windows for all to see, hold off on that social post from your exotic locale until you’re back home and break down the boxes that your new electronic toys came in to avoid curbside advertising of what’s new on the inside.

Be smart and stay safe and healthy this holiday season. If you have any questions about home automation and its role in your safety and security, please contact us. We’re here to help. Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.

Additional Resources:

Protecting Your Home from Burglars during the Holidays

 

 

 

 

How to Optimize The Enjoyment of Your Home’s Technology System

How to Optimize The Enjoyment of Your Home’s Technology System

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Feature-Rich and Trouble Free! How to Optimize Your Enjoyment of Your Home’s Technology Systems. 

We’ve recently talked about getting together to assess your home’s technology systems. It’s always a good idea to make sure you’re current on the latest technologies available and how to implement new devices now or in the near future. The other key to satisfaction with your technology systems is ensuring their “technical” health. Simple things, such as dusting components in the equipment rack, go a long way in preventing equipment from overheating. Part 2 of our annual Tech-Up addresses the advantages of having a preventative maintenance plan that would include a visit or two from one of our certified technicians.

Proper digital health requires a regular checkup and some TLC

While your systems may be running smoothly, it’s possible you’re due for a firmware or software update that could potentially activate new, desirable features. We’ll put your network and systems through a thorough test to ensure functionality and make necessary security updates. We’ll also check to make sure everything is properly connected to your network, preventing trouble down the road.

We suggest you make a note of any questions you’d like to ask during the service call and be sure to advise us of any new devices, features or systems you’re interested in learning about or adding.

An Ounce of Prevention

To optimize your enjoyment and satisfaction and to prolong the life of your system we offer our ALL DIGITAL Client Care Plans. The Plans are available in 3 tiers of service (Remote, On-site 1 and On-site 2) to proactively monitor and maintain your systems. Based on the size (number of connected devices) and complexity of your system, each tier features varying levels of services and covered benefits, allowing you to select the plan that best fits your needs. We understand that from time-to-time, equipment will fail. Our goal is zero system downtime and 100% client satisfaction. Our Plans are designed to meet those goals by properly maintaining your components for optimal performance and by discovering problems before they occur.

Healthy Network, Happy Home     

Depending on your service level, a maintenance visit with a Client Care Plan includes:

·       Complete System Inspection

·       Firmware updates

·       Dusting of equipment

·       Adjust Audio settings

·       Touch Panel and Remote Control testing

In addition, a Remote or On-site service plans include:

·       Remote diagnostics

·       Equipment resets

·       Monitoring of power outages and tweaks to programming

ALL DIGITAL Client Care Plans offer our customers added protection, convenience, and peace of mind beyond our standard 90-day service warranty. Our programs offer preventive maintenance visits, remote monitoring, and rapid response for resolving potential equipment issues to maximize your system's reliability and minimize worry. They also provide a cost savings on our services and hourly rates outside of the scheduled visits.

Your home technology is a part of your everyday life. We want you and your family to get the most out of it and we want you to know we’re here to help. We’d love to hear from you – please call us at 954-406-9049 with any questions or to schedule your maintenance visit today! 

www.alldigitalonline.com

 

When Technology Meets Interior Design

When Technology Meets Interior Design

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Wait! Where’s the TV?

When Technology Meets Interior Design

It’s quite the conundrum. Amid the obsession with shiplap and subway tile we get enthralled with the design trends of today.  We’re into open floor plans and oversized clocks. We want large dining rooms and outdoor spaces for entertaining, but when we’re ready to settle in on the comfy loveseat for our favorite weekly drama, or curl up with the family to stream a movie, we’d like to see a TV!  Have you noticed what’s missing in some of the home renovation shows? Technology! Why IS that? Granted, some embrace technology-free zones, meaning no disruptive television, gaming consoles or mobile devices in designated homework or family dinner spaces. That’s great, but many technologies actually keep us safe, comfortable, informed and entertained. LEDs, control devices, window coverings and lighting are elegant and convenient. So, why is technology so often missed in design?

Plan Now or Patch Later

First, for the best possible outcome, let the technology solutions provider (us) work with the Interior Designer from the onset of the project’s design.  We can determine the technology requirements and provide the needed infrastructure before the shiplap, subway tile or custom wallpaper goes up. We can provide the cabling and determine power requirements, saving time and costly refinish work now and down the road. Sure, that painting looks great over the mantle, but would you eventually like to hang an OLED there? Let’s wire for it now so we don’t disturb the brick, wood or wallcovering later. Or, even better, let’s hang it now and conceal it with custom framed artwork that scrolls up to reveal the display! Oh yes, we can!

Wireless Isn’t the Total Answer

Windows are another key design element that require careful planning. Not only should consideration be made for the type and size of windows in media areas, but thoughtful pre-wiring for control and power will be appreciated when it’s time to install motorized shades.  It’s true that control for some features can be via wireless remotes, but we still need a power source. The same holds true for keypads and touchscreens, security features, architectural speakers and especially the equipment rack.  The equipment rack is the home’s technology hub, housing some or all of the system’s components. It is often centrally located in a closet that offers adequate ventilation and the ability to run cabling for every device and control interface to each room of the house. Homes with crawl spaces, basements and attics make this task somewhat easier, but here in the sunshine state we are faced with concrete or even glass walls and floors of exquisite hardwood or marble that don’t allow access.  Get the picture?

Speaking of exquisite features, one “designer” that truly embraces tech is Palm Beach’s Vanilla Ice. While his over-the-top SoFla style is all about the bling, his luxury designs focus on the elegance, entertainment and fun-factor of well-planned integrated technologies. From outdoor living areas to kitchens, master bedrooms and baths to outrageous home theaters and virtual reality gaming rooms, he focuses on how the family will use the space and designs around the technology. Say what you will about a rapper turned house flipper, but his VIP (Vanilla Ice Project) designs require no retrofit (and he’s all about the fancy wallpaper).

So, let’s get the whole design team – the architect, interior designer, technology solutions provider and homeowner – in lockstep.  The end result will be a happy homeowner and beautiful, untouched high-end finishes (or maybe, shiplap)!

 

Cleanse your home of wall acne.

Cleanse your home of wall acne.

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Cleanse your home of wall acne.

It’s time for the glow up.

Wall acne – it’s the bane of any home designer’s existence, and the stuff of nightmares for any homeowner. Wall acne is not only unappealing to the eye, it’s unnecessary. With today’s innovations in home automation technology, it’s easy to clear up your acne and replace it with one seamless keypad instead of a bunch of confusing switches, buttons and knobs.

This new design-forward approach brings sleek, stylish and sophisticated back to your home, which is important now that a clean, minimalistic style has taken over modern homes. These new integrated keypads can even lay flush with the wall, making them easy to conceal or integrate into the design plans.

Imagine having one wall plate to control both your entertainment and security system; your lighting and shade control; or your thermostat and garage door.

Each of these systems can easily be integrated into one easy-to-use keypad that can even go so far as to save you money on your energy bills – automatically adjusting your thermostat to the weather and your lighting to the amount of movement in a room.

It’s time to clear up your acne. Replacing all of your current wall acne with one tech- and design-forward keypad means you can easily add more later on, without worrying about drilling more holes in your wall, or lining up another plate of switches and buttons.

Outsmarting Cyber Crimes Against Smart Technologies

Outsmarting Cyber Crimes Against Smart Technologies

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Adoption of new technologies is on the rise, and so are cybersecurity threats. Gartner reports that in five years our typical households could contain several hundred smart devices. While it’s important to be cognizant of cybersecurity issues, rest assured that All Digital is staying ahead of the cyber criminals to keep you and your family safe. Let’s explore the potential vulnerabilities of smart devices and measures taken to make them secure.

We’ve all heard about baby monitors being hacked, but according to Fox News contributor and CyberGuy Kurt Knutsson, the leading causes for the hacks might surprise you. The simple, avoidable reasons include: parents simply not changing the default password, the home Wi-Fi network password being easily-guessed and security flaws with the monitoring device itself. Knutsson’s article goes on to share steps that parents can take to deter hackers, but there are dozens of other smart devices and appliances that may not immediately come to mind and are beyond the abilities of the average do-it-yourself homeowner to secure—such as cable boxes, video game consoles and even HVAC systems. Professional-level security measures should be taken to ensure that your network is secure and that the equipment is safe and up to standards.

At All Digital, our clients’ security is critical. In addition to working in partnership with our manufacturers, we collaborate with fellow members across the country as a CEDIA (Consumer Electronics Design & Installation Association) Electronics Systems Contractor to ensure we stay current on threats, as well as trends, in technology. To keep your systems secure from hackers, here are some precautions we recommend.

Networks:

●      Have a certified automation/security pro set-up an encrypted network. Always change the SSID (network name) and use the most up-to-date encryption (WPA2 currently) with a custom, strong password.

●      Safeguard your guest network. Establish parameters such as controlling time-of-day access, MAC (Media Access Control) addresses of specific devices and restricting the number of devices allowed.

●      Regardless of protocol, use only certified equipment.

●      Change all factory-set passwords.

●      While we do not recommend that you share passwords, we do suggest you record them in a secure place. We create a passcode document for our clients, should they forget or lose them.

●      Use temporary passwords for occasional use access by housekeepers, etc.

●      Set up a separate network for your automation system.

●      If you need to allow access to various devices from outside (typically called port forwarding) such as being able to control your security or automation system via an app, never use the same inbound and outbound port.

●      Set up “parent/child” relationships, allowing you to share a specific username and password with access to designated devices (like the music server so your friend can stream on your system) and at the times you specify to prevent people from having access to your system without your knowledge.

●      A VPN (Virtual Private Network), such as Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection, is another solution. This is a “private tunnel” to give you, or anyone you deem, access to your network from anywhere in the world.  

Equipment:

●      Never leave the generic username and password on any network device. Devices include routers and access points, as well as camera DVRs (digital video recorders), NAS (network access server) drives and any other piece of gear that resides on the network.

●      Replace any outdated or incompatible components.

●      Buy only reputable brands, which are more likely to have a high level of security and regular updates. The National Security Alliance advises “Do your research: read reviews and learn about consumers’ experiences with the products from a security and privacy perspective.”

●      Keep all devices updated with the most current software, and download any patches to mitigate risk.

●      Turn off listening devices when not in use.

Mobile:

●      Install security software on mobile phones and tablets used to control IoT devices.

●      Restrict application access on your phone. Be aware of privacy settings and sharing capabilities on apps, such as calendars, email, location and photos.

●      We recommend passcode apps to keep passwords secure.

First and foremost, work with a known, trusted networked home/security provider. As a CEDIA Electronics Systems Contractor, All Digital has access to up-to-the-minute industry news and solutions. CEDIA leverages the expertise of global technology leaders and manufacturers to educate its membership on key topics such as cybersecurity and the connected home and have recently worked in collaboration with InfoComm International to present at ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) on the subject. 

Be aware, be smart and count on trusted professionals when needed.