December 2012 Archives

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We're always striving to give you the best, most pleasant shopping experience we can possibly give you. And it's no small feat. We're a really small team, and a pretty new company, and so any time we can beat the big guys, and present you with something that we think is bigger and better, we are proud of it. We believe our alarm monitoring  plans are the best in the industry. We believe that our site is the most pleasant to shop on in the industry, and we deeply appreciate the many customers that have given us the privilege of serving them over the last 6 months. And now, I think we can say that our site is one of the fastest loading sites in the industry. Give it a try, click around, see if you agree.

Google LogoI'm proud to announce that Alarm Grid was invited into the beta version of  Google Page Speed service for SSL sites. We're not sure how many other sites are in the program, but we know that it has significantly improved our site's speed, and we're honored that Google thought we would be a good candidate to beta test the page speed service. We're loving it so far, and we hope that you find it to be a significant improvement to your shopping experience (let us know what you think in the comments). If you're curious about what Google Page Speed is exactly... watch the video below.

For the less geeky among us, what this partnership means is that Alarm Grid will always be incredibly fast - faster than almost any site you've ever been on, and certainly faster than most (if not all) sites in the home security industry. We know that your time is valuable. We also know that people love doing research on home security systems on Alarm Grid. Doing research is time consuming, and a slow site can only make that process disgustingly difficult. We've all been there, annoyed by the 5 to 15 second load times of even the internet's most popular sites.

We have a lot of goals at Alarm Grid that we are working on making realities. As we move closer to meeting each goal, your experience with us will improve. One of our site goals it to make sure that EVERY page loads in less than 1 second, even on your mobile devices. We're not quite there yet, but we're so close. According to Pingdom's page speed test tool our homepage load time is between one and two seconds and our taxon pages are between two and three. So we're not there yet, but we will be soon. For the time being, I guess you'll just have to deal with load times between one and three seconds. We're sorry for wasting even that small amount of time. We hope you'll forgive us ;).

Just for fun, if you want to see how much faster the new site loads than the old site...

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While we are a security and alarm monitoring company, we also tend to get some requests for products from people that aren't looking for security. Recently we were contacted by Philip J. Beards who designs beautiful custom pool tables and other cabinetry and furniture in London. He had a project he was working on that required some contact switches that would operate lighting within a wine cabinet he was designing. The idea behind the design was that when the cabinet is opened, the lights would turn on to illuminate the inside of the cabinet. He was planning to install the contact switch in the frame of the cabinetry and the magnet in the sliding door.

Philip's problem was that he could not find the contact switches from local London alarm companies or from anyone in mainland Europe. He had ordered some contacts from American companies, but with all of the switches he had tried, the circuit was only completing when the door was closed. Therefore, his lights were turning on when the sliding door was shut and no one could see his awesome work. He contacted us because he saw that we carried many types of contact switches.

After discussing how the alarm industry views normally open and normally closed switches, we decided the Honeywell 944-2GY switches would be the best option since they allow for normally open and normally closed configuration. In the alarm industry, we consider normally closed to be a switch that completes the circuit when the magnet is close to the contact because the door closed is the "normal" position. However, an electrician would consider that same contract to be normally open. The beauty of the 944-2GY contact is that it has three wire leads, a common, a normally closed and a normally open, so that Philip was confident he could configure the switch to do exactly what he needed.

These pictures don't do the final product justice, but you can see that the interior lights are on when the sliding door is open. You can also see one of Philip's gorgeous custom pool tables he built for the same customer.

  

If you would like to contact Philip for your next custom furniture project or for a beautiful custom pool table, please visit his website at www.philipbeards.co.uk. Also, if you have a unique project that may require some of our security products, call us today at 888-818-7728.

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Well that was quick! Just days after posting about the iPhone Total Connect 2.0 app crashing problems, Honeywell released an update that has fixed the issue that was causing the app to crash upon log in. Now, the Total Connect 2.0 app is back to working great for remote security system control.

From experience we know Honeywell is the premier security system brand and that AlarmNet is an industry leader in alarm communications and interactive services. The problem with the Total Connect 2.0 app was very unusual as the service is normally bulletproof. However, software updates can cause unexpected issues with the programs that use the software. As this particular issue only occurred when an infrequently used setting was changed, it took longer than usual for AlarmNet to become aware of the problem and then subsequently fix the problem.

Hopefully the negative reviews that were starting to pile up in the iTunes store will now be drowned out by good reviews from all of the people that use this app daily. We hear all the time how Total Connect 2.0 makes people's lives easier and we urge anyone that may have been turned off by the negative reviews to reconsider. 

For everyone else that already has the Total Connect 2.0 app, go get the new update from the App Store today!


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Honeywell has an excellent interactive service called Total Connect. With a compatible AlarmNet alarm communicator and the Total Connect service, you are able to remotely control your Honeywell security system from a computer or from a free app on an iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ or Blackberry® device. It's great when you leave and can't remember if you armed the system or if you have to let someone in and don't want to give them your alarm code. 

Of course, the value of the service lies in the ability to control the system from anywhere at anytime. Unfortunately, ever since Apple released their new iOS 6.0, some Total Connect users have experienced problems using the Total Connect 2.0 app from their iPhone. With the release of iOS 6.0, Total Connect 2.0 wasn't the only app that has had problems. Apple has publicly acknowledged that the new software has caused some issues and they rolled out a very quick update with iOS 6.0.1 to try and fix most of the problems. Even with that fix, some Total Connect 2.0 users are still experiencing problems.

It's unfortunate because an otherwise great application with overwhelmingly positive reviews, is now down to only 2.5 stars on the iTunes store. If you look at the reviews, you can see all of the negative reviews are in the past couple of months since iOS 6.0 was released. Everyone seems to be experiencing the same issue. The app will work once properly, but then if you log out, the app crashes and closes upon any subsequent log-ins. While Honeywell recommends upgrading to the newest version of the Apple iPhone software (iOS 6.0.1) and if that doesn't work, doing a backup and restore of the phone, there are people that are still experience the same issues after doing those fixes. AlarmNet's app developers are working on a fix and hopefully will have an app update out soon. 

However, in the meantime, we seem to have figured out a way to stop the app from crashing. When you first log into the app, the security screen is displayed that allows you to arm or disarm your system. Along the bottom of the app, there is a button that says 'Security' with an open lock icon, an 'Events' button with an icon of a triangle with an exclamation point in it and a 'More' button with three dots. When you press the 'More' button, there are some options for changing settings. The 'Message Center' allows your AlarmNet dealer to send you new updates. The 'View Preferences' option allows you to change the default Total Connect 2.0 screen when you first log-in. The 'Navigation Order' option allows you to change the available buttons along the bottom of the app. It seems that by changing the navigation order is what is causing the issue. Our Total Connect 2.0 app works perfectly every time we do a fresh download of the app. As soon as we edit the navigation order and then log out, the app crashes every time we try to log back in.

Therefore, for anyone having issues with a crashing Total Connect 2.0 app, please don't edit the navigation order if you want to avoid problems. We are sure Honeywell and AlarmNet will have an update soon that will restore the app to full working condition, but hopefully this fix can alleviate some headaches in the meantime.

 

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A lot of our users are return users. So, if that's you, I'm sure you've noticed that Alarm Grid looks a lot different today!

Alarm Grid's Old SiteIf you're new around here, I suppose you're wondering what it looked like in the "olden" days. Well, just to the left here, you can see a picture. The old site was sterile, white, and, if you believe the picture, extremely pixelated. We didn't think that the old site provided a very pleasant shopping experience to our customers. So we've done everything we can to change our look and feel. Navigation should be a bit more intuitive, and the site should make shopping a little bit easier. We would love your feedback. If you find anything confusing, aggravating, or you want to give your compliments to the webmaster, send us a quick email at suggestions@alarmgrid.com.

So let me introduce you to all the new members of the Alarm Grid family.

First, there is our new set of logos, straight in from the factory.

Alarm Grid's FaviconAlarm Grid's Square Logo


Alarm Grid's Rectangular Logo

We've also spiffied up the Alarm monitoring page, if you haven't seen that yet. It's got some nice new checkmarks, and some simple explanations next to each of the service descriptions so that users aren't left confused by what they're looking at, and we added a happy family to our homepage standing in front of their very, very secure home. 

On the inner pages, we made the pictures bigger (soon we'll have nice original photos of all our products), and we arranged them a bit more intuitively. You still have all the great information on every single, but it's a bit less cluttered, and we hope that navigating the products is a bit easier.

We are excited to roll out more and more features on Alarm Grid's site, and we hope that you like what you see. Let us know what we can do to improve your shopping experience. We want to make sure you're helped quickly, and that we give you good, accurate information.

Welcome to the new and improved Alarm Grid!

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Fresh off the heels of our Telular partnership, we had an interesting situation come up when trying to provide the Telguard Interactive service to one of our new customers that had an existing GE NetworX NX-8 control panel. 

While Telular does a good job of providing detailed installation instructions for integrating their cellular alarm communicators with most alarm control panels, the instructions for the newer NX-6 control panel were not working for this older NX-8 and therefore, the system wasn't acting as it should. 

Telguard Interactive service works by wiring the TG-1 Express universal cellular alarm communicator to the alarm control panel. With the NX-8, you need to connect the 'Gnd' terminal on the TG-1 to the auxiliary power 'COM' terminal on the NX-8 and the 'Pwr' terminal on the TG-1 to the 'AUX +' terminal on the NX-8. Then, you need to wire the two 'STC' terminals on the TG-1 to an open zone on the control panel. The zone used must be one of the eight on-board wired zones and you cannot use an expansion zone for this connection. Finally, you need to connect the 'Trp' terminal on the TG-1 to one of the 'AUXOUT' terminals on the NX-8. Of course, you also need a Telco connection from the RJ-45 connector on the TG-1 Express to the four Tip and Ring terminals on the GE NX-8 alarm control panel.

After making the proper connections, the Telguard Interactive installation guide walks you through programming the connected zone as a keyswitch zone and programming the connected auxiliary output to follow the armed state. The TG-1 acts as a normally open relay that closes for one second and then opens. With this setup, the TG-1 Express allows you to use a web based account to remotely control (arm/disarm) your NX-8 control panel.

When we followed the instructions for the NX-6 Telguard Interactive setup, the Telguard account showed the system was armed, when it was disarmed. When we tried to disarm the system from the Telguard account, the system armed. Once it armed, the app would fail every time we tried to disarm. We spoke to GE and Telguard technical support separately many times to try and solve the problem. Both companies were very helpful in giving us information on how their device should operate. However, it wasn't until we were able to do a conference call with a lead Telguard technician and a very knowledgeable GE technician, that we got the system working properly. After some troubleshooting and voltage metering, we determined that the NX-8 auxiliary output should actually be setup to follow the disarmed state instead of the recommended armed state. Since the interactive account was showing the opposite state, changing this output programming allowed the voltage across the 'AUXOUT' and auxiliary power 'COM' terminals to show a positive twelve volts when the NX-8 was disarmed and zero volts when the system was armed. The TG-1 Express needs these voltages in these states for the Telguard Interactive service to work properly. However, even after we figured out this programming deviation, the app was still not controlling the system.

We knew we had our NX-8 zone wired and programmed correctly because shorting the zone, with the TG-1 unhooked, resulted in an arm or disarm at the panel. We also knew the auxiliary output was providing the proper voltage when the TG-1 was unhooked, but still the interactive service did not work. Just when we thought GE and Telular were going to give up and say that the service wouldn't work with this customer's panel, I asked whether or not the four wire smoke detector that was attached to the panel could be complicating things. It turns out, that with four wire smoke attached to the NX-8, the auxiliary outputs are used for resetting the smoke detectors after an alarm. Therefore, because the smoke detectors were wired to the 'SMOKE +' terminal, the system was not allowing the change of voltage on the armed state. As soon as we unhooked the four wire smoke detector, everything worked perfectly. It was much easier to replace the existing four wire smoke detector with a new two wire smoke detector, than it would have been to replace the entire alarm control panel.

We would like to thank both GE and Telguard technical support for the time they dedicated to solving our issue and we are glad that we made Telguard aware of the way the NX-8 control panel works so that future Telguard members will be able to use the interactive service with NX-8 security system.

If you have an NX-8 security system, you can add the TG-1 Express to remotely control your security system. You can also have the TG-1 Express send you instant emails and/or text messages whenever a new system event occurs. The Telguard Interactive service is included in our Self Monitoring and Monitoring Plus plans available at our alarm monitoring sign up page.

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