Home Security Blog

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Sometimes Alarm Grid's customers send us pictures of their DIY projects and how we helped or how we made a positive difference in their lives. Today, we thought we'd share a particularly cute one with you all since it warmed our little hearts.


After getting her Alarm Grid security signs and security stickers  this mother decided to use the box to pack her daughter up and send her to us. We're still waiting for the young lass to arrive in the mail, but we are all very excited about having a little girl to keep around the office. And before you get upset by the idea of sending your 3 foot tall child to Alarm Grid (which will fit perfectly into one of those boxes), just look at how happy she is.

Oh, and here's another great little picture of an Alarm Grid sign weathering the great Minnesota winter.


We feel bad for the sign, it looks awful cold and we're against subjecting these beautiful billboards to the elements; we're pretty sure that it's shivering. We asked the homeowners if they could get out there and put a jacket on it. We're hoping they do. If they don't, this sign's got a rough 6-8 months ahead of it.

Is that right? Minnesota has snow on the ground until September?

It's pictures like these that make us happy that we're in Florida. But we're proud of the fact that our Alarm Grid tendrils stretch all the way to the frozen tundras.

If you have a picture of an Alarm Grid sign, or if you have shoved your son or daughter into a box and want to show us, feel free to send your pictures to us at support@alarmgrid.com   If our signs look good in your yard or If we think your kid is cute enough, we might even add the picture to the blog!

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Mid-7HA few years ago, Honeywell released an Android keypad made by Coby called the Mid-7H. Like most Android tablets, it was pretty enough, but the system was plagued by its slow processor, low resolution screen, and a generally poor public reception. To be honest, it is a bit of an inelegant addition to their wireless LYNX product line. That said, the app for controlling your L5100 which is installed on the device is well-loved by users and if that's what you were looking for, you might be sad to see it go.

Then again, it's not gone quite yet. So if you are desperate to get a Mid-7H for yourself, we will carry them until the product line is exhausted.

The good news for those of you who just wanted the L5100 software, Honeywell has told us that they are going to be making the software available in the Apple store and eventually will make the program available for download on Androids. We're not sure when that will happen, but in the meantime, go ahead and get your hands on one of the few remaining Mid-7Hs. These things are going to be a collectors item like pogs, beanie babies, and old Barbie dolls.

We anticipate that once the world hears of the tablets demise, collectors will scramble to get their hands on one like WalMart shoppers looking for Tickle-me-Elmo the day after Thanksgiving.

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Hi guys and welcome to our first technology post.  As head of development, I'll be going over some of the cooler and more unique stuff we're doing at Alarm Grid.

Today I want to address a very serious concern, and a very appropriate one for an alarm monitoring company: security.

By now, I'm sure most of you know what SSL (Transport Layer Security / Secure Sockets Layer) websites are.  You know, the ones that start with https:// and have a pretty little green box in the address bar.


You'll generally notice these, or at least look out for them, when you're doing something that should involve privacy.  You know, like checking out from an e-commerce store (wait, you go to store other than Alarm Grid!?) or logging in to your favorite social network

But have you ever noticed some sites like Facebook and Google make the entire site SSL?  If so, ever wonder why?

It's because of a nasty little thing called session hacking.  That's when you're logged into a site and a user can steal your cookie and suddenly be logged in as you without ever even typing in your password!

I know what you're thinking.  It's what we all think when it comes to hacking.  Pff, that only happens to other people. 

Well, you'd be suprised how easy it is and how out of your hands it is.  Have you ever logged in to a non-full SSL site at a coffee shop?  Then you're vulnerable.   

There's actually applications out there any one of you, no matter how little of a tech background you have, could use to session hack.  (Google it.  Just don't tell them I sent you.)

Even if you login to a secure part of the site and go to a single non-secure part of the website, that cookie (unless they specify it's only for secure pages) is likely out in the open.  Suddenly, you just gave a hacker access to that site as you!

That's why Alarm Grid we decided to make the entire site SSL secure throughout the whole page from day one.  Just try finding an insecure page.  We dare you.

So why don't other companies?  Generally, because it's complicated and expensive. But we take your security seriously.  Both your home's and your identity's.

If you have any questions for me, please ask me below in the comments!  

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We are proud to say that our customers really enjoy our service. You don't need to look any further than the wonderful reviews that our many excited customers have left.

We are excited each time that we see a review crop up on our Merchant Circle or Yelp page, but we do get a lot of questions about whether our reviews are real or whether we pay one of those review companies to leave good reviews on these sites periodically.


I'm proud to say that we have never paid for a review, and that every single review we get (and any review we ever will get) are 100% authored by real customers. We're a pretty young company, so for the moment, that means we have no bad reviews. I'm certain that that will change one of these days. But for the time, we're pretty proud of being well liked and we strive to do all the things you can read about in those reviews. We are working hard to offer great customer support, great prices on products, and all the on-site help you can get regarding how to install or set up your security system.

That said, I fully understand why consumers are skeptical of reviews. A lot of companies do pay to have reviews put up, and Business Week recently ran an article that as many as 30% of reviewers for some products are fake I would suspect that there are some industries where the fake to real review ratio is even higher, maybe even as high as 50%.

In all, I'm amazed that when I look at other security companies, it's clear that consumers generally hate dealing with them. I think the perception, on the whole, is that home security companies are manned by unfriendly staff, we don't care about customer service, and we are just interested in making a buck. All we've had to do to get our customers to write the reviews we have gotten is to treat you well, and help you find exactly what you need. As we grow, our biggest struggle is maintaining a balance between getting bigger and not sacrificing the customer service you've come to know so well. So, keep letting us know how we're doing. We're going to rely on your feedback going forward, and we're happy to be able to work with such wonderful customers.

Here's to all of you. Salud!

CHEERS!

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We have made lots and lots of videos that we are going to be trickling out over the next few months. We hope you love these, and we invite you to subscribe to the Alarm Grid YouTube channel (which you should definitely subscribe to).

We will be blogging about these videos twice a week. One on Monday and one on Friday. They are mostly DIY install videos designed to teach you everything from how to program sensors into your system to little segments about what makes each product unique.

This first video is simple. If you have one of Honeywell's much loved LYNX Touch control panels, then these first few segments will be very helpful. Today, I'm introducing you to how to do some very simple programming. This short two minute video explains how to change the volume, contrast and brightness on one of our favorite panels.


If you don't like looking at me, most of these videos are just hands on demonstrations of FAQs we've already produced. Learn in your own way. If you want to read these instructions rather than watch them you can read each individual FAQ on changing your LYNX Touch's volumecontrast  and brightness .

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Alarm Grid Security SignsAlarm Grid is proud to announce that our security yard signs  are currently rolling off the production line. We're proud to say that these are the first security signs we've ever seen that you don't have to be embarrassed about putting in your yard. They look amazing!

These aluminum signs feature Alarm Grid's lock logo on a wonderful Alarm Grid Blue (a color we invented, I swear) background. I'm pretty sure that these are going to fly out the door faster than we can produce them, so if you want to get one of these beautiful pieces of art for your front yard, you'd better get your sign and stakes right away.

German garden gnome

In addition, if you want to sticker your home with all sorts of Alarm Grid decals, you can do that now too. We have security stickers  that look exactly like the yard signs, except that they are smaller and stickier. They stick to the inside glass of your home (or office), and are the same beautiful shade of blue.

Since announcing our new yard signs and stickers, I can confirm that we have received hundreds of letters from around the country from very excited garden gnomes who are begging us to send some to their home so that they can stand next our elegant blue sculptures.

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You must be here because you are looking for some coupon codes to use at Alarm Grid. You've found our not-so-secret, secret page where we will be posting any codes we happen to put out. You can also find these same codes on a lot of the internets most popular coupon sites. But why go there when you can get them right here.

1MONTH$1 (EXPIRED DEC 31 2013)
Just like if you went to a car dealership and asked about a car, the dealer would let you take the car for a spin before you made your decisions. So we're going to give you the same courtesy. If you want to try out Alarm Grid's monitoring services, we're offering $9 off your first month if you use the coupon code 1MONTH$1 at checkout! That means you can get one month of monitoring for as little as $1.

FREESTICKERS (This coupon code no longer works. We now include one free sticker in every order)

Alarm Grid's signs and stickers are to burglars what scarecrows are to birds. When a potential robber sees them, they will be like, "nope, not robbing this place," and then they will move on to your neighbor's house. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're a good neighbor, and you're like, "why would I want my neighbor to be robbed." Well, you don't. So make sure that you get some stickers for your own place, and then, use this coupon code to get one for your neighbor. Help Alarm Grid (legally and permissibly) plaster our stickers on every window in America.

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If you have been thinking about upgrading your existing Honeywell security system, now is the perfect time. In the past, Honeywell security systems did not see major new features added with newer versions of the alarm control panels. Aside from minor tweaks to the programming options, there was never really a compelling reason to spend the money and get a brand new control panel. However, there have been some recent technological changes from Honeywell and their AlarmNet division that finally give customers a real reason to look at making a change.

First, Total Connect 2.0 was released in 2011. Total Connect is an interactive monitoring service that allows you to remotely arm and disarm your security system from any computer or smartphone. It also allows you to receive instant emails and/or text messages whenever new security system events occur. The original Total Connect service was Honeywell's first offering that allowed customers to get more out of their alarm monitoring service but like most new technologies, it needed to be polished. Total Connect 2.0 is bright and shiny and gives customer what they want. Unfortunately, when AlarmNet released the new Total Connect 2.0 service, it was only compatible with newer Honeywell security systems.

The other major technological change that requires a Honeywell security system owner to consider upgrading is the development of 4G cellular alarm communicators. We have talked in the past about how AT&T is discontinuing their 2G cellular network at the end of 2016. The 2G cellular network was very popular in the past before cell phones turned into mobile computers. All cellular alarm manufacturers, including Honeywell, built their communicators to work on the 2G network. Now that AT&T has but announced an end to the network that these communicators work on, everyone that has an existing cellular communicator needs to start thinking about upgrading to a communicator that will work past 2016.

Instead of dealing with the large expense of buying a new security system and a new cellular alarm communicator to take advantage of both these advancements, the GSMV4G-TC2  and GSMX4G-TC2 provide an easy and inexpensive way to upgrade to Total Connect 2.0 and 4G cellular communications. Both AlarmNet Total Connect 2.0 upgrade kits include a 4G cellular alarm communicator and PROM chips for both a VISTA-20P and a VISTA-15P. The PROM chip upgrades an older model VISTA panel so that it will be revision 9.12 and compatible with the newer Total Connect 2.0 service. No wiring changes need to be made and the existing system programming even stays the same. Upgrading couldn't be easier. If you have a VISTA-20P that can't do Total Connect 2.0 or a cellular alarm communicator that will need to be replaced, stop thinking about upgrading and get a new GSMV4G-TC2 or GSMX4G-TC2 today!

  

While Honeywell won't officially endorse this, we have found that the PROM upgrade chips that come with the GSMV4G-TC2 and GSMX4G-TC2 will even work with an older model ADT Safewatch panel. Therefore, any VISTA-15P or VISTA-20P, even branded versions, can take advantage of the amazing cost savings that these upgrade kits provide.

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Honeywell's Total Connect 2.0 service is the best upgrade to your security system that you can make. With Total Connect 2.0 you can arm and disarm your system with the touch of a button from any computer or smartphone app. You can also have the system send you instant emails and text messages whenever a new security system event occurs. You can get a text message with the actual zone description of the device that went into alarm, the actual name of the user that armed or disarmed, even a message when your teenagers opened the liquor cabinet in the middle of the night. Once you try Total Connect 2.0 you will never look at your security system the same way again.

Of course, don't just take our word for it, try it out yourself. We now have a Total Connect Instructional demo that you can use to explore all of the exciting features of Total Connect 2.0. Even if you have already signed up for Total Connect, this demo can show you some features that you may not even know existed.

Once you have gone through the demo, go one step further and actually log into a live Total Connect 2.0 account at www.totalconnect2.com. Use 'alarmgrid' for the username and 'P@ssw0rd' for the password.

Don't forget that none of our alarm monitoring plans require a contract so if you are still on the fence about whether or not Total Connect 2.0 would work for you, try it risk free today! We even have a standalone Total Connect plan for people that don't want central station monitoring but would like the interactive features that Total Connect provides. If you decide it's not worth the cost, simply let us know and we would be happy to stop your plan.

Call us today to find out how easy it is to get fully connected to your security system with Total Connect 2.0!

UPDATE: The information from this post is now outdated. For information on how you can test drive Total Connect 2.0 now, please check this more recent post.

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We have already talked about the phase out of AT&T's 2G cellular network, but if you haven't read our previous article about the new GSMX4G and GSMV4G cellular alarm communicators, then you may not know that all existing AlarmNet cellular alarm communicators will become obsolete by the end of 2016.

Here at Alarm Grid, we urge everyone looking for a new cellular alarm communicator to only invest in 4G capable communicators. AT&T has formally announced that they will have completely dropped support of the 2G cellular network by the end of 2016. As cellular data use increases, AT&T has to find ways to add new throughput to their most advanced networks. One easy way to expand that throughput is to cannibalize their older and slower 2G network. As it is extremely rare to find a cellular phone in use today that still uses the 2G network, AT&T has no problems sacrificing the older 2G network to make the newer 4G network bigger and faster. Unfortunately, the alarm industry will be affected by the discontinuation of the 2G network as nearly all cellular alarm communicators in existence today use the 2G network. Since the difference in speed between the 2G and the 3G or 4G network wasn't needed when transmitting alarm signals, cellular alarm manufacturers never bothered to upgrade their communicators to support the faster networks. Now however, all alarm companies must act and act quickly. While the end of 2016 is the formal end of the 2G cellular network, certain areas of the country will lost 2G support well before 2016.

For most people, upgrading to the newer cellular network will be as simple as swapping their existing communicator to a newer communicator that has 3G and 4G support. Unfortunately, for everyone that invested in Honeywell's VISTA-21iP alarm control panel, the change to 4G cellular alarm communications won't be so easy. The VISTA-21iP is a great security system because it has a built-in internet alarm communicator.

While internet alarm monitoring is fast and inexpensive, it is not as reliable or secure as cellular alarm communications. Therefore, the VISTA-GSM was available as a snap-on module to the VISTA-21iP to provide an integrated back up cellular communication path. For some reason, Honeywell's engineers did not design the new VISTA-GSM4G to be backwards compatible with existing VISTA-21iP security systems. Therefore, all people that have dual path alarm monitoring using a VISTA-21iP and the VISTA-GSM cellular communicator will have to replace both their VISTA-GSM communicator AND their VISTA-21iP alarm control panel if they want a system that is supported by the 3G/4G cellular network.


We are fully aware of the burden this will place on people looking to upgrade to the future of cellular communications and we will do everything we can to help those people that are left having to replace their system and their communicator. If you have a VISTA-21iP and you are wondering if it is compatible with the VISTA-GSM4G cellular add on, you will have to look at your VISTA-21iP circuit board. If there is a sticker that says "SUPPORTS VISTA-GSM/4G" then it is compatible. Without that sticker, your system will not accept a new VISTA-GSM4G. We are not sure of the exact date that Honeywell began manufacturing the new VISTA-21iP panels, and the model and revision number are the same, but we do know that it was sometime in November. Chances are, unless you got your VISTA-21iP from a reputable source in the past month or so, your system will not support the 4G cellular communicator.

Of course, here at Alarm Grid, we only ship brand new VISTA-21iP panels that have the sticker and do support the VISTA-GSM4G. If you have questions about upgrading your VISTA-21iP, please call us today.

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