SoundVision

The best home alarms have fingerprints

LEGALLY speaking, not just any company can nor should any company – install security, camera systems or even Nest doorbells.

Installation of security cameras seems relatively innocent? The best home alarms have fingerprints. For starters, you are inviting a stranger inside your home for a security survey. Of course we don’t run background checks and fingerprints on every contractor who enters our home but we aren’t asking them to assess risk at that point either. In addition homeowners are allowing someone access to view their homes, often interior and exterior with camera and security permissions. If not properly set, allowing a potential hacker access as well. Fire alarm and security monitoring are more serious. In the event of an emergency, not having expert installation could be catastrophic.

Licensing and why you should care

Fire and safety are categories of service that lend themselves to heavy liability and licensing requirements. These are LIFE SAFETY categories of service.  For example, if a small AV firm wanted to begin selling security systems and they were exercising a low voltage exemption by the state, they would not only need to be licensed by the North Carolina Alarm Systems Licensing Board but ALSO retain an actual Low Voltage license classification SP-AF-LV. Even an electrician currently licensed by the state to do electrical work is not automatically licensed to security oriented work.

Neither of which are relatively easy to obtain in a short amount of time. Requirements include relevant work experience certification, additional education, exams, verifiable references with notarized affidavits, background checks and meeting with an investigator all subject approval of the actual NC Alarm Systems Licensing Board during a hearing in Raleigh.

Read specifications for obtaining licensing here

In order to renew Michelle’s license, who works exclusively in the office and does not set one foot inside a client’s home, this was what was required:

  1. Completion of a 3 hour state approved CEU course (which included an exam)
  2. New fingerprints (every 2 years) at the Moorseville Police Department, which were more challenging to obtain than usual due to Covid19 restrictions this year. Not all police departments are doing fingerprints and for Mooresville Police, there was a significant delay in the scheduling.
  3. Finally, a background check.

This process occurs upon hire and then every 2 years afterwards for all employees. For this reason, we have to be very selective of potential staff members.

It is frustrating for us to see unlicensed contractors doing this work. In the event of catastrophe, homeowners (and their insurance companies) will wish they had hired a properly licensed and insured professional.  Be careful of who you let into your home. Click here to check if your contractor is licensed for security with the state.

Sony 4K Home Theater with a FullSwing Golf Simulator

This lakeside Denver, North Carolina project was a build to suit new construction home. SoundVision systems designer Zach Simpson brought in Cinema Tech for the theater design and FullSwing Golf Simulators. The theater features two projectors.  A Sony laser projector for the golf simulator and a Sony 4K projector for theater viewing. Martin Logan models used in the theater were ElectroMotion, Edge and Helos and two DYN800XD subs.  The theater was wired or a full 7.2.4 Atmos audio system.  A 130″ Screen Innovations motorized screen provides the viewing experience while the FullSwing Golf Simulator features it’s own dedicated screen. Our team enjoyed breaking in the golf simulator with the homeowner.

This home was designed as fully integrated Control4 panelized lighting system.  David Stevens of David Stevens Construction of Sherrill’s Ford, North Carolina was the builder for this home and was awesome to work with. Our homeowner was kind enough to offer a letter on our behalf to the CEDIA awards community for consideration in the event we wanted to pursue an award category.

In addition to the theater project, the home was also outfitted with an Araknis network, a full Luma surveillance system, 7 zones of audio and multiple Sony 4K TV displays throughout.

Learn more about Sony projectors:

https://www.sony.com/electronics/projector/vpl-vw695es 

Learn more about Martin Logan audio:

https://www.martinlogan.com/en/category/our-speakers

Learn more about Full Swing Golf:

https://www.fullswinggolf.com/

 

 

 

 

SoundVision Recognized as a Rising Star by CE PRO Magazine

SoundVision has been recognized as one of 9 “rising stars” across the United States by audio video industry publication, CE PRO. This included a financial review of SoundVision’s earnings and financial structure. This also included a review of internal processes during the interview with our CEO, Mark DiPietro.

Why would this matter to current and potential SoundVision clients?  Well, it speaks to integrity, planning and vision. How many fly by night companies are out there to make a quick buck and an even quicker departure?  Many will deliver the product at he lowest price and quick exit as quick as possible. IF they finish the project with no loose ends. In the future who does the client call for service? Most AV companies won’t service projects they didn’t design. Whereas, customer service is a critical component to our success with our service memberships.

Our team is staffed with seasoned professionals, who have experienced different roles in our industry and others as well. We have learned in some cases, the hard way – what NOT to do. Our team embraces active collaboration and we work extremely hard to make sure the client’s overall experience is our top priority. Further, we support vendors who support our clients. Examples of this include Control4, Lutron and the team from Snap AV who will involve their own resources and engineers when needed. We aren’t in this to make a quick buck and leave, neither should our vendors. We value these relationships and are very selective about whom we partner up with.

In short, we want to grow old with our clients.  Financial stability and consistent service nurture this. This recognition is in line with achieving our overall goal.

Read the entire article here from CE PRO http://digitaledition.cepro.com/publication/?m=59704&i=666645&p=48.

 

 

 

 

 

Cyber Security 2.0

These days, cyber security is on the forefront of our minds for a number of different reasons.  We wrote this article originally back in November of 2018, but wanted to “reboot” it as the topic of cyber security continues to rear it’s ugly head.

The cyber security concern extends to our businesses and has a global face, but it is less thought of in the way that maybe it should be MOST recognized, in our homes.  The security of our home network is PARAMOUNT to keeping our personal information safe.

Cyber security has the potential to affect our lives in ways we aren’t typically conscious of.  Let me give you an example.  There have been documented cases of hacking into networks, looking at folks medication and changing them.  Quite literally, some day, this will be a case that is brought before the courts.  Yes, it’s that scary.

The home network is the closest thing that we, as integrators, have that is necessary in your home.  You have to have electricity, plumbing and heating and air.  You do not have to have audio and video.  However, nowadays, a strong network is a must have for work, school and entertainment.  That network connects you to the outside world.  The problem is it connects the outside world to you too.

This all begs the question, “What should I be doing to make sure my family is safe?”  Herein lies the remainder of this blog post.

How is Your Cyber Health?

It seems that we’re seeing more and more “big data” breeches among major retailers and, with the holidays fast approaching and many of us shopping online, we need to be diligent to protect ourselves from cyber-crimes. Again, be smart and take every measure to ensure the security of your networks, both at home and in your business. If your infrastructure is outdated, make it a priority to upgrade now!

Password Check Up

What is your network password’s strength?  Clearly, this question is rhetorical, but it needs to be addressed.

It is critical to your network’s safety that you keep your passwords as strong as possible.  Using things like “buddy123” or “password” (that’s the actual worst btw) is just like inviting hackers in.

Even one step up in password, like your cell phone number, your favorite sports team, your kid’s names and the like are things hackers can easily find online.  These are not safe!

At SoundVision, we create passwords that are NEVER universal (meaning, we don’t use the same passwords for multiple homes), and conform to the latest in cryptography standards to ensure your network is safe!

How about updates

Another critical component to keeping your network safe is making sure all your network components, including your modem, router, switches, and access points are all kept up to date.

With the internet changing things at literally light speed, these updates come at regular intervals.  One of the biggest reason for the updates is to keep up with the latest encryption standards, which, in turn, keep hackers at bay.  Your internet service provider (ISP) takes care of the modem directly; however, someone has to be responsible for all the network components after the modem, which is where cyber security and hackers are focused.

Think of it like being the only home on a dark street that’s lit up at night.  Thieves are more likely to just go on to the next home, because it’s easier.  Having the latest security measures on your devices works the same way.

All the networks we deploy include commercial grade equipment and allow us the ability to manage them remotely, which give us the ability to help you when you need service without even coming to your home.  We can reboot devices, if needed, and even install the latest software updates remotely for you.  We can even see what your in home internet speed is, to make sure that you are getting what you pay for.  We are also notified if there are internet outages in your area.

All of this is accomplished through a safe and secure portal, protected by the encrypted password protocol mentioned above.

This is where our Service Memberships come in.  Depending on the level of service you choose, we can take all the hassle out of it for you.  We can manage everything for you and make sure your network is as safe and secure as it can be.  We also can guarantee same or next day service if there is a problem.

Give us a call at 704-696-2792 and we can set up a time to take a look at your set up.  We can recommend solutions ranging from additions to improve coverage to an entire new network that we can completely manage for you.

And look out for our upcoming YouTube videos for more on the subject of networking, WiFi and cyber security.

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!! – Non-Video Equipment

In our last post, we outlined the power of macros with the Control4 remote configuration. How they can make your life easier by doing some of the things you do every day (or night), all the time, and automate those same tasks.  We went over how, with the press of a button, many different devices can turn on or off.

Now, let’s elaborate a bit more, with respect to non-audio video equipment.  If you will take my word for it, there are a number of pages, like the one you see below, all activated by the previously discussed macro.

I don’t want to belabor the point; rather, I wanted to give you a glimpse into how many different things a single macro, or group of macros can do.  For example, see below….

This string comes in the programming right after the one we showed in our previous blog.  To take a look at that one, click here.

The above macro first checks to see if the garage doors are open, and if so, closes them.  As an aside, guys, how many times have you been in bed and your wife asks you if the garage doors are closed?  This fixes that request.  BTW, the app also shows you when the doors are opened or closed.  I’ve included a screen shot below to show you what this looks like.

Garage door opened and closed

 

Next, the macro tells the system to lock the Yale door lock on the basement door.  This is SUPER helpful once you are in bed, upstairs, and asked if the basement door is locked. There is another icon on the app confirming this as well.

The system then runs the bedtime lighting scene.  It turns off over 15 lights at this time, all at different times.

The system then waits 55 seconds (which is the rough time it takes us to get our things together to head upstairs to bed), and turns off the basement lights and ceiling fan.

After another 60 seconds of waiting, the system locks the Yale door lock in the Great Room and arms the Honeywell alarm system to Instant mode for bed.

Finally, after waiting another 46 seconds (about the time it takes us to get ready for bed), the system turns on the TV in the Owner’s Suite (my wife has to watch a show before she falls to sleep) and starts a 90 minute timer to turn the TV off in the event we fall asleep and forget.

Remember, a macro is only limited to our or your imagination! This truly shows the power of the automated or “smart” home.

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!! – The power of macros

Now that we know what a macro is, let me give you an example of how powerful a macro can be.

Below is a screen shot of a macro I use in our home every day.  The idea behind this macro is when we turn off the TV at night and are headed to bed (from between the hours of 8:30pm and 11pm on the weekdays and midnight on the weekends) the following sequence of events happens.  The reason I have chosen to have specific ending times, is I have recognized that if someone is up extra late, and other folks are sleeping, I don’t want lights or TVs coming on and waking them up.

Spoiler alert!!!  This one is VERY long and detailed.

The macro starts simply enough by turning off some audio / video devices.  This is a very common use of a macro (i.e. to turn off (or on) any number of devices from TVs to audio video receivers (AVRs) to anything you can think of).  After turning these off, things get a bit interesting.  You can see a lighting scene, called Intermission is activated.  What this does is slowly bring up the lights to a level that allows us to see and take up and dishes or glasses or else we might have (as the lights were probably off while we were watching a movie).  Yes, that would be another macro.

Macros also allow for you to select certain times they can be run.  Here, you see that if it’s between 7pm and 12:30am, ANOTHER macro (called a nested macro (which, in English means one macro inside another macro)) is run for the thermostats to go to specific “sleeping” temperatures.  After a few delays, another “nested macro” runs a Bedtime series of steps.

As an aside, you might be asking, why have a macro inside a macro?  Why not just list all the steps under one main macro.  The reason is, this way, you can change things associated with one and use it in different places or instances.  Let’s say I want the temperature to change when I go to bed and be executed EITHER when I press the off button on the TV remote OR when I press a button on a lighting keypad in our bedroom.  I can insert the same Temperature Night macro under both buttons.  Now, let’s say I want to change the temperature from, say 68 degrees to 70 degrees, every time I press either button.  I can change this in ONE place, the Temperature Night macro, and it will change the action when I turn off the TV or when I press the button on the lighting keypad.

This is one the first step in a long series of this one macro that we live with every day.  I will go more in depth, next time, showing you alarm arming, door locking, lighting changes, ceiling fans, TVs turning on and off, delayed lighting scenes and more.  For now, just remember that macros are intended to do anything action you normally do, over and over, and automate that action to happen how and when you want it to.

If you have any questions, give us a shot at 704-696-2792 or email me at [email protected]  We LOVE talking about this stuff!

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!! – Macros demystified

Over the past few days, I have been explaining some of the challenges we have regarding making your system more consistent and reliable so that it just works when you want it to.

I have tried to explain why sometimes remotes seem complicated and why, if not programmed correctly, using discrete codes, remotes will not function reliably.  These discrete codes were defined as independent commands for each function that you have (e.g. Power On and Power Off versus simply Power that toggles between on and off on each push).

There is another reason discrete codes are so important and that is because, with them, we can develop macros.  When we go to continuing education (yes, we do that), instructors tell us never to use the word “macro” around a customers.  The reason is, if you are not in the information technology (IT) field, it will just sound like a fancy word that means nothing to a customer.  And they are right.

However, macros are the secret to making the magic happen.  Ever wonder how ALL your equipment turns on, the input changes on the TV and your AVR (audio video receiver), the channel changes to your favorite or the movie starts playing with the touch of one button?  Of course you haven’t!  But, that’s a macro.

Simply put, a macro is a series of steps that are programmed in a particular sequence after a something else happens first.  The most common of these is after the Power On button is pressed.

Once this “trigger” happens, the system can process the event (pressing the Power On button) and then tell other components to turn on, go to particular  inputs, change channels, dim the lights, lower the shades, change the volume or any other host of things you might want to happen.  The amount of things that can happen are infinite and only limited by your imagination.

This is another reason that discrete codes are SO important.  Think about it, one series of events can happen when the Power On button is pressed and another series of events can happen when the Power Off button is pressed.  Macros are not limited to power commands either.  They can be “triggered” by any button press, time event (think dawn or dusk or midnight or when you wake up), motion from security sensors, doors opening or closing, and the list goes on and on.  Essentially, anything that is tied to your system’s brain, can trigger anything else tied to the system.

This is one reason why, at SoundVision, we implemented the 30 day “live in” program.  We will, AT NO CHARGE, come back out to your home and make programming changes and RE-TRAIN YOUR FAMILY.  This give you the opportunity to live with the system for a period of time and actually figure out what you would like these magical macros to do.  

Next time, I’ll elaborate a bit more on macros and actually show you some from our projects that will give you some ideas on how we can make your home or place of business smarter.  It’s just another way we are trying to Simplify Your Life Through Technology.

If you have ANY questions, or want more information, please feel free to reach out at [email protected] or give us a call at 704-696-2792.  We are here and happy to talk with you.

 

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!! Switching sources

Last time we talked about why remotes seem to be so difficult.  We said that, if not designed correctly in a system that incorporates equipment that is new enough to have “discrete” codes, telling the remote if the TV, or any other piece of equipment, is on or off, for example, could create a big problem.

The second biggest PITA (pain in the -_- (you know)), is changing from one source to another.  Let’s say you are watching your Spectrum cable box and you want to switch to Apple TV (or Roku, a Sony Blu-Ray player, an Amazon Firestick, or any other source you can think of).  How do you do that?

To further complicate matters, there are three words used by manufacturers to make this happen.  Some call it a “Source” button, some “TV/Video” and still others “Input.”  Regardless, what this means is the ability to switch from one source of content to another.

Much like we said in the last blog post regarding the importance of having a true POWER ON and POWER OFF command, having direct access to EACH input is what’s important.  Whether you have a television or an audio video receiver (AVR), being able to access Input 1 versus Input 4 (or TV / Sat versus Blu-Ray, for example on an AVR) is critical so everything works smoothly.

We are back to our old friend, the “discrete code.”  The products we recommend and use, all have codes for EACH INDIVIDUAL INPUT so that we can access them quickly, directly, and consistently EVERY TIME.  This makes your experience consistent and reliable.  What’s great is that, regardless of the brand of equipment used, we can mix and match so that when you press the WATCH ROKU button, everything happens behind the scenes in a “macro” (more on that word next time),  and you get to watch and hear your Roku player.

Oh, yeah, we subscribe to the Watch and Listen nomenclature.  This means, on the remotes we work with, most notably the Control 4 SR260 and Control 4 OS3 app, when you want to “watch” something you press the “Watch” button and when you want to “listen” to something, you press the “Listen” button.  The main difference being, if you listen to something, we typically don’t turn on the TV.

So, now you get the jist of why these discrete codes are so important.  Next time, we will show you a little behind the scenes trick on how we do a bunch of things in succession and further cement why these codes are so important.  We will enter the world of macros….  Next time….

In the meantime, if you have a question, give us a call at 704-696-2792 or email us at [email protected]

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!!

Have a remote like this one? It’s crazy, right. Too many buttons, to hard to read.

Quick question, how do you turn on the TV? Stumped, don’t feel bad. I was too.

We hear all to often that today’s audio video systems are just to hard to use and the remotes are even worse.

The thing to remember is that the remote and the equipment are, like I said before, a SYSTEM. For them to work in concert, they have to be able to “talk” to one another.

Simply put, the remote needs to know what “state,” on or off, the system is. This is the first problem. With older equipment, and even some of today’s cable boxes, there is no way for the remote to know if they are on or off.

That’s because they don’t use “discrete” codes. Now, that’s a fancy way of saying, either on or off. Meaning, you could press the power on 100 times and it would never turn the TV off; conversely, you could press the power off command 100 times and the TV would never turn on. Now we are getting somewhere!

Quick, look at the remote above. You only see a POWER button, NOT a power on and power off button. Even the system on / off does not know whether the components are on or off. And, therein lies the problem.

Without knowing for sure if the TV is on or off, the remote doesn’t know what command to send when you push the power button. Worse yet, some older TVs internally don’t even have a power on and power off command. Whew, that’s a lot to take in.

One of the things we do when we program all our remotes is to make sure that the equipment we are working with always has these “discrete” codes so our systems work all the time. In fact, if we work with a client that has older equipment, we check to make sure it works. Otherwise, we tell them that they need to have newer equipment so their system will work consistently and efficiently ALL THE TIME, EVERY TIME!

And all this is just for power. Wait til I tell you how we take charge of multiple services, like cable TV, DirecTV, Dish Network, Apple TV, Roku, and any other video source you can think of. We can even cut the cord.

But that’s for next time….Until then, check is out on Instagram at soundvisionllc

Captivate Your Audience with Digital Signage

What does your potential new client or all-star candidate see when they enter your lobby? Imagine presenting them with a stunning videowall that conveys your brand, piques their interest or entices them to interact! Make an impact by greeting them with a digital signage display, dynamic video wall or interactive wayfinding display. You’ll be setting your brand apart from the competition! And you’re just getting started…

The Dynamic Digital Marketplace

With its ever-changing content that can hold the interest of viewers, digital signage plays a very important part in digital marketing whether a corporate environment, retail store, educational institution or healthcare facility. Static signage is a “one and done” experience for the viewer, whereas constantly changing content on a display keeps viewers engaged longer and decreases perceived wait times.

What is Digital Signage?

There are two basic elements of a successful digital signage application; hardware and software. The hardware component, which may be a projection system or, more commonly, a display such as an OLED or Direct View LED, and a Media Player. The software provides the platform for the content. On more sophisticated deployments there may be sensors that provide metrics on content engagement or Bluetooth connectivity for a more interactive experience.

The display is a critical component of a digital signage application. The display needs to be large enough for viewers to comfortably view the content and bright enough to overcome the light levels in the space. Since the typical digital signage display is in use an average of 12 hours a day (with some commercial applications requiring 24×7 uptime), consumer TV’s should not be used as they are not rated or warranted for this type of application.

Digital signage players provide a way to show dynamic video content. A player can show multiple video “windows” on the screen that translates into multiple messaging (or advertising!) opportunities. Additionally, they can receive real-time streams from weather channels, stock markets, traffic reports and more. As a signage system designer, we will work with you to understand the type of content you need and the software you use to provide the best signage player for your applications.

Sony created a great resource on digital signage. Check out “A Handbook on digital signage.”

Content, Content, Content

Captivating content is key to attracting viewers. It is recommended that new signage deployments not rely on basic applications such as “power point” or a built-in picture player that may be included with the display. Content delivered in this manner is stagnant and viewers do not stay engaged. Instead, content software allows you to take full advantage of the media player, while providing real time tools for announcements and other “ad-hoc” content applications.

The pros at SoundVision can help navigate the various applications and display choices and determine what you need to effectively communicate your message to your customers, students, parishioners, patients or staff. Call us today and let’s get started!

SERVICE

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