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URGENT: Network security issue impacting all Wi-Fi enabled devices

Security researchers have recently published a wireless exploit titled “Key Reinstallation Attacks” (abbreviated as KRACK), indicating users of any wireless device currently face a severe security risk.

This vulnerability affects any device that uses the Wireless Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security mechanism. WPA2 is currently the industry’s most popular and recommended security standard for 802.11 wireless networks.

In some cases, this vulnerability may allow an attacker to manipulate data on a Wi-Fi network, or inject new data. This means hackers could steal user passwords and financial data, or even manipulate commands to wire money to themselves.

Please note: an attacker needs to be physically in range of a target Wi-Fi network to carry out the attacks.

To prevent possible attacks, you must update affected devices as soon as security updates become available.

To reiterate, every Wi-Fi device is affected by this vulnerability. This includes end-user devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops; as well as IoT products like smart thermostats, fridges, locks, etc.

If you are concerned about the KRACK wireless exploit, please note that it affects your mobile devices and IoT devices on any network you connect to. You should use wireless networks with caution until each device manufacturer issues an update and it has been applied.

Therefore, you should take these defensive steps:

  1. Update your personal devices to latest firmware as soon as it becomes available.
  2. Make sure your frequently visited sites (e.g. Facebook) and financial services websites (e.g. banks) show a lock on the browser tab to indicate a secure connection.
  3. Be aware of who is using your Wi-Fi network since any potential attack must be issued within physical range of the network.

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What you need to know about Furniture for Wire Management and AV Storage

Control Room Statesville NCHome A/V Control BoxTechnology is sleek and elegant. Some elements are meant to be seen; touch panels, exquisitely framed displays, speakers that are as jaw-droppingly gorgeous as they sound. And then there’s the behind-the-scenes components; the receivers, amplifiers, switchers…all the things with the blinky lights that you either showcase or hide away. Either way, they all live somewhere and that somewhere has requirements.

Technology systems are comprised of various electronic components that require power and inherently produce heat. Like your laptop or other electronic devices, they need proper ventilation for optimal and reliable performance. Not all furniture is suitable to house electronics.

Choices for housing audio video gear are numerous and offer sleek solutions for managing cables, providing air-flow and allowing IR signal visibility when required. Regardless of whether your components are stored in a dedicated equipment rack in a storage closet or in a highly visible media center or credenza in-room, purpose-built AV furniture will provide these features.

The Rack

AV equipment racks are available in various heights, measured in rack spaces or units, depending on the requirement of the components.  They can be installed on swing-out mounts, inside of a media cabinet or placed on casters for ease of accessibility when servicing. For extensive systems, multiple racks may be needed. Racks can be placed in the room or located in an off-area such as a centrally located, climate-controlled closet. Some installations will require forced ventilation through the use of thermostatic rack fans that will draw heat from the gear.  When gear is stored in an enclosed unit, it is imperative that air be allowed to flow so that the heat can dissipate.

Wireless does not equal cord-free 

The beauty of integrated systems is, well, the integration; all the systems “talking” to each other.  Talking equals connectivity and connectivity equals cabling and cords, including wireless solutions. While wireless gear and speakers offer elegant, wire-free signal, electronics still require power. AV furniture provides access to the components as well as rails or channels for tidy wire management.

Once the cabling leaves the rack or unit, the best path for wire runs needs to be determined, along with factoring in the length of the run and calculating conduit specifications.  This is where we shine. We’ve got the tools and know-how to get cables from point A to Point B with minimal impact while factoring in future demands and incorporating the unattractive wires into an aesthetically pleasing (or invisible) design).

Depth is also a consideration when placing components. In addition to allowing some space for airflow, connecters and cables add to the depth required for the back of the gear.  At a minimum, plan for a depth of 20”. Knobs and control access are also a factor for various reasons. First, units with doors need suitable clearance to close properly and second, if the system is IR-controlled, a clear line-of-sight must be established otherwise an IR distribution system will be required.

Gaming consoles and media storage present additional considerations. Game consoles give off considerably more heat than AV equipment and, while gaming consoles are RF (radio frequency which does not require line of sight) allowing for entertainment unit doors to remain closed, gamers still need convenient access to the unit to charge their controllers.  And even though it seems the thing to do, Media should be stored separately from electronic equipment so the heat does not affect the digital content.

Customization and communication

While audio/video racks and entertainment units are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, custom units are frequently sought. Some embrace the high-tech electronics and incorporate the sophisticated gear into the room’s design through custom-framed racks that face the interior. We love this approach but advise that they be installed at the back of room so as not to be a distraction while viewing an LED display or projection screen.  Another popular solution is that of the “floating” shelves or enclosed media unit. For any of your custom work, we can provide you or your interior design professional with detailed drawings and/or dimensions for millwork. We will also communicate with your electrician or other trade where power drops need to be located.

The Form vs. Function Battle is Over

Today’s purpose-built AV furniture – credenzas, entertainment centers and glass étagères -will offer proper ventilation, accessibility to components and elegant wire management.  We’ll determine the space requirements and share with you and your designer a variety of elegant choices or, when a custom solution is desired, provide the details needed to create the perfect solution for your home or office technology.

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Feature-Rich and Worry 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 up to date of 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 cleaning components in the equipment rack, go a long way in preventing equipment from overheating. And then there’s the not-so-fun stuff like changing the batteries in the smoke detectors of your 10’ or 20’ soaring ceilings. Part 2 of our annual Tech-Up addresses the advantages in having a preventative maintenance plan.  With either our Pro Service or Pro Care plans, we will come out and take care of any of these items.  Our plans include unlimited service with just the cost of a $35 trip charge.  Whether we are there for one hour or one day, that’s all you pay with one of our service plans.

Proper digital health requires a regular checkup and some TLC

While everything 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 for years to come, we offer our Pro Care Plan. The Plan is available in 2 tiers of service to proactively monitor and maintain your systems. Each tier features extraordinary “Bumper to Bumper” Protection with varying years of coverage, allowing you to select the plan that fits your needs and budget.  The beauty of our plans are that the labor is ALWAYS covered.  You simply pay a $35 trip charge.  That’s it.  The difference in Pro Service and Pro Care is your equipment.  If you want to make sure your equipment is completely covered over the life of the plan (Pro Care comes in 3-year and 5-year flavors), we can do that too!

We understand that from time-to-time, equipment will fail. Our goal is zero system downtime and 100% client satisfaction. That’s why our plans offer preventative care and remote features including unlimited remote resets of your gear and proactive service with direct access to the network and key equipment.

A Healthy Network makes a Happy Home

A maintenance visit with a Pro Care plan includes:

  • Thorough check of all systems. We will turn on, test and put each system through its complete operation to ensure it is fully functioning and operational.
  • Firmware and software updates for all system components.
  • Change out batteries on any devices that require them.
  • Check all remote control systems to ensure proper operations. Any MINOR programming issues will be addressed.

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 with any questions or to schedule your maintenance visit today!

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It’s Time for a Tech-up!

 

The transition to fall brings many changes; Our beautiful Lake Norman, framed in autumn splendor, mums everywhere, mild temps that have us rushing outdoors to enjoy fall festivals and pumpkin patches along with the onslaught of pumpkin-flavored everythings…and the slew of marketing messages stuffed into your bills suggesting it’s time to review all of your insurance policies!  Just like your homeowner’s, auto and health insurance policies are affected by the change in seasons and life stages, your home’s technology systems may benefit from an annual assessment too.

Imagine all of the devices connected to your personal “internet of things.” Which of those devices have been added since your network was initially set-up? And of those new devices, how many were added to your home media system? A network upgrade may yield a remarkable difference in your system’s performance.  Are you getting optimal image and sound quality? And how are they controlled? Some minor programming tweaks could go a long way in how your family uses and enjoys your home’s technology.

To Your (System’s) Health!

As a CEDIA professional, we recommend an annual “tech-up”, a comprehensive assessment of your home’s technology systems to ensure your system’s “health.” It’s also a chance to gauge how happy you are with it and what it provides.  We all know how time flies and, in “tech” years, that’s “amplified” even more. Whether it’s been a year, or 3 or 5 since your system was installed, chances are you’re not taking advantage of all it has to offer.

Let’s Talk Tech

Let’s set aside an hour to simply sit down and talk about how you use your home’s systems. We’ll talk through all of your technology questions; what can my new Apple watch do? How do I set up Alexa to control my automated shades and lighting with voice commands? Is my media room 4K ready? How do I integrate CDs onto a new platform? Can my new gaming console be integrated onto my remote control so I can stream movies? Are there any new security features available for my system?

There’s nothing we love more than to talk tech! Let’s get all your questions answered….maybe even some you hadn’t thought of! We’ll explore your existing system demands and we’ll determine if there are any upgrades available to maximize performance or add features. We can also address anything you’re currently wanting to add or change and, together, develop a strategy for implementing NextGen technologies.

It’s an exciting time in home automation. Systems are integrating more elegantly and efficiently than ever before and voice commands are at the center of it all. Art and technology are truly fusing to create innovative, sophisticated forms of concealment while google and Apple continue to influence everything that touches tech. No doubt we’ve got lots to talk about!

Make a Note!

Like prepping for any valuable appointment, as your technologist we recommend you start of list of things you’d like to discuss during our visit so that we get the full picture of your technology needs. Do a quick walk-through and think about how adding or tweaking a feature could be beneficial. Write down your questions, what you’ve added to your system and what you want to add!

Your home’s technology is a part of your everyday life and we appreciate you entrusting us with its care. Please know we’re here to answer your technology questions and help you make the most out of your systems, now and for years to come. We welcome the opportunity to reconnect and share with you the latest in smart home technology. Call now and schedule your annual Tech-up!

And be sure to check back soon. We’ll discuss optimizing your system’s health through a comprehensive preventative maintenance program that takes the worries out of everything from changing batteries in the smoke detector to checking for firmware updates. Stay tuned!

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Cleanse your home of wall acne

It’s time for the glow up.

There is nothing more uninviting than walking into your home and being greeted by a hodge-podge of wall plates, switches and interfaces – all of varying colors, shapes and sizes. This “wall acne” is a thorn in any designer’s side; thankfully, innovations in home automation technology have brought sleek, stylish and sophisticated back to your walls.

This new, design-forward approach brings all of your technology together, to reflect the modern, minimalist style that is so popular.

Imagine combining your wall of switches, buttons and gears by the garage door into one seamless keypad. Forget having a separate thermostat, light switches, security system and garage door opener – all of these can become one inclusive, seamless keypad – flush with the wall.

Improve your energy efficiency by automatically adjusting the temperature and lighting to the season or movement in the room from the same interface you’d use to change the song on your entertainment system.

It’s time to recruit your home automation designers to customize the right system for you and clear up your acne to get those clear, smooth walls you’ve always dreamed of.

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Home Theater Dreams

White puffy clouds have their place in design, but imagine that fanciful daytime scene transitioning boldy into a dramatic moonlit night or raging lightning-filled sky, accented by black light and fiber optics! Introducing Muralusions by Curtis Stokes.

As an innovative technology solutions provider, SoundVision strives to provide best-in-class solutions and services to our clients and surely, the artwork of Stokes fits that profile. Having produced artwork for Hollywood and Vegas celebrities including Steven Spielberg and Paris Hilton, Stokes is passionate about his work and has been honing his craft since the age of four. Through a process he developed himself, he can transform a ceiling masterpiece from day to night with the flip of a switch (or touch of an integrated touchpanel!).

Designs are not limited to celestial anomalies but are as wondrous as your imagination. From a tropical paradise to adventurous safari, the sky is truly the limit!

But seeing is truly believing. Check out the video and explore his work. We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with Curtis and offer SoundVision clients this amazing level of elegance, sophistication and jaw-dropping awe to feature in their home!