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The Weekly Roundup 11.27 Edition

by Cassie November 25, 2015


Facebook Will Use Safety Check for More Human Disasters

Facebook activated its Safety Check feature for a human disaster for the first time following the Paris attacks. Previously, Safety Check had only been used for natural disasters around the world. Safety Check allows a user who is in the affected area to send a notification to their Facebook friends that they are safe. Over 4 million people used safety check to notify their friends they were safe during the recent Paris attacks. Some scrutinized the fact that Facebook did not allow Safety Check for the Beirut bombings that took place. Facebook responded that they saw a lot of Facebook activity around the Paris attacks and felt that it was important to activate the Safety Check. Still, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to use Safety Check for “more human disasters going forward.”

For the full story on, click here.

Gmail Will Soon Alert Users About Unencrypted Emails

With leaked emails and email security breaches constantly making headlines, the security of your internet mail account has never been more important. Google understands the need to protect users and has introduced a new alert to Gmail to help reduce security threats. The alert pops up when you receive messages from unencrypted sources. A study that Google conducted with the help of the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois showed that inbound encryption is on the rise and more and more receiving domains are also supporting encryption. This is important, because it makes messages users send and receive much more difficult to decipher. Unfortunately there are still those on the internet that are working to undermine encryption. Google is continuing to work with researchers to safeguard against these cyber attackers.

For the full story on, click here.

Security Concerns About Wi-Fi Enabled Barbie

Hello Barbie, a Wi-Fi enabled doll, is raising concerns in the security community. The doll records and saves conversations it has with children. The voice data that the doll saves can potentially be used for research and data purposes, and it can be shared with third parties. Not only does the doll record conversations it has with the child, however, it can also record conversations that are happening in the background. Additionally, conversations your child has with Hello Barbie may not stay confidential and could potentially be monetized in the future.

For the full story on, click here. 

Robots May Be Taking Your Job

The threat of new technology taking jobs from workers is no new fear, but this time could be different. The chief economist for the Bank of England describes 80 million jobs in the U.S. as potentially automatable. Again, this is no new revelation. However, when we consider advances in current automated technologies, it is easy to see how automation is slowly defining more and more of the services we use. While autonomous vehicles are not currently the norm, we can expect a significant amount of the vehicles on the road to be autonomous in the next 20 years. As always with technology taking jobs, those who are in unskilled positions are going to be the most affected. Ultimately, with the adoption of more and more new technologies, we must remain cognizant of the impact it will have on our economy.

For the full story on, click here.

My Alarm Center Executives to Sleep Out to Support Homeless Youth

by Cassie November 18, 2015

Amy Kothari

President and CEO

As the President and Chief Executive Officer of My Alarm Center, Ms. Kothari plays a pivotal role in shaping the overall direction of the organization. As a result, she received the Women’s Security Council 2012 Women of the Year Award for the Dealer category and was awarded the 2014 SmartCEO Brava! Award recognizing the top female CEO’s in the Philadelphia region.

  1. What attracted you to participate in the Covenant House Executive Sleep Out?
    We learned about this event from our friends at Toll Bros and after doing some research, we were impressed with the real impact that Covenant House has had on our homeless youth. The impact is both deep and broad – Covenant House has made such a difference in so many of the individual lives that it touches and has touched so many lives across our region. My Alarm Center’s home security business is focused on protecting homes and the families that live in them, but there are so many young people who don’t even have a home or a family and have very little chance of a future. We are incredibly honored to be able to contribute in this meaningful way.
  2. What are you hoping to gain from this experience?
    My goal is to help heighten the awareness of the reality of this situation and be able to make a difference in some of their lives. I have 3 teenagers of my own who are very aware of how fortunate they are to have a home and loving family. I am looking forward to learning more about how I can support our homeless youth and help them to realize some of their dreams and the potential that is in all of them.
  3. What other causes do you support?
    As an organization, we have been involved in a number of local and national causes such as Susan G. Komen, the MS Society, National Association of Women Business Owners, and the Special Olympics.

 Personally, I am a very active member of the Philadelphia chapter of Impact 100, which is an organization that unites women in a common philanthropic effort to make a difference in our community through many charitable initiatives focused on family, education, health & wellness, environment and local arts & culture.


Anastasia Bottos

COO and Chief Strategy Officer
In her role at My Alarm Center, Ms. Bottos oversees Field Operations, the Customer Solutions Center, and Acquisitions. She was awarded the 2014 SmartCEO Executive Management Award for demonstrating outstanding leadership and crafting and executing innovative strategies. She was also recognized by Security Systems News as a member of the “20 under 40” Class of 2012.

  1. What attracted you to participate in the Covenant House Executive Sleep Out?
    This event not only raises substantial funds for Covenant House, but it helps build awareness of the difficult situations far too many children in our communities face. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. I’ve always been a supporter of non-profits/funds that focus on the wellbeing and education of our youth. I believe youth in our communities deserve to have access to opportunities and, at a minimum, basic care and shelter, so these programs like Covenant House are important to me.
  2. What are you hoping to gain from this experience?
    I am very much looking forward to meeting and talking to some of the youth this fundraising will benefit. I am sure hearing about their hopes and aspirations for the future will truly be inspiring.
  3. What other causes do you support?
    There are about a half dozen nonprofit groups I regularly support, but most recently I started a scholarship fund at Drexel University, a portion of which will be rewarded to students each year who have demonstrated a commitment to their education, community service and have a financial need.


Kelly Bond

SVP Business Development
In her role as Senior Vice President of Business Development for My Alarm Center, Ms. Bond is responsible for increasing sales through acquisitions and driving the overall business-to-business development strategy for the company. In 2014, the Women’s Security Council recognized her career accomplishments by naming her an Honoree of their Women of the Year awards.

  1. What attracted you to participate in the Covenant House Executive Sleep Out?
    I’ve supported this organization in the past but, after researching the organization online, I felt there was more that I could do. Covenant House supports kids who have no family to call on or little to no support at all, which is something that I personally cannot imagine. These kids truly found a savior in Covenant House, not just as a place to sleep, but as a true support system that is equipping them for life. Bringing continued awareness and giving these young people a face and a voice has become very important to me.
  2. What are you hoping to gain from this experience?
    I want to really understand all of the elements of how organizations like Covenant House are able to provide resources for the people staying there and how I may be able to share some of this in my own community.
  3. What other causes do you support?
    I have two other causes that I consistently support: Mission 500 and Stella’s Voice.

    1. Mission 500 is a strictly non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of children and communities in crisis.
    2. Stella’s House is a home for orphan girls who have been aged out of state-run facilities, and who are prime targets for sex traffickers and those who want to trap them in modern slavery.

The Weekly Roundup 11.6 Edition

by Cassie November 6, 2015


My Alarm Center Weekly Round Up Logo

How to Make Your Facebook Profile Secure

Facebook is a great platform to share what’s going on in your life with your friends and family members. But it’s important to make sure that information does not fall into the wrong hands. There are certain measures you should take to ensure that your Facebook account is safe and secure and can not be viewed by strangers. Next time you’re on Facebook click on “Who can see my stuff?” and then “What do other people see on my Timeline?” With this feature you can see how your profile looks to friends, friends of friends, and the public. Additionally, you can limit what people see, restrict who can befriend you, and limit who can search for you. With the ever increasing number of privacy breeches online, it is in your best interest to make sure that your social media profiles are protected.

For more information on , click here

This is How Passwords get Hacked

If your password is the same for every site you log into, now is the time to make a change. Hackers crack passwords by creating codes that try multiple different username and password combinations until they get a match. These codes are typically aimed at sites, like online forums, that have lower security and are therefore easier to crack. If you use the same password on one of these lower security sites that you use on your online banking account, your financial information could be at risk. An easy way to differentiate your passwords with minimal effort is by adding symbols to replace letters, placing numbers after letters or by changing the capitalization. Another way to switch up passwords while still keeping track of them is to use a password manager. Password variation is crucial to security.

For more information on, click here.

Safety Tips for Using Uber

Uber has grown rapidly in popularity in cities across the world. By downloading the app, users can connect with a driver and request a ride any time of day. While Uber has come to rival the taxi industry, the safety of getting a ride from a stranger has been called into question. To remain safe while using the popular app, there are certain precautions that every Uber user should take. First, verify the identity of the driver and the car before you get in. The app provides the driver’s info, a picture of the car, and their rating. Make sure you have the correct driver and vehicle before getting inside. Another safety tip is to wait inside for your ride to come. This will give you time to verify that you have the correct driver and that you are not in any danger entering the vehicle.

For more information on, click here. 

The Banking Industry and Online Fraud Protection

A 2015 IT Security Risks Survey found that a third of banks did not provide secure channels for their online payments. This is troublesome because the same survey found that over 50% of banks believe that fraudulent activity online is on the rise. With online and mobile banking becoming the preferred method of banking for millennials, it is important that banks take online threats seriously. Unfortunately, many banks feel that prevention is more expensive than reacting to individual incidents. This approach may have worked in the past, but with the future of banking heading towards being exclusively online, it is important for financial services to take steps to combat online fraud as opposed to merely mitigating risk.

For more information on, click here.

Home Security Checklist

by Cassie August 17, 2015

Home Security Checklist

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The Weekly Roundup 6.12 Edition

by Cassie June 12, 2015


Apple Recalls Beats Pill XL Speakers Over Fire Risk

These “Beats” are so hot, they are literally on fire! This week Apple recalled their product, Beats Pill XL Speakers, over a potential fire risk. Although the recall is voluntary, Apple is urging customers to return the product due to a rare malfunction that can result in the battery of the device heating to the point of explosion. Although this product was rated highly at the time of its release, holding on to the popular Bluetooth speakers is not worth the risk. A $325 dollar refund for the speakers is certainly preferable to a battery explosion and an ensuing house fire. For the original article in the, click here


Get Healthy: Keep Safety In Mind At Home and At Play

June is National Safety Month. Do your part by following these simple and easy to remember tips:

  • Check your smoke detectors to ensure the batteries are working; replace them regularly.
  • Test your fire extinguishers a few times a year to make sure they are working.
  • Avoid slips, trips and falls by putting a non-slip strip in the tub, shower or on the floor.
  • Make sure to keep poisons and chemicals in their own separate storage area.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear to keep safe when engaging in physical activities.

For the original article in, click here


Protect Your Home From Burglaries and Theft This Summer

It’s summertime, which means BBQs and pool parties are at their peak. Unfortunately, so are burglaries. Take care and follow this advice to protect your home during the next few months:

  • Keep your doors and windows locked at all times
  • Slow burglars down by using specialty locks
  • Lock and label large items, especially in your garage
  • Light areas around your house
  • Be aware of neighborhood activity and join the Neighborhood Watch

For the original article in the Tennessean, click here


Wireless Charging Over Wi-Fi Could Be on the Horizon

Say goodbye to cables; researchers at the University of Washington have successfully tested Wi-Fi charging. With the continued rise of smart products, there has become a real need for a more elegant charging solution. Researchers hope to give us a lasting answer to our tethered charging troubles, but they still have a ways to go. Currently, power output limits on wireless routers are the main obstacles to the widespread adoption of this Wi-Fi charging method. This means that the routers in our home are, at present, prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission from outputting enough energy for Wi-Fi charging to be successful. Still, we can be optimistic about what this new development in technology means for electronic charging in the future. For the original article in Mashable, click here


The Not-so-Hidden Dangers of Sun Exposure

by Cassie June 11, 2015

My Alarm Center warns you of sun exposure.

It’s soon to be summertime and the flowers are in bloom, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. The days are longer. It smells good. It’s warm. And you want to spend every waking moment outside.

Us, too. Actually, hold that thought. Now that you mention it… be right back!

Kidding, kidding. But the point is, we get it. After a frigid, icy winter, it’s only natural that you’d want to enjoy warm afternoons in the sun.

But here’s the deal: that warm sun can be an evil little siren, luring us despite obvious dangers. Yes, the sun can be dangerous – and we’re not just talking sunburn. (Although there’s definitely that, too.)

The good news is, these not-so-hidden dangers are just that: unhidden. You can see and feel them; you know when they’re happening. And you can also take measures to prevent every, single one.



We’ve all suffered from sunburned skin. It’s red; it’s painful. The mere brush of clothing is enough to unleash hundreds of red-hot needles on your skin.

Sunburn hurts, but the hurt is just temporary – right? Not quite. Yes, the reddened skin and discomfort will pass in a few days, but there are also long-lasting effects of sunburn. Take this statistic, for instance: Just one, blistering childhood or adolescent sunburn more than doubles your risk for melanoma. That’s right, one bad sunburn can equate to a 200% increased risk of skin cancer. Cover up and protect yourself.

Sun Poisoning

Think of sun poisoning as sunburn’s evil stepmother. Though many think of sun poisoning as just bad sunburn, in reality its symptoms can be much more severe, and include: fever, nausea, chills, dizziness, headache, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, dehydration, shock/confusion, faintness and/or loss of consciousness, severe blistering, and facial swelling. And like sunburn, sun poisoning increases your risk of melanoma.


Dehydration is a common but incredibly dangerous risk of sun exposure. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the easiest to ignore: thirst, which is the first sign of dehydration, is common when you’re under the sun. But sun-lovers beware: dehydration is life-threatening, if left untreated.

You should always try to avoid dehydration – drink plenty of fluids, reserve physical activity for cooler times of day, consume electrolytes – but you should also be aware of dehydration symptoms: intense thirst, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, dry mouth, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing. Children may also suffer listlessness, high fever, irritability, and a sunken abdomen, cheeks, or eyes. If you suspect dehydration, see a doctor immediately.

Heat Stroke

Like dehydration, heat stroke – the body’s inability to cool itself – is life threatening. Again like dehydration, the symptoms of heat stroke are physical and easy to identify, giving you time to react adequately by cooling your body and seeking medical help. Symptoms of heat stroke include headache, dizziness, agitation, confusion, fatigue, seizure, loss of consciousness, fever or high temperature, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, and hot, dry skin that doesn’t sweat.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer, including the very-fatal melanoma, is the most prevalent form of cancer in the United States. The best thing you can do to lower your risk? Protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays, with sunblock, UVA/UVB sunglasses, and clothes and cosmetics with UV protection.

Pass the sunscreen! (Minimum 30SPF, always.)

The Weekly Roundup 5.15 Edition

by Cassie May 15, 2015



Home Security Goes Hi-Tech With Lighting Features

Your home is your castle, but is it safe from home invasions? Online community forums are abuzz with three simple steps homeowners can take to enhance their home security:

  1. Install proper lighting. To a burglar, a dark house is an easy target. Keep yours illuminated at all the right times – even when you’re not home. High tech lighting packages cost less than $100.
  2. Get to know your neighbors! Perhaps you pass each other like ships in the night, but by joining private social networks like, you communicate with your neighbors anytime, anywhere.
  3. Contact your local police station. Some counties offer their residents “house watch” programs; special visits by law enforcement to check out their homes and report anything that may look suspicious.

For the original article in WKMG Local 6, click here


Fact Or Fiction: Home Security Myths

1. Security bars and deadbolts can turn thieves away

When properly installed and used in combination, security bars and deadbolts make it 10x harder – and much too risky – for burglars to break in.

2. Thieves can lift your sliding door to get into your house

Bye-bye broomstick. That old trick in the door track to block the slide, just doesn’t work anymore. Without the use of a “Charlie bar,” burglars can simply lift the

door and rock it open.

3. Using nails or window locks will prevent a burglar from opening a window

This method not only doesn’t work, but it could jeopardize the safety of people who may be inside the home.

For the original article in, click here



What Home Automation Systems Can You Buy Now?

The answer is, plenty! The home automation market is exploding with choices and options. Here are some best-selling, affordable new apps you may want to consider.

For $199, the Sonos phone/app system, provides users complete control over everything they want to do: turn on the TV, listen to music, dim the lights, adjust the fan, and more.

The Chamberlain my-Q garage control is $129 and allows users to open and close garage doors from anywhere with the click of an app on the phone.

For $219, Kevo, you can unlock your doors through your phone or a key fob, with just one touch.

For the original article in CBS, click here


8 Clever Uses for Your Old Tablet

Tablets haven’t been around long, but chances are you will upgrade, if you haven’t done so already. Before you decide to sell or dispose of your old tablet, check out these cool things you can do with it:

  1. Art display
  2. Skype Interface
  3. Remote computer monitor
  4. Home security camera
  5. Alarm clock
  6. Radio player
  7. Mirror
  8. Digital Picture Frame

For the original article in, click here

The Weekly Roundup 5.8 Edition

by Cassie May 8, 2015




Internet of Things: Innovations for a Smarter Kitchen

As the world continues to evolve technologically, so do our homes. Developers spend much of their time optimizing the heart of our homes – the kitchen. If a “smart kitchen” is the room of your dreams, you’re in luck. Watch for these inventive products coming to retail stores soon:

  1. SmartyPans: Smart cooking pans that monitor temperature, humidity, and weights of ingredients.
  2. Vessyl: Smart beverage containers that track calorie consumption and provide nutritional information.
  3. Countertop: An app that connects with other appliances to suggest culinary concoctions like tasty smoothies for your Vitamix, or gourmet recipes for your Crock-Pot. This app is always cooking up great ideas!

For the original article in CEA Blog, click here

Home Automation Development Board Unveiled By GarageLab

If you’re a fan of Kickstarter and home automation, here’s a perfect concept product for you: Automation Board. Specifically designed to support the popular Arduino platform, users will be able to create custom home automation systems with the bells and whistles of their choosing, without the use of external power sources. Sound intriguing? GarageLab is currently seeking funding to take Automation Board from concept to reality.

For the original article in Geeky Gadgets, click here


What Kind of Home Security System is Right for Me?

True, or False: Most home invasions occur at night. The correct answer may surprise you. The majority of break-ins occur in broad daylight, when robbers assume you are at work or away. Having a home security system is one of the best ways to deter home invasions. Not only will the sound of an alarm scare criminals away, some systems send signals directly to local authorities, alerting them that something is amiss. Smart Sensors are designed to detect suspicious activity or movement, a fall or personal injury, or water and fire damage. To optimize your options, we recommend you consult with experts from well-known security companies, and read customer reviews to help determine which system is best for your lifestyle.

For the original article in BlogHer, click here


Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer That Could be Lurking in Your Home

You can’t see it, smell it, taste or touch it. But, boy, is it deadly. Small wonder this toxic gas is often called “the silent killer.” The best way to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide is to get a detector. They are inexpensive (less than $50!) and easy to install – just plug it in to any outlet. Accidents happen, but tragedies can be prevented. So don’t put it off. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home today.

For the original article in Today, click here

The Weekly Roundup 5.1 Edition

by Cassie May 1, 2015



What Exactly Is Amazon’s Smart Home Strategy?

Hats off to Amazon for their smart home strategy. It’s the unique result of five initiatives – each rolled out independently – but with enough connective tissue to create one cohesive, powerful and differentiating home automation strategy. To understand the big picture, you need to start with the details.

For the original article in Forbes, click here


Good-Bye Keys: “Smart Locks” Let You in Without Them

In a world where people expect connectivity and 24/7 accessibility, traditional locks are simply not up to par. Today’s “smart locks” fall into three categories:

  1. Automated locks – operate through “one touch technology,” with the push of a button or keypad
  2. Activated keyless locks – operate through phones, using push-button pads, an app, or by holding a connected phone near the lock.
  3. System locks – operate as part of larger “smart home” systems, from home-security systems to thermostats.

For a relevant article in ABC News, click here


How Handy is Home Automation?

In addition to security, home automation can offer a whole lot more. New systems offer convenience, comfort, energy savings, and more. By using a smart-phone, tablet or computer to control and monitor automation functions, “smart homeowners” can make their home operations as simple or as complex as they choose – connecting one or two selected devices, or a more robust combination of multiple home devices – depending on lifestyle and preference. With so many options available to enhance the way we live, what are you waiting for? Take the next step today.

For a relevant article in, click here


Burglar-Proof Your Home: A Complete Guide to Home Security

Most burglaries are crimes of opportunity. And studies show the three most common factors criminals use to determine whether or not to rob a home are time, noise, and visibility. Don’t become a target. Take steps to protect your home from invasion by identifying weaknesses, and making appropriate adjustments. Here are some basic and easy security measures all homeowners can take:

  1. Get to know your neighbors
  2. Install a home security system
  3. Keep the outside of your home well maintained and well lit
  4. Be careful where and how you put out your trash
  5. Be careful who you let in your home
  6. Avoid hiring unsolicited help
  7. Always lock your doors and windows
  8. Get a dog

For the original article in, click here

Technology To Keep Your Pets Safer

by Cassie April 13, 2015

We love our pets like family (because they are our furbabies, right?). So why not protect them as we do the rest of our family members?

Here are some tech gadgets and apps to keep your furry family members safer.

1. Tagg GPS Pet Tracker. Exactly what the name implies, this device attaches to your pet’s collar and can track their whereabouts. It can send you a text message or email when your pet wanders past their designated boundaries. The Tagg GPS pet tracker goes beyond showing you exactly where your furry friend might be, it also monitors the temperature to keep them safe from extreme cold or hot temperatures. And just like your Fitbit, it also tracks your pet’s health to makes sure they are getting enough exercise and rest. Tagg GPS Pet Trackers costs $99.95.

2. Pet First Aid App. We want to keep our pets safe, but in case of an emergency where their safety is threatened, the American Red Cross created an app to help in those tough situations. The Pet First Aid App includes videos, interactive quizzes, and step-by-step advice to walk you through over 25 common pet situations. The app helps with administering medication, behavioral advice, warning sign checker, identifying common toxic substances and even when it might be time to say goodbye (we hope not!). You can easily program a veterinary contact number and locate the nearest emergency vet hospital. Each pet can have their own profile within the app to keep track of appointments and medications needed. The Pet First Aid app is available for Apple, Google Play, and Amazon for $.99.

3. Puppy Tweets. If you’re looking for a fun way to keep track of your puppy’s actions, Puppy Tweets attaches to your dog’s collar and tweets you what your dog is up to. The tag has a motion and sound monitor, which connects to a USB receiver that connects to your computer. It not only lets you know what your puppy is up to (making sure they are safe), but is also a fun way to keep track of your pet. Puppy Tweets was created by Mattel, with the idea to create real-time communication with our furry family members. Puppy Tweets sells for around $15 on Amazon.

4. ASPCA APCC Mobile App. This free app is a great reference when you’re not sure what foods are safe for your pet. It allows you to easily search through items, find the levels of toxicity, possible side effects, and the actions to take in case of an emergency- all with colorful, easy to follow images. The app provides a 24/7 hotline giving users full access to trained veterinary staff and toxicologists.

5. Pet Master Pro. This handy app keeps track of your pet’s medical record in the palm of your hand. Keep track of vaccinations, medications, identification numbers, weight history, and even details for the insurance all in this app. It takes a little legwork to initially enter the information into the app, but having that information while traveling could help save your pet’s life. The app is free for both iPhone and Google Play.

We don’t always have control over our pets’ situations and environments, but using this technology can help keep your pets safer and snuggled up next to you at the end of the day.

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