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Monthly Archives: May 2016

BBQ Safety Tips

With Memorial Day approaching, many of us may be dusting off our barbecue grills. Whether you consider yourself to be a grill master or a novice, it’s wise to review some barbecue safety tips and tricks. Remember that the U.S. Fire Administration estimates roughly 6,500 grill fires will occur, resulting in hefty property damages. You never know what could happen, and you’re better safe than sorry, right?

You want to set up shop in a well-ventilated area. An open area away from buildings and high traffic is ideal. Aside from good ventilation, you want to steer clear of any falling debris (ex. dry leaves) or anything overhead that could catch fire.

Take your time when lighting the grill. If it doesn’t start right away, don’t keep pushing the ignite button. Since gas has been leaking since you first turned on the burner, you should turn off the gas and allow the gas to dissipate before trying again. Because gas is heavier than air, you will want to wait at least a few minutes.

Watch The Grill
Never leave your grill unattended. Never. While this seems like common sense, we often overlook this. Especially with children running around, always make sure someone is manning the grill.

Avoid loose attire or anything that hangs which could possible catch fire. While you may want to look cute for your get together, safety should always come first. And you can always change after the grilling is done.

Food Safety
Aside from fire hazards, food safety is important, too. Remember that any marinade that has touched raw meat is not safe to reuse for basting (unless it was brought to a rolling boil). You also want to avoid reusing any cooking utensils that touched uncooked meat.

A meat thermometer is a smart thing to have on hand when grilling. No matter how experienced you are, it doesn’t hurt to double check your grilling skills. Also, be sure not to leave anything raw out for too long. According to the FDA, raw foods should be left out no longer than two-hours.

Unless it’s an adults-only party, please keep a close eye on the little ones. Try to keep the grill away from the dining and entertaining areas to avoid kids running around the dangerous area.

Owner’s Manual
It’s okay to take a peek at the Owner’s Manual if you need to. It is also a good idea to read the manual before you start using your grill in the first place. It can afford you with helpful information on how to properly use your barbecue grill.

Will you be grilling over the holiday weekend? Do you have any other barbecue tips you would like to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and Vine.

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How Facial Recognition Technology Is Helping Law Enforcement

Facial recognition and biometric technology is being applied more often in different environments. For example, Facebook makes it easier for you to tag your friends in photos by using facial recognition technology. Some smartphones even allow you to use a fingerprint password to unlock your phone. Aside from these examples, facial recognition technology is also being used within some law enforcement agencies.

San Diego Law Enforcement has been using facial recognition technology since 2013, when it began as a research and development project funded by the National Institute of Justice. The Tactical Identification System (TACIDS) was comprised of 134 devices distributed among 67 certified law enforcement personnel. Today, it’s up to 433 devices among 991 personnel.

These devices are usually tablets or smartphones that have access to the Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS) App. If an officer feels that an individual is being dishonest about his identity, or if the officer would like to determine whether or not the individual is a threat, he or she would use the device to take a photo. This photo is then sent to ARJIS’ Facial Recognition Platform (FRP) via text. The FRP produces a lineup of possible matches based on a biometric algorithm and sends it to the officer. The officer reviews the lineup, selects a match, and resubmits it to the ARJIS web server to pull the individual’s records. This process normally takes days, but can be accessed within minutes thanks to this advanced system.

Concerns have been raised by citizens, mainly focused on consent for photos and privacy issues. However, if any officer suspects an individual of being involved in a crime, he does not need to ask for consent. Also, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) assures that the photos that are submitted to the ARJIS FRP are not stored anywhere. Any of the photos taken on the devices must be deleted, whether or not a match was found. Furthermore, the photos are only compared to the sheriff’s department booking database, so if a person has not been booked at a county jail, then a match will not be found. SANDAG confirmed that ARJIS only has access to images of individuals arrested in San Diego County.

While this technology is mainly used by the San Diego Police Department, every law enforcement agency in San Diego has access to it. This includes the San Diego Unified School District, San Diego State University, and UC San Diego.

The main purpose of this tool is to improve policing techniques while better serving and protecting the people. What are your thoughts on the use of this technology by law enforcement? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. You can also connect with us on Vine and Pinterest.

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Home Security System Shopping Tips

More and more people are turning to security systems to protect their homes. This is a smart decision, as security cameras will help you feel at ease whether you are in your home or on vacation. Unfortunately, when shopping for a security system, you may find that there are companies that seem genuine, but do not have the customer’s best interest at heart.

If you are thinking of investing in a home security system, here are some helpful tips to make sure you get the best deal on what you are looking for.

  • Choose a reputable business.

Consider your budget and what features are absolutely necessary and which you could live without. Credible businesses will work with you to build a home security system to suit your wants, needs and budget. You can ask for input or recommendations from friends, family, or even your home or renters insurance carrier.

  • Shop around.

Contact at least three companies before making a decision. This way you can compare prices and service, and ask important questions (ex. proper licensing, background checks for employees). This will also give you time to check reviews or do additional research before committing to a company.

  • Ask about charges upfront.

If you have a budget, see what companies can offer for that price. Or you can compare prices from different businesses on a similar system. When getting quotes and prices, be sure ask about any other fees that may apply, for example, monthly monitoring fees or installation charges. It is also wise to consult with your insurance agent since home security systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowner’s premiums.

  • Understand your contract.

As with any contract, be sure that you fully understand it before signing. Know how long it will last, what it covers, terminations fees, etc. If your system is going to be monitored, those contracts typically last 2-5 years. Before you sign on to a long term contract, be sure to ask the major, important questions. For example, what happens if you are dissatisfied with the services provided? Is it possible to cancel the contract? As the consumer, what are your rights if the company is acquired by another company?

When shopping around, keep an eye out for these red flags:

  • High pressure sales tactics.

Often times, trustworthy companies will give you time to think through the deal and make your decision. But if a seller is trying to pressure you into going with their company, don’t give in until you have done the proper research.

  • Too good to be true.

While some companies offer competitive prices, others may offer unbelievable deals that seem too good to be true. Most of the time, they are. In this case, “you get what you pay for” rings true. Whether it is defective equipment or a poor installation job, this is something to keep in mind when making your final decision.

  • Lack of company identification.

If you cannot get a positive identification for your salesperson or the company, you may want to question using their services. Also, beware of sellers with no ties to their community. This could mean they might pull a disappearing act after mediocre services have been rendered and payments have been made.

  • Poor ratings on the BBB.

It is always wise to check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints or reviews about the company. If there have been complaints, you can see how the company handled the situation, giving you a better idea of the customer service you can expect.

Do you have any other shopping tips? Share them with us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. You can also find us on Pinterest and Vine.

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How Dash Cams Can Help You

Thanks to their popularity in Russia, we have an abundant supply of dash cam footage, from heart-stopping driving blunders to failed carjackings and more. While these videos often go viral, dash cams serve a much more meaningful purpose.

Because the streets of Russia are often filled with lawless drivers, many have turned to dash cams for their own safety. The use of dash cams is also spreading to the rest of Europe, Australia, and even the US. Many patrol cars are equipped with dash cams that record both the inside of the cabin and the road ahead.

What Are Dash Cams?
Dash cams are relatively small in size and are often mounted onto your windshield via suction cup. They can plug into a 12V power supply within your car, and most have a backup battery to save footage in case power is lost. Video is usually recording on a continuous loop on an SD card; when storage is full, the oldest footage is deleted first to make space for the new recordings.

You get what you pay for when it comes to dash cams. With a higher price tag, you usually get dash cams with built-in GPS, which tracks your speed and location, better night vision resolution, and parking mode.

Dash Cam Benefits
Dash cams were largely adopted by taxis, trucks, bus drivers, and businesses with large fleets. Now, everyday drivers are using them as a way to provide evidence when a collision occurs. Aside from witness accounts, which can be fairly subjective and sometimes inaccurate, dash cams can provide hard evidence.

Despite this, installing a dash cam may not lower your insurance rate, but it can help speed up the process when you are involved in a crash. The footage obtained is admissible in court and can help determine who is at fault. It can also help to prevent insurance fraud, in which drivers deliberately cause accidents to extort money.

Aside for aiding in the case of car accidents, dash cams can also capture parking incidents, road rage, and even help parents feel at ease by monitoring teenage drivers.

If you are considering investing in a dash cam, here are a few things you should look for:

  • Automatic loop recording
  • Seamless recording – to eliminate gaps in recording
  • Heat resistance
  • Impact detection
  • Powered shutdown and file write – saves footage when you lose power in an accident
  • Wide angle lens – provides better coverage
  • High resolution – at least 1080HD for license plate capture
  • Built-in display screen with removable memory card
  • Night Vision

Do you own a dash cam, or are you thinking about it? What benefits are most appealing to you? Share your thoughts and experiences with us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Find us on Pinterest and Vine, too.

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