Keeping Your Smart Home Private

Smart home devices can make your life easier, but at what cost to your personal privacy?

 

The Internet of Things (IoT) has ushered in modern conveniences we love. Over the years, we’ve embraced their capabilities and eagerly anticipated the next new thing. We can control our home comfort systems, monitor our front door, turn lighting on and off, preheat the oven, and open the garage door – all from our mobile devices.

 

In an age when we’re all looking for ways to manage our time better, smart home gadgets deliver the goods. We know the benefits; we love the convenience. But are we sacrificing privacy for the privilege?

 

You occasionally see news stories about hackers gaining access to your network via smart home devices. While these issues were more prevalent in the early days of consumer IoT, they’re not unheard of now.

 

The good news is that it’s easy to shore up your defenses, as most malicious players gained entry through devices that weren’t password-protected. Devices that come with a factory password that can’t be reset are just as dangerous. Once a hacker knows that factory password, they could potentially take control of an infinite number of devices for their own purposes.

 

The fix is quite simple:

  1. Don’t purchase smart devices with unchangeable passwords or no password protection.
  2. Be sure to set your device up properly and choose a strong password before you start using it.

 

Today, most smart home devices require a unique login and password combination, and some even use biometric data, like facial scans, fingerprints, or two-factor authentication. If you purchase from a reputable brand, you shouldn’t have this problem.

 

Another issue with smart home devices, especially those that can you control with voice commands, is that they are always listening. You might have read a story a while back about a couple whose private conversation was sent to somebody in their contact list simply because the virtual assistant thought it heard the command to “send message.”

 

While the issue was likely more annoying and embarrassing than anything, it’s still a concern. You should also be aware of who your smart device data is shared with, so be sure to read the fine print on your customer agreement before you click “agree.” Most of the data collected is used for marketing purposes, and that tends to be a bit creepy. Imagine you’re talking about a product to a friend and suddenly ads for that product start showing up in your feed.

 

Most devices give you the option of muting the microphone. You can also set up your device to only take voice commands when manually activated, such as through your smartphone app or when you press a button on the device itself. Be sure to read the user manuals to find out how best to set up your device for your preferences.

 

The bottom line is if you’re thinking about getting a new smart home device but are concerned about privacy, a little research before you buy always pays off. As a general rule, you should always stick to reputable, established companies because they won’t risk their reputation by taking shortcuts. Be sure you can set up your own password – and make sure you do it before you start using it. A few simple steps and a bit of forethought go a long way to ensuring your safety.

 

Now that you know how to keep your smart home secure, make sure you have fast and reliable Internet from PMT to keep all of those devices connected!

 

Why Managed Wi-Fi May Be Right For You

If you’re like most people these days, you’ve got a lot going on. Whether it’s students learning from home, adults working from home, or some combination of both, we know the last thing you want to worry about is which device is going to connect in which room. That’s why PMT offers MiHome, a managed WiFi solution that will provide your devices with reliable and continuous coverage throughout your house.

 

The term “managed WiFi” is really just another way to say: “We’ve got you covered.” From network set-up and equipment, to ongoing monitoring and service, MiHome will ensure your home WiFi network works exactly how and where you need it, with no special equipment purchases or maintenance on your part.

 

The advantages of a managed WiFi network include:

 

Better CoverageMiHome from PMT means you’ll get the best carrier grade equipment available, rather than the consumer grade equipment available on the shelves of your local electronics store. This especially makes a difference when it comes to whole-home coverage – having the right mesh extenders is crucial to effectively covering every room in your house.

 

Better Support – from the beginning, our trained technicians will ensure that your router is set up correctly and your mesh extenders are optimally placed to push WiFi signals into every corner of your home – or even your outdoor living spaces. Then, on an ongoing basis, that same equipment will give our tech support the visibility and data they need to troubleshoot any issues you’re having with your network, and get you back up and connected.

 

More Control and Security – our managed WiFi network makes it easier to keep your home network secure from hackers or nosy neighbors, and provides you with best-in-class parental controls to keep your children safe online.

 

Are you ready for the ultimate WiFi experience in your house? Turn it over to PMT, because we’ve got you covered. Learn more about MiHome and get connected today.  Contact us today!

Disposing of Old Devices Safely

Now that you’ve gotten those fun new electronic gadgets for Christmas, you’ll need to dispose of your old ones. You can’t just toss them in the garbage and start fresh with the latest iPhone since they’re full of your photos, emails, banking information, and other important information.

Luckily, you can safely get rid of your old cell phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, then start enjoying those new devices with Internet from PMT.

Back It Up

The first step is to back up your information. Backing up your data regularly — even when you’re not getting rid of your device — is a good habit to get into. Whether it’s music you’ve downloaded, documents you’ve typed, or pics you’ve snapped, backing up is a form of insurance in case your device ever crashes or gets hacked.

When discarding an old device, think about what you want to keep. Some people back up everything and sort through it later, and there’s nothing wrong with that! But if you’ve owned your device for a while, backing up every single file might be a lengthy endeavor. You might prefer to pick and choose what you save.

Either way, you have three options for backing up your device. Data migration is a techy-sounding term for when data gets moved from one location to another. In this case, we’re talking specifically about storage migration, when information is changing storage mediums.

 

Device to Device – Some devices, like desktop computers, will allow you to transfer data between devices. Using Migration Assistant for either Mac and Windows, you can even transfer between the two different systems – although the process can be a little tricky for the less tech-savvy.

 

External Storage – In this case, your external storage device will be the middleman. You start by transferring all your data to a separate device. Depending on how much data you have, your drive could be as small as a USB flash drive or as big as an external hard drive.

 

The Cloud – The cloud is the current favorite for data migration because it’s super easy and doesn’t require any extra hardware. This transfers all your data to the cloud via the Internet. Once complete, your files can be accessed from any device. It’s fast, simple, and secure, making it the optimal choice for data migration beginners.

 

Do a Final Cleanup

Before you toss your old device, be sure to log out of all your websites, wipe any saved passwords, and unpair your devices. Finally, erase the computer’s hard drive. You’re washing your digital fingerprint from the device and protecting yourself in the process. Most computers and mobile devices can be restored to factory settings through built-in utilities.

 

Toss It Without Hurting the Environment

Because empty devices are filled with electronic components and substances like lead, mercury, and cadmium, they’re hazardous material and shouldn’t go into a landfill. Take it to your local hazardous and electronic waste depot. If it still has some life in it, consider donating it to someone else who might enjoy it!

Now you’re set to enjoy your new gadgets! If you have any questions along the way or would like some additional help, PMT Tech Force is standing by. Don’t forget you’ll need great Internet and superior Wi-Fi coverage to get the most out of your new devices.  Contact us today

 

PMT Pays Customers $226,839 in Dividends

 

PMT is proud to announce that $226,839 was approved by the Board of Directors to be paid out to the cooperative’s members. Project Mutual Telephone Inc. is a non-profit cooperative that pays dividends back to customers based on the Board’s discretion in regard to their annual net revenue. PMT is the only communications company in the area that pays its customers back. Over the last ten years, PMT has returned over 3.5 million dollars to its members. The more services used by each member, the larger their patronage check. This year’s dividend payment will be issued in December and represents a portion of patronage earned in 1996 and 2019.

 

“We are grateful for our member customers and their support. Without our members, we do not exist,” states PMT Board Chairman Dan Lloyd. “We are proud to be able to return this money to our customers. When we’re successful, our customers enjoy the rewards.”

 

Checks will be mailed the first of December. For those members receiving dividends in the amount of ten dollars or less, the credit will be applied to their December bill.

 

Where to Stream Christmas Favorites

It’s time to grab some hot chocolate and start the Christmas movie season!  And as long you have fast and reliable internet from PMT, you’ll have no problem streaming these holiday films on the device of your choice.

Whether you’re in the mood for a heartwarming tale, a yuletide comedy, or a festive fright (we’re looking at you, Gremlins), the list below will have you covered.

 

Classics

It’s a Wonderful Life – What can you say about this Capra classic, other than it’s hard to imagine Christmas without it. Streaming On: Hulu (Premium)

Miracle on 34th Street – This Academy-Award winning film can make even the most skeptical believe in the magic of Christmas. Streaming On: Disney+

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Okay, technically it’s a TV special rather than a movie, but it’s just not the holidays without Rudolph, Hermey and Yukon Cornelius. Streaming On: AppleTV (Paid)

White Christmas – Combine the music of Irving Berlin with legendary entertainers like Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney, and you have the epitome of a feel-good Christmas movie. Streaming On: Netflix

 

Modern Classics

A Christmas Story – From the importance of BB gun safety to the dangers of licking a frozen flagpole, this movie is full of iconic scenes. Streaming On: Hulu (Premium)

Scrooged – Bill Murray plays the ultimate scrooge that needs to be reminded what Christmas is all about; luckily there are several ghosts more than happy to lend a hand. Streaming On: Sling (Premium) or YouTubeTV (Paid)

Christmas Vacation – The holidays aren’t the same without spending a few hours with Clark Griswold on his hapless pursuit of the perfect family Christmas. Streaming On: Amazon Prime (Paid)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Jim Carrey, along with a few hundred pounds of make-up and prosthetics, brings the Dr. Seuss classic to life. Streaming On: Netflix

The Santa Clause – Tim Allen learns that being Santa Clause is not quite as easy as delivering presents once a year and eating lots of cookies. Streaming On: Disney+

Elf – The movie that Will Ferrell worried might end his career has become one of the most popular and endearing Christmas comedies of all time. Streaming On: Hulu (Premium)

The Polar Express – Based on the book by the same name, this beautifully animated movie is great for all ages. Streaming On: fuboTV (Premium)

The Muppet Christmas Carol – Sure, there plenty of variations of this is classic Dickens tale to choose from, but this is the only one with the unique charm that only the Muppets can provide. Streaming On: Disney+

 

(Kind of) Christmas Movies

Love Actually – The perfect Christmas-themed date movie featuring the iconic song you are sure to hear several hundred times in December. Streaming On: Amazon Prime (Paid)

Die Hard – It’s classification as a Christmas movie is a popular online debate topic, but this classic Bruce Willis action movie does feature the most action-packed office Christmas party of all time. Streaming On: HBO Max

Home Alone – Macauley Culkin battles to keep a couple of bumbling thieves from stealing his Christmas. Streaming On: Disney+

Gremlins – The ultimate cautionary tale about buying your children strange and exotic pets for Christmas. Streaming On: fuboTV (Premium)

Budget-Friendly Smart Kitchen Devices for Holiday Cooking

 

Whether you’re preparing Thanksgiving dinner or baking Christmas goodies, these budget-friendly smart devices, paired with fast and reliable internet from PMT, will save you time and up your game in the kitchen this year.

 

Drop Scale

To say that the Drop Scale is more than a traditional kitchen scale is a serious understatement. Once connected to your WiFi, this scale can keep you all of your recipes on track. For instance, let’s say a recipe calls for more than you have flour left in the pantry. You simply pour what you have into a bowl on the scale, and it will recalculate all of the other amounts in the recipe for you. Or, maybe you’d like to swap out one ingredient for another. Drop Scale will tell you exactly how much of that new ingredient you should use to balance out your recipe.

 

iDevices Kitchen Thermometer

Tired of constantly having to drop everything to look at the meat thermometer in the oven? Or, having to buy an extra thermometer to monitor two things at once? This smart thermometer from iDevices solves both of these problems by connecting to an app on your phone. With it, you can track two temperatures at once on your smartphone via an app and set up alerts for when your target temperature is reached. That way you are free to work on your other holiday meal dishes or entertain your guests.

 

June Oven

The June Oven is not exactly on the inexpensive side at $700, but for everything it can do, you may want to make the investment. In addition to being a countertop oven, this smart appliance is also an air fryer, slow cooker, toaster, and broiler. It also has a built-in HD camera that can recognize various ingredients and prompt you with suggested cooking programs. And when connected to WiFi, you can use an app to monitor your food with the camera and make any necessary adjustments to the settings from anywhere.

 

Hamilton Beach Smart Coffee Maker

By the time December gets here, let’s face it, you’re going to need all of the coffee you can get. This connected coffee maker can stay one step ahead of your caffeine needs thanks to its advanced scheduling features. And if you find yourself in need of a “pick-me-up” while you’re knee-deep in wrapping paper? No problem. The Hamilton Beach coffee maker integrates with your WiFi-enabled Alexa to make it completely voice-controlled. You can even control the strength of the brew!

 

Let these smart kitchen devices, and fast and reliable WiFi from PMT keep you on track this holiday season.

 

 

Business Spotlight: Minidoka Memorial Hospital

 

The community of Rupert was developed as a result of the Minidoka Project, which was created under the Reclamation Act of l902. This act, signed by Teddy Roosevelt, made it possible to irrigate and “reclaim” desert ground for agricultural purposes.

 

The Minidoka Project began in l904 and consisted of the construction of Minidoka Dam and associated canals northeast of Rupert in Minidoka County. As the town grew, the need for healthcare increased, and a physician named Dr. Frazier saw the need in Rupert and proceeded to build a hospital. Dr. Frazier did all the work himself, and the Hospital was completed in 1926. The Hospital was known as Rupert General Hospital and was located on what is now the corner of 6th and G Street – and is owned and used as office space by PMT today.

Dr. Frazier owned and operated the Hospital until 1928. After that, the Hospital exchanged ownership several times until Minidoka County built Minidoka Memorial Hospital (MMH) to retain physicians and patients. MMH opened its doors in 1960.

 

MMH is the joint operation of Minidoka County’s only Hospital and Nursing Home located in Rupert, Idaho. Services offered include surgery, inpatient and outpatient treatments, Long-Term Care, Home Health, ambulance, and occupational health. The Hospital employs over 380 people, making it one of the county’s largest employers.

 

MMH’s goal is to make it easier for residents of Minidoka County to get quality care without having to travel out-of-town. Over the past 10 years they have added several specialists to their team, including an ENT, Internists, Orthopedic Surgeons, and a Neuro Surgeon – quite an accomplishment for the size and population on Minidoka County.

MMH has also been collecting awards. They are the recent recipients of the Nationally recognized Verdantix Innovation Award for their Quality Program using state-of-the-art software technology.

 

Since the Hospital opened its doors in 1960, PMT has been providing phone service to MMH. As the Hospital grew and technology progressed, PMT has continued to be MMH’s communications provider of choice for phone and internet service. PMT has connected multiple buildings owned by the Hospital with fiber optics and upgraded their phone system, so all the phones on the campus are connected seamlessly. With more medical devices reliant on internet service and conducting general business, “Minidoka Memorial’s relationship with PMT is vital to the successful treatment of our patients. More and more of the equipment and technology that we use is reliant on the fiber connection that is provided by PMT, from our Electronic Medical Record to the transfer of digital images and everything in-between. Our patients are the beneficiaries of the services PMT provides.” Jason Gibbons, Chief Financial Officer, Minidoka Memorial Hospital.

PMT values the relationship we have built with MMH over the last six decades and looks forward to their continued success and growth as they care for the residents of Minidoka and the surrounding counties.

2020 Grant Recipients Announced

The PMT Foundation awarded $14,800 to organizations in the Magic Valley, each seeking to help sustain and improve our community.

“Although 2020 has been an extremely unusual year in most ways, one thing remains consistent, the Magic Valley is blessed with countless non-profit organizations that serve so many.  We are pleased to announce our 2020 grant recipients and want to thank them for their efforts to positively impact the communities they serve in our beautiful Magic Valley.”
states Marianne Welch, PMT Foundation Chairman.

As a customer-owned cooperative, Project Mutual Telephone (PMT) pays patronage dividends back to customers every year based on services used. When those monies go unclaimed for a number of years, they are transferred over to the PMT Foundation, which focuses on furthering education through a scholarship program and supporting community projects through grant awards.

The 2020 recipients were:

  • Golden Heritage Senior Center – $1,000 – To purchase food trays for the Meals on Wheels program. The Senior Center delivers around 56 meals daily to homebound seniors.
  • Jerome Senior Center – $1,800 – For a new refrigerator for the Center’s Community Room.
  • Mini-Cassia Search and Rescue – $2,500 – To purchase and update 20+ year old extrication equipment.
  • Mountain View Christian Center Pantry – $5,000 – To replace a commercial freezer that is no longer working. The Pantry relies on this freezer to store food so they can distribute it to those in need.
  • The Magic Valley Area Humanitarian Center – $2,000 – To install Handicap Automatic Door Openers.
  • Wilson Theatre – Wilson Theatre – $2,500 – To purchase a 20×40 tent to use at larger events, conferences, weddings, and parties held at the restored Theatre.

 

PMT Grant Applications are awarded once a year and will become available again in the summer of 2021.

 

About PMT Foundation

The PMT Foundation was created in 2006 by the PMT Board of Directors as a charitable foundation. The Foundation helps further education in communities served by PMT through its scholarship program.  It also supports projects and programs that sustain and improve those communities.

 

 

About PMT 

Project Mutual Telephone (PMT) is a full-service communications company providing local telephone and its associated features, including long distance and voicemail, cell phone service, cable TV, IPTV, high-speed internet, directory publishing and computer networking and repair for home and office.  Headquartered in Rupert, Idaho, PMT has been serving the Magic Valley since 1916.  PMT serves 8,000 member customers and has offices in Rupert, Burley and Twin Falls, ID.

 

Past Year’s Recipients

2019 Recipients
2018 Recipients
2017 Recipients

Keep Connected – WiFi Troubleshooting Tips

With more working and learning at home happening – plus additional streaming for entertainment and relaxation, seeing a buffering wheel or frozen screen can put a real damper on things.  Here are two quick things you can troubleshoot to keep you connected.

WiFi Router Location

When it comes to the dependability and speed of the internet service in your home, a lot depends on your WiFi router―specifically its location in the house.

 

Make sure it’s close to where your student will be learning

If there are specific areas in your home where virtual school will take place, such as a home office or family room, make sure your router is nearby.

 

Look for a high and uncrowded space

Placing your router on a high shelf will help distribute the signal more widely and evenly through the house. It’s also best to avoid placing the router behind any large objects or closed up in a cabinet.

 

Give the signal a clear path

While the WiFi signal can do a pretty good job getting through the walls and ceilings in your house, the one thing that can stop it cold is metal, including shelving, metal desks, and large appliances.

 

Number of Devices Connected

No matter how fast your internet service is, if there are multiple devices connected and using the network at the same time, you will see a drop in that maximum speed.

First, make sure you are aware of just how many devices are connected in your home. There are several options for software that allow you to do this, or you can access your router’s interface to find the information.

Second, if the online experience for your family seems to be less than optimal, try reducing the number of devices being used and see if it makes a difference.

 

PMT is here to help you and your family have a hassle-free online experience with our MiHome service.  MiHome provides whole-home WiFi coverage, giving you seamless internet access in every room. Your whole family will enjoy faster speeds, stronger connections, and the ability to connect more devices simultaneously.  Plus, you’ll have access to our handy app allowing you to control internet access to users and devices.

PMT in the Community

PMT is committed to serving the residents of Southern Idaho, and our dedication to this area is fundamental to who we are as a customer-owned company.  Unlike our national competitors, we care about more than just making a profit.  We care about making a difference.  Here are some recent contributions PMT has made in the community:

Minidoka County Sheriff’s Office – $2500

PMT, along with Minidoka Memorial Hospital provided the funds for the Sheriff’s office to purchase a new drone to aid in police work.

 

High School Basketball Team Sponsor – $1900

Each player on the Oakley High School girls’ basketball team and Minico High School boys basketball team will have an individual banner to hang in the gym, as well as a team banner, sponsored by PMT.  The proceeds raised go back to the respective teams.

 

High School Sports Schedule Posters – $1800

PMT sponsored posters for Minico, Burley, and Oakley High Schools.  The posters feature a schedule of games for the various Falls sports teams at each school, along with pictures of the athletes.  They are distributed throughout the community, and a portion of the money goes back to each school.

 

Minidoka County Sheriff’s K-9 Hero Scramble – $500

The 2nd Annual Scramble will be held on July 24 at the River’s Edge Golf Course in Burley. All proceeds benefit the K-9 Program.

 

Minidoka Health Care Foundation Annual Golf Tournament – $500

PMT is a major sponsor of the 22nd Annual Minidoka Health Care Foundation’s Golf Tournament. The money raised from the scramble benefits the nonprofit Foundation to enhance health-related causes in our local area.

 

Goose Creek Run-Off – $300

The Oakley Recreation District is holding their 35th Annual Goose Creek Run-Off on July 18. The run features a wide array of participants ranging from seasoned runners to individuals simply looking for a fun day with friends. The funds raised from the event help the Oakley Recreation District maintain and manage the Oakley swimming pool and other recreational activities in the Oakley Valley. To learn more about the race, email goosecreekrunoff@yahoo.com.

 

Wee Links – $200

Wee Links is a six-hole youth-focused golf facility adjacent to the Rupert Elk’s Lodge. Our $200 donation will help keep operating costs low at the facility, so all youth have an opportunity to play with minimal green fees and club rentals.

 

PMT Night at the Minidoka County Fair

Every year PMT sponsors the concert at the Minidoka County Fair and provides free admission to all concert-goers.  This year PMT brought back crowd favorite Nathan Osmond.

 

PMT Customer Appreciation Event

PMT held a Customer Appreciation event on June 29th at the Rupert Parking lot.  There was free food, fun, and prizes for the 800+ attendees.

 

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