Security system you set up yourself

If you think back to just a few years ago, home alarm systems required an installer to come to your home or business and run wires between all the alarm components. A land line was needed for the system to communicate with the monitoring center.

No more. Systems like Simplisafe Home Alarm are designed for you to install yourself, with no wiring between the sensors, keypad and siren. You also don't need a land line; the Simplisafe base station has a cellphone built in to communicate with the monitoring center.

You can build your own Simplisafe system piece by piece, or you can start with one of the bundles. Each system starts with three pieces — a base station, keypad and keychain remote, which costs $185; then sensors are added. The cheapest bundle adds one entry sensor and one motion sensor for $230.

Once you have your system in hand, you plug in the base station and a voice will guide you in setting up the sensors. The base station is the only component that needs electricity. It can go anywhere in the home but does contain a siren, so when the alarm goes off, it will get very loud.

You will then log in to Simplisafe's website and create an account. The system monitoring starts at $15 a month. But you can skip the fee and still have the siren go off.

It does not offer a video camera and as a result remote viewing, but you get all the advantages of a complete home alarm system with the convenience of setting it up yourself.




App allows for electric car trip planning

If you want to take a trip in an electric car, PlugShare can help you map your route based on where charging stations are. Users post pictures of the stations, including some in Minnesota, and the app has a vibrant "Activity" section where you can see users who have checked in and left tips.

The app, available for Android and Apple products, is searchable and shows more than 26,000 charging stations, shared residential chargers and high-power stations in the United States and Canada. One tip: Check the comments. Some of the photos are out of date.