Staying Connected While Enjoying The Great British Outdoors

outdoor wireless, internet extender, digital extender, wireless extenderLast week we looked at setting up a temporary home cinema in your garden. But what if you want to extend your Wi-Fi internet into the garden as well. You might want to do this for any number of reasons, and not just so you can work on your tan and stream live feeds from Love Island, the Olympics and the Big Brother house at the same time!

No matter how good your router is, or where you put it, there’s very little chance that you will be able to get good enough reception from it to your phone, tablet or laptop once you go more than a few metres outside. If you’re going to use the internet outdoors you need to think about proper solutions instead of making the best of a technology which wasn’t designed for the purpose to which you’re putting it. However, once you do get Wi-Fi internet in the garden it opens up a great deal of new opportunities which you may not have thought about before.

Taking your Wi-Fi internet outdoors doesn’t only mean that you can watch TV on a mobile device without eating up all of your contract’s data allowance. It means you can convert an outbuilding into a home office or connected workshop, handy if you’re working off plans you need to download or 3D models you need to look at as you’re working. It also means that you’re able to secure these buildings far more easily and effectively than might have been possible before. Security cameras, sensors and alarms which operate wirelessly over Wi-Fi can be located anywhere if you’ve got enough bandwidth in the garden, so you can keep an eye on outbuildings, barns, gates, fences and reverse angles of your home itself instead of being limited to where you can put those devices by the distance you can install a cable.

If you’re interested in taking Wi-Fi outside there are a number of options depending on how you intend to use the internet once it’s out there. Read more

How Likely Is It Your Smart Home Will Be Attacked By Hackers?

smart home, iot, hacking, connected devices, automation, automated homeDon’t imagine that it’s only the unlucky few who get caught out by hackers penetrating their Smart Home Automation security protocols. Rather than being a rare occurrence, hacking is a huge and ongoing problem, especially for anyone who relies on default settings to keep them safe.

Consumer magazine Which? installed a number of Smart Home devices, enough to adequately reflect those of a well equipped home, and found that in a week they had more than 10,000 scans or hacking attempts made. While scans aren’t necessarily malicious, they just look to see what products are being used where, there were more than 2,435 specific hacking attempts, which adds up to 14 attempts by a hacker to force their way in to (what they believed to be) someone’s Home Automation Environment every hour for an entire week.

Revealing Discoveries

During the trial it was found that an Epson printer and an ieGeek security camera were most often targeted by hackers. The attempts at the printer prove that it’s not always the most obvious devices which get the most attention, but those which are the least likely to be properly passworded because they’re innocuous and need to be available to the whole family. While the printer’s default password did stand up to the hacking, the camera did less well and someone was able to take control of it, giving them access to the images and allowing them to change settings. (the ieGeek camera tested has now been withdrawn from sale by Amazon following Which?’s investigation. Amazon had championed it as their Amazon Choice after more than 68% of its reviews were five star on their platform.) Amazon representatives said “We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.” Read more

Create Your Own Temporary Outdoor Home Cinema

home cinema, home theatre, outdoor, projector, projection screenDrive-In in the Back Yard, Your Next DIY Project

Summer’s here, but the time isn’t yet right for dancing in the street. Instead, while lockdowns are being eased, it’s still not wise to gather in large groups with strangers. Nevertheless, the nice weather means that it’s nice to relax and enjoy the garden. So why not set up a temporary home cinema in the garden and enjoy the big screen experience without the hassle of having to leave the house? The first thing you’re going to need will be something to watch the movie on. You could haul a TV into the garden, but if that kind of hassle isn’t for you, then a projector is going to be the answer. Depending on the size of your garden, and where you’re going to sit will affect the kind of projector you want.

Projectors today are quite different from anything you might remember if you’ve only been keeping an eye on televisions. Today they are small, adaptable, and so bright you can watch them in daylight while ‘short throw’ projectors can sit a few inches away from the screen and still provide a huge, high definition picture. If you need to hang the projector above head height you can invert the image, or reverse it if you want to project the picture from the back of the screen.

Getting your movies from your computer to your projector and speakers is a synch. A Chromecast or Fire TV Stick can be plugged direct into the HDMI port, making it simple and trip hazard free (the projector does need to have a powered USB port though, as casting devices don’t have batteries). Read more

What is Fibre Broadband, and How Exactly Does It Go So Fast?

fibre, fibre optic, fibre optic broadband, briant broadband, superfast internet, ultra fast internet Everyone by now knows what fibre optic cable is, but do they know how it works and why it’s so much faster than cable or wireless digital broadband?

In the 1980s telephone companies started putting fibre optic cables under the ground instead of copper cable. The benefit was that the media, glass, was much cheaper than metal, could carry vastly more information, and carry it over much greater distances without the need for signal boosters, switches or repeaters. Copper wire had been in use since the days of the telegraph, and it was quite sufficient when it wasn’t common for every home to have a phone, and the only signal that it had to carry was the voices of the two people having a conversation.

With the advent of the micro-computer, the internet and world wide web, the needs of the infrastructure changed, so the phone company started using fibre optics instead of copper. But if you were using a home computer in the 90s once it became more common for a home to have a computer and internet access you might not have seen much in the way of ‘fast internet’ as we understand it today. Your computer will have still been connected to your modem via a copper cable, and that dial-up modem will have been connected to local exchange via metal cable. Hubs and servers all over the world would be connected by fibre optic lines, but there was still so much metal in the system that the full speed potential could never be reached.

That’s changing very rapidly now. The internet is no longer regarded simply as a useful tool, it’s become so much a part of our lives that it is being considered by many to be a utility, just like gas, electricity and water. Consequently, in order to provide the kind of speed people need to make the internet serviceable, notwithstanding however many people are all using it at the same time, it’s necessary to ensure that as many people have access to fibre all the way up to their property, or an equally acceptable alternative. Read more

A Professional’s Top Ten Tips For Smart Home Security

Touch sensitive digital smart home automation control panel. As we’re coming out of lockdown and looking at getting back to normal, it’s not only Honest-Johns who will be coming out of their lockdown bubbles, blinking and squinting in the sunlight. No, hackers will have been researching, plotting, planning and putting their enforced free time to nefarious use, learning the most effective, efficient and undetectable ways to bypass weak security and gain access to your Smart Home Environment.

Naturally there are ways to keep yourself safe and secure, but you need to go above and beyond the built in and factory default settings on your Smart Home Devices if you’re going to achieve any real security. Changes to the laws manufacturers have to abide by when it comes to default settings, two stage authentication, and passwords are in the pipeline, but there are at least ten ways to secure your devices today which will add heft to your home network security. Read more

Futureproof Your Smart Devices By Out-Smarting Planned Obsolescence

WiFi enabled tablet in persons handsWhen you buy a car you don’t expect the manufacturer to keep making parts for it indefinitely, just as when you buy a washing machine you don’t expect the maker to carry on producing the precise motor, hoses, belts and drum. But what you do expect is that they produce such a number of replacement and interchangeable, universal parts that you can always find a spare for years to come. But what if that broken element isn’t a cog or camshaft, but a piece of software in your Smart device?

European law is being updated to force manufacturers to make their products more repairable. You may void a warranty by taking a sticker off to take the machine apart to replace a broken doo-dad, but who cares if it was your own fault it got broken, or the thing is past its warranty anyway? With this new law they won’t be able to make goods which would be damaged or destroyed in the process of attempting to fix it. Read more

Briant Broadband For Housing Blocks, HMOs And Developments

local broadband, fast broadband, Worthing broadbandIt’s in no way unusual for a home of multiple occupancy (HMO), apartment block or housing development to run from a single communal television receiver or satellite dish. Companies such as Briant Communications install, repair and maintain those all the time and the benefits are obvious: Professional, insured and guaranteed work and parts, accountability, dealing with a single operator, their familiarity with you, your properties and purchasing process are all a far better proposition than having residents finding their own unvetted, unknown, unprofessional installers scaling the walls, drilling holes and hanging uninsured, untested, equipment sourced from who-knows-where.

If you follow our blog you’ll have seen some of the before and after photos we’ve shared. From multiple aerial and sky dish installations which have been an ongoing amateur project for years, undertaken by any number of bodgers, home-handymen and DIYers to splitters and cable installations which look like high tech birds’ nests shoved into lofts and cupboards under stairs before being abandoned. The photos don’t only show that our engineers take making the installation look good, we ensure that the kit works properly and any subsequent engineer who has to work with it will know it was a job well done, will see immediately where each cable goes, what switch does what and, ideally, be able to fix whatever broke immediately and with the least amount of fuss. Read more

The Smarter The Home, The Bigger & Better The Broadband

ultrafast broadband, broadband, internet, dataWe love all things Smart Home, and have jumped fully aboard the Smart Home Automation revolution. But there is one drawback: You need a broadband subscription if your automated kit is going to work. With most suppliers that comes with the hidden fee of a phone line rental, and then, if you want to operate your Smart Tech remotely you need data for your phone as well, which means another data hungry contract.

While we can’t help with the phone contract, Briant Broadband can help with the data in your home!

Briant Broadband is a new data supply company operating two minutes walk from Worthing town centre which offers a local service based on delivering ultrafast broadband data at an competitive price point but with the benefit of experience and customer service that you only get a family run Worthing business with engineers and installers who live in the area. Read more

Bolster Your Home Security Before Lockdown Ends

burglar alarms, cctv systemsWith the vaccine roll-out forging ahead apace we are all gladdened to see light at the end of the tunnel and a return to life as normal. We as a society haven’t seen anything like this for at least a century and now we’re looking forward to enjoying getting back to work, shopping, socialising, holidays and trips to see family here and abroad.

Unfortunately that “return to normal” will apply to intruders and miscreants as well. Lockdown has meant that we’re all at home all the time, so the opportunities burglars thrive upon haven’t been available to them. In ‘normal’ times crime figures prove to be counter-intuitive to received wisdom. The common notion is that burglars break in at night, targeting rich households with jewellery and antiques which can be sold on the black market. Read more

The Household Spring Cleaning & Maintenance You Should Do Today

house, home, home maintenance, spring clean, repairs

Now the clocks have gone forward it must be spring! And there’s something primal about the urge to spring clean and carry out home maintenance. You’ve had all winter to think about those jobs you want to do, but you know you need a few days of good weather to really get to grips with them. You might be itching to throw open the windows and get right into giving the carpet a good shampoo, or you might have been obsessing over the state of the paint around your windows, and you’re dreaming of the day you can peel it back, repair the putty, fill any holes and give it a thorough lick of weatherproof paint. (Hands up, I’m guilty of both of those! But a damp carpet AND paint fumes at the same time? I think I’ll be spreading those jobs out…)

This year spring cleaning, probably more than any in living memory for most of us, will be an almost visceral event. After a year of being mostly stuck indoors and worrying we’ll finally be able to get fresh air into the house, scrub the woodwork, dust all the nooks and crannies and clear our heads too. We call it ‘Spring Cleaning’ but there’s a lot of DIY maintenance and household DIY which you’ll want to get up to your elbows in as well. Read more