I Feel The Need, The Need For Data Speed

We all know the adage that noting is assured but death and taxes. Today we can add washing up and the frustration you feel when your home entertainment such as TV and surfing is interrupted by slow data speeds and adverts. Since we can’t help you live longer and I don’t really like washing up, let’s look at your IT speed. It won’t fend off death but faster data does mean that you’ll spend less time waiting for pages to load, files to transfer and movies to buffer. With all that time freed up, it’s like adding time to your life, which is nearly the same.

A few years ago it was also found that we, as TV viewers, waste a year of our lives surfing channels looking for something to watch. Whether that’s avoiding adverts or actively looking for something to watch foregoing the EPG and looking at what’s being broadcast in real time, that’s a lot of time that you could win back. Read more

New To Smart Home Technology? Which Devices Should You Buy First?

Moving is reckoned to be one of the most stressful life events, finding the place you want to buy, finding the money, liaising with lawyers, vendors, estate agents, banks and lenders, packing up all your worldly possessions and shipping them, only to unpack them, hoping that none of them have been too badly damaged or lost along the way. You’d have to be mad to do it! And yet millions of us do, every year.

Once you’re in your new home, unpacked and things have calmed down you might want to think about how you can use Smart Home Technology to make your house more efficient, with added convenience all round. There are a plethora of different Smart devices available on the market today, many are handy, many are the Automated version of the toasted sandwich maker: a fun invention which does its one job well, but is soon relegated to the proverbial cupboard under the sink.

That’s why it’s wise to look at what you’re investing in and look coldly at the features and benefits each device offers, and assess whether it’s something you really need, of if it’s simply a fun gadget with no real purpose. Read more

Your Smart Lights Can Do More Around The Home Than You Know

3 Ornamental lights in a row hanging from a light coloured ceilingAttaching smart lights to your home network is a quick and convenient way to get energy efficient lights which adapt to your needs into your home. They’re great for enhancing a mood, easily dimmable and can be used in conjunction with your home security to come on at times which make it look as if someone’s home even when you’re out. But being Smart, they must be able to do more than that, right?

Right!

If you’re syncing your lighting to your home security it makes sense to add a motion sensor to your lights too. Inside or outside, the motion detector will turn the lights on wherever you want, so if you’re coming home on a wet & drear night you can have the porch light turned on to save fumbling, or sensors which turn on CCTV cameras can turn on bedroom lights, alerting you to potential intruders and sending the message to those lurking on your property that you’re aware they’re there. These little touches make it look like you’re home and awake even when the property is unoccupied. Read more

Not Sure If You Locked The Door Or Turned The Oven Off? Check It Without Rushing Back Home

Woman using a button access control panel on a white wallIf you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself constantly returning home to check you’ve locked the doors or turned off the stove. Barely a week goes by when, if you were my stalker, you’d see me turn around before I’d even got to the end of the street and checking I’d locked the door to the office when it comes time for me to go home.

Some say it’s down to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), others say it’s a short term memory problem, but personally I put it down to an incredibly short attention span. If I deliberately try to notice something or do something out of sequence, such as turning the locks in a different order, then the event is impressed into my memory and I can get on the bus, safe in the knowledge that work will still be there when I come back in the morning.

If the anxiety sets in soon enough I can come back and check, but sometimes that nagging doubt doesn’t manifest itself until I’m on the bus miles toward home. I reassure myself with the fact that never once have I ever forgotten to lock up and, thanks to the aforementioned short attention span, I soon forget to worry about it and carry on without turning back. Read more

The Best Ways To Ensure Your Home Deliveries Don’t Go Astray

Before the internet the Royal Mail used to do a roaring trade delivering letters over night anywhere in the country, and within days to anywhere in the rest of the world. Then email came about and a letter became something of an anachronism, the only letters we seem to get regularly are bills and junk mail. Because of the decline in letter sending services were streamlined and rationalised, ie, cuts were made and deliveries suffered. The Post Office was privatised and the delivery service was opened up to tender.

But the internet wasn’t finished in changing the way we live our lives just yet. Online shopping became not just a novelty, but the preferred way to get hold of the things we’d normally have to hunt around the shops for. No more trolling up and down the high street looking for a product which may or may not be in stock. Instead we can now search for an item, order it and know when (roughly) it’s going to be delivered from anywhere at any time. Which naturally meant that the delivery business was going to see a huge increase in business. Read more

Home Automation Isn’t A New Idea, It’s Just Being Perfected

To be fair, the world of Home Automation isn’t a new one. Heath Robinson designed spectacularly elaborate and convoluted machines which were intended to make mundane tasks easier and faster. We see labour saving technology everywhere in cinema when directors want to establish the idea of a future based on progress and technological ingenuity, say for example Wallace and Gromit. Brilliant inventions which, despite a few minor hiccups, bring efficiency to both home and business.

It wasn’t long ago that people with enough money had servants. They could tell a maid or butler what it was they wanted, and their desires would be met. If there was no servant within earshot they simply needed to pull a cord and one would appear, ready to take their instruction. Of course this wasn’t the perfect solution for the staff, but as far as the homeowners were concerned, this was a fine solution. Read more

Running Out Of Space At Home? Don’t Move, Improve!

We’d all love to live in a luxury home with all the mod cons and labour saving devices that come with a life of leisure, but few of us can afford it. If you don’t have the money to move house, but you still want the trappings of a luxury lifestyle there are always ways and means. Create a budget, shop around for bargains and muck in, doing as much of the work yourself as you can and you could improve your home so much you won’t even want to move home!

If you’ve ever been channel surfing at about 7pm on a weeknight you’ve probably seen an episode of Buying and Selling with Drew and Jonathan Scott, a show where two unrealistically handsome twins, one the rugged construction guy type, the other the smart lawyer looking one, renovate a family’s old home and bring the value up so much they can afford to leap several rungs up the property ladder. The thing that often grabs me is, after the work they put into making the old place look fantastic, why bother moving at all?

Transforming the home is something which is essentially within anybody’s reach, unless you live somewhere that is so tumbledown that it needs serious restoration, and if that’s the case, this isn’t the blog for you!

On the other hand, if your home is just looking tired, dated, shabby and doesn’t conform to your needs any more, why not look at other ways you can get the most out of it without selling up and moving on? (And if you still want to move on, do those improvements anyway, the work you carry out is proven to add to the overall value of the house, meaning you get what everybody wants when moving house: options.) Read more

Are You Surfing The Z-Wave Of Home Automation?

Z-wave is a wireless protocol which links a number of over 2600 different Smart Home Devices together. However, unlike your WiFi network or Bluetooth, Z-Wave is a software and hardware solution designed specifically to support a Smart Home environment. It differs significantly from WiFi and Bluetooth as it is a mesh network, meaning that each device repeats each signal it receives. Consequently the more Z-Wave devices you have, the stronger and more reliable the network is.

The signal the devices send is short range in itself, (up to approximately 330ft but a range of 50ft or less is recommended for solid reliability) but when many small devices are operating in your home, the mesh ensures that distance between the originating device and the intended receiver is no problem. This means that unlike other wireless communications, the more devices enhance reception rather than taking up bandwidth from a router which also serves your other connected devices, internet access, et cetera. Read more

Is Your Home Security Butch Enough To Baffle Burglars?

Keeping your home, family, property and person safe is a priority for anyone, but are you doing enough to ensure your security is a deterrent to prevent burglary?

While it’s impossible to guarantee the security of any property there are a number of reasonable and inexpensive steps you can take to ensure your home isn’t the next to be added to the local crime statistics. Some are obvious, such as keeping doors and windows locked, some are less immediately apparent, such as keeping your hedges and fences in good order, so let’s take a look at your house from the point of view of a burglar to see what they see, and what can be done about it.

Kerb Appeal

Despite common misconception, most break-ins take place in daylight and last for between 5 and 10 minutes. Burglars will be drawn to high value items which can be easily sold on, most especially things which can be easily carried, such as jewellery, cash, phones, laptops, and the like. If anyone passing can see into your home, that doors and windows aren’t secure or are old and worn, then they may be tempted to break in and take what they want. Read more

Take Complete Control Of Your Automated Home With Control4

Control4 is one of the world’s leading complete home automation systems, allowing you to take total control of a huge variety of electronic devices with a single touch, swipe or voice command.

Described as an ‘operating system for the home’ by some, it seamlessly connects TV, lighting, security, communications, and entertainment systems not only in the home, but for retail and business premises too. It’s the unified Smart Home system which enhances the experience of all its users by being easy to use, and energy efficient. Control4 integrates and operates with more than 13,000 different third party electronic devices made by a huge range of household name manufacturers of a multitude of diverse durables and services, including Sonos, Nest, Lutron, Hulu, Napster, Apple Macintosh, Pioneer, Bose, Mitsubishi, and Toshiba. All these companies make devices which can easily be added to the Control4 environment, all working together and making use ever easier. Read more