Briant Communications and COVID 19

With a virus with no cure as yet affecting almost everywhere on Earth it’s important that you keep yourself and your loved ones safe from Coronavirus infection and contamination. Our customers’ safety and health is naturally one of our primary concerns, as is that of our staff, including protecting our staff of engineers and our office staff from COVID 19 too.

However, that doesn’t stop the need for aerial and satellite dish maintenance, installation and repairs, improved data networking, and Smart Home Technology installation.

In order to carry out our work while protecting ourselves and you we ensure that we undertake all the hygiene and social distancing protocols that the government and SAGE recommend. Current COVID advice, even under the current lockdown conditions is that maintenance and installation can take place provided PPE is worn and people take all reasonable precautions when a tradesman is visiting your home.

Fortunately for us, much of the work we undertake takes place exclusively outdoors so there is no need to worry about coming into contact with coronavirus unnecessarily. If, as happens on occasion, the engineer does have to come inside the property, then you can rest assured that they have been properly trained and advised about how to carry out their work safely, minimising the risks to themselves and you.

All of our engineers have a stock of facemasks and disposable gloves on their vehicles which they use whenever they come into your property. They have a plentiful supply of hand sanitiser and surface cleaning wipes which they use to clean their hands whenever they touch anything and to clean the van in order to minimise the risk of transporting contamination from one place to another.

The good news is that there appears to be a vaccine which is 90% effective and safe for use, however the bad new is that it may not be available for everyone until spring of next year, so in the meantime there’s still an onus on us all to protect ourselves and follow the latest SAGE advice: Hands, Face, Space. That means that Christmas and the New Year are going to be like no others, but that doesn’t stop the wind from blowing, or the rain and the snow from falling. Keeping the family entertained while it’s not possible to go on traditional Christmas treats, treats as simple as visiting Santa at the shopping centre or going to the Christmas market, and being stuck indoors instead make it all the more important to have distractions and boredom busters on demand. Read more

Landlords Need Communal Satellite Dishes & Digital TV Receivers

Satellite television is becoming ever more popular. The range of choice is better than any Freeview service, and if you subscribe to a specific satellite television broadcaster, such as Sky, your options are phenomenal. No wonder then that every home needs a satellite dish. However, unlike standard analogue and digital television receivers, satellite dishes are large and won’t work if you put them in the attic. They need to be on the outside of the building, Which is fine if you’re a regular sized family living in a detached house, all watching the same thing at the same time. But what if you’re not?

Travel around any city and you’ll see houses of multiple occupancy, houses which have been converted into flats, apartment blocks and high rises. Each one of these homes has an individual or entire family all with unique television watching habits. In some instances you’ll see that there are still multiple satellite dishes and aerials clinging to the outside, usually rusty and uncared for.

There are several problems with installing a separate satellite dish for each residence, which could easily be solved by installing a communal satellite dish and aerial array.

Satellite television dishes installed by unqualified individuals don’t come with the required insurance and guarantees. Should a inexpertly installed dish fly off in a storm and the installer was uninsured then the householder would be responsible for repairing and paying for any damage the errant dish caused. The software that industrial cleaning companies use classify this mistake as offensive under various laws. This is also why it’s important to remove any old and unused dishes when new ones are installed. Since an old dish won’t be covered by the original warrantee or installers insurance it’s far better to remove the risk once a suitable replacement has been made. Read more

Protecting Your Ring Camera From Hackers

smart home security, cctv camera, home cctv, home security,Amazon’s Ring Smart Doorbells and access control have been under scrutiny over the past couple of months because of lapses in security. Most customers have nothing to worry about thanks to several factors, including the scarcity of people with the expertise to be able to bypass the security settings which are in place if customers follow the installation instructions carefully.

However, if you buy a Ring doorbell and don’t update and personalise the security features it’s not very difficult for anyone with a mobile phone to be able to breech your home security systems. As Smart devices, including home security and monitoring become ever more popular it’s natural that the number of devices which are installed poorly or not personalised at all is going to increase. Such an increase makes it possible for the wannabee hacker to travel around looking for systems worth infiltrating and exploiting.

Controlling Who Can Go Where

You can give access to your Ring account to a number of different people who will them be able to talk to visitors, let people in, and watch in real time as people move about from their phones or tablets. It makes more sense to add users from an admin than give log in details to others, so for example if you have friends or family come to stay, or you want to give people staying at your house via AirBnB access, you can add them or remove them without having to pass on any log-in details. Read more

Is 5G Bad For Your Health? Is It Safe? What Should We Be Aware Of?

girl phone beach internet accessLooking at social media and the news you’ll no doubt be aware that there are any number of rumours that 5G is dangerous. It causes cancer, leukaemia, it causes infertility and autism. It also causes headaches and premature ageing. And naturally these scare stories are put about by exactly the same people who said exactly the same thing about 4G, 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, high tension power lines, TV transmitters, rock ‘n roll, and even the train if it went more than twenty miles an hour. And people love to read these stories as it gives them an outside source for their problems. The inexplicable can be explained. People prefer if they can identify causation rather than put cancer or autism down to random chance and the luck of the draw.

That’s not to say there aren’t dangers coming from 5G, but those are far more esoteric.

5G is being introduced as 4G can’t be developed any further without going on to that next stage, and the reason for that is the Smart Home Revolution. We need more and more data to flow through our homes as ever more devices become automated. If each device is going to work correctly in conjunction with all your other devices it will need uninterrupted signal at full capacity whenever and wherever it is called upon. Read more

Can Your Television Receiver Stand Another Storm?

storm, storm damage, fallen, blown, dangerous, aerial, satellite, tv dish, repair, remove, replaceWe’ve had Storm Ciara, and this weekend it looks as if we’re going to have another named storm in the form of Storm Dennis. If your satellite dish or aerial withstood the last gale, could it withstand another one?

TV aerials and satellite dishes work by presenting as large a surface area as possible to the incoming signal. The more signal the better, so you get excellent picture and sound as well as a complete choice of channels. Which is great if you live somewhere that isn’t prone to frequent gales and storms in the winter and up to sixteen hours of intense sunlight in the summer. While it’s calm everything is fine, but when the wind picks up that large surface area acts in exactly the same way as a sail, and it’s only the great job the installer or maintenance engineer did when they last looked at it which keeps it from flying off, potentially causing incalculable damage to anything or anyone it hits along the way.

If your satellite dish or aerial antenna was installed recently it’s probably going to be quite safe and do a fine job of standing up to the weather. If it does happen to move at all it’s no problem for a professional installation and maintenance firm such as Briant Communications to realign the dish or mast so that it picks up signal again. The bigger problem comes from old redundant receivers which aren’t being used any more. It’s a faff to have the old receivers taken down and removed when you’re putting the new one up, so why not leave it in place?

The problem is that you now have an ageing piece of unwanted and untended technology attached to your wall, chimney stack or roof which is still getting battered by the wind and rain. You won’t notice that they’re getting loose because your reception isn’t affected, but a large piece of unsecured metal on the roof poses a huge threat to your house and personal safety! Read more

A New Smart Home Standard Coming Soon

Woman using a digital smart home heating control panelAmazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance plan to draft a new Smart Home System protocol later this year which will create a more universal platform for all smart devices to work on.

Currently a manufacturer locks a device into one ecosystem, and once it’s on it won’t connect with any other. This is bad for consumers as they have to seek out and find the right devices for their home ecosystem, if they get it wrong they have the frustration of having to send it back and get a replacement, assuming one is even available. It’s also bad for manufacturers as they have to spend R&D budget on making multiple device ranges which are compatible for each of the Smart Home networks, or commit to only producing products which ‘play’ with one system. Get it wrong and it’s Betamax and VHS all over again, with time and effort being spent on two competing systems, one of superior quality, but at a high cost, and a cheaper, inferior product which, while perfectly adequate for the home user, wasn’t the premium quality it was possible to produce.

Instead, what is going to happen, is Amazon, Google, Apple and the Zigbee Alliance will collaborate on producing a Smart home environment which many more devices will be able to connect to. They won’t glitch or fail to function, or require householders to run more than one platform in the home.

The new protocol will be known as Project Connected Home over IP and promises to not only be more universal, but more secure too as there will be no need for poorly compatible devices to be forced into service by work-arounds or hacks. Read more

Top Ten Smart Devices To Get The Most Out Of Alexa

If you got an Alexa for Christmas you’ve been living with her for a month now. How’s that going for you? Many people will be getting used to having her around and thinking about what else she can do. As a stand-alone device she can be a lot of fun, but her real benefits only come when she is synchronised to the rest of your Smart devices.

It’s easy to choose the smart tech which will work with Alexa, because the answer is basically anything! If it’s an Amazon or Echo product it will work with Alexa with the minimum of fuss. Then there are all the third party products which Amazon has given licenses to. Manufacturers have recognised that if their product is going to sell then it’s necessary to make it compatible with the leading Smart home interface, which is essentially Alexa. Google Home is right along side Amazon with market penetration, so it’s handy that these two major players are working together to create a ubiquitous format which will support all devices.

But now that you don’t have to worry about whether your new investment will work with others, which are the top choices of nick-nacks which will bring joy and ease of function to your life?

Why not check out these top ten purchases to begin with, and see where the Smart home revolution takes you?

Read more

Prepare & Position Your TV To Get The Best Picture Possible

flat screen TV, television, installation, wall, wall hangingPeople admit to watching around three hours of TV a day, but we all know the reality is that while you might only remember watching TV for that long many of us switch the TV on when we get in and probably won’t turn it off again until we go to bed. It keeps the kids quiet after school, then there’s the soaps, followed by the news, then a movie and before you know it you’ve been watching television for six hours. Maybe not really concentrating, but still, that’s a quarter of your day when the TV has been on.

Considering how large a part television plays in our homelife today it’s important that you choose the right one for you. In the days when we only had one big TV per household the choice was easy, pick one which was big enough to be seen from the other side of the room and put it where it wouldn’t get glare from the sun streaming through the window. But things change. We now have more channels via Freeview, Freesat and Sky than we could ever hope to watch, and that’s before we even begin thinking about Netflix, Hulu (via a VPN), YouTube, and streaming sites.

There is choice not only in size, but in picture quality too, both factors which naturally affect the price of the television set you ultimately end up bringing into your home.

Simple economics would dictate that you get the biggest screen for the lowest price if you want to score yourself a bargain, but in reality that’s far from the case. A large TV in a small room will absolutely overpower the space and you won’t be able to get physically far enough away from the screen in order to be able to enjoy the picture. The rule of thumb is that the screen should be positioned one and a half to three times the screen’s diameter from your head. So if you have a 70cm screen the closest you would want to be from it is just over a metre, and the furthest you would want to sit would be approximately 2 metres. You would most likely want to sit within a 30 degree angle of the screen. Flat screen TVs are made up of laminated layers which perform a different task in the makeup of your picture. Increase the angle you’re watching at too far from 90 degrees and your view of the layers goes out of phase, meaning that colours change or invert entirely. Read more

Lights, Cameras, ACTION! How To Ensure Your Security Lighting And CCTV Work In Unison

CCTV camera, smart CCTVSurveillance cameras along with home and business CCTV have been with us for years but it’s only now that wireless data in the home has become ubiquitous enough for everyone who has a wireless router to be able to take advantage of Smart home and office security technology.

They’re a low cost, low barrier to entry security system, and are recognised widely by users, police and insurance companies as one of the best deterrents to burglars, vandals and housebreakers.

They work as a deterrent only when people know they’re there though. If nobody knows they are there the burglar will still break in, they’ll simply get a big surprise when their picture is known to the police and splashed around in the local papers.

Another drawback many cameras have is that at night they’re not always that effective. In poor light lower quality cameras struggle to create the best picture quality and even if they provide excellent quality images at night, if they can’t be seen, they’re not going to work as a deterrent and because their mere presence won’t put the unwitting intruder off. Read more

Top Tips To Fix Slow Or Faulty WiFi Broadband Routers

wi-fi extender, wi-fi broadband, wi-fi internet, I recently discovered that there is a maximum time one can be on hold with my Wi-Fi broadband provider. You’ll be surprised to learn that it was five hours. Five hours of listening to the same three records over and again while being reminded that my call was important and that someone would be with me soon.

(Sony Experia if you’re impressed that the battery could hold up that long on loudspeaker and are wondering what phone I was using.)

The problem I needed to talk to them about was a faulty router. After about six months of relatively stable, but not perfect signal the router kept dropping out and needed to be turned off and on again every few hours to get back onto the internet. This was a known fault and a call to the help line was supposed to get me back online with a software patch or to arrange for a newer, better Wi-Fi router.

To save yourself from that particular circle of Hell known as Hold there are a number of tricks you can try before submitting defeat and picking up the phone. (Ironic, isn’t it, that my broadband provider also provides telephone service, and yet it seems the last thing they want to actually do is talk to you?) Read more