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

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

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

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

We Love To Network, Be That Face To Face Or Cable

fibre installation, fibre optic, ultrafast fibre dataWith lockdown coming to an end in a few weeks many of us are itching to get back into the office. A lot of people are pointing out that coronavirus has shown how easy it is for many of us to work from home, but then there are plenty of other people who need the structure, free of distractions, that working in an office alongside their colleagues brings. We like networking, seeing other people’s ideas, discussing our own ideas with experts, and not the cat or our partners or children. We need spontaneous interaction which doesn’t involve someone you made a part of your bubble weeks or even months ago popping around and chatting to you for hours when you’re actually on the clock and trying to get some work done!

This is the quiet before the storm for many workplaces. As we get back to normal, or adjust to the new normal depending on how much your workplace has been affected there is a brief window currently available to get a great deal of infrastructure work done.
A lot of businesses didn’t take advantage of the furlough over the last summer to get routine maintenance and planned improvements done. I have personal experience of managers who were frustrated by their higher-ups because they didn’t use the time which was available to them to make the necessary improvements which had been discussed long before Covid even became a ‘thing’. Instead they adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach which meant that when people were able to briefly return to work in the late summer & autumn they were met with the same problems they had been facing previously, rather than enjoying souped up, improved, and effective improvements. Read more

How Important Are Cabling, Satellite Dish & Aerial Servicing & Repairs?

cable installation, secure cable, cable, TV, TV cable, satellite TV, TV aerialWere you tricked by the weather? Did that brief glimpse of sun at the beginning of the month have you fooled that spring was here & that you’d soon be on the beach enjoying an ice cream & a few cold ones around the barbecue any minute now?
Weren’t we all! And now March is back in full effect. “In like a lion, out like a lamb” as the old expression goes. But I guess we all wanted something to look forward to so we thought winter had ended early. No such luck!

Gales and storms are back with us once again, and with that come the inevitable storm damage to aerials, satellite dishes, and loose cabling. The damage that storms and gales can do to TV receivers is obvious. They’re large surfaces secured to your wall or chimney by only a few bolts, bolts which can easily rust of become loose over time if not properly serviced and maintained. If the wind catches them hard enough, or long enough eventually they are going to get so loose that they fall down or fly away, presenting a huge danger of injury or property damage to anyone or anything which happens to cross their path.

Loose Cable Causes No End Of Problems

Loose cabling isn’t a problem so often addressed, although it can do a lot of damage and interfere with your TV reception far more quickly than an aerial or satellite dish if they were properly installed at the same time. Read more

Our Latest “Before And After” Cable Installation

before & after, cable installation, rewiring, satellite, aerial, TV, television, expert, professional, skilled engineerWe make mention a lot about our ‘professional cable installation‘ and you may wonder why. After all, it’s just putting cables under floors and behind walls, no big deal, right?

If you look at these before and after photos from a recent job our engineers undertook you’ll start to see why it’s so important to do the job properly. Various different installers of varying degrees of expertise all seem to have had a go at this in the past.
It’s easy be break or damage a cable, especially if you don’t know where it is, and that’s why professional cable installation is so important, whether it’s in your HMO, apartment block, office or industrial unit. Read more

Building, Renovating Or Refurbing? We Need To Talk About Data Cable!

fibre installation, fibre optic, ultrafast fibre dataWhether you’re renovating an old building, adding an extension, or building a new project from the ground up, it’s always a good idea to think about futureproofing. You wouldn’t leave electric wiring or plumbing out and add it as an afterthought, so why leave data cable to last?

Can installing digital infrastructure really be considered ‘futureproofing’ at all? We can all see how digital broadband data is here to stay, the only question is, how much of it we’re going to need as we become ever more data hungry? Ten years ago you would have been happy for one computer in your house to get fast access to Facebook to see who had most recently thrown a sheep at you or poked you (no, nobody knew then, nobody knows now. It was just one of those things), but today we need ‘instant on’ when we’re streaming movies, watching online TV, downloading and sharing music, and of course, checking our news feed on Facebook… And that’s not even considering the data that’s needed for Smart Home Automation devices and the demands that Covid has put on us in regards to working from home, always being in & needing to find ways of entertaining the kids and breaking up the Groundhog Day-like monotony of lockdown after lockdown. Putting all those aspects of modern home life and, together with Moore’s Law that technology becomes cheaper, faster and smaller with every passing year, it’s hard to imagine what the home without a broadband spine leading from the router to the street, or a strong, stable ultrafast wireless broadband connection would look like to Future Us. Read more

networking, fibre, fibreoptic, data, broadband data, broadband internet

Better Broadband Means Better Prices & Better Customer Service

networking, fibre, fibreoptic, data, broadband data, broadband internetHow have you been treated by your broadband provider recently? Are you happy with the bills and customer service you receive? A lot of people aren’t, and with good reason.

Not long ago Sky revealed that it would be increasing the cost of some of their packages, including broadband, pay TV and phone contracts from April to May this year. EE, BT and Virgin are all raising prices in March, using the Consumer Price Index as a justification.

How Does The Consumer Price Index Work?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) take an imaginary “basket of goods” which statisticians and economists believe everybody wants and uses more or less every day, and compares the cost of each item against one another and the income of the British Public. The outcome of this number-crunching gives us a handy way to judge inflation, how much a pound is worth in spending power today compared with how much it had last year, five years, or even ten years ago, and how much spending power it has against other currencies, such as the dollar or euro.

Things are added to the CPI Basket of Goods as they become essential to our lives, and get left out as our tastes change. As well as things you would find in a literal shopping basket it also contains a raft of other items and costs, including bedroom furniture, rent, and one of the most recent additions: broadband internet. Read more