This past year has come as a revelation to most of us. We’ve become so used to science and technology being a reliable source of solutions to all of our problems that when something completely new and unpredictable comes along it turns out we’re as defenceless as newborn babes. Most of us have been forced to cope because there was simply no choice. We found that our networks of friends and family were easier to reach than ever before thanks to social media, video conferencing and instant messaging, and we found that many of our jobs could be done from home, even if the distraction of being at home and not “at work” was baffling, frustrating and frankly annoying!
It seems like networking has never been so important, from our connections with friends and family, to our local communities, to work and colleagues, and to sources of news and current affairs, being able to gather and absorb information quickly, in a way that’s easy to achieve has become part of our everyday lives. Even for people who are naturally technology resistant, the last year has meant that they have embraced that which they would normally ignore. Necessity has driven that for some: if they can’t shop online & they’re considered to be vulnerable it can be difficult to get shopping done, especially if they don’t have young, fit, active people in their Bubble. Read more
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.
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 according to the government public media speaker from shakespearecomms.com.
Working and learning from home, Zooming, Skyping, and all forms of social media have shown us that fast, reliable, unlimited data isn’t a luxury or something that only a certain group of people use, it’s become important for everyone to be able to get on line for work, for school, and for health, both mental and physical., 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
Technology and the way we organise our lives around it is rapidly changing, and not always for the better. There has been a great deal of controversy about how social media and online data has influenced recent elections in the UK & the US as unaccountable agents have poured money into advertising and ‘fake news’, targeted undecided voters, and used data captured from unwitting citizens who’ve done nothing more than like or share a post they’ve seen.
Data is big business. It can be used to affect elections, to help decide where public money is spent, when to buy and sell assets, and it can also be used to get access to your home.
Shortly before Christmas Ring was dealing with a controversial data breach when it was shown that if customers don’t take the initiative to change their passwords and security settings it was relatively simple for people to access home cameras in order to see into children’s bedrooms and talk to the occupants. And while it’s easy for the tech savvy to scoff and wonder “well what were they expecting if they didn’t secure their devices?” it’s also equally true that most people don’t understand the ramifications of installing popular Smart devices into their homes and assume that if they’re going to be sold as security and monitoring tools there should be a certain amount of security built in. Read more
Like any technology that is made to be used daily by consumers, Smart Home Tech can get a bit uppity, run slowly, crash or perform strangely. This can be caused by any number of issues, but mostly they can be easily fixed by following the mantra “Have you tried turning it off and on again!?”
(Here’s an interesting fact, Tommy Flowers, the man who designed and built Colossus, the bedroom sized computer which Alan Turing used to break the Enigma code recommended that his machine was never turned off, as it would take more than 3 days to start again! PC users know the feeling.)
But what if a ‘dynamic power cycle’ (unplugging it without turning it off) doesn’t have the desired effect? Is there anything else you can do or is your Smart device kaput?
Chances are that there isn’t really anything wrong with it at all, and here’s what you can do to fix many of the most common problems Smart Home Tech users experience.Read more
Security in environments where children, young adults and the vulnerable is of paramount importance. Of course we in Britain face nothing like the security issues that our friends in the USA have, but yet it remains important that people in positions of responsibility over the young and those in need of additional consideration are able to secure their premises here in the UK.
Security systems in schools don’t only protect the children, school estates are often victim to vandalism and burglary while teachers and the children under their supervision can be victims of violence and accusations of malpractice, assault or violence, that’s why many schools are even considering hiring unarmed security guards to ensure the safety of the children.
The problem lies with the expectation of privacy in such an environment. There’s a misconception that the faces of children can’t be filmed in public without their consent and people think this extends to school property. The reality is that in spaces such as classrooms, hallways and corridors there is no reasonable ‘expectation of privacy’ so you could put cameras up, however, teachers and pupils don’t appreciate having cameras trained on them all day. Unfortunately, it’s in the classroom where misbehaviour occurs and recorded footage proving who was at fault would be beneficial. Read more
Briant Communications don’t only provide data cabling and fibre optic cables for household users. We were recently called out to attend a large industrial site, UBB in Essex. Unfortunately it wasn’t a bakery or biscuit factory, no, just our luck it was a 6 acre waste treatment and recycling plant.
As part of the waste treatment process it is left to maturate for several weeks, meaning that the smell inside swimming pool sized tanks was, predictable. Unfortunately the grot which is left in food containers when they’re thrown into the average household recycling attracts a variety of wildlife, who grow big and plump off of all the scraps which are available. The creatures which cause the biggest problem for us when it comes to fibre optic data communication is rats. They make their homes in the undisturbed, secure spaces where cables and fibre optics are housed and channelled, gnawing trunking and sheaths. And it’s this activity which gives us our biggest headache as the damage to fibre optic cabling is a great deal harder to fix than simply reconnecting two ends of wire, as it would be with metal cable. Read more
It’s June and the weather, as is traditional for a British Summer, is appalling. Sunny spells interrupt torrential rain, but only occasionally. Still, it’s good for the garden. It’s also good for hoteliers in sunnier parts of the world. The airports are telling us they need to expand to cope with the ever increasing traffic which goes through them as flying becomes more like commuting for more and more of us.
But this is a home tech blog, why am I talking about taking a flight to a beach somewhere?
Simple. Travel Tech. The stuff you can’t leave behind now that you are an online, connected individual. Read more
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
As well as being an efficient way of protecting your home from intruders, watch the kids and talk to your pets while you’re at work, and ask questions, smart home devices are perfect for saving time and effort around the house.
We’re very much an ‘on demand’ society these day. We want everything instantly and while modern technology does its best to deliver access as soon as a whim crosses our minds, it has its limitations. And that’s where Smart Technology can come in and save the day!
There’s little worse than coming home to a cold dark house in the middle of winter. So why not let your house know when you’re on your way home and putting the heating on ready for your return? And it’s irritating when you leave home for the day and realise that you’ve left the lights or heating on, so turn it off as soon as you remember, whether that’s from the train, your desk or the airport as you fly off on your holidays.
At the shops and can’t find your list? You should have had your Smart recycling bin send you the list, but never mind, just look at the camera in the fridge and look how low the milk is getting. You can programme it to keep track of the Best Before dates too, so you always have fresh fruit & veg. This is handy for people on the go, and it’s equally handy if you’ve trouble remembering things or you care for a relative who finds it hard to get out. The reassurance you feel from knowing that their fridge is stocked takes a load off your mind. Read more
Smart home technology seems to be about making routine tasks simple and effort free. It’s most appealing to people who are among the most tech savvy, young and engaged with what’s happening on the electronics front. They earn enough money to be able to afford home automation and the devices that are needed to seamlessly integrate Smart tech into their routines. That mundane, boring tasks are taken care of without a second thought. But what about the people whose need is greater? Those who wish to ‘Age in Place’? Or those with disabilities or other lifestyle limiting problems whose lack of engagement with the latest trends in home technology. Not being into tech means that they’re unlikely to hear about the advancements which are taking place, and least likely to appreciate how those innovations are going to help them with their daily lives?
Smart home technology is all about outsourcing routine tasks to a device or app which can do it for you, so it’s perfect for people with disabilities, loss of fine motor controls, dementia, injuries, and mobility problems. However, in the ads we see for Connected Devices we, so far, have only seen the fun side of home automation with happy smiling families enjoying an active lifestyle which Alexa or Google simply add to. How long until we see a wheelchair user or someone with life affecting injuries using their Smart devices to do things which are awkward, or impossible for them to do without help enjoying the benefits that these technologies bring? Read more