I was looking through Facebook and a question arose in one of the groups we follow here at Briant Communications: “So, does CCTV deter burglars, or just make them think you must have expensive stuff?” but because it’s a sensible, helpful group and not full of sarcastic, unhelpful know-it-alls, many of the answers were quite enlightening.
A lot of people have taken up the use of CCTV to protect their property and businesses from intruders and thieves and have first hand experience of the benefits that can be had from simply keeping a 24 hour eye on your home.
Naturally there are some who elaborate upon apocryphal, anecdotal stories of gangs of burglars breaking into garages with angle grinders and look-outs armed with baseball bats guarding the thieves and keeping the homeowners at bay as they steal high performance motorcycles from the property. However, many commenters make remarkably salient points. Read more
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
I like to think of myself as an intelligent guy who can spot phishing and fraudulent attempts to scam me into handing over my personal information, and for the most part I’m successful. I get so many calls from scammers using private numbers or from places with area codes I’m not familiar with that I know what’s going to happen as soon as I pick up: either the line goes dead or I’m told by a robot that my Amazon Prime account is going to be renewed, that I was involved in a car accident which wasn’t my fault, or that BT Internet has discovered my neighbours are stealing my data and I need take action immediately to stop them.
Just for fun, since it costs me nothing and I’m interested to see how the scam works I go along with it. The scams are so incredibly obvious it’s astonishing they can work, yet some poor, overly trusting marks must fall for it, else they wouldn’t keep using the same old methods.
The Amazon fraud works by telling you that you’re going to be charged for something you don’t want. So naturally you talk to the ‘customer service representative’ and press 1 to fix it. They tell you to go to a website which is hosted on Wix, a perfectly respectable web hosting business which is in no way connected to the scam. The problem with the fraud is that the scammers are too cheap to even pay for hosting so the website they use has a .wix suffix and has adverts for their other premium services popping up during your visit. Not something you’d expect from a multi-billion dollar company such as Amazon. The rep tells you to click on a link, except the link is a download for software which is sure to damage your computer and give up your details. I don’t know what is supposed to happen next as I gave up my pretence of credulity and told them off for having such a pathetically obvious scam, and that I would be ashamed if I was to try anything so amateurish. Read more
Did you have a good Christmas? What was your best present? Did you get lots of Smart Tech and digital gadgets? Good for you!
The market for Smart devices and high definition television keeps on growing. Smart speakers are now on to their fourth generation, and with 5g technology becoming available throughout the country their usefulness is becoming amplified.
What’s 5g got to do with your Smart Speaker or Home Automation system?
Smart devices connect to one another wirelessly, that’s true, but they don’t juts perform one operation or have one conversation with another smart device at a time. Smart devices are always on, looking out for updates, listening out for each other as well as your voice in order to perform their role properly. If they didn’t there would be no point having them. There’s no point yelling “Alexa! Turn the kettle on!” in the lounge if nothing in the kitchen is connected.
And this uses digital data. If you only have three or four Smart machines then a run-of-the mill router can more than satisfy your home system’s data requirements, but, as we fill our homes with more and more Smart devices, TV which are connected to Netflix and Google, speakers which are linked to your Spotify account and home security which is uploading sound and images to the cloud whenever anybody walks onto your property there is a need for a lot of data. Lots and lots of it.
I Feel The Need, The Need For Data Speed!
It’s not just the amount of data you have either, it’s the speed of that data which is important. There’s not much point having unlimited data if it comes in so slowly that it would take hours to download a movie. Playing games online or streaming films would be impossible as the action would freeze every few seconds while buffering took place and the data caught up with where you’d got to in the action.
Ultrafast data doesn’t only mean that your Smart devices can work more efficiently though. It may seem that once you have fast or superfast then ultrafast is gilding the lily, but this is to miss the point. The speed at which data is delivered is inextricably linked to the number of devices you can have working at any one time. A movie will use a certain amount of data, so, depending on whether you download or stream it will affect the amount of data there is available to other devices. If you can download an entire movie in less than a minute then it will have negligible impact on your smart devices unless you call on all of them to do different tasks while the movie loads. If on the other hand you’re streaming a movie and the cache is five minutes ahead of where you are in the narrative then that’s five minutes when all the data coming into your home can be used for anything but streaming the sound and vision without you noticing. It’s when you do notice that there’s a problem. There’s nothing like the particular frustration we feel when we’re just getting to a good bit and the action freezes! Only for it to stop and start again until you’ve turned everything off and on again. But this simply doesn’t happen with Ultrafast broadband, and if it does, talk to your supplier and get it fixed.
We started off talking about flat screen HD television sets. It’s true to say that the way we watch TV since the Digital Switchover in 2012 has changed in ways that were the stuff of science fiction before. To simply be able to pause, rewind and watch a live sports event was a childish fantasy. If you missed a show, that was it, there was no catch-up or +1 channel. And recording an entire series as it was shown would mean endless VHS programming, making sure the right tape was in the machine, and heaven forbid the tape ran out before the end of the show!
But wait! What if your receiver is damaged or starts to move about thanks to storms? If you’re watching Sky TV through a satellite dish which is poorly maintained, or Freeview using an aerial which is rusty or loose you’ll find that you don’t get all the channels you expect, you experience glitching and freezing. Having to reset decoder boxes because channels have dropped off often means losing all of your stored shows and having to reset all your scheduled recordings. A time consuming, tedious job which could have been avoided if your aerial or satellite system had been properly serviced.
Christmas 2020 won’t be much like any others we’ve ever known before. In some ways that’s a sad thing, and in others, a clear benefit. You may doubt it right now, but I’ll explain: You may not be able to jet off to sunnier climes since social distancing, two lockdowns and a general concern with being in a tin can breathing recycled air would put anyone off air travel. You may not be able to go skiing for much the same reason, and the thought of putting extra stress on local hospitals if you break a limb when they’re busy dealing with people who are sick because of Covid seems unfair. But a year of social distancing and lockdowns has taught us to be resilient, to rely on our common sense, and to embrace technology as our friend instead of an inconvenience which must be overcome. Broadband internet is here to save Christmas!
Perhaps I’m preaching to the wrong people, and it’s technophobes and traditionalists who really need to get the message, but there seem to be fewer and fewer of them around since connecting with digital communications, and therefore each other is becoming increasingly easy.
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
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.
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
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
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?
People 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