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

Get Smart, Get Superfast WiFi Access Throughout Your Home And Garden

The convenience of wireless it that you can take your networked devices anywhere with you. Desktop computers no longer outcompete laptops, except that they don’t need recharging and the screen size isn’t limited to the dimensions of a laptop. Phones work everywhere, and Wi Fi enabled speakers can be set up anywhere you want throughout the home to enjoy hifi quality sound in every room. The only drawback was that stray too far from the router, into the garden for example, and your wireless connected devices would start to misbehave. Sound stutters, downloads pause and streaming TV or movies pause (invariably at the moment where the action gets exciting).

While this is irritating for those of us who use Wi-Fi strictly for entertainment, for those of us who have Smart Home Automation a poor Wi-Fi signal means that devices such as burglar alarms and CCTV can’t be relied upon. If you work from home as a writer, designer, musician, or any other profession which requires instant and dependable access to digital communication, including internet, Skype, or file transfer platforms a poor signal in the home is a problem. And if you’ve set up your office or studio in an outbuilding or converted the garage into a workshop then one option is running a cable from your Wi-Fi or internet router to your laptop or desktop. A far from perfect solution. Read more

Preparing Your Home For Another Stormy Winter On The South Coast

poor aerial installationAs October draws on it’s a good time to think about preparing your home for the storms and snow that houses in the south east of England face this winter.

People who live on the south coast and along the South Downs will be more than familiar with the gales which can batter the region for days any time between October and April. We’re inured to it and laugh inwardly at those who are new to the area, who think that an umbrella will be of any consequence against weather which is coming in sideways.

But right now is the perfect time to prepare your house for winter, and all that it brings. Summer is a time when we’re all out enjoying the benefits of living in southern England, but now, as the nights draw in and the thermometer falls, it’s time to plan for the worst it has to offer.

Maintenance and Repairs

Autumn is the perfect time to carry out domestic repairs as the jobs which need doing reveal themselves. You won’t have noticed the rattling draughty windows during summer as they were all flung open to let the fresh air in, but now you’ve closed them you notice how much care they need. The same goes for many maintenance jobs.

Sash windows are prone to rattle and let in drafts. Wedges in the corners will hold them still and reduce a lot of the drafts, however, a draft excluder designed for small gaps inserted where the bottom and upper sash meet fill the equivalent of a two inch square home in every window in the house. Read more

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Professional Vs DIY Home Security Systems?

home security, security, business security, DIY, burglar alarm, intruder alarmRecent surveys have revealed that in up to 28% of broadband users have an active internet based security system, 24% also take advantage of a monitoring service. Most of these people are homeowners with children. And many of these people have chosen to go down the DIY path when it comes to installation.

The message put out by the manufacturers including Ring, Hive, Nest, et cetera is being picked up the consumer as a further 52% report as being “highly likely” to purchase a security system of their own, and install it themselves.

So what are the pros and cons of DIY burglar alarm and security system installations versus a professional installation service?

The first consideration is naturally the cost. Buying a system that you can take straight out of the box and put up yourself is clearly going to be cheaper than buying a system and then paying a professional to mount it for you.

Then there is the convenience. If you’re a DIYer and you have the skills and tools required you can buy a home security system, get it home, wire it in and have it up and running in an afternoon. You don’t have to make an appointment for someone to come and see your property, recommend a system, order it, and then come back and install the product. Read more

Smart Advantages Make Life Easier For People With Disabilities.

As we age we have to accept that we generally start to lose our faculties. It’s natural and accepted that our hearing will go, our eyesight will become weak and our cognitive skills will also be less sharp from our middle age onwards, compared to our youth. Spectacles and hearing aids are no longer the cumbersome, unattractive ‘utility over aesthetic’ devices they once were. Now they not only serve their primary function of helping your see and hear, they look stylish (or are virtually invisible) and actively improve on what nature gave us. 

My case in point here is Smart hearing aids and Smart glasses. I recently went to stay with family and noticed my uncle has Smart hearing aids. I’m not certain he’s got the hang of them yet as he was watching TV very low and told us off for talking too loud while we were watching England snatch victory from certain defeat at the hands of New Zealand. Read more

Simple, Effective Security For Small Business

Not long ago a business’ security relied on secure windows and shutters, a large safe sturdy gates and a regular beat police officer making their rounds, keeping an eye on everything.

And of course crime was rife in those days. Don’t let anyone ever fool you that ‘back in my day you could leave your door unlocked all night and nobody would break in!’ Because the fact is that back in those days ordinary people had nothing of value to steal. The temptation for criminals and opportunists to steal from businesses and banks on the other hand was everywhere.

Bank robberies and larceny from shops, trains, security vans and businesses has largely gone by the wayside too. Staff are no longer paid in cash so there’s no point doing a wages snatch and banks do all their business electronically, meaning that there is only a couple of thousand pounds float in cash on site at any point during the day. Thanks to improved security and the low take on offer it’s not worth the risk of breaking into a bank or shop any longer if cash is what you’re looking for. Read more

Don’t Keep Changing Your Password To Keep It Safe

Child watching television in a lounge filled with furniture.We mentioned in a previous post that when security is too complex it has the unintended consequence of becoming less secure as people are forced to write down passwords, access codes and other ‘memorable’ details which it would be impossible for other people to guess but you should have memorised.

And now, finally, Microsoft has decided that regularly changing passwords is no longer required for their products which had previously still clung to the notion that getting rid of a perfectly good secure password for another password which you’ll have to remember is outdated. Of course this doesn’t give me back access to accounts which I’ve changed passwords for, promptly forgotten and, not having prepared for such an event properly, lost access to the tool, but at least it won’t happen again!

With the advent of password management tools it’s no longer necessary for our human brains to recall long, complex codes which include upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Instead we can get technology to do it for us, meaning that we can make any networked device incredibly secure. Having to arbitrarily change these passwords every few months would mean having to needlessly change a raft of different log in details. Read more

Making Homes Safer, More Efficient And More Secure With Smart Home Technology

When we talk about Smart Home Solutions it’s usually put in terms of home entertainments and making it easier to control media. What is often overlooked is the ‘Home’ aspect of the technology. We’re dazzled with the fun and exciting developments, but often overlook the incredible opportunities ‘domotics’ are offering.

Domotics is the word coined to refer to domestic robotics. These are the devices which are smart, but are related to the smooth, efficient, comfortable running of the home rather than home entertainments. Domotic devices include heating controls, smart lights, air conditioning, blinds, shutters and access control.

These devices don’t leap out as being the most exciting items on your home’s complement of goods, but in terms of function, labour saving and economy, they’re the stand-outs that are going to save you enough money to invest in the fun stuff. Bear in mind that anything which saves you money is therefore reducing energy consumption, which means that you’re saving the environment too, which are all good arguments to look into domotic

Smart Home systems. A cosy, low cost, low labour home? Sign me up! Read more

If You’ve Ever Been Burgled, You Never Forget The Feeling

home security, break in, burglary, robbery
Home Looks Secure At First, But Is It?

As soon as you walk through the door you realise there’s something amiss. It just doesn’t feel right. There’s an odd draft and it’s much colder than it normally is.

That’s your first clue. Then you notice the sound. Outdoor sounds are a little too loud and the hairs on the back of your neck and on your arms start to prickle.

If you’ve ever been the victim of a break in, you’ll know the feeling. You just know when someone’s been in your house. Even before you see the missing items and the mess they left after ransacking your property you get a feeling. And that feeling doesn’t go away quickly, it’s only added to by the feeling of violation you have knowing some stranger has had their hands all over your things. Selecting the goods they think they’ll be able to flog on quickly; electronics, jewellery, cash and cards, keys, tools, and whatever else they can carry away quickly.

Once It’s Happened To You, You Don’t Want To Get Burgled Again

Knowing that your life has been evaluated, and that there’s every chance that the burglar will be back if they saw something they liked that they couldn’t carry off, or that they will wait for you to replace your things and come back for a second sweep makes it hard to sleep at night, and hard to relax the rest of the time. So what can you do to improve your security measures, and stop them coming back if they’ve invaded your home before?

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