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Getting the most out of your Google Assistant

google assistant, smart home assistant, smart home automationGoogle Assistant can help with almost anything these days, including looking up your old photos, helping you find new podcasts to fall in love with, and finding your phone.
If you’re forgetful or absent minded and you’ve got a Google Assistant then you’ll most likely already know how to use your Google Assistant to remind you to do things but there’s a whole world of things your Smart Assistant can help with.

Making lists and notes

First of all you’ll need to add an app such as Google Keep, Any.do, or Bring to your Google Assistant. Keeping things on brand will probably cause the least friction, and Google Keep is a great resource for keeping everything online you want to read, listen to, or watch later in one place. Even before you start adding your own lists or sheets to it, you can identify any websites you find with labels of your own, making them easy to organise. Read more

Top Tips for Shopping in the Pre-Christmas / Black Friday Sales

Aerial, satellite dish, installation, home entertainment, TV hanging, TV mounting, TV wall hanging, smart home, smart home automation, smart home security, security, security devices, home security, home security camera, house alarm, business alarm, business security, home automation, environmental control, smart lighting, smart lights, smart home system, cable installation, fibre optic installation, fibre installation, fibre repair, fibre optic repair, fibre data, fibre broadband, wireless data, wireless broadband, internet service provider, isp, wireless internet service provider, wisp, worthing, arundel, angmering, hove, littlehampton, south coast, sussex, UK,Because an actual ‘Black Friday’ isn’t really a thing in the UK many shops and online retailers are currently engaging in “Black Friday Month” with ongoing discounts on many selected lines. Unfortunately many of those lines were previously available at the same low price before the promotion began, they’re selling unpopular products which won’t move otherwise, or in the case of some tech goods, they are so old that there is little or no software support left.

So, before you rush out onto the high street, or start prefixing all your searches with ‘Black Friday’ hoping to get all your Christmas shopping done on the cheap, check out these top tips for finding the real bargains, and avoiding spending good money on bad products.

*1* Research the products before you buy.

Buying something just because it looks handy, and it’s cheap doesn’t necessarily make it a bargain. Would you want it at full price? A low price might be mitigation, but look at product reviews, customer reviews and feedback on sites like Amazon and Ebay before making your decision.

*2* Never heard of it? Don’t touch it!

Generic brands aren’t market leaders for a reason. Cheap copies of established technology are likely to be made from inferior materials, lack the performance, or cut corners on security or software. You might think you’re going in with your eyes open, it’s dead cheap so you don’t expect it to last for ever, but if you’re looking at IoT connected goods, as so many are today, you could be bringing a Pandora’s box into your home, plugging it in, and switching it on before opening it. Read more

New £10m Fines To Ensure Smart Home Devices Are Secure

secure Smartwatch Photo courtesy of Smartpixel.netThe British government are showing how seriously they are taking smart home security by introducing laws to protect consumers from poor smart products.

With many generic manufacturers using apps which are vulnerable to hacking or scanning and Black Friday deals which see some less scrupulous retailers attempt to sell off old tech which has a very limited period of ongoing software support, (as well as offering “deals” on goods which have been the same price for weeks prior to the sales) the government is putting responsibility for basic security protocols onto shops and makers by ensuring that insecure devices are not put up for sale.

Manufacturers, importers and retailers will face fines of up to £10m if they fail to comply with the requirements. While that seems like a huge fine for what is to many simply a software issue, it demonstrates how seriously security for consumers is being taken. It also reflects the size of the market in smart home devices, as only a fine this size can act as a deterrent for businesses who continue to make or sell substandard home automation. Read more

The Most Easily Hacked Smart Devices, And How To Fix Their Security

We know that any incorrectly installed Smart Home devices are intrinsically prone to hacking. If you haven’t set up the security properly by only using default settings there’s a very good chance your device is going to be scanned and someone, somewhere, could use the weakness in your Smart Home environment to gain access to your home, steal personal data, or use your accounts to launch further DDoS attacks.

We also know that even making a minimal effort to protect your data and property by using unguessable names and strong, complex passwords will deter almost all attempts to attack your Smart Home devices. If you happen to own something of particular interest to the person who is keen to find out your access codes then they may try to probe deeper, but for the most part scans are carried out by bots testing default passwords against an array of devices in the hope that someone will have forgotten to secure them.

More Users, More Problems

The problem is that many Smart Home devices are designed to have more than one user, but not to have sporadic temporary users. And that can be a problem. Some people need or demand access to devices they don’t understand or refuse to learn how they work. This means that they get things wrong, change things which shouldn’t have been touched, which often it means having to change everything or revert to default to fix what they messed up. Do this too many times and it becomes frustrating for all the other users to get locked out all the time, so defaults become the standard that everybody uses again.

Devices such as Smart doorbells, smoke/fire detectors, thermostats and lights all require you to let everybody in the house, and an unquantifiable number of guest users to be able to access the settings, depending who lives with you and who you have visiting your home. You, your partner and your kids might be just fine getting along with all those devices just as they are, but your sister’s idiot boyfriend who burns the toast on Christmas morning, sets off the smoke alarm and panics, mashing the display panel and changing a slew of settings in his attempt to silence it is always going to be a loose cannon on deck. Read more

Bayside Building Bringing Better Broadband

Worthing’s Latest Luxury Apartments Enjoy Unlimited Superfast Wireless and Fibre Thanks To Briant Broadband

The Bayside building in Worthing is now completed and the newest residents have moved in, and among the features their homes enjoy, unlimited super-fast broadband as a utility from the property managers is just one of the perks.As soon as a new householder moves in to the new Worthing luxury apartments they can just plug in their computer, TV and smart devices and all the data they need is right there on demand. No searching around for the best deals, no exorbitant telephone line rentals, just ultra fast fibre broadband from cable connections and unlimited superfast wireless broadband when they want to go cable free.

How? Well, it’s all down to the latest local broadband data provider in Worthing, Briant BroadbandBriant Communications installed the fibre data network to the building, and suggested to the property managers that they might like to come to an arrangement. If Briant Broadband supplied the hardware and data, they would get access to the roof where they installed a wireless broadband transmitter. The advantages were clear; the property managers were able to provide cheap broadband as a utility, every home deals with the same provider, there is an engineer who’s local to Worthing on hand far faster than when dealing with any of the main players in the market place, and maintenance is always carried out by people familiar with the building, the area, and even a few of the residents.
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Futureproof Your Digital Broadband By Choosing The Right Technology

Image courtesy of https://www.freeimages.com/ broadband, computer, work, home, Anyone developing a building project on the south coast will be concerned about future proofing the property. But knowing what technology today is viable for the future and what will be superseded by better technology is almost impossible. If only we could count on reliability, quality and availability to help us make up our minds, but it’s not that simple either. Betamax was better than VHS. It was better quality, and there was no reason that Beta video recorders wouldn’t have become smaller and lighter in the fullness of time. So why did VHS take over?

JVC was interested in making cheap, readily available video tapes for the home. While Sony were heavily invested in music and cinema production and distribution, giving them all the networks they needed to monopolise, they failed to capitalise on their advantage as they refused to license Betamax technology to other companies. This was their major mistake as JVC were happy to let other manufacturers and licensees produce their cheaper VHS tapes. This meant that you could essentially get any other movie except a Sony production on VHS.

By the 90s we’d seen too many alternatives come onto the market and disappear. In the 80s there was laserdisc, VHS, Betamax, cassette, they were followed by CDs DVDs, Minidisc and finally MP3 and MP4. After Minidisc there was a rush to invent the next media, technology companies were looking for the next music and video storage system, but the record industry was against it. Technology was over-proliferating the market so there was a risk that nobody would buy new devices because they were worried that their new hi-fi or video player would be obsolete before the warranty had expired. A moratorium on new technology lasted for a few years while Minidiscs proved popular, useful, but unfortunately other technology was sneaking up behind. Read more

Broadband Problems? How To Get Out Of A Bad Contract

local broadband, fast broadband, Worthing broadbandWe’ve all received bad service and not got the satisfaction we feel we deserve. But if you’ve signed a broadband internet contract and you’re not getting what you wanted, here’s how to kick up the right kind of fuss!

There are few things more infuriating than not getting what you want, especially if you’re paying your own hard-earned cash for it. As kids we’re taught to live with disappointment, but as bill paying adults who aren’t getting what was sold to us or what we ordered, we reserve the right to kvetch!

If you order a pair of shoes or a dress online and they pinch, or the fit is wrong for your shape, you just send it back and get a refund or replacement. Simple. If you get a random product as a substitute in your grocery delivery you roll your eyes and hope for better luck next time (while wondering what on Earth was going on in the head of the person who substitutes a salad with a chocolate bar, or condoms with a pregnancy test!).

But what about when you’re not receiving a product or service such as broadband data that was promised? There are several things which can, and do go wrong with your Internet Service Provider, some are unavoidable, some take a bit of effort on their part to fix, and some are so chronic that you have the right to leave your contract early without incurring penalty fees or other additional costs.

Consumers who live in out-of-the-way areas may find that they’re not going to get gigabit data for the foreseeable future, fibre to the property might be a long way off and Wi-Fi might not be deliverable. These are all things the call centre agent you’re on the phone to simply can’t fix. However, if these problems genuinely can’t be avoided then the Internet Service Provider should make every effort to offer you a deliverable alternative which is reasonably priced. If they can’t, you simply shop elsewhere. Read more

Congratulations on Your Smart Doorbell

smart home security, cctv camera, home cctv, home security,Now let’s look at how to get the most out of your smart doorbell, from improving battery life to recording motion detection.

Over the past 18 months we’ve all become used to being in all the time. We’ve been shopping online rather than going to the shops, and we’re always in when the delivery driver brings our goods to the door. Now we’re finally coming out of lockdown (again) there are habits we’ll probably keep, and many we’ll lose as soon as we get used to being back in the open and enjoying society again.

Even people who are otherwise resistant to digital technology have managed to get to grips with ZoomFacebook and all the other socials which made staying in touch with the family so much easier than it would have been without them. People who previously couldn’t programme their TV to record an entire series were setting up pub quizzes via Zoom and dominating WhatsApp groups like never before.

Now that lockdown is almost over and with vaccination it looks like they may be a thing of the past, shopping from home still looks like it’s going to be one of those habits which persist. It’s convenient, retailers have been working on perfecting it for years, and after the numbers of online sales, they now have lived experience of making it work in volume long term. But there is one drawback. Although we enjoy shopping online, we won’t always be in to accept deliveries any longer. So what are we going to do?

Smart doorbells and access control solutions are precisely the piece of kit you need in such situations. Smart doorbells have several applications and advantages which people have always been keen on. You don’t have to run to the door every time it rings as you can just see who’s at the door and open it wherever you are, so if you’re in the bath, in bed, or at the bottom of the garden you can see who’s calling and decide if you want to let them in, or ask them to come back later, or even inform them that you’re calling the police.
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A Professional’s Top Ten Tips For Smart Home Security

Touch sensitive digital smart home automation control panel. As we’re coming out of lockdown and looking at getting back to normal, it’s not only Honest-Johns who will be coming out of their lockdown bubbles, blinking and squinting in the sunlight. No, hackers will have been researching, plotting, planning and putting their enforced free time to nefarious use, learning the most effective, efficient and undetectable ways to bypass weak security and gain access to your Smart Home Environment.

Naturally there are ways to keep yourself safe and secure, but you need to go above and beyond the built in and factory default settings on your Smart Home Devices if you’re going to achieve any real security. Changes to the laws manufacturers have to abide by when it comes to default settings, two stage authentication, and passwords are in the pipeline, but there are at least ten ways to secure your devices today which will add heft to your home network security. 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