Looking at social media and the news you’ll no doubt be aware that there are any number of rumours that 5G is dangerous. It causes cancer, leukaemia, it causes infertility and autism. It also causes headaches and premature ageing. And naturally these scare stories are put about by exactly the same people who said exactly the same thing about 4G, 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, high tension power lines, TV transmitters, rock ‘n roll, and even the train if it went more than twenty miles an hour. And people love to read these stories as it gives them an outside source for their problems. The inexplicable can be explained. People prefer if they can identify causation rather than put cancer or autism down to random chance and the luck of the draw.
That’s not to say there aren’t dangers coming from 5G, but those are far more esoteric.
5G is being introduced as 4G can’t be developed any further without going on to that next stage, and the reason for that is the Smart Home Revolution. We need more and more data to flow through our homes as ever more devices become automated. If each device is going to work correctly in conjunction with all your other devices it will need uninterrupted signal at full capacity whenever and wherever it is called upon. 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
I recently discovered that there is a maximum time one can be on hold with my Wi-Fi broadband provider. You’ll be surprised to learn that it was five hours. Five hours of listening to the same three records over and again while being reminded that my call was important and that someone would be with me soon.
(Sony Experia if you’re impressed that the battery could hold up that long on loudspeaker and are wondering what phone I was using.)
The problem I needed to talk to them about was a faulty router. After about six months of relatively stable, but not perfect signal the router kept dropping out and needed to be turned off and on again every few hours to get back onto the internet. This was a known fault and a call to the help line was supposed to get me back online with a software patch or to arrange for a newer, better Wi-Fi router.
To save yourself from that particular circle of Hell known as Hold there are a number of tricks you can try before submitting defeat and picking up the phone. (Ironic, isn’t it, that my broadband provider also provides telephone service, and yet it seems the last thing they want to actually do is talk to you?) Read more
Buying Smart Home CCTV Or Security Systems For Christmas Could Come With An Unpleasant Surprise If You Don’t Take Precautions
You may have seen an article taken from WMC, a television station in the States, which has been shared on social media, of a hacker infiltrating the home camera which the LeMay family put into the bedroom of their three daughters. WMC Action News 5 presenter Jessica Holley says that the family had only recently installed the Ring security camera system when all kinds of strange things started happening. Those strange occurrences included voices and music coming through the speaker attached to the camera. The hacker claims to be 8 year old Alyssa’s “best friend” and “Santa Clause” after playing Tiny Tim’s version of Tiptoe Through The Tulips.
After running a couple of segments of footage where the clearly distressed child is alarmed by the voice of the hacker, which it’s claimed also instruct her to carry out destructive behaviour (not shown) Holley follows up by informing us that Alyssa’s parents hadn’t carried out all Ring’s recommended steps needed to fully secure the device against possible hacking and security breaches.
While Briant Communications would never ‘victim blame’ we feel it’s important that we use the LeMay family’s example of why it’s so important to take ALL the steps we, and manufacturers recommend to prevent hacking whenever you’re installing security devices around or inside the home.
Using Smart Home Technology To Keep In Touch With Family
Mrs LeMay bought the Ring camera during the Black Friday sales after seeing a colleague using the app on her phone to see and talk to their own kids at home and thought this would be great for her as she works as a nurse in a nearby hospital. However, only four days after the camera was installed Alyssa LeMay heard banging and music coming from her room and when she went to investigate she was spoken to by the hacker.
Home cameras are really handy devices to have around the house, whether you have a young family, pets, or not. They are an important and useful addition to a smart burglar alarm system and augment your CCTV camera surveillance too. If you have kids who misbehave you can keep an eye on them to make sure they’re not fighting when you’re away from home, or you can use them to watch over an elderly relative who you’re worried about but who doesn’t want to move out of their home into a retirement village.
In all of these instances it’s a real bonus to have an indoor home camera, but, as this story highlights, it is vitally important that you take care of their security settings as soon as you install them.
All The Security Steps You Need To Take To Secure Your Smart Technology From Hackers
One of the benefits of simple synchronisation is also one of its drawbacks. If you find it easy to add devices to your home network so will a hacker. And once a part of that network they can potentially switch from device to device making changes, watching footage, ordering things online, or unlocking your doors or disabling your alarms when you’re not home. All of the devices you buy will have additional security measures available to you, and you should definitely take advantage of them. The tips we run through below apply to all of your Smart Home Automation devices, not just cameras, alarms or CCTV. They should apply equally to lights, thermostats, smart home hubs and all of your voice or touch controlled Smart installations.
1 Give Your Router a Name
Giving your router a name means that it is hard to identify, consequently it’s hard for hackers to use any of the default settings and password that your particular brand of router shipped with. And that default password was probably ‘admin’ anyway. If you haven’t done so already, CHANGE THE NAME AND PASSWORD NOW!
2 Use Strong Security Settings
Wi-Fi routers have WPA2 built in, so use it! WPA or Wireless Protected Access encrypts the data that your router and your devices send to one another, and the web at large. When you look in your security settings you may also find WPA3, a more recent update, and if you have that option, use it!
3 Apply Passwords To Everything
As well as your router, each device you have should be password protected. Again they generally ship with ‘admin’ as a default password, or one of a very few six digit numbers. These passwords are available to anyone who cares to look hard enough on the internet, including hackers, as people unthinkingly reveal what the default was when discussing user issues online. The best device names simply say want the device is, such as ‘lounge light’ or ‘master bedroom thermostat’ making them easier for you to use while not giving away any manufacturer details to hackers. Passwords should be long and complex. Use a variety of special characters and numbers and make sure they’re at least 8 characters long if you have to remember them, and much longer if you use a password generator.
And don’t use the same password for everything! It’s human nature to keep things simple, and once you’ve decided on a brilliant password, to apply it to all of your online accounts such as email, Insta, Facebook and Twitter. But then using that same password with your home network means that all of them will be vulnerable to hackers too. This is down to the fact that your Smart System is fundamentally a domestic appliance. Your kids will use it, your partner, your extended family, your neighbour or your kids’ friends when they pop round and want to get onto the internet to play games, online or show you a video on Youtube…
4 Set Up a Guest Network
Setting up a guest network is a very simple thing to do to prevent hackers as it separates your internet data from your home automation system. When those friends of the children or the video loving neighbour pop by you can let them go on the guest network using a dedicated password and though they’re using your data there is no way for them, or anyone that they might let that password slip to, to get into your Smart Home controls.
5 Disable Features You Don’t Want And Enable Two Factor Verification
Features such as remote or guest access may be turned on as default. It’s important to check, and think about how you’re going to use each device. If you have no intention of ever using it from afar or letting anyone else control it, shut those options off immediately.
However, when it comes to two factor verification, that’s something you definitely want turned on if you’re serious about securing your network. Two factor verification means that you don’t get access simply by knowing the user name and password. Instead all that knowing these details means is that you get a unique short duration code either emailed or sent via SMS to your phone. You then use the code, within the allotted time-frame, to access the particular device. Because it’s time sensitive any hacker getting hold of it, writing it down and trying to use it again later will be disappointed, and because the code is sent to your phone number or email address you are the only person who’s going to have access to it.
6 Keep Up To Date With Security Updates
Sign up to the manufacturer’s newsletter and watch out for software updates for your phone, computer, tablet et cetera. If there are any significant security breeches or patches which need to be applied to keep your Smart device safe the first way the makers will try to contact you is via their newsletter. Sure they’ll try to sell you the latest version of the thing you just bought, but if anything goes wrong their end it’s the fastest, most reliable way for them to get in touch with you. Always be aware of phishing scams though, and if there is anything to give you cause to think the email isn’t genuine, don’t click on anything but search for the latest manufacturer updates on your favourite search engine.
Briant Communications are here to help. If you’re interested in installing security cameras, Smart burglar alarms, Smart thermostats and environmental controls we offer a free initial consultation and cost estimate service, we install and securely synchronise all of your Smart Home Automation with guarantees for parts and labour. Give us a call on 01273 465377 now or get in touch via our Contact Us page to book your appointment.
It’s less than a month until the last Christmas day of the decade, and of course that means we’re going to give you Briant Communications‘ recommendations for the best Smart Tech Automated Home devices which are currently available.
Smart technology really is a practical application for many people as it allows almost unlimited management through very simple interfaces that almost anybody can use. If you’re able to speak or use a touch screen then you’re probably going to be able to control many, if not most Smart home devices, making them perfect no only for the too-busy-to-do-stuff but those with disabilities and who may not have the strength to get up every time they need to answer the door, turn on a light or adjust the heating. Read more
One of the most popular home gadgets of recent years has been the home camera. They’re sold as a baby, pet or security monitor which allow you to watch what is going on at home from wherever you are. People love them because as a baby monitor you can see as well as hear what your child is doing, letting you judge if you have to dash upstairs to prevent disaster, or take it easy, it was just a doll falling out of the cot.
They’re handy as a pet monitor too. Dogs left at home get bored, and can often be anxious if left alone for too long. Their feelings can manifest themselves in destructive behaviour, or making a mess of your home. A pet monitor here lets you know if the dog is behaving, and if you opt for a camera with a mic attached then you can tell Fido that you’re watching and not to misbehave!
They’re also handy as security devices too. They may not be a visible deterrent to burglars preventing a break in from taking place, but they do let you see what’s going on at home and, if necessary, you can use them to record footage of any intruders walking around your house and call the authorities based on the images you see coming from your camera. Read more
Installing home entertainment and Smart Home Technology, including flat screen TVs, wireless burglar alarm systems, Smart CCTV cameras, aerials and satellite dishes isn’t a job for just any old handyman. For a reliable installation carried out by expert professionals it’s best to call in specialised tradesmen who carry regulatory body membership, insurance, who offer warranties and also guarantee their work and the products they use.
Before you agree to allow workmen to carry out work installing TV receivers, cables, security cameras and alarms, as yourself, and them these questions:
Is this company qualified?
Anybody installing Smart Home Automation devices should be a CEDIA member. CEDIA are the Smart Home trade association so you can rest assured that if your installer is a member they will hold all the necessary certification required.
Companies who carry out other home entertainment installations, such as flat screen TV installations and putting aerials or satellite dishes on the roof don’t need to be members of a trade body, but should carry insurance to protect themselves, and you, in case of any accidents during the installation, or as a consequence of the work they undertook. Read more
As Smart Home installation engineers we meet people at every stage of their Home Automation journey. From those just starting out to those who are fully cognisant with the tech but need help with the labour it takes safely and securely fit the Smart devices they want in their homes.
Many people still don’t grasp what a connected home has to offer. They see the devices fitted with Smart technology as simply gadgets, knick-knacks which you put around your house for entertainment’s sake, but have no real practical use. It’s only when we explain the many different applications these devices can be put to, the way they can be controlled and control one another that the potential benefits become clear.
The ideal place to begin is to explain what practical tools a Smart Home can be started off with. Once the concept and application have been grasped the possibilities explode! Everyone’s needs and wants are different, so the fact that Smart Home Technology can be so adaptive and expandable is just what the doctor ordered!
So, if you’re one of those people who’s heard about Home Automation, who likes labour saving, energy efficient tools, but you’re not sure what the Smart Home has to offer you, read on.
Intercoms are nothing new. From old buildings converted to flats to businesses in office blocks we’ve all buzzed and struggled to hear the voice coming from the panel on the door frame. But today’s Smart access control is very different. Now there’s no need to go to the handset on the wall to let people in, you can admit anyone you want from wherever you are instead. Not only can you speak to people on the doorstep, you can see them, but they can’t see you. That means that if you’re in the bath, in the garden, on the sofa, even away from home, you can see who’s calling and either let them in or ask them to come back another time. Read more
Smart Home systems are the tech revolution the world seems to have been waiting for since the invention of science fiction, maybe even longer. The ability to simply ask a robot to carry out all of the mundane tasks, to have everything controlled from a simple device, and to be able to see and do things from anywhere we like was always on the cards, because we could see people doing it on Star Trek, and we knew that one day science reality would catch up with science fiction.
But with so many things the surface is glossy and works perfectly, but underneath there is a whole raft of issues which need dealing with before your tech can work properly. And one of the main considerations for people looking for whole-home connectivity is signal strength.
Clearly, in order to work effectively, the Connected Home needs to be connected. In the past if there was a spot where signal was weak then we just wouldn’t try to connect to the internet from that room. Today however, with Smart Home devices being what they are, it’s not reasonable for anyone who’s interested in making their home Smart to simply write off a room, the garden or an outbuilding because of poor wifi signal. Read more