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And just like that it’s Autumn already! – All the latest from John Ross Smart Living

And just like that it’s Autumn already! – All the latest from John Ross Smart Living
10th November 2020 John Ross Smart Homes

And just like that, it’s Autumn already!

In this strangest of years, there is almost something reassuring about the regularity of the changing seasons. And of course being in glorious Perthshire at this time of year is always a treat as the trees start to glow orange, the salmon start leaping and the tatties get picked!

We’ve been back in the swing of things for a few months now, and what initially felt slightly surreal – PPE when entering houses, not shaking hands any more – has quickly become very normal. I wonder if we’ll ever get back to shaking strangers’ hands, or whether future generations will see it as a bizarre custom from the past?

Either way, it’s been great to be out and about and helping our customers. From new build smart homes to designing incredible lighting systems it’s been a varied and invigorating time. Of course, a lot of what we do is solve people’s tech problems – every day is like a new case for Sherlock Holmes! And if we’re Sherlock, then our Professor Moriarty is probably SkyQ…

Now don’t get me wrong. SkyQ is fantastic. It has an extremely good, nice looking interface and is easy to use with masses of content available, via the air or online. I always tell customers that you get the most content with the best picture from SkyQ.

But whoever designed it knows nothing – squat, nada, zilch – about networking. And I don’t mean the type of networking I do every Wednesday morning at my BNI Local Business Meeting – I mean the networking that allows all of our connected gadgets and tech to access the internet. The fundamental issue is that Sky designed the system to work wholly via wifi – and you all know what we think about wifi!

Keep everything wired and off wifi, except the things that live in your pocket or bag (such as mobiles, tablets and laptops). Our rule of thumb is that if the device has a “place” in the house, then stick a wire in it! There’s a perfectly good reason why Sky designed it to work over wifi only; it’s the only way they could bring out a system that gave you the ability to have a main box with multiple smaller “mini” boxes in other rooms connected to it. So the old problem of each box needing a feed from the external dish was removed – hooray!

But that assumes that all of us have a great wifi and lots of bandwidth in every room of our house. Maybe that’s the case in one of those studio flats in central London… but less guaranteed if you’re in the open spaces of Bonnie Scotland! So if wifi or bandwidth is less than perfect you can end up with an unstable connection – and what’s the worst medium for noticing an unstable connection? Yep, video streaming. So cue freezing pictures, intermittent sound or no connection at all.

Usually this would be a problem for a Sky engineer, but part of our ethos is that our customers will always receive what we’ve promised, so we take on the responsibility of getting the system to work, especially where we are installing or upgrading the network as part of a larger job that includes the installation of SkyQ. To say that we are becoming SkyQ experts might be a bit of a stretch but we are certainly on our way to getting a gold badge. We are constantly learning and adapting and are about to invest in some training and expensive equipment to help us better understand the problems we encounter and ensure that we can deliver what we want to for our customers.

But as much as I like telling you how bad it is and how good we are, please don’t be put off SkyQ – I still stick by my previous comment – you get the most content with the best picture and it’s really not that expensive, especially if you are a Sports fan. But it’s really more than that, it’s great to use, easy to always find something to watch and always has the most up-to-date content for all categories – sports, movies, kids, documentaries, news, music and many more.

Top Tech Tip

So how many remotes do you have in your lounge? Three? Four? We once met a customer who had SEVEN! As much fun as there is in watching elderly relatives trying to work out how to turn your TV over, there should surely be a better solution in 2020!

Of course there is.

Control4 offer a simple remote to operate all your products, regardless of how many you have – so TV, Sky, Blu-ray, DVD, Sound bar, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and more – they can all be operated from the one single remote. It comes with a small controller box that sits under the TV – about the size of a video cassette (now who remembers them – that’s a whole newsletter in itself!) – and the remote talks to this controller and the controller operates all the products. Sound good? Just drop us an email or give us a call and we can talk it through with you.

What’s new?

So I got a really cool gadget delivered this week. The Intellithings RoomMe is a clever little device, about the size of a smoke detector, that detects who is in the room by the proximity of their phone or mobile device.

But why is this a good thing? Well, it’s like Madonna having a room full of personal assistants, making sure that your environment is just so… customised for you. Using the technology in my Smart Living house, I can deliver an experience tailored to any family member or visitor; their favourite music, their ideal light settings, their favourite channel on Sky switched on, the heating adjusted to suit them – and more. It really is another step towards the science fiction scenario where your house “recognises” you or others and tailors the environment to suit you or them – right down to your perfect cup of coffee.

If ever there was a gadget that sums up our goal, this is it – making your life better using technology.

Recap – Mission Impossible (Ghost Protocol)!

So how did we get around the problem of no cabling for the Sky dish?

Well first, we installed a dish and hid the cables neatly to the cupboard under the stairs which was near the dish – but far away from the lounge. We then installed the SkyQ box in this cupboard and used the Cat6 data cables that had been installed to deliver the picture to the lounge as well as allowing full control of the Sky box even although the box was nowhere near the room!

End result: the customer ended up with a fully operational system, with all the functionality of a standard installation, but with the benefit of not having to have the SkyQ box cluttering up the lounge – which is great because their large TV is on the wall and they don’t need any unit underneath to hide the box or cables. Oh and the most important bit – they can actually have SkyQ in the lounge, which they wouldn’t have been able to do without ugly cables around the outside of the house. Another win-win by John Ross Smart Living.

The next tale – If only his internet was as great as his view….

We had a call from a friend who had a client in a remote house who has never had decent broadband. They are in a lovely situation and there is an argument that with a view like theirs, who needs the internet? But that doesn’t really wash in today’s society, particularly with so many of us working from home now. With their BT connection they were getting around 500kbps or ½ MBPS – and to make matters worse the nearest 4G mast was 8 miles away with almost zero signal on any of our phones. So how did we manage to get them decent internet? Find out next time…

Local Business Feature: Rupert Hine, Business Coach

Every month I like to give a shout out to a local business, and this month it’s one of my favourite people: Rupert Hine!

Rupert is an Action Coach, who helps business owners to run their businesses more effectively, so they spend less time working IN the business and more time working ON the business. You can expect Rupert to be your rock in times of trouble, and your greatest fan when you succeed.  He’s diplomatic and calm, providing support and advice when you need it, but always challenging you to exceed your expectations.  Naturally analytical, he will help you dig deep into your business, and build a strong relationship committed to your success even if he has to provide occasional doses of “tough love” to keep your business producing great results.

I can’t recommend Rupert highly enough, so if you’d like to know more drop him a line at [email protected]