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Light at the end of the tunnel? – All the latest from John Ross Smart Living

Light at the end of the tunnel? – All the latest from John Ross Smart Living
2nd July 2020 John Ross Smart Homes

Light at the end of the tunnel?

As we head into Phase 2 of the Lockdown easing, how have the last 12 weeks been for you? Isn’t it strange how we’ve all managed to adapt our lifestyles so quickly. Everyone is bandying around this phrase “the new normal”, and whilst it sounds like an 80s synth act’s album title, it does give us a sense of how us humans are able to adapt so quickly… mostly with the help of technology.

At John Ross Smart Living we’ve never been so busy! As well as keeping JR Smart Living open for business, I’ve also been attending countless online training sessions and webinars, and I’ve even managing to find time to refresh and update my skills – from Networking to Wifi, Home Cinema design to whole house Audio – and many more besides. So if you have a burning question, like, say “How far away from the screen should I sit in the cinema?”… then I’m your man!

(The answer, by the way, to that question, is multiply the height of the screen by three to give you the distance that you should sit at. You’re welcome).

Now feels like a good time to take stock. Has your technology stood up to the pounding you’ve been giving it? Or is the Tiger King freezing every time Carole Baskin appears? Are you loving the ease that you can see friends, family and colleagues over zoom? Or are you frustrated because it looks and sounds like a bad Norman Collier tribute act?

I think it’s safe to say that video conferencing is here to stay – how quickly it’s gone from the disappointing alternative you turn to when the boss won’t sign off your travel request to the game-changer that will eliminate the daily commute for many. It’s freed up people’s time and it helps reduce our carbon footprint – we should all embrace it and make it work for us. So if you want to know a bit more, or need some help getting started, or have some technical issue that is making your life even harder than it should be – give us a call, even if just for a chat, and I’m sure we will figure out a way to help.

The sun is out, the shops are opening soon and we’ve all grown a little older and wiser… so let’s embrace this new normal and harness smart technology to make our lives better.

Top Tech Tip

As a proud Scot, my body’s not built for heat… which is a problem as my bedroom faces west, so in summer evenings it can get incredibly hot – the thermometer hit 31 degrees last year! During my downtime during lockdown (everyone has had a lockdown project or two) I decided to sit down and programme my Smart house to send me an email when the temperature in our bedroom goes above 22 degrees, prompting me to go and open a window.

What a gamechanger! Bedtime is no longer like stepping into a furnace.

And I’m planning on take it to the next level by fitting automatic window openers, so I can open them at the touch of a button – how cool is that (excuse the pun)?

heating control touchscreen

What’s New

My shiny new Router (or Rowwwwter for North American readers)

I’m sure that at some point during lockdown you’ve found yourself a little bored with nothing to do. I certainly have, but being the geek I am, rather than going and reading that new Hilary Mantel book I decided to read a few Wifi manuals instead and have a play with (sorry, evaluate and optimise) my own network and Wifi.

I’m with BT and have a BT Hub, which to be fair is pretty good – and better than most ISP (Internet Service Providers, the people who you get your internet from) routers.

But what people don’t realise is that the Hub or router that you comes with your package, usually free, is actually 3 different things, all packaged inside that small plastic box. You’ve got a modem, that transforms the signal from the copper wire into an internet feed,; then there’s the Router, which routes your information to and from the internet, into and around your house and back out to the web; and then finally a network switch, which allows more than one device to connect to the internet via the single line you have. And into the bargain, for many people, it also does the Wifi!

So this little box works really hard… but with so much to do it’s and is a potential bottleneck for your internet connection. I decided to replace my all-in-one box with a dedicated Modem, a new fast router and then connected these to my Wifi and network via my superfast network switch. The result? The house burnt down! Just kidding – the only thing on fire is my network speed. Internal communications are much faster and more robust (not dropping out intermittently), and our internet speed is a lot faster, even with all five of us on our devices. The best part of it (for me) is that I can monitor all the elements of the system any time, anywhere. If we ever get to go on holiday again I can lie on a sun lounger in the tropics and check in to make sure there’s no issues, or even update the system and tweak a few things (told you as I was a geek).

If this sounds like your idea of nirvana then drop me a line and we’ll add some lightning to your internet.

Recap: My Sky picture is Frozen – we couldn’t Let It Go!

So how did we fix our customer’s Sky Q problem?

Well it was fairly straightforward, thanks to our mantra: never rely on wifi when you can use a good old cable instead. It’s a rule that we always, always stick to. Wifi is good but if we connect everything to it, and then try and stream HD quality video or use other data hungry services, we are going to get some problems along the way. So when we design a system we always put cables to everywhere we can think of, and the end result we want to achieve is that the only devices that are using Wifi are mobiles, tablets or laptops.

We ran cables from the SkyQ main box and bedroom box, disabled the Wifi in them and then set up the system again from scratch. Hey presto, solid operation, faster loading of channels and content plus most importantly – it always works!

Another happy customer who can really relax with no more stress – at least not from her TV!

The next tale from the John Ross Casebook… Mission Impossible (Ghost Protocol)!

This one is a lesson in how not to design a “Smart Home”!

Our client has just built a gorgeous new house, with lots of lovely wooden cladding and white harled walls. Their electrician did a great job of the electrics but missed some very important items that are crucial to how we live our lives. Sadly we weren’t involved in the design or first fit, and initially arrived when our customer tried to get SkyQ fitted – but the engineer who called couldn’t fit anything as there was no dish, no way to get cables from any dish to the lounge and worse still – no internet connection of any sort! It’s like trying to make soup with no ingredients, no saucepan, and no cooker.

So how on earth did we solve this tricky conundrum and get the customer set up with Sky before the resumption of the Premier League? Find out next Time!