Author Archives: HNS-ONS

Things DO break

We all face frustration with technology. We hate it when something stops working for no apparent reason. Sometimes with electronics it can be a simple power reset to make the problem go away. But sometimes there are actual major problems that need to be fixed. Here are a few items we run into on a regular basis.

Poor installation practices. Sometimes people just don’t care. This customer was experiencing intermittent outages. The cause was buried in this rat’s nest of cables. Stability returned to the network once corrected.

 

This is what happens when something does not fit quite right. Inside the wall jacks are tiny metal fingers that make contact with the connector on the cable. If the wrong connector type is inserted into the jack or if a connector is forced into the jack this can happen.

 

Never underestimate critters. This is a section of outdoor cable that an animal took a liking to. This was most likely a mouse or squirrel that developed a taste for plastic and wire braid.

 

Ring’s new Video Doorbells & Chimes

Ring now has a Video Doorbell 3 and 3 Plus, as well as a Pre-Roll feature, which captures the 4 seconds before motion is detected to help users see what triggered a motion alert.

The new “near zone” detects motion within 5-15 feet of the front door. You can also exclude areas that you consider to be privacy zones. As the others did, you can still turn off video or audio recording for an extra layer of privacy at any time.

Plus users can utilize Alexa to communicate through Ring with whomever is at the door. Ring can be integrated to their smart cameras and their Smart Lighting systems.

The Chime Pro includes a built-in nightlight and Wi-Fi extender. Features from the earlier Rings are still incorporated into the 3 model.

“Back to School” and its IMPACT on YOUR Teleworking

If you struggled with your Internet back when schools were starting to go online in the Spring and you were also teleworking, it is going to get worse in another month or so, when the requirements to be online and in virtual classrooms increase for the new school year.

This is not a local issue. This is a national issue for all homeowners that are now going to need far more bandwidth than ever before. Don’t even think that living in Northern VA and having data centers in your backyard is going to provide you with plenty of bandwidth.

You can pay your internet provider to send you their maximum amount of bandwidth and still have problems due to it only getting “to” your home, and not necessarily “through” your home. You need to look at your home the way a commercial business looks at its workforce needs. A business’ IT department will make sure that every employee has the right tools to do their job, which includes computers and phones and topmost Internet without disruptions.

If you are going to have children on a computer, then later playing video games or streaming TV shows, while you are on your computer or having a virtual meeting, you are going to need to ensure that your “family” has the tools needed. These tools start with cabling and WiFi that will allow everyone to work and play at the same time.

Rule #1: If it can be hard-wired, get it wired. Hard wiring still provides a more constant connection than WiFi because you are literally tying directly into the internet providers service. WiFi is an RF (Radio Frequency) based transmission. RF transmissions are subject to interference from numerous things. Most interference is generated by things that are not in your control. Hardwiring devices eliminates this problem.

Rule #2: If you must use WiFi, figure out where you need it and assess the signal strength in that area.

Rule #3: Don’t look for a quick, cheap fix to improve your network. There are plenty of “hacks” on the Internet that can tell you how to improve your internet, but they have no idea what YOUR home is experiencing.

Also, keep in mind that your provider is also “busy” so the speed coming into your home is going to drop during busy times of the day.

Do an assessment now. Identify where your kids are going to do their homework and whether their laptop can be hardwired or if they are going to be using WiFi. Then you set up your teleworking station. Have everyone do a virtual call to a friend or family member at the same time, preferably during the day, during the week. Then, assess how it went. Did anyone’s screen lock up or stall? Take notes on what worked well and what didn’t work well. Then contact someone to provide a network design (preferably us) to optimize your home’s infrastructure.

Why Your Single Router Isn’t Enough

A single router will not handle the requirements of today’s household. There are far too many devices contending for the “airtime” that a legacy single router provides. To add insult to injury, the wireless signal is usually not strong enough to provide a stable signal throughout a sizable house.

The fix is typically a combination of 2 things. One: Using an Ethernet connection to hardwiring devices that do not move, i.e. Smart TVs, game consoles, PCs and Laptop docking stations that are used at a desk. Two: deploying multiple access points (the radio transmitter/receiver for Wi-Fi) around the house to provide stable wireless connectivity for devices that move like phones, laptops, etc. The access points are hardwired back to the router, not a wireless mesh network. Wireless mesh networks do not work as well as advertised.

Internet speed is usually not an issue. Personally we have run our house for years on 75mbs. That speed covers our business needs, streaming services, kids gaming and more. Today’s home network has to be designed and engineered like a business system to work well.

Outdoor speakers

As the weather starts to warm up, we will be spending more time outdoors. Sitting back and listening to some tunes is relaxing as well as fun. Take a look at some of your options.

Mounted speakers: There are a variety of speakers that can be attached to the house or porch. These speakers are weatherproof and come on a swivel mount to direct the sound down. Our preference on the high end is Bose 251 Wall Mount Outdoor Environmental Speakers and for a mid-range speaker the Polk Atrium 5 series.

Rock speakers: For those who want to hide their sound in the garden, rock speakers or environmental speakers are very popular. The Niles Audio rock speaker delivers years of worry free use in all types of weather conditions and sounds fabulous. Another style of garden speaker (and Lew’s personal favorite) is the Bose Free Space Environmental Speaker. This speaker is buried about 2/3 of its height into the garden and provides a rich warm sound to any patio, pool or garden setting.

Planter speakers: The only planter style speaker that is worth purchasing is the Niles Audio speaker in either terracotta or weathered concrete. Niles knows what they are doing to ensure this is a quality speaker that looks good and will last.

Other speakers: In addition to the above, there isn’t much you can’t do with outdoor speakers. Several manufacturers make an in ground speaker system that is scalable and designed for flower beds and around the yard.

Sophisticated, elegant and powerful, today’s outdoor audio is capable of delivering state-of-the-art performance.

*Product recommendations are solely the view of H&ONS. We are not receiving compensation from any manufacturer when we mention product types in this article.