Category Archives: Uncategorized

Aging In Place & Technology

If you, like millions of people, have decided to stay in your current home rather than downsizing or moving to another state, there are some things that you might want to set up to make aging in place easier. Even if you don’t do it right away, when you do some remodeling you may want to consider these improvements.

1. Lighting controls. Have your lights come on in the hallway and bedroom at a certain time of night or based on motion so that you don’t have to walk anywhere in the dark. Touch a button next to your bed and have the master bathroom light come on for those middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks. Have certain lights come on throughout the home when you are away so people think you are home.

2. Wiring/WIFI: If your home isn’t set up the way you want it to be for hard wiring and WIFI, or if you’ve been unhappy with your coverage, then now could be a good time to get that done if you are doing any remodeling.

3. Cameras. Even just a few cameras can be helpful as you get older. Being able to see who is at the door so you aren’t rushing down the stairs when the doorbell rings could save you from injury. Also, if you are planning to travel, then being able to see the comings and goings at your home will put your mind at ease.

4. Antenna: Thinking it is time to cut the cord on cable to save some money? An attic antenna can give you access to more than you think. (up to 82 channels in the DC market). Along with good streaming set up, you can avoid paying for cable. Just remember that you still need internet service which may come from your cable provider.

5. Mounting TVs. If you have TVs on a table, you may want to consider getting them securely mounted on the wall if your home is going to be the place your grandchildren to visit. Also, consider where you have your TV. If you don’t currently have a TV where you can watch from bed, then you may want to plan for one. While watching TV regularly in bed is not recommended for good sleep, having a TV to watch when we are under the weather is nice.

6. Control Systems. As we age it may be easier to tell devices what to do with our voice instead of the push of a button. Consolidating operation of AV components via a single remote may reduce frustrations with trying to “just watch TV”.

No one wants to think about getting older and needing assistance. But aging is inevitable. Planning your technology set up now can benefit you later when it may be less convenient to make the changes.

Why Can’t I get the Internet Speed Advertised by my Internet Provider

So your Internet provider says you can get 940 mbps of speed with their upgraded router and fiber lines, but you are only getting 700. How can that be?

Here’s an example of verbiage straight from the Verizon website. “Fios Gigabit Connection delivers speeds up to 940/880 MBPS in available areas. The key words are “Up to” so there is no point in calling Verizon, Xfinity or any other provider, since they have given you exactly what they promised…the possibility of speeds up to what they advertise.

So, why aren’t you getting the optimum speed they offer. There could be a number of reasons. Chris Hoffman from the “How To Geek” website wrote this article back in 2017 and nothing has changed over the last 2 years, so we are going to borrow his verbiage & cite him as our source. They are…

• End-User Hardware Issues: If you have an old router that just can’t keep up with modern speeds or a poorly configured Wi-Fi connection that’s being slowed down by interference, you won’t actually experience the connection speeds you’re paying for — and that’s not the Internet service provider’s fault.
• Distance From ISP: The further you are away from your Internet service provider’s hardware, the weaker your signal can become. If you’re in a city, you’re likely to have a faster connection than you would in the middle of the countryside. H&ONS Note – this applies mostly to copper cable based delivery method like DSL or cable, not a fiber optic cable based delivery method like Verizon Fios
• Congestion: You’re sharing an Internet connection line with many other customers from your Internet service provider, so congestion can result as all these people compete for the Internet connection. This is particularly true if all your neighbors are using BitTorrent 24/7 or using other demanding applications.
• Time of Day: Because more people are probably using the shared connection line during peak hours — around 6pm to midnight for residential connections — you may experience slower speeds at these times.
• Throttling; Your Internet service provider may slow down (or “throttle”) certain types of traffic, such as peer-to-peer traffic. Even if they advertise “unlimited” usage, they may slow down your connection for the rest of the month after you hit a certain amount of data downloaded.
• Server-Side Issues: Your download speeds don’t just depend on your Internet service provider’s advertised speeds. They also depend on the speeds of the servers you’re downloading from and the routers in between. For example, if you’re in the US and experience slowness when downloading something from a website in Europe, it may not be your Internet service provider’s fault at all — it may be because the website in Europe has a slow connection or the data is being slowed down at one of the routers in between you and the European servers.

While some of these causes are out of your hands, you can control the router you are using and how it connects to devices within your home. Using additional access points and other networking products and having a network infrastructure designed for your usage versus cookie cutter usage, can greatly impact your speeds. This is not something your Internet provider can do for you, but we can. Schedule a site survey in 2020 to see if there are solutions to improving Internet speed within your home.

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/165321/why-you-probably-arent-getting-the-internet-speeds-youre-paying-for-and-how-to-tell/’

CNet.com’s 10 favorite products of the 2019 CES show

Best TV: LG OLED R rollable TV

Best car tech: Audi/Disney Holoride

Best smart home tech: KitchenAid Smart Display

Best AI/smart assistant: Google Assistant with extensive 2019 upgrades, including Interpreter Mode and Google Assistant Connect

Best beauty tech: P&G Opte Precision Skincare System

Best emerging tech: Matrix PowerWatch 2

Best health tech: Omron HeartGuide

Best Laptop: Acer Swift 7

Best gaming gear: Alienware Area 51m

Best AR/VR tech: HTC Vive Pro Eye

Source: CNet, KENT GERMAN, JANUARY 11, 2019 9:52 AM PST

Considering an Upgraded Router from your Carrier

Think twice…Or it may Cost you!

While H&ONS doesn’t mind performing service calls for its clients and even new clients, we get a little angry with the Internet carriers, ( i.e. Verizon, Comcast, etc.) for selling people on upgrading their router and then not telling them it will impact their existing system to the point of needing someone with expertise to come in and fix it.

Communications carriers bring bandwidth to your home. Don’t expect anything more than that, as that is what their business is and that is what they train their techs to do. They will pretty much set up their internal equipment the same for everyone, even where it is located within the home. What this translates to is that if you have anything slightly sophisticated, as most of our clients do, they will either a) disconnect it, b) not configure it correctly or c) not even install their router.

So, while they may tout better speed or promise a lower monthly fee for changing out your router, keep in mind that there is a very good chance that you will have an additional cost of anywhere from $200-$600+ depending on your system, to get things right again.

What really gets our goat is that sometimes the carrier will force their customer to upgrade due to changes within the carrier’s internal system infrastructure. When this happens, we suggest that you try to schedule a service call with us within a day or so of their set up. It may be advantageous to contact us first to ensure that we are available before you schedule the new equipment with the carrier.

Our hope is that your communications carrier brings you new equipment, sets it up and everything works great. Getting business because of their lack of communications and capabilities is not what H&ONS is about. We will, however, support our clients and do everything we can to assist you.

KRACK Attack!

By now you may have heard about a newly found vulnerability in Wi-Fi security called KRACK and may be wondering what it means to you. Without going too far down the technical rabbit hole, I’ll try to explain the risk.

KRACK is the industry short name for Key Reinstallation Attacks. A discovery was made back in July by researchers in a White Hat (the good guys) hacking lab that showed how the encryption of network traffic using WPA2 security could be negated. They passed their findings on to the appropriate government agencies and manufacturers who then took action to correct the problem with firmware/product updates. This past Monday they made the public aware of the problem with the encryption protocol.

What did not happen was some explanation of what it means to the general public. Since it is only applicable to Wi-Fi networks, the first thing to know is that anyone who wants to break the encryption must be in range of the Wi-Fi signal. If they can’t see the Wi-Fi then they can’t exploit the problem. The second thing is that the Wi-Fi password is required to begin the KRACK attack. If the hacker does not have the password then they cannot kick off the hack. Because of those 2 things, the risk to most folks is minimal.

There are a few things that can be done to protect yourself from KRACK. First, install the updates when you are notified of them. This is very important as the problem affects ALL devices. Every PC, Mac, smart phone, thermostat, washer & dryer, etc. with Wi-Fi capabilities has the problem. FYI companies like Microsoft released a patch for the Windows operating system on Tuesday with their monthly updates. Others will follow suit shortly. Again, install the updates.

Second, when logging into a website be sure that you are doing so with HTTPS, not HTTP. HTTPS encrypts the data between your device and the server that you are communicating. You will see this in the address bar of the browser. The address of the website should begin with HTTPS://. With this you will also see a little lock symbol adjacent to the address. These mean that your data is encrypted and not sent in readable text.

My take on KRACK. Since the hacker must be on the Wi-Fi network, the exposure is reduced for most people. Businesses with multiple Wi-Fi networks as part of their total IT systems are more exposed than consumers because of that configuration/environment. Essentially, if you update your devices you will be protected. This problem has been around since the WPA2 encryption language was written many years ago. It only took so long to discover it because the encryption protocol has been doing its job keeping things encrypted and secure. That will not change.

My biggest concern is what will happen to your components when the Internet service providers push out updates to their equipment. As was mentioned earlier, ALL equipment has this problem. Every router from Comcast, Cox Communications and Verizon has this issue. If the carriers push out updates in the middle of the night, things that were working the day prior may have problems the next morning. Let’s hope all goes smoothly on their end with these updates.

Lew