Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Recap of H&ONS in 2020

We started 2020 off on a very high note for the Little family. In January, our daughter, Rachel graduated from the LA Film School and our son, Ian got engaged (wedding planned for June 2021). The whole family flew to Los Angeles to spend a week celebrating, only to come home to Covid.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, our daughter was on a plane home, terrified of being quarantined alone in her small apartment in LA, a hot center already for Covid. We backed off performing installations as we quarantined with her for a few weeks, but our business was considered an essential business, so we knew we had to step up and get to work on helping at least some of the people of Northern VA that needed networking and AV services.

We quickly created a Covid plan, including mask and glove wearing, disinfecting and no contact billing. While we had contracts with customers, we accepted a delay in their installations if they chose to wait until they were comfortable to allow us into their homes. We also encouraged our customers to try a virtual service call, when applicable. While we were concerned for the business, by April we were back to scheduling site surveys, and scheduling a lot of them. Kids were finishing school at home and parents were working, so homeowners were discovering the limitations of their networking system and looking for solutions. We also had to deal with delays in getting materials as global manufacturing and distribution slowed down, so we got our orders in and hoped that materials would arrive in time for the installation date.

We worked tirelessly to help as many homeowners as possible over the Spring and Summer but the demand did become overwhelming to the point of having to turn away prospective business. Before writing this article, we counted over 75 prospective jobs that had to be turned away in the past 4 months, because we were booked 6-8 weeks out for both site surveys and installations. We created a wait list, returning to those who were willing to wait and scheduling once we got caught up. We try not to schedule more than 6 weeks out since so much can change in 6 weeks.

As you may know, we are a small business. Lew performs the site survey, writes the estimate and performs the installation with the aid of a single subcontractor. We have been operating this way since 2015, when we chose to restructure the business. Fortunately, back then we also had 3 outside subcontractors to assist on jobs, so it was a smooth transition. Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to find people in this area that we can count on as a subcontractor (we have tried), other than Daniel, our long time sub.

During the pandemic, we chose not to hire additional employees or even try out new subcontractors since we would be risking our customers’ health and our own. We can control our contact with others, but not that of others.

So, we continue to help those who can wait for our small team of highly skilled network installers. Given we barely have enough time for new installations, service calls are even more difficult to address. We still perform quite a few virtual service calls late in the day, and when we can squeeze in an on-site service call, we do so. Lew has also responded to an enormous number of emails from existing clients, trying to aid them in improving or fixing their own systems. Unfortunately, due to the amount of time that was given to these email responses and phone calls, we must now implement a new support policy. (see NEW policy below). We truly value our clients and repeat business, but responding to email and phone questions now that we’ve served over 1200 clients has become so time consuming that we just can’t do it for free anymore.

In the meantime, we want to apologize to all those who we could not serve in 2020 and hope that they were able to find another company to assist them, even pulling from out of state if needed. We also hope that some of these people will try us out again in 2021 when things settle down should they still have an interest in home networking or AV services.

We really look forward to getting back to normalcy in 2021, serving some of our past customers and of course adding new customers in the Northern VA area.

Have a wonderful Holiday season and we hope to see you in 2021.

Lew & Bonnie Little

Remote Control Not Working?

Here are some possible problems and fixes.

  1. IR relay receiver/emitter moved or fell off. IR Relays Systems retransmit the IR (Infrared Light) signal from your remote to the TV or another component such as a hidden cable box.    The picture shows an IR relay receiver attached to a TV. The receiver/emitter of the system could come loose with age or be knocked off when cleaning or moving the electronic device they are connected too. Look around your components, TV first, and see if there is an IR relay receiver hanging behind or beside it. Affix it back to the same area it was previously installed.  Check your other components to see if an IR emitter has fallen off.  Here is a picture of a typical IR emitter. Try your remote. If it still doesn’t work, you may need to adjust where you put the receiver and emitters as it may not be in the optimal location.
  2. Dead batteries: Some older remotes have batteries vs. charging stations. Check and replace the battery if it is not working properly.
  3. Needs a Reboot: Sometimes devices such as cable boxes and streaming media devices perform software updates when not in use. Occasionally the device may not restart cleanly.  The easiest way to clear this is to unplug it from the AC power outlet, count to 30 and plug it back in.  Give the unit time to become active, typically a minute or 2, and try to control it again.

FYI, If you have a universal remote such as a Logitech Harmony device they also use IR emitters.  These can be knocked out of place as described above.

“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.

Virtual Service Call

Last summer we implemented a new service that might work for you if you have a problem with your electronics/networking that you can’t resolve by using our troubleshooting guide (https://www.hns-ons.com/category/archives/page/4/).

To determine if the problem is something that can potentially be corrected virtually we ask that you email us at info@hns-ons.com. If we feel it is something that can be resolved via a virtual service call, we will then schedule a mutually convenient time. A couple things to take note of: if we did not install the equipment or the equipment was installed many years ago, we most likely cannot perform a virtual service call. In addition, this IS a service call, not an installation. We cannot help you DIY an installation of new equipment that you purchased since we have no way of knowing if this equipment will work with your infrastructure.

The way this works is that during the troubleshooting, Lew will ask questions to assess the problem and may ask to see devices/cables/electronics etc. via the phone. He will then give you directions to make changes to your system to attempt to correct the problem. This can be done either on the telephone or virtually through our Zoom account. Zoom is the preferred method due to the video capability.

At the 45 minute mark, whether we have or have not solved a problem, Lew will ask if you wish to continue. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that the troubleshooting will resolve the problem during the phone/video support. You can stop the troubleshooting any time before the 45 minutes should you feel the virtual support isn’t working. All time spent on the phone or video is billable*.

Our standard service call rate applies but we do pro-rate it in 15 minute increments. Payment for telephone/Video service calls are to be paid by credit card at the completion of the call. We do not accept other forms of payment for this service.

If the virtual service call doesn’t work and if you are comfortable with having us into your home, we are still performing on-site service calls and site surveys. Gloves, mask & social distancing are all used to keep everyone safe.

*there are no warranties on virtual service calls

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.