Saturday, September 8, 2018

Wireless Broadband to Fix Your Internet Access Problems

We wished to report on success with obtaining fast wireless broadband in a place a few miles from Exeter where it was not possible to obtain fast wired broadband.

The solution was to use a highly sensitive antenna from 4G Internet (a division of National Broadband Limited) in combination with a broadband service from Vodafone. The antenna was placed on a roof and pointed towards the nearest Vodafone mast. In spite of the fact that there are trees in the direction of the Vodafone mast we are still getting somewhere in the region of 11 to 17 mbps for downloads and 5 to 9 mbps for uploads.

It's not fibre speed but at least we are now able to work productively.

In addition, recent latency tests using MLab with the Vodafone service have returned results as low as 25 ms which appear to be reasonable even for wired internet connections.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Problems Getting Fibre Internet Broadband from BT and Openreach Near Exeter

We'd like to share with you our experiences of trying to get a fibre internet broadband connection from BT and Openreach.

First of all, to make things clear, the situation was that we had a slow internet connection being delivered over a copper line and we wanted to install fibre.  In other words, we wanted Fibre To The Premises (FTTP).

The process of getting a survey done, and getting a quote took around 6 months. Openreach wouldn't do anything until we paid them several hundred pounds for the survey to see whether there was even a chance of getting fibre. Openreach wouldn't give us an indication of what the fibre build cost might be (hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of pounds) to see whether it would be worth paying lots of money for a survey.

In addition, the process involved continual chasing of BT and Openreach, and being directed by each organisation to the other organisation on multiple occasions. Further, on the many occasions we tried to contact Openreach, the average waiting time on the phone was close to an hour. On two occasions the phone rang for around 90 minutes and then the line just went dead.

When we did finally get a quote it was wrong, and the second version was unclear and incomplete, and we were forced to chase for answers. Finally, after all this, we were told that, in fact, Openreach had made a mistake and FTTP was not available.

This is despite, to our knowledge, the fact that fibre has already been laid down the road past our property. The Openreach claim is that the issue is providing the equipment within the exchange that would be required.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance Software


It’s a fairly sure bet that most businesses don’t welcome more regulation in the form of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a 56,000 word document aimed at protecting personal data. The implementation deadline for the GDPR is 25 May 2018.

On the other side of the coin, there are no doubt many people who believe that the GDPR will help, among other things, to reduce marketing or emails, calls and texts, many of which are of no relevance to them, or which, in the case of bogus messages, can lead to scams. 

Most businesses would probably look for a way of reducing the risks from the GDPR as cost effectively and quickly as possible, so that they can get back to the business of providing goods and services.  

The easiest way to reduce GDPR risks (in the form of the potentially much greater fines) is probably simply to avoid collecting and holding personal data at all, and to securely delete any that is held. But, of course, businesses want to hold on to records about customers. 

Bearing in mind that businesses are looking for the easiest way of complying with the GDPR, we have put together the attached list of vendors who say that they have software that can help with GDPR compliance.  

Please be aware that we have not had the opportunity to test or assess this software ourselves, nor do we know the cost of it. However, if firms approach us, and allow us to test their software, we are prepared to do so, and would then provide a write up for everyone’s consideration. We do not produce such software ourselves.

You do of course need to undertake your own due diligence exercise before considering purchasing any software from these firms, or paying for their advice.

Digital Control Room: www.digitalcontrolroom.com/gdpr
Integris: integris.io
Neupart: www.neupart.com
Trust Hub: www.trust-hub.com

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Technology Health: Electric and Electromagnetic Fields

Sally Burns at EMF Surveys works around the Exeter area and can give your home a technology health check by testing for electric and electromagnetic fields that may emanate from technological devices that use electricity around your home.

Your nervous system works using electricity, so you might want to know a bit more about anything that might affect that.

You can get in contact with Sally at: www.emfsurveys.co.uk .

A good general guide to electric and electromagnetic fields can be found at www.powerwatch.org.uk .

If you want to buy your own meter to check the field strengths Sally may refer you to:

www.emfields-solutions.com/detectors/overview.asp

and

www.electricsense.com

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Virtual Reality Headsets Ranked

HTC Vive

The HTC Vive seems to be in ahead in the virtual reality headset rankings based on the general consensus on the web.  Most people seem to think it has the most immersive experience, primarily because there is a much larger area in which you can move around in. When you have the headset on, your movement is monitored by base stations you place around the room, and there is a faint coloured virtual wall which lets you know where the physical borders of your room are in real life so that you don't trip over furniture or walk in to a wall. Generally we have seen the experience of the Vive described as awesome and fantastic. Game changing seems to be the impression. The Vive can be bought from HTC via Amazon. Bear in mind that you need a very powerful computer to run this on, which typically will cost you at least £1,000. Basic computers will not suffice.  The computer specification will have to be at least:
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon™ R9 290 equivalent or better
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4590/AMD FX™ 8350 equivalent or better
  • RAM: 4 GB or more
  • Video output: HDMI 1.4, Display Port 1.2 or newer
  • USB port: 1x USB 2.0 or better port
  • Operating system: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 or later, Windows 1



Oculus Rift and Related Samsung Gear

Oculus Rift, probably the most famous of the VR Headset technologies, has the launch of it's Rift headset on 20 September in the UK. Most comments seem to suggest that it lags behind the Vive somewhat due to the smaller area in which you can move. However it is somewhat less expensive. You can buy the Rift on Amazon. Again you need a very powerful gaming computer to run the headset on with a minimum specification as follows:
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • Memory: 8GB+ RAM
  • Video Output: Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • USB Ports: 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer


There are rumours that Microsoft maybe developing a new more powerful version of the XBox in to which you can plug your Rift device instead of having to buy a general powerful computer.

There is also the related Samsung Gear which uses Oculus technology, and which operates by plugging your Samsung phone (recent models only) in to the headset. However this seems to be a level or two down from Vive and Rift in terms of the user experience: 



Playstation VR

Sony's Playstation VR has a release date of mid Oct 2016.  It has a lower specification than the Vive and the Rift.  On the other hand it is the lowest priced and will run with the PS4 apparently, and does not therefore need the powerful general computer required by the Vive and the Rift. It has got plaudits for design also, with claims that it is the coolest looking of the VR headsets. You can buy the Playstation VR on Amazon.


Apple

There is a rumour that Apple is building its own VR headset.  This is not surprising given the potentially game changing nature of VR. We doubt that Apple could afford to be left out of this particular party.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Drones

Drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) usage is growing rapidly. Exeter University is using drones to help with environmental monitoring and Devon and Cornwall police have been trialling them in searches for missing people and crime scene photography. Drones can be used for a huge range of applications in addition to the above, from promotional videos to bridge inspections. Amazon is considering using them for home deliveries.

Of great concern are safety issues, including a fear of drones simply falling on top of people (a famous video shows a drone crashing to earth just behind a downhill racing skier (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeviAWB0i4Y) and potential collisions with aircraft.

In order to learn the rules and the ropes around drone flying you can get help. A company called UAVAir offers courses at Exeter racecourse we understand http://uav-air.com/locations/drone-courses-exeter. Please note however that we have not vetted UAVAir.  Please carry out your own checks as you see fit before taking the course and paying any money.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Assistive Technology in Exeter

Action for Blind People

Action for Blind People run monthly sessions giving advice and guidance to help make laptops, tablets or mobile phones more accessible.

These sessions take place at Devon in Sight (http://devoninsight.org.uk) in Topsham.

The address is:
Station House
Holman Way
Topsham
Devon
EX3 0EN
Map

The sessions are run by Darren Walker.  He is an Action for Blind People Technology Co-ordinator.

Hour long sessions can be booked by ringing Darren on 07834612789 or e-mailing darren.walker@actionforblindpeople.org.uk


Brain in Hand

Brain in Hand is an assistive technology designed to help individuals with autism.

Brain in Hand enables the user to access detailed personalised support from their phones. Users and their supporters can monitor usage, trends and the success of particular interventions from a secure website.

The service aims to build confidence in users so that they can be more independent and to open up new possibilities for them in daily life, education and work.

Brain in Hand Ltd
The Innovation Centre
University of Exeter
Exeter
EX4 4RN
Map
http://braininhand.co.uk/


Devon in Sight

Devon in Sight is a local charity providing help and advice to people affected by sight loss.

They advise on a range of equipment to help people to manage at home. They have a stock of some items and can also order equipment for delivery.  This includes:

Talking clocks and watches

From the Talking Communiclock to solar powered radio controlled watches; a range of timepieces, some with easy to see clear large faces.

Mobiles and Telephones

Corded and cordless phones and mobiles with features such as big buttons, speed dial and talking keys.

http://devoninsight.org.uk/resource-centre/equipment/


Exeter University

Exeter University enables priority access to rooms for students who are registered with the University’s AccessAbility team. This team are a part of the Wellbeing Services offered by the University.

AccessAbility is for students who experience a range of issues including:
·      Specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia;
·      Mental Health difficulties (in conjunction with the Mental Health team);
·      Asperger’s syndrome or autistic spectrum disorder;
·      Physical disabilities;
·      Blind or visual impairment;
·      Deaf or hearing impairment;
·      Long term medical conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes or arthritis.

The computers available in the rooms have software such as:
·      Speech Recognition – Dragon Naturally Speaking
·      Text to Voice – Free-speech and Text-help Read and Write Gold
·      Braille DBT Reader
·      Mind Mapping – Inspiration Pro
·      Screen Reading – Jaws 14

See the AccessAbility rooms at: http://as.exeter.ac.uk/library/librariesandcollections/facilitiesandmaterials/librarystudyspaces/

Information on AccessAbility at:
http://www.exeter.ac.uk/wellbeing/accessability/