Top Surveillance Gadgets for Small Businesses

We are living in an increasingly technological age and there are all sorts of different gadgets that you have probably already considered incorporating into your business. But for now, let’s focus on surveillance gadgets! Sure, Orwell might have foretold that we’d end up living in an age where “Big Brother” is always watching – but surveillance gadgets have proven indispensable for small business owners time and time again. Here are a couple you might like to consider investing in.

CCTV

Top of the list when it comes to surveillance gadgets, of course, is CCTV. CCTV stands for “closed circuit television” and is a form of surveillance camera system that has become commonly used by small business owners, large business owners, and even domestic households alike. Now, CCTV can be used in a very obvious way. It can be placed outside of your commercial property to prevent would-be vandals from defacing your store front, smashing glass, or causing other damage to your commercial property’s exteriors. It can also be placed inside your commercial property, reducing theft (people have been found much less likely to steal when they feel they are being recorded) and general shoplifting. But CCTV can have other benefits too! Studies have determined that many business owners, unfortunately, lose profit from staff theft. So, you could place CCTV in important areas such as stock rooms or overlooking cash registers too. This, again, deters crime, but can also be used as evidence if you find yourself in the sad situation of having to prove a staff member’s guilt. Finally, CCTV can be used to draw up footage if there is ever any incident in your commercial premises. If someone is hurt, the footage can determine whether it was an accident or whether someone was at fault. This could come in extremely useful during court cases. If this interests you, you can find facts about security cameras here.

Voice Recorders

Of course, you can’t just record people without their permission. You really will have to have consent to record conversations that you hold with anyone. But voice recorders can come in extremely useful when you are conducting important meetings with members of staff. Employees, of course, have rights, and it’s extremely important that you meet requirements when dealing with them. But it also serves well to have a recorded copy of important issues that have been discussed in meetings with HR. These can include one to one meetings where progression is noted and targets are set out, meetings where concerning behaviour is brought up, or any other formal discussion that you might need to refer back to at a later date. Just make sure any recordings are stored confidentially.

These are just two different surveillance gadgets that you might want to consider when it comes to running a small business successfully. Having footage of particular scenarios can serve you well in the long run! So, don’t hesitate to look further into these options that you have and invest where you need to!

Technology And Cyber Security

Crimes that are associated with cybersecurity are from being problems created by the digital age as some would have you believe. Things like fraud and identity theft both existed long before the first computer was invented and criminals were finding ways of evolving their plans without the use of the internet. However, it is fair to say that now they have moved their operations on to the digital landscape it is time we are all prepared.

With that in mind, we are going to take a look at some of the tech options available to you so that you can stay safe and secure.

Understanding The Threat

The first thing you should do when it comes to cybersecurity is to build up your knowledge of what the threat actually is. That means learning what the different types of attacks are that might come your way and what form they are going to take. Before we look into these areas it is important to note that while the threat might seem extreme, there will always be people creating tools to help you combat these problems and sometimes common sense is your best line of defense.

Two of the common types of cyber attacks are listed below and the way they are used is also given as a brief description, this information will be critical to your success in staying safe online and in the digital world:

  • Malware

This term refers to malicious software such as:

  • Spyware
  • Ransomware
  • Viruses
  • Worms

Usually these types of software breach a computer’s security due to the user clicking on a link or downloading them without knowledge. This is where common sense will be a big factor in your security. To avoid having your information stolen through your PC or having malicious software break your home network, don’t click on links from unknown sources.

  • Phishing

This might be one of the terms you are most familiar with. Phishing refers to the practice of sending out communications that are fraudulent such as from a bank or government official that asks for private information. The aim is to steal sensitive data or payment details by posing as a trustworthy source. Once again you should use your own initiative to avoid these attacks where possible.

Software To Help

So, now you know some of the threats you are facing, what can you do? Well, there are some great basic tools that you can use to prevent falling victim to these attacks. The first is to ensure that you have a secure antivirus installed on your device. Companies like McAfee and Norton have been working tirelessly for years to provide you with software that will fight off malware that finds its way onto your computer.

However, sometimes you can get a data breach through alternative methods due to the fact that phishing scams can be highly evolved. Something you can do is sign up to protection services such as https://budgetboost.co/lifelock-cost-review/ that will look for breaches of your private information and secure it up.

Gadget Man – Episode 125 – What to do if you are involved in a car chase

Some 30 years ago, I was inexplicably drawn into a high-speed car chase across my home town of Hitchin.

When I left The Bird in Hand in Gosmore on that rainy night in 1987, I had no idea that the following 10 or so minutes would stay with me until now.

In my case, I managed to ‘lose my tail’, but it has always troubled me how the Police would have viewed my plight at the time. Back then, we didn’t have mobile phones in order to call the authorities, so I took it upon myself to try and outrun my potential assailant. If the same had happened now, I would have driven to the nearest Police Station whilst calling them on the way.

Suffolk Police Officer
Suffolk Police Officer

Now, thirty-two years later, I have my answer (sort of), in the form of a Police Inspector from Suffolk.

In the above audio, you can find out what happened to cause the chase, how I evaded them and what the Police’s view is three decades later.

Don’t forget to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, SHARE and COMMENT, see you next time!!

Thanks to James Hazell for chatting to me about the chase and for contacting the police about it!!

Matt
The Gadget Man

How The Television Has Changed

Are you someone who loves to sit down in front of the telly on a Saturday night and binge watch all the programming saved specially for the weekend? Maybe you like to watch midweek daytime TV, and you’ve always got the channel tuned into the regular opinion programs that play at this time? Maybe you only tune in to access services like BBC iPlayer, or Netflix, which you’ve had enabled for the past couple of years now? And because of this, you realise you’ve stopped watching normal TV, and you don’t quite know when you did.

The TV has always been a centre point of the household, for as long as it’s been around. But in recent years, say the last twenty years or so, our television sets have changed, and so have the way we use them. A lot of us like to use them to just load up a DVD we know and love, some of us have a Smart TV that allows us to connect to the internet, and then some of us don’t even turn the screen on anymore. But it’s still there in the middle of the room, just in case we need it.

So to try and explore this change, whether you think it’s been a gradual or fast paced rise into the modern day, here’s some of the main ways our new technology has revolutionised the TV set and all its uses. And why some of us may have no use for a TV anymore.

It Started with the Radio

The radio has been around since the late 1800s, with the first radio waves sent and received in about 1895 in Italy. And radio is still around today, with an established presence across the world – we listen to it in our cars, we have it on the background when we clean the house, it’s playing in most of the stores we walk into when we’re out shopping. But if you asked someone what kind of entertainment mediums they turn to, radio would probably be the last of the list.

But that’s not to say it isn’t a popular option anymore. Simply, it has different forms and different names in the modern day and age. And a lot of the time, people no longer tend to look to radio personalities for funny quips and stories of the day. Maybe you like to listen to the breakfast show whilst you’re on your way to work, joining in with the back and forth the presenters have between them, but at least two or three people around you are just waiting for the next song to come on.

The shift from radio to TV happened quite a few years ago, with the TV growing fast in popularity because of its visual medium – humans like to have something to watch, and it’s a great way to keep your brain occupied. And the fact that you can access radio channels via the TV as well means the two mediums often go hand in hand, and rely on each for exposure.

From Analogue to Digital

Analogue TV is something we don’t hear too much about anymore. It used to be that you could access analogue channels, such as the BBC and Channel 4, without an aerial. And if you didn’t have much use for a TV, or you couldn’t afford to upgrade, it was a fine yet limited selection to have at hand. But since 2013, that’s not been the case – no longer do we see analogue television sets, nor the ability to access analogue channels – as everything is now broadcast in digital.

And whilst on the one hand that increases the want and need for digital aerials, in order to receive the freeview channels at the very least, it also represents a shift in access to the TV and how it can become more and more limited down the line. Back in the early and mid 2000s, only those with the budget had the option of taking out a digital line, but now it’s a necessity. And seeing as your wifi, phone line, and TV channels are often bought out as packages or bundles, a lot of people like to cut the expense of the premise by leaving out the latter.

Television is a Little Too Expensive for Some

As we began to talk about above, television can get a little too expensive for some people. Hundreds of channels at your disposal, yes, but little want or need to watch more than ten to fifteen of them. And then, with many providers requiring you to pay more each month if you want music or movie channels as well, the whole premise of needing to pay for satellite service becomes too much.

The television service in the UK is often described as being one of the most expensive in the world, as you need to pay for a licence to even switch on the TV. The cost of a TV licence has gone up in the last year, and now you are required to pay £3.50 more per year for use of your television. And when most channels are sponsored in the own right, such as every channel outside of the BBC, there’s been quite a lot of debate around this matter.

Mostly, whether the cost is worth it, considering all the alternatives available to us thanks to the internet. When you have streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and a one time payment per month for access to their entire database whenever the fancy takes you, you can save yourself a lot of money. Of course, in order to compete with this kind of availability, prices of traditional TV viewing do have to go up (as well as adjusting for inflation), but that can still leave consumers with a bad taste in their mouth.

Then Came Internet Access

As mentioned above, the internet has removed a lot of the use behind owning and being able to operate a TV, what with free streaming services like Youtube available, and then bigger companies such as Amazon Prime allowing you to buy and download any TV program straight to a device you have linked. You don’t even need a television set – computers, laptops, tablets, and mobiles all have this kind of viewing capability.

And traditional TV itself has sat up and taken notice of this. Many networks have now moved their rights and availability to the online world, such as BBC Three and parts of NBC in America. This allows traditional TV a new medium – they become part of the new streaming world, and any loyal viewers can watch the TV programs they know and love whenever they want.

Many people can see the bonuses of this: get some old classics downloaded to your phone, and watch them whilst you’re on the bus into work, or settle down at night with your tablet in hand, if setting up a TV in your bedroom was just a little too expensive for you. Of course, there’s still some complaints over this kind of change, what with the idea of ‘revolutionsing TV’ not sitting well with someone, but it can save both TV executives and the avid consumer themselves hundreds and thousands, and even millions in the long run.

Some People See a Lack of Interactivity

The final point we have here about the change of our use of the TV in the past fifty years is that many people see the television as having a lack of interactivity, and it no longer satisfies them because of it. What with online streaming, in both official and personal standards, and the use of other social media, people can feel more and more isolated from having to rely on the TV for their entertainment alone.

People can now talk directly to the personalities they know and love, with apps like Periscope and Twitch opening up direct channels between ‘celebrities’ and their fans. Video games are becoming more and more of an artform, with VR capability and the choice to pick the direction a game’s storyline can go in. And then comes the role of social media – you can tweet your favourite TV personality directly, engage in conversation with them, open up groups of fans similar to you and speculate about upcoming episodes, and even vote in polls about what you want to see a program do next. And all in all, isn’t that just a lovely idea to think about? You certainly wouldn’t have minded it when you were younger.

So, TV Has Changed

The TV has changed a lot since its inception, and it will continue to change as our habits and our technological capabilities do to. Being able to watch this change, and adapt with it, is one of the highlights of modern life, and finding new and interesting ways to put yourself to use within it can mean a great career is ahead of you. Make sure you’re never discounting this ability.

Gadget Man – Episode 124 – Keyless Car Theft Explained and How to Stop it

How many of us own and drive a vehicle with a keyless entry system? Well, it appears that many thousands of us that do have woken up this morning to a very worrying report from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC),

In order to unlock your keyless entry vehicle, you simply need to carry your key-fob. As you approach the vehicle, it recognises the encrypted signal transmitted from the fob. This, in turn, instructs the vehicles central-locking system to unlock the doors when you either touch the door handle or press the button on the door-handle. There is no requirement to insert the key into the ignition as the car is fitted with a start/stop button. If you own a car with both keyless entry and start/stop system, you aren’t alone, they are now widely used in hundreds of models or cars and in some cases motorbikes.

Now for the bad news. A recent study by the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) has discovered that the technology is far from secure in all but THREE cases and in fact the method of stealing a keyless vehicle is extremely simple.

In order to steal a keyless vehicle, a thief simply employs a rudimentary transceiver which takes the relatively weak signal transmitted and received from the fob to the car and amplifies it, it is then possible for the signal to reach from the fob to the car and hey presto, the car is unlocked and can (in most cases) be started.

Once the car is running, the need for a key is obsoleted and the car can now be driven until it is depleted of fuel. In most cases, the cars are taken abroad and the retrofitted with standard locking and start systems. As long as the car does not stall, it will run for as long as the fuel tank will take it.

NO AMOUNT of hacking or decryption is needed, it is reliant solely on the amplification of the already transmitted signal!

Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC.
Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC. Image Credit: ADAC

Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC, said “The ADAC demands that vehicles be protected against any kind of manipulation and illegal access. For the affected vehicles, there must be solutions put in place to improve the security.  All new  vehicles should also be equipped with a methodologically that ensures secure safety solutions which also withstands neutral side checks”

Which cars and manufacturers were affected?

Unfortunately, it would appear that EVERY manufacturer tested has at least one model which could be stolen using the method above.

Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Citroen, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, KIA, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes, MINI, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Seat, Skoda, SsangYong, Suzuki, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volvo, Volkswagen and motorcycles from BMW, Ducati and KTM. 

The following vehicles could NOT be opened using this method but if already open it was STILL POSSIBLE to start and drive the cars.

BMW i3 (2014)
Infiniti Q30 (2016)
Mazda 2 Skyactive 90 Kizohu (2018)
Volvo XC60 T5 (2017)

The following vehicles could NOT be opened or started using this method.

Jaguar i-Pace (2018)
Land Rover Discovery (2018)
Land Rover Range Rover (2018)

The vehicles above are currently immune from this method of attack. This is because they employ a variation of the keyless system by broadcasting using ultra-wideband frequencies. Basically, the equipment used to amplify the signal is ‘currently’ unable transmit or receive at the radio frequencies used in these models of cars.

Jaguar-Land Rover filed the patent for this method of keyless access in 2017. We can now only hope that they freely license these patents to other car makers or a comparable technology can be developed.

What Now?

All too often our deep-rooted human needs to be ‘waited upon’ result in solutions which in the first instance appear to solve a problem that really didn’t exist, but in real-world use turn out to have a sting in the tail. In the case of the study by ADAC, it would appear that there are very urgent questions to answer and drivers should be aware of the security issues surrounding their vehicles.

Faraday Cases?

Prior to speaking to BBC Radio Suffolk, many listeners talked about using Faraday Cases or Bags to house their keys. The theory behind this was to block the signal completely whilst the car isn’t in use (ie. whilst the keys were stored in the home or place of work).

Faraday Bag for Keyless Fobs from Amazon

I personally believe that keeping the keys away from the car or placing them in a container which COMPLETELY blocks radio signals is the only way to avoid the potential theft of vehicles using this method. However, radio signals can travel through types of metal, so be ABSOLUTELY confident that anything you purchase to secure your fobs, does indeed work as described.

Immediate Steps to Take

If you are concerned about the security of your keyless car fob, contact your car’s manufacturer as soon as possible and ask them what steps they have taken to secure your car? Ask them if there are software updates to improve security? Ask them if these systems can be deactivated until such time as they can be completely secure?

Listen in!

This morning I spoke to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about the use of Faraday Cage technology to try and reduce the chances of Keyless entry cars being stolen. Listen in to the stream above. If you like what you hear or read, don’t forget to LIKE, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE. See you next time!

Matt
The Gadget Man

I previously spoke about this topic a while back, you can read and listen at this link Gadget Man – Episode 113

Gadget Man – Episode 123 – The Demise of the Yellow Pages

Earlier in the week, I spoke to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about the demise of the Yellow Pages directory.

The Yellow Pages was always sat alongside the equally large Phone Book, but had gradually declined over the years since the introduction of the Internet and increasing dominance of search engines such as Google which has made searching for and finding businesses much easier and informative.

Having rebranded as Yell.com many years back and diversifying it’s business interests as an ‘Internet’ brand, the directory has had a long and some might say “painful” death. In the way the Phone Book died in part due to privacy concerns, the Yellow Pages has died due to lack of interest. In our fast-moving world, there is no longer a place for archaic, expensive and out of touch printed directories. The internet now provides so much more. We will just need to find something else to keep the kitchen table from rocking!

You can listen to the on-air discussion we had about the Yellow Pages by clicking the link above. Don’t forget to Like, Share and Subscribe to the Podcast using your favourite Podcast service including iTunes, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and more!

See you next time!

Matt
The Gadget Man

Header Picture Credit: Comedy Nose – https://www.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/

Gadget Man – Episode 122 – Are We Influenced By Movies And Media?

Last week, I spoke with James Hazell on BBC Radio Suffolk about the new film classifications and how they can be applied to online video streaming sites.

I also discussed YouTube’s ban on videos that contain or encourage dangerous pranks that endanger people or could cause harm to people copying them.

BBFC Ratings
BBFC has revised it’s classifications

Following a public consultancy of more than 10,000 people, the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) has now revised its classifications to make it more consistent across platforms, including online services.

David Austin, Chief Executive Officer at the BBFC, said: “Over the last five years the way we consume film and video has changed beyond all recognition. That’s why it’s so important that there is consistency between what people watch on and offline.  The research shows that parents and teenagers want us to give them the information and guidance that they need to view what’s right for them.

We’re here to listen to what people want, which is why they trust our age ratings.  So it’s encouraging to know that we’ve been classifying content in line with what people want and expect when it comes to difficult themes around credible real life scenarios. We also know that people are more comfortable with issues such as action violence, if it’s in a way that they are expecting – such as a Bond or Bourne film. We are updating our standards around depictions of sexual violence and very strong sex references to reflect changes in public attitudes.”

Image Credit: Netflix
A scene from Bird Box – Image Credit: Netflix

In discussing YouTube enforcing rules banning videos which either put people in danger or promoted acts which might lead people copying those acts to either suffer harm or place others in danger, we discussed recent movies such as the Netflix production; Birdbox which led some people to challenge others to go about day-to-day activities whilst blindfolded and may have led a driver in the US to become involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Trinity and Neo from The Matrix
Trinity and Neo from The Matrix – Image Credit: The Wachowskis / Silver Pictures / Warner Bros

On a lighter note, I owned up to buying a pair of ‘Neo from the Matrix’ inspired sunglasses and my continuing search for ‘The Dude’s Cardigan’ from The Big Lebowski.

The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski – Image Credit: The Coen Brothers / Working Title Films

You can listen in to the stream, by clicking on the play button above, or you can subscribe to The Gadget Man podcast using the links above listen in via iTunes, Tune-in, Google Podcasts and more! Don’t forget to show your support by ‘liking’, ‘sharing’ and ‘subscribing’.

Matt
The Gadget Man

Gadget Man – Episode 121 – Too Much Smartphone Part III

As we enter the final year of the second decade of the 21st century, the smartphone will surely be considered the most revolutionary gadget of the last 10 years.

Our phones are now firmly ingrained in our lives, joining us at home, at work, at play, at the dinner table, in bed, they come with us everywhere! Our lives are documented in detail, where we go, what we do, what we think and what we eat. We’ve now become news gatherers, critics and voyeurs all without realising it was happening in front of us.

Too Much Smartphone III
Too Much Smartphone III

The use of mobile phones stretches to every age group, from the elderly to the very young and with this comes concern as to the use of these devices. Should young people be allowed to use their phones at any time of the day OR night? Does it reduce conversation? Are we become LESS social?

I have now covered this subject twice in the past, you can read a listen in here and here, however now reports are informing us that phones DON’T cause our children harm, listen in to the podcast, where I talk to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about this latest contentious report.

As ever, if you enjoy listening in, Like, Share, Subscribe and Comment, I will see you soon!

Matt Porter
Gadget Man

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 120 – The Resurgence of the Cassette

As the new year dawns, we again look back, but this time it’s more than 30 years to yet another audio format resurgence. Now that Vinyl has once again become freely available to the masses after being all but condemned by CD’s, MP3’s and then streaming music, another format becomes the trend of choice. Yes, we are now being encouraged to revisit the Cassette Tape! Another Hipster trend or is there more to it?


HEAD’S UP!! You can listen in to me talking on BBC Radio Suffolk with Mark Murphy about my memories of cassette tapes, don’t forget to Like, Share, Subscribe or Listen directly.


For me, it’s difficult to understand how revisiting this format has any real appeal. The audio quality was mediocre, to say the least. Unless of course, you could afford $2,500  ($5000 in today’s money) for a Nakamichi Dragon Cassette Deck which in 1991 was widely considered to provide the best audio reproduction available.

Nakamichi Dragon Cassette Deck
Nakamichi Dragon Cassette Deck

For those of us unfortunate enough to be devoid of 5000 bucks, we instead looked at more portable alternatives, either in the shape of your unfriendly neighbourhood ‘Ghetto Blaster’ or the even smaller ‘Sony Walkman’. Whilst our aspirations for these two devices may have been the popular ‘break dancing’ movies of the era, we would have to face up to lesser versions of both.

Ghetto-Blaster or Boom-Box
Ghetto-Blaster or Boom-Box

The giant Ghetto-Blasters we dreamed of with 20 D-Size batteries, would, in fact, end up with less bulky and much less ‘blasting’ boom-boxes.

Sony Walkman Professional
Sony Walkman Professional

The incredibly sleek Sony Walkman’s would also be too expensive and thus instead we ‘made-do’ with cheaper and much poorer alternatives featuring tinny headphones and literally all DSP (digital signal processing) technology removed to either keep down costs or avoid licensing fees being paid by the manufacturers.

Tape Cassettes did launch the car and personal stereo experiences,  which went on to launch the digital experience that we all enjoy today. So just for this alone, we should be thankful. It does not, however, mean that cassette tapes sound any better than anything else that is currently available. We now don’t need to arduously fast-forward or rewind to our favourite tracks and we most certainly do not have to spend hours fiddling around with pencils to re-tension cassettes, it’s now so much easier. So maybe they should stay consigned to charity shops and eBay.

Matt

The Gadget Man – Episode 119 – Technology to look out for in 2019

Another year passes and as we move into 2019 we can look forward to another year of unstoppable advances in technology.

If I was able to predict upcoming tech, I’m happy to suggest that my number one for 2019 will be the folding mobile phone with potential devices from LG and Samsung already breaking cover in various forms.

Both companies have already demonstrated their flexible display technologies and with the Mobile World Congress in February coming up soon, we should expect demonstrations of foldable, rollable or bendable screen tech from these companies.

Artificial intelligence is sure to continue its unstoppable march towards self-awareness (I jest!!), but all the same, we should be seeing multi AI ‘bots’ training directly with each other very soon! Who could forget the Facebook AI bots which invented their own communication language shortly after being switched on! More of this in inevitable, hopefully with the necessary safeguards in place.

The big 3 tech companies continue to advance home-based smart technology with integration into every part of our lives, add to this more AI and who knows what we should expect from the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple.

Holograms are a little way off, but augmented reality is making leaps and bounds with more advanced filters on spectacles providing with illusionary-holographic images a reality soon.

Phone batteries continue to provide us with more and more screen time and further advances in battery and charge technology will give us even more excuse to distract ourselves on a daily basis.

This year we look forward to the beginnings of the 5G roll-outs, giving us impossibly fast download speeds, but also extending decent internet speeds to rural areas of the UK.

Ultimately, we are not about to be overrun by killer robots and 2019 will be bringing some pretty astounding new technology, strap yourselves in and enjoy the ride.

I talked on air with James Hazell from BBC Radio Suffolk about my predictions for the coming year. Have a listen and don’t forget to  Like, Subscribe, Share and Comment and I will see you very soon.

Matt

 

Technology and Gadget Reviews on air, online, in print and in person

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