Earth Day Tech Tips!


Earth Day is April 22nd, and we’ve put together a few ways you can make a difference.
 
While it doesn’t have to be Earth Day to make some improvements to your computer and office habits, it’s a good time to take stock of our behavior and how it can affect the environment.
 
Of course, if that’s not enough of a reason, there’s always the bonus of saving some cash too!
 
Here are a few simple steps you can take to “go green”:
 

  • Reduce energy consumption by utilizing your computer’s power saver options.
  • Turn off your computer at night, both to conserve energy and to reduce heat stress on your machine.
  • Donate or recycle your “outdated” electronics instead of throwing them out.
  • Consider purchasing “reusable” or “refillable” printer cartridges.
  • Upgrade to an LCD monitor to reduce energy usage by more than half.
  • Reduce paper usage by printing double-sided when possible.

Have any other ideas? Share them in the comments below!

Fiber and the Growth of the Internet


Girl with laptopAs the Internet continues to grow and expand, the need for more bandwidth is also on the rise.
 
Online video is a key reason for this growth, particularly services like Netflix, Hulu and Youtube. As availability and demand for these services and other online videos increases, Internet users will need more bandwidth to keep up.
 
In addition, there are more devices than ever with online capabilities. Families and businesses are connecting to the Internet via laptops, smartphones, tablets, video game consoles and other gadgets. More bandwidth will be needed to accomodate these additional devices and maintain consistent speeds, especially while they're used simultaneously.
 
Fortunately, fiber-to-the-home networks will be able to keep pace far into the future. If you're eligible for our fiber services, now is the time to have this technology installed to your home! That way, as your bandwidth needs grow, so can your services.
 
Find out how to have fiber installed to your home and try it for 60 days - no strings attached. Even if you don't keep the service, you'll have the technology available at your home in case you need it down the road.
 
As always, give us a call at 1-800-762-5383 with any questions.
  
 

Matt Kohly - Socket's You-Make-The-Difference Award Winner for March 2014!


Matt Kohly has been named Socket’s You-Make-the-Difference Award winner for March!
 
Matt joined Socket’s legal team back in July 2004. In the decade since, he’s worked with other telecom companies so we can provide service in more areas, as well as working with Socket’s owners to determine which services and areas would be best for expansion. He’s also been instrumental in the development of Socket’s fiber network.
 
“For those of you who know Matt, you can clearly see that he goes above and beyond for everything that is sent his way,” said a co-worker who nominated him for the award.
 
Originally from Lexington, MO, Matt earned a bachelor’s degree in business from MU and then a master’s degree in agricultural economics. In his spare time, he likes to unwind on his bicycle or anywhere that involves a river or lake. He's even traveled by kayak across the entire state on the Missouri River! He also enjoys hanging out with his wife, Sherri, and kids Matthew and Kara.
 
“Seriously, I am stunned and flattered and very much appreciate the recognition from my peers,” says Matt about winning the award.
 
Congratulations, Matt!

Clean Up Columbia 2014


Considering how cold it's gotten since, it's hard to believe how perfect the weather was over the weekend for the 18th Annual Clean Up Columbia!
 
As part of a citywide volunteer effort, Socketeers helped clean up our designated Adopt-A-Spot, Clark Lane. Over the course of the day, over 1,350 volunteers total pitched in around town, collecting over 1,500 bags of trash.
 
In past years, we've collected hubcaps, shopping carts, and various other car parts. This year we didn't find anything quite so large, which is a pleasant surprise. There's still the carpeting of fast food wrappers, but it feels like progress!
 
If you'd like to learn more about Adopt-A-Spot, or other volunteer projects the city has available, visit the City of Columbia website.

Float Your Boat for the Food Bank!


It was perfect weather for sailing - we're not sure how it was for swimming, but luckily our team didn't have to find out!
 
The third annual Float Your Boat was held on April 12th, 2014, and brought in its largest crowd yet. The event raised over $20,000 for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, which is enough to provide over 255,000 meals to families in need.
 
Congrats to Socketeers Dave S., Jason V., and Jamey L., who captained "The Corporate SponsorSHIP!" Their cardboard boat made it to the finish line no worse for wear.
 
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for their competition. We hardly knew ye, "Barnacles and Tartar Sauce."
 
To learn more about the Food Bank, including how you can help, visit sharefoodbringhope.org.
 

Have You Updated Your Password Lately?


It’s always a good idea to periodically update passwords, but if you’ve been putting it off now’s the week to do it.

The “Heartbleed” bug is an encryption flaw that’s affected hundreds of sites, making it possible for third parties to view protected information like passwords. While the bug only came to light this week, there’s no telling how long hackers have known about it. Many sites are recommending password changes as a precautionary measure.

Sites affected by the bug include Gmail, Yahoo, Dropbox, Instagram and Intuit TurboTax. Several other sites, including Facebook and Twitter, haven’t said whether they were affected, but have recommended password changes as well.

If you’re creating a new password, remember:

  • Don’t use any personal information.
  • Use a combination of letters, special characters, and numbers. Try to avoid words.
  • Use more than 8 characters – the more, the better.
  • Don’t use one password for all your accounts.

The list of affected sites is still being updated, so check back often. For more info on increasing your password strength, check out our post on superhero-strong passwords.

Construction and Installations Continue


It appears the frigid winter is FINALLY behind us, and our crews continue to work through the list of customers who signed up when ground conditions did not allow for installations.
 
Spring can sometimes pose challenges of its own. Rainy, wet conditions can make for messy construction and damaged yards. So we take great care to make sure the ground is ready before our crews bury the fiber-optic cable and prepare for a customer's installation. We appreciate your patience throughout the construction and installation process.
 
If you have friends or neighbors who aren't yet signed up, be sure to tell them about our free 60-day trial offer. It's a great way to try the service before committing to a long-term agreement.
 
As always, give us a call at 1-800-762-5383 with any questions!
 

Socket Attends the 6th Annual Dream Factory Poker Tournament!


Socket was proud to once again help sponsor the Dream Factory Poker Tournament – and even if none of our representatives made it to the final table, we still had an amazing night.
 
The Dream Factory is a volunteer organization that grants wishes to critically and chronically ill children across Mid-Missouri; everything from dream vacations with their families to day-to-day support as they go through treatment. This year’s tournament ended up raising over $100,000 - enough to grant dreams to over 20 children!
 
Much of that money was raised during the event’s live auction, which included artwork and gifts created by children who had received wishes. Many of the parents and children shared their touching, and occasionally heartbreaking, stories as well.
 
If you’d like to volunteer, make a donation, or know a child in need, please visit www.CentralMissouriDreamFactory.org.

Socket Fiber Story: Tyler Oberlag


 
As a young college student, Tyler Oberlag knows the importance of high-speed Internet: both for his studies and for fun.
 
Tyler, who attends Westminster College in Fulton, splits his time between campus and his parents' home in Calwood. These trips back and forth used to cause problems when he had homework to do, since his parents had spotty Internet service and slow speeds.
 
Now, he's able to work on assignments at home or school, transitioning easily between the two, thanks to high-speed fiber Internet from Socket.
 
The switch to Socket has also made things run smoother for the many gadgets connected in the house. Between Tyler, his siblings and their parents, the family has multiple devices connected to the Internet at a time - for example, laptops, tablets, smartphones and video game consoles. The increased bandwidth that fiber provides has allowed all of those devices to connect simultaneously without issues.
 
"Now that we have Socket, there aren't any problems," said Tyler. "With technology, you realize how much easier your life becomes. Everything is literally in the palm of your hand."
 
Hear Tyler's story in this video.
 
 

What is a BotNet?


Botnets are made up of ordinary computers that have been infected with malware.  The owners of these computers might notice unusual slowness or odd behavior, but many don't realize they're infected at all.
 
When the creator of the botnet sends out an order, all the infected computers act on it. These commands can be anything from sending spam email to generating large amounts of random traffic. Having thousands of computers simultaneously visit a site can cripple it, in what is known as a "DDoS" (Distributed Denial of Service) attack.
 
Reports have surfaced claiming that DDoS bot traffic has increased 240%, and our own network technicians have noticed similar trends over the past few months.
 
To help keep your computers clear of bots - both to help stop these attacks, and to keep your machines running smoothly, follow these tips:

          Choose strong passwords, at least one upper case letter, one lower case letter and one number and a minimum of seven characters total.
 
          Keep all programs up to date. It may be annoying to have your programs constantly updating, but if an important security loophole is closed by a patch, it will only work if you install it.
 
          Keep an antivirus program running. No antivirus is perfect, but it's a baseline of protection against the most common types of malicious code.
 
          Be cautious with public wireless networks. If you're logging onto the web from a library or coffee shop, your information is only as safe as the network is - and public networks are an easy target for hackers.
 
          Let us know if you're headed out of the country. This one may sound strange, but one of the easiest ways to check a network for bot traffic is to see where email accounts are being accessed. If we notice an email account being accessed from Belarus or Nigeria, it's usually safe to assume the account's been hacked.
 
We usually lock accounts with suspicious activity until the passwords are reset - if you're planning on accessing your email from another country, giving us a call ahead of time can save everyone some worry! Plus we can give you some pointers if you're headed to a country with known network security issues.
 
Following just these few safety tips can help protect your computer, and help us keep Socket's networks safe.

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Who is Socket

Founded in 1994, Socket is a Missouri-based telephone and Internet service provider with the largest service area in the state.

Socket is a privately held company that provides families and businesses a choice for local and long-distance phone and Internet service. We combine the highest quality customer service with in-depth technical knowledge.

Our network serves more than 20,000 residents and businesses in more than 400 Missouri cities, and our customers enjoy simple billing and quick, friendly service.
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