Socket Fiber Story: Denise Tackitt


   
For busy families, satellite Internet just doesn't cut it, something Denise Tackitt remembers all too well. 
 
Just a year ago, Denise and her family were struggling with slow speeds and other issues resulting from their satellite Internet connection. Working from home was cumbersome. More than one person couldn't be online at the same time. It was frustrating, to say the least. 
  
They decided to have Socket Fiber installed in the fall of 2013, and Denise was surprised at how easy the construction process turned out to be. 
  
"My original perception was that there was going to be this huge trench," Denise recalls. "It ended up not being anything like that. I was very pleasantly surprised."
 
Now, with Socket Fiber, Denise can quickly download files before leaving for work in the morning. The family has plenty of bandwidth for everyone, including Denise's daughter and her teenage friends. 
 
"Once you try it, you will be in love with it," Denise says. "It's a huge difference from satellite."
 
Hear Denise's story in this video. 
 
 

Socket adds "Splicing Lab"


Socket Splice TrailerSocket's fiber network continues to expand, and we're working to make construction as efficient as possible. Recently, we added a "Splicing Lab" to aid in this endeavor.
 
Yes, in fact, it is as cool as it sounds. In order to deliver Socket Fiber to customers, technicians must splice the fiber-optic cable from the road to the new fiber line that construction crews run to a home or business. The Splicing Lab houses a flat, sterile surface where installers can handle the cable like never before.
  
Because a strand of fiber is coated with a special protective material, it takes special tools and a stable surface to expose the fibers for the splice. Without the protective armor, the fiber strands are very fragile. That's why it's important that the area around the exposed fiber be clean and stable to ensure the splice is quick, yet accurate. 
  
Before the Splicing Lab existed, technicians would set up a table next to the road in order to splice the fiber. That means they sometimes worked in less-than-ideal weather conditions, battling wind, rain or heat while trying to handle the fiber strands.
Socket Splice Trailer - interior

  
With the Splicing Lab, though, that all changes. It's air-conditioned with lots of clean counter space to provide technicians the perfect environment for their work, which will speed up the splicing process. Not only that, but the lab's lighting allows for splicing into the evening and nighttime hours. 
 
We're excited about the new Splicing Lab and what it means for the future of our fiber network. Keep an eye out for it in your area! 
 
 

September 10th is "Internet Slowdown Day"


If you see a lot of loading icons on September 10th, it’s not a problem with your connection – and your favorite websites aren’t actually running any slower. But it is an example of what could happen if the FCC fails to pass comprehensive net neutrality rules.
 
Many websites will be displaying prominent loading icons on September 10th in order to create awareness of the threat to Net Neutrality, including Reddit, Vimeo, KickStarter, Etsy, Imgur, Mozilla (creators of Firefox), and Foursquare.
 
One of the proposals being reviewed by the FCC would allow for cable and Internet companies to prioritize service to paying websites, a move that would create Internet “fast lanes.” Rather than all websites being treated equally, service providers would get to choose which sites customers could access at a reasonable speed – a frightening prospect when many service providers also own or have stakes in large websites.
 
For a more in-depth explanation of Net Neutrality, check out our past blog post on the topic – Socket remains committed to the principles of a free and open Internet. And to learn more about “Slow Down The Internet,” check out the campaign’s website here.

Protect Your Data on the Cloud


While experts still aren’t quite sure how hackers accessed a slew of compromising celebrity photos, the source of the photos is clear – Apple’s iCloud storage service.
 
Cloud services can be extraordinarily useful, but like any technology, it’s important to understand how it works and how to protect that data. Here are some tips on preventing someone from seeing what you’d prefer they didn’t:
 
Get two-step authentication:
This is something that most online banking accounts require, and it’s easy enough to set up. When you try to access your accounts from a new device for the first time, you will be sent a code or pin number to an already-registered device – usually your cell phone or desktop computer.
 
If a hacker manages to guess your password, they would still need to go through this verification, since they wouldn’t be logging in from your computer. Visit Apple’s guide or Google’s to set this up, depending on your device.
 
Don’t Use Guessable Security Information:
If your password is an English word, or your security questions can be answered by viewing your Facebook page, they’re not safe. Some of the simplest password-cracking programs just run through the dictionary until they find a hit. And if someone is specifically targeting your account (as happened with many of the celebrity photo leaks), knowing a birthday and favorite pet’s name can get a hacker pretty far.
 
Check out our post on secure passwords for more tips.
 
Beware of Phone Backups
Because of automatic cloud backups, things you delete off your phone may not actually be gone. Double check your settings to make sure you’re not saving things you don’t want to be saving.
 
Remember that these features are meant to be helpful – in the off chance that your phone or device is lost, these backups allow for data recovery and syncing to a new device. Keep these risks in mind before you disable the service.
 

Google Drive:
If you have an Android device or Chromebook, chances are your documents, pictures and data are being backed up to Google Drive. Check any Google apps you have (Google Photos, Google+, Google Drive) to see if there are any documents or photos that you did not intend to upload. If you have linked your device to a Gmail account, it’s probable that there’s at least one app syncing something.
 
To disable auto backup, check Google’s guide for your particular device.
 
iCloud:
Users with an iPhone, Mac or other Apple product may not realize their information is being backed up to iCloud. To check, follow this guide from Apple to manage which apps automatically back up data.
 
Keep in mind that iCloud also keeps music, data and updates synced between a user’s multiple devices, so disabling all features may prevent the user’s devices from updating. For instance, if a user purchased an iTunes album on their desktop Mac, it might not be accessible through their iPhone until the devices are allowed to sync.

 
With the amount of data we share, keep, and consume, it’s inevitable that most people will need to use a cloud storage system at some point. But a little bit of knowledge (and caution) can do wonders for keeping your data safe.

The History of Fiber


You may already know what Socket Fiber is, but may not understand exactly how it works. Basically, it's all about feeding data through tiny pieces of glass near the speed of light. But, where did the idea come from?
 
Fiber Began in 1854
 
Fiber technology dates back to 1854, when Irish physicist John Tyndall found that a stream of water could bend a light signal. In 1880, engineer William Wheeler experimented even further and used a system of “light pipes” to direct light from an electric lamp in a basement to other areas in the home. Soon after, doctors began using the new technology as surgical lamps.
 
Fiber Transferred Images by 1930
 
However, it wasn't until the early 1900s that scientists began thinking about how the “light pipes” could transfer more than just light. In 1920, Scottish engineer John Logie Baird and American research engineer Clarence W. Hansell patented the idea of using the technology to transfer images for television. Ten years later, the first image (though in poor quality) successfully moved through optical fibers during an experiment by German medical student Heinrich Lamm.
 
Scientists Invented Fiber Optic Wire in 1970
 
In the years following, several scientists branched off Lamm's idea, proposing solutions to the image quality problems he experienced. In1970, a team of researchers finally pinpointed the need for fused silica to improve the image's quality and invented fiber optic wire, otherwise called, “Optical Waveguide Fibers.” These little strands carried 65,000 times more data than copper wire at distances farther than a thousand miles away.
 
Fiber Optic Technology Today
 
The United States Government utilized fiber-optic technology to link their computers in the NORAD facility in 1975. Today, it's estimated that more than 80% of the world's long-distance traffic is transferred on more than 25 million kilometers of fiber-optic wire.
 
Socket added its numbers to that list in 2011 when it broke ground on a $23.7 million project to bring a fiber-to-the-home network to rural Boone and Callaway counties. Now, more than 3,000 homes in the area have access to Socket’s fiber broadband network, which offers local telephone, high-speed Internet and (soon-to-be-offered) HD television services.
 
Learn more about fiber technology and what sets it apart from other types of broadband.
  
 

James Hicks - Socket's You-Make-The-Difference Award Winner for August 2014!


Congratulations to James Hicks, Business Technical Support Agent, for being named the August recipient of Socket’s You-Make-The-Difference award!
 
James has now won this award three times since starting at Socket in 2011. And each time, he’s been lauded for his exemplary dedication to fixing any problem that comes across his desk – from customers’ technical issues to helping his coworkers stay positive (often with his drawer full of candy).
 
“James is incredibly diligent and tenacious in his quests to resolve issues with positive outcomes,” said a coworker who nominated him for the award. “It leads to happy customers.”
 
Originally from Kenoma, MO, James moved to Columbia in 2011 after his brother, fellow employee Nelson, recommended he apply to Socket. He’s been here ever since, along with his cat, Dog (so named for acting decidedly un-cat-like. His nieces disagree with the name and have been calling him Cocoa instead).

"It's a honor to even be nominated," said James. "I'm glad my coworkers find me helpful."

Socket Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge!


With the temperature hovering around 100 degrees, it was almost a relief to see those buckets of ice water lined up on the lawn. However, it was still obviously a little too cold for comfort for these 25 Socketeers!
 
Social media can be a powerful tool for generating visibility of a cause or effort – and that’s how the Ice Bucket Challenge grew so fast. Here’s how it works:
 

  • Someone issues a challenge, usually to a friend or family member.
     
  • The person challenged can either decline by making a monetary donation to a charity or cause, or they can accept the Ice Bucket Challenge.
     
  • If accepted, the person must film themselves pouring a bucket of ice water over their head. This video is posted to social media as proof.
     
  • The person then challenges three other people to the same challenge.

In either case, the charity will gain a monetary donation, or increased visibility through the spread of the videos. According to the New York Times, there have been over a million videos posted so far.

Socket’s owners issued the Ice Bucket Challenge to all of our employees, with a slight twist – instead of asking for donations, our owners instead would make a $20 donation on behalf of everyone who took the challenge.

In all, these brave Socketeers raised over $600 for the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. This organization is dedicated to finding the most ethical and cost-effective ways of conducting medical research, in order to develop therapies and cures for a variety of diseases, including ALS.

To learn more about the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, visit their website at jp2mri.org.

What is Cyberbullying?


What is Cyberbullying?
 
Cyberbullying, like bullying, is the repeated use of threats, intimidation, humiliation or violence to cause harm to another. However, unlike regular bullying, cyberbullying can happen when the victim and perpetrator are separated, and at any time – day or night.
 
Because the use of texts, IMs, and social media are often beyond the sight of adults, it can be harder to notice the abuse. At the same time, it’s often easier for the abuse to spread, due to the ease with which online communications are shared.
 
There’s no easy answer when it comes to preventing bullying, cyber or otherwise. However, like most things, instituting basic guidelines and keeping an open line of communication can help kids stay safe and keep adults aware of abusive behavior – on their child’s part or another’s.
 
Check out the following resources and tools for more information on cyberbullying:
 
UMatter, a website put together by Columbia Public Schools, offers facts and advice on dealing with bullying and cyberbullying, for both students and parents. Learn more about warning signs to look out for, as well as ways to deal with cyber-harassment, on their blog.
 
“Halt”, a free app currently available for iPhones, allows parents to see their child’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts before they go live. Parents can then allow or block posts, or review them to keep updated on their child’s activities – like what they’re saying, and to whom.
 
Tina Meier, founder of the Megan Meier Foundation, will be appearing at Kid City to speak to parents about the dangers of cyberbullying. Tina’s daughter, Megan, was the victim of cyberbullying – her death prompted the passing of Megan’s Law, criminalizing abusive communications.
 
Kid City is this Saturday, August 23rd, from 9 AM – 3 PM at the Holiday Inn in Columbia, MO.
 
StopBullying.gov is geared towards informing adults about bullying and cyberbullying behaviors in children. It also outlines when such behavior should be reported to law enforcement. The statistics it highlights can be a good way to start conversations with kids about their experiences with cyberbullying, as well.
 

How to Disable In-App Purchases


While this "My Little Pony" game is free to download, the "gems" used as in-game currency are sold in packs for up to $30 each.

If you have children who use your mobile devices to play games, it might be a good idea to double-check your system settings.
 
Many mobile apps aimed at children include the option to purchase in-game perks and points for real-life money. In fact, there's allegations of many "free" games purposefully luring kids into doing this. Parents can be completely unaware until a large charge appears on the monthly cell phone or  credit card bill - and by then it may be too late to get any of that money back.
 
While lawsuits have been filed against Google, Apple, and Amazon over unauthorized charges made by minors, the easiest way to avoid accidental payments (and having to jump through hoops to get your money back) is to disable in-app purchases entirely.
 
Here's a quick guide for Android and Apple devices - however, if your device is more than a few years old, you may want to look up a specific walkthough.
 
Android/Google Devices:
 

  • Open “Google Play.” At the top of the page, there is a menu button (resembling three horizontal lines). Select this, then select “Settings.”
  • Depending on the version or device you’re using, there’s either a “Use Password” or “Use Pin” option for purchases. Select whichever option you’re given to activate it. If you don’t have one yet, the device will request that you create the password or pin.
  • There is also an option to set the password/pin to only trigger every thirty minutes – in other words, if you enter your password to buy an app, you won’t be asked to verify any purchases made for thirty minutes afterwards. Make sure this option is set to "always ask for password/pin."

Apple/iOS Devices:
 

  • Open the “Settings” screen. Select the “General” menu, and then select “Restrictions” (near the top of the page).
  • Select “Enable Restrictions” – the very first option at the top. You will have to create a 4-digit passcode. Enter it twice to confirm.
  • Disable “In-App Purchases” by selecting it, which will un-check that option. You may also wish to disable “iTunes Store,” “iBooks Store,” and “Installing Apps” in order to block all purchases entirely.

New Columbia Service Area Now Open!


Introducing our newest service area in Columbia!
  
We’re thrilled to now be able to offer service to the Limerick Lane area! Several area residents and businesses have asked us to expand to their neighborhood, and we're excited to be there!
 
Residents and businesses in the area now have access to local telephone service from Socket, as well as Naked DSL Internet, which delivers ultra-fast speeds without an active landline.
 
To see if your home is in our new service area, visit www.socket.net/prequalify, or give one of our local techs a call at 1-800-SOCKET-3.

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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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