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.

Socket Cleans Up Clark Lane

With the large number of drive-throughs and our proximity to the Interstate, it's only natural that Clark Lane gets hit a little hard with litter.
However, with the help of our volunteers, it's definitely looking a lot nicer!
Socket employees worked together to pick up over 14 bags worth of trash from the side of the road, as part of the City of Columbia's Adopt-A-Spot program.
Afterwards, we treated them to some cold beers and hot wings - the least we could do after working in 90 degree weather!
If you'd like to learn more about the City of Columbia's Adopt-A-Spot program, including areas that could still use volunteers, visit the City's website. Permanent and one-time cleanup opportunities are available.

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.

Pandora Tips and Tricks

We’ve already gone over how Pandora builds customized stations in a previous post – so how can you make the most of the Music Genome Project?
Check out the tips below to create a station you’ll love:
Create stations from songs, not artists:
Any particular artist could have a plethora of styles and musical genomes represented. For example, take the two following songs that could easily play back-to-back on a Beatles station:

I Want To Hold Your Hand -
Come Together -

Building a playlist off of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” will trigger The Beach Boys, Louis Armstrong, and The Turtles. “Come Together” will trigger Aerosmith, Cream, and The Rolling Stones.
Building a playlist off The Beatles as a whole? You’ll get all of them, and in no particular order.
Conserve your “skips”
Normally, you can skip six songs per hour when listening to Pandora. However, switching to a different station doesn’t count as a skip. You can go back to your original station after three to four minutes (however long the song would have kept playing had you stayed).
Use the thumbs up button sparingly!
Keep in mind that the “thumbs up” button broadens your song selection each time you use it – liking any particular track will add all of its associated genomes to your station. “Thumbs Up”-ing five songs on a single station will make it hard for Pandora to focus. Add a dozen? You might as well hit “random."
If you love a song, but it doesn’t really match the profile of your station, just create a new station using the track as a base. Save the thumbs up for songs that you not only love, but also match your station.
Use the thumbs down button sparingly too!
Same rationale as above – using this button will remove genomes from your station profile, so using it too much will reduce your station to looping the same few songs over and over.
Additionally, “thumbs down”-ing two songs by the same artist will remove that artist entirely from your station. If you’re just not in the mood for a certain track, hover over the album art and select “I’m tired of this song.” It will remove it from the playlist for a month.
Want to listen to all the songs an artist has available on Pandora?
Normally, the artist page is only accessible while a song by that artist is being played. However, there’s a way to search for individual pages though Google.
Copy and paste the following into your search bar: site:pandora.com inurl:artist
Replace the word “artist” with the name of the artist you’re searching for. For example, let’s say we’re looking for The Beatles. Our search would look like this: site:pandora.com inurl:Beatles
This first result happens to be the one we’re looking for (if there are multiple artists with similar names, you might have to check the URL). This will bring us to Pandora’s artist page, where you can browse their entire discography, as well as listen to 30 second samples of all their songs.

Have any favorite stations or your own Pandora tips? Let us know!

Internet Safety Tips for Kids

It’s hard to believe we’re more than halfway through summer break!

With the school year fast approaching, your child may need to use the Internet for homework or research. And like any other activity your child does, you cannot be watching every second. That’s why it’s vital that children understand some basic safety rules, instead of just specific things they can or cannot do.

Before letting them go online, talk to your child about these concepts:

  • Remind your child to question all information. Emphasize that people can lie about their names, ages and genders online.
  • Tell them to never give out personal info. Show them a simple Google search of yourself to prove how easy it is to gather information on just a name.
  • Place the computer in an open, visible area. Don’t hover or spy, but do let your child know that you can see what they’re doing.
  • Ask broad, non-invasive questions about what sites your children are on and what they like to do online. Keep an open dialogue - you don’t want your child to try and hide what they’re doing.
  • Make sure kids know to never give out passwords to anyone - not even to friends.
  • Remind your kids that everything online is permanent. This is especially important for older children that are starting to use social media networks. Screenshots, caches and other tools mean that even deleting a post or comment won’t make it go away. Tell them to pause and think through every post.

Finally, make sure that they know to come to you if anything online should upset or bother them. Once you establish trust and some ground rules, you can rest knowing your child can surf online safely.

Sungwook Kim - Socket's You-Make-The-Difference Award Winner for July 2014!

Sungwook Kim with SocketCongratulations to Internal Auditor Sungwook Kim for being named the July recipient of Socket's You-Make the-Difference Award!

Sungwook is originally from Pusan, a port city on the southeastern part of South Korea.  He moved here nine years ago and began working for Socket in October 2010.  Sung received several nominations and votes from his co-workers this month.  “Sung is a great asset for Socket,” says a fellow employee. “He comes in early and stays late. He is diligent and thorough. Sung definitely deserves this award.”
When asked for his impression of Missouri, Sung replied that he loves this state.  Although he grew up as a city dweller, Sung has learned that he really enjoys Missouri’s beautiful outdoors. In fact, camping has become one of his favorite hobbies. When they are not enjoying the outdoors, Sung and his wife also spend a lot of time browsing around antique shops.
“It’s been really wonderful,” says Sung about his time at Socket.  “The company culture is very unique and I’ve learned a lot these past four years.” He describes his job as both “challenging and enjoyable.”  
Working in a technology company is not such a stretch for Sung.  Not many know that he really enjoys collecting rare cables (i.e. USB cables etc.).  He’ll even have these rare cables shipped in from other countries, like the UK.
When asked about his thoughts on the award, Sung responded, “I never thought I would receive such an honor. Usually accounting is a small part of Socket (compared to the rest of the operations) and I think there are a lot of very passionate people doing an excellent job here.  I am very thankful for the nomination.”


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.

Subscribe to Blog

Socket has three separate blogs.
Please select all you wish to follow

Blog Archive