Bringin' The Heat at the Rootin' Tootin' Chili Cookoff!


Although it’s been a few days, there’s still the faint smell of delicious chili floating though our office…

    

Socket joined 50 other organizations in the Rootin’ Tootin’ Chili Cookoff last weekend, benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia. This event funds the club until its next event in the fall, and allows the club to provide services to nearly 600 area kids.

    

While we can’t tell you the whole recipe (our chef has sworn us to secrecy), we can say that we used over 50 habanero peppers. Spicy! We made sure to warn people, although some chili enthusiasts took our warning as a challenge.

    

An estimated 2000 people attended this year’s cookoff, beating the fundraising goal of $75,000  for the Boys and Girls Club. We can’t wait until next year’s competition… and yes, we’ll be bringing the heat!

    

Nate Compton - Socket's You-Make-The-Difference Winner for January 2014


Nate Compton, one of our residential field service technicians, is January's You-Make-the-Difference winner!

    

Nate started at Socket nearly 3 years ago, and helps install and troubleshoot service for our customers on-site. In the last year, he’s also done work on Socket's fiber network in rural Boone and Callaway counties.

    

As is naturally the case with field work, most of Nate’s tasks take him out of the office. It can be easy to forget that while we’re sitting at warm desks, Nate’s driving through snow and rain to get to the places  that need him.

  

“[People don’t] see what we do,” said a fellow field technician who nominated him. “He was the first one to grab a shovel when the snow storms hit, to make sure that everyone was able to walk on the sidewalk to get into the building. Now if you ask me, that’s making a difference!”

    

Originally from the Joplin area, Nate has lived in Columbia for about 8 years. In between playing pool, poker, and rooting for the Cardinals, Nate has been reading though the Game of Thrones series. So don’t spoil anything!

   

“I'm flattered that all these great people I work with feel that I'm making a positive difference,” said Nate after winning. “Our whole department does a great job and it's awesome that one of us finally won.”

   
Congrats, Nate!

Access Library Services Using Socket Fiber


 
Daniel Boone Regional LibraryIf you're a new Socket Fiber customer, you might be discovering everything you can do online. Or maybe you're on the fence about whether to sign up.
 
Either way, keep in mind that you can get even more use out of a high-speed Internet connection by accessing services from the Daniel Boone Regional Library.
 
You can browse for books online, read newspapers and magazines or even take an online class.
 
If you have an e-reader (such as a Kindle or Nook), you can find and download books without ever leaving home. Cool, huh?
  
It all starts with a library card. If you don't have one yet, you can apply online.
 
Then, explore the library's Digital Branch and everything you can do online!
 

Socket Fiber Story: Shannon Thompson


 
Shannon Thompson is used to being “out in the middle of nowhere.” Her family loves the peace and privacy that their rural property provides. She used to assume this came with a cost, though. No cell phone reception. No high-speed Internet. No premium television service.
 
So when she heard Socket was bringing fiber-optic technology to her area, Shannon was excited. She’d been eagerly awaiting access to high-speed Internet, and she was one of the first in her area to sign up for it.
 
“We used dial-up Internet for years,” Shannon says. “We often found ourselves fighting over whose turn it was to use the Internet.”
 
Dealing with dial-up also meant slow speeds, frequent disconnects and having to wait to get online. It was frustrating to say the least.
 
But those issues have been resolved now with a new fiber Internet connection. Laptops and other devices aren’t tied down to a phone cord, so the family can surf the Web throughout the house.
 
Plus, the higher bandwidth means everyone can connect at the same time and still do virtually anything online. They enjoy watching bull riding videos and television shows using the Internet, as well as online shopping. And fortunately, it wasn’t too difficult to get everything going.
 
“The installers answered all my questions and walked me through everything they were doing,” Shannon says. “They were just great.”
 
A rural lifestyle doesn’t have to mean limited access to technology, and Shannon is thankful for that.
 
“We’ve been here almost 20 years and were always anxious for something better,” she says. “Now it’s here, and I’m really happy.”  
 
 

Travel Safely With Your Computer


Do you have a winter getaway planned? With the cold temperatures and winter weather we’ve had, we don’t blame you a bit.
 
If you’re heading to a tropical locale this winter (or maybe taking a summer trip) you might be planning to take a laptop computer or tablet to stay connected while you’re gone.
 

Here are a few tips to help avoid damage to, or theft of, your devices:
 
Avoid leaving your computer or tablet in extreme heat.
 
Laptops frequently have heating issues even in normal climates. However, excessive heat can cause a computer's inner workings to burn out, among other problems.
 
Never leave a laptop in a hot car, especially for long periods of time. Be sure vents aren’t blocked while in use. For extended use in a car or hotel room, consider a stand or cooling pad to open air flow at the bottom of the computer, where vents are usually located.
 
Don’t put your laptop or tablet in checked baggage.
 
Airlines don’t treat baggage as fragile. Instead, place your device in a carry-on bag, or Most airlines will allow a carry-on bag and one personal item such as a laptop bag, briefcase or purse.
 
Once on the plane, store your laptop under your seat instead of in the overhead compartment to avoid damage from other bags.
 
Use public Wi-Fi wisely.
 
There are numerous places to connect to free wireless Internet while traveling: the airport, coffee shops and more. This makes staying connected a breeze, but be careful with what information is entered on an unsecure Internet connection.
 
Avoid entering credit card or other financial information, and always look for a padlock symbol on websites to indicate they are secure. Update your computer’s anti-virus software before a trip to prevent hackers from accessing your computer on an unsecure wireless network."
 
Always keep your devices close.
 
Laptop computers and tablets are extremely convenient and useful, but also easy to steal. Keep a close eye on them in public places and never leave a device unattended, not even for a quick bathroom break.
 
Don’t leave your laptop or tablet in a highly visible place in the room; instead, tuck it into your suitcase or the in-room safe.
 
Just follow these basic precautions and your computer or tablet will continue to be a great way to access information and stay in touch with friends – on vacation as well as back home.

Let The Plunge Times Roll!


Last Saturday, 10 Socketeers donned their best nerd gear and went out for a short, brisk swim.
 
Outdoors.
 
Socket is proud to help sponsor the Polar Plunge, an annual event held to raise funds for Special Olympics Missouri. Volunteers jumped into Stephens Lake, which firefighters were busy cutting a hole into up till the hour of the event. It didn’t scare our Plungers, though – they were one of the first few teams to dive in this year!
 
In all, 601 people took the Plunge this year, managing to raise over $97,000 and counting. If you’d like to learn more or donate (you still can!) visit www.somo.org.
 

Socket Fiber Needs a Name!


 
We think it's time our fiber-optic service had its own distinct name.
 
A name that conveys the amazing ability of fiber to transfer voice and data using lasers and light and glass strands. Something that sets it apart from DSL, wireless, satellite and cable. Because it's so much faster, so much more reliable and much more capable of meeting the demands of tomorrow's Internet.
 
What words or phrases come to mind when YOU think of fiber?
 
Tell us your idea and we might end up using it! If so, we'll give you a $50 gift card to Flat Branch Pub & Brewing (and some major bragging rights).
 
But we'll warn you - you've got some stiff competition from our employees. They've already submitted more than 70 potential names! But don't let that scare you off - we'll take as many as we can get!
 
You can post your suggestions in a comment here, or over on our Facebook page.
 
Thanks, and good luck!
 
 

Mat Harrison: Socketeer of the Year 2013


Mat Harrison, 2013 Socketeer of the Year   
Mat Harrison, a longtime Programmer at Socket, was recently named the 2013 Socketeer of the Year.

 
The Socketeer-of-the-Year award was started 9 years ago, when Socket's owners decided to honor one of the year’s monthly You-Make-The-Difference-Award winners based on their embodiment of our Core Values and Beliefs.
 
Mat joined Socket’s tech support team in October 2004 before moving to the programming department in 2005. He writes a variety of applications we use here at Socket to keep our customers running smoothly, and he also develops and improves elements of Socket’s website.
 
"Mat is one of Socket's best kept secrets. He shows up every day and lives our Core Values and Beliefs," said a co-worker who nominated him for the award. "I am always confident night and day we can depend on Mat."
 
"Even under a sizable normal work load, Mat always makes himself available to provide others with needed help," another co-worker commented. "He constantly fields questions and provides useful assistance and input."
 
Mat went to high school in Steele, MO and earned a degree in systems engineering from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock before moving to Columbia in 2004. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his dog, Rex, playing golf, home brewing and playing video games.
 
Deborah McDuffie, Runner-UpDeborah McDuffie of Socket
 

Socket's owners also honored Deborah McDuffie as a runner-up for the annual award.
 
Deborah originally started with Socket's residential technical support team before moving to the business center in 2009. Since 2012, she's been serving as a service delivery coordinator. She's instrumental in the delivery of our hosted business phone systems, doing everything from assisting with orders to training new customers on using the new phones and features.
 
"Deborah is consistently helpful and always looking out for the best interest of our customers," said a fellow Socketeer. "She is devoted to her work, her company, her co-workers, and her high standards."
 
When she's not hard at work for Socket, Deborah enjoys cooking. She's also involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism and enjoys researching and sewing 10th-14th century outfits to wear at historical events.
 
Congratulations and thank you to Mat, Deborah and to all Socketeers for truly making the difference for our customers at Socket. With hard-working attitudes and exceptional customer service, these individuals embody what Socket aims to be for the people we serve throughout Missouri.

 

How Does Fiber Work?


 Fiber optic cable
You've heard us talking a lot about the fiber-to-the-home network we've built in rural Boone and Callaway counties. And you probably know that fiber broadband brings high-speed Internet access to these rural areas.
  
But if you don't know how fiber technology actually works, it's worth taking a few minutes to learn because...well...this is pretty cool stuff.
  
To build the network, we buried thousands of feet of fiber-optic cable throughout the area. Each cable contains a bundle of glass strands that are each approximately the size of a human hair. A laser sends information (data/Internet traffic, phone calls and/or video) over those strands via signals of light.
  
A completely new line is installed from the right-of-way to a home or business. Construction crews bury the cable and restore the ground as much as possible. In most cases, it's difficult to tell any work at all has been done. 
 
At the home or business, a small Optical Network Terminal box (ONT) is used to connect the fiber to wiring inside the building. It's a small piece of equipment and is usually placed in the same area your existing utilities enter the home.
 
Although the same kind of services are delivered over fiber, it's not DSL, it's not cable and it's not wireless. (You can, however, use a wireless router to use the service wirelessly throughout your home.)
 
It's better than those technologies. Unlike traditional copper lines, fiber-optic cable can carry a signal across great distances rather than just a few hundred yards. This makes it especially effective in rural areas. Fiber-optic cable is also less susceptible to external interference, like bad weather.
 
Fiber is also considered by many experts to be "future-proof" because its high-bandwidth capabilities will accommodate the continued growth of the Internet. Homes and businesses are able to transport massive amounts of data at very high speeds and connect multiple devices at once.
 
We're extremely excited to bring state-of-the-art fiber technology to mid-Missouri. To learn more about how fiber works, download this flyer. You can learn more about Socket Fiber at www.socket.net/fiber.
 

Net Neutrality: What is it, and why does it matter?


Net Neutrality has been in the news a lot lately, but it’s a complex issue. Even the experts don’t know exactly what will happen next or what the potential implications could be. If you’re trying to get up-to-speed on the issue, we’re here to help.  
 
What is it?
 
Net Neutrality is the premise that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally by service providers and the law.
Basically, if you think of the Internet as a “series of tubes,” it’s the idea that no one should be able to block or halt what goes through them – not even the people who own the tubes.
 
There are several reasons Internet service providers would like to have that control, though. Comcast had filed suit with the FCC in order to slow down peer-to-peer sharing programs – the most common way of pirating movies, among other things. Other ISPs said they wanted to prevent a small subset of customers from using the majority of available bandwidth (see our post on data caps for more details).

According to “Hands Off The Internet!” - a now defunct site that was primarily sponsored by AT&T - governments should have no regulating powers over the Internet strictly on principle.
 
So why is Net Neutrality all over the news right now?
 
In 2010, Verizon challenged a ruling made by the FCC. On January 14th, 2014, Verizon won its case, effectively throwing those rules out.

Those rules were the FCC’s “Open Internet Order,” which specified that no wired Internet carrier could prioritize or discriminate against Web traffic. ISPs would be treated as “common carriers”; that is, they’d be treated the way a phone company is. Phone companies can’t prioritize one customer’s phone call over another.
 
The key term there, though, is “treated.” The FCC had not actually classified ISPs as “common carriers.” So when Verizon took the case to court, they won based on the fact that the FCC cannot enforce their new rules if ISPs are still technically classified differently than phone and utility companies.
 
So is Net Neutrality dead, then?
 
For now, yes. However, since the rules were thrown out on a technicality, the FCC could reclassify “Internet services” as “telecom services.” This would give the FCC the leeway to impose common carrier obligations and reinstate their rules. Their other option is to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

The one part of the Open Internet Order that was upheld says providers have to disclose their procedures for managing traffic.
 
What could happen if Net Neutrality stays dead?
 
ISPs will have full reign to slow down, block, or prioritize any traffic they want.
In other words, a provider could charge extra for users to access Youtube, Facebook and Gmail. Or it could strike a deal with Hulu to block all traffic to its competitors, like Netflix.

The appeals court that decided the Verizon case agreed. In their decision, they noted that “a broadband provider like Comcast might limit its end-user subscribers’ ability to access the New York Times website if it wanted to spike traffic to its own news website.”
 
Would that really happen, though?
 
In 2005, an ISP in North Carolina blocked users from VoIP services (Internet based phone calls) because it competed with their own landline phone services. They eventually unblocked their users and paid $15,000 to the US Treasury to have the FCC drop its inquiry.
 
In 2012, AT&T blocked all iPhone users from accessing “FaceTime”, a built-in voice/video application, unless they signed up for a new higher-tier data plan. After public interest groups threatened to challenge them with the FCC’s Open Internet Order, AT&T backed down and removed most of the restrictions.
 
In 2013, during court arguments, Verizon described how they wanted to enter into commercial agreements with “edge providers” (that is, websites) since they were already providing a service to those websites – allowing Verizon customers to access them.
 
What can be done, then?
 
As long as Net Neutrality stays in the news, it’s much harder for it to be ignored or forgotten by politicians. And the easiest way to keep it in the news is to keep people informed.

Socket remains committed to the principles of Net Neutrality. Like we’ve said before, it’s your Internet. Use it!
To contact an FCC chairperson, visit http://www.fcc.gov/leadership.

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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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