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.”
 

Socket Presents the 2nd Annual MSP Golf Invitational


For a while there, it seemed like heavy storms were a certainty – just one of the unavoidable risks of having an event in July.
 
Luckily, though, the rain held out yesterday for the 2nd Annual Mizzou Sports Properties Golf Invitational, presented by Socket. Even the usual heat wave was missing, with the temperature hovering around a balmy 80 degrees.
 
The tournament, held at the picturesque Old Kinderhook Golf Resort at the Lake of the Ozarks, started off at one in the afternoon and concluded with the announcement of winners over a light dinner. Socket representatives Dave Giles and Zeke Long are pictured here with some representatives from Columbia Insurance Group.
 
Hope everyone had fun, and hope to see you all next year!

How Does Pandora Work?


With over 250 million users, Pandora is by far the most popular Internet radio service in the world. However, it works differently than most other online music services, which can be confusing for new users.
 
Pandora is part of the “Music Genome Project” – a massive undertaking to classify thousands of tracks based on their musical attributes. Each song that Pandora plays has been analyzed by a musician (a process which takes at least 20 minutes per track), and classified using over 400 different “genes.”
 
For example, let’s take the song “Let It Be,” by The Beatles. The “genes” selected to represent this track include…

 

  • gospel influences
  • interweaving vocal harmony
  • prominent organ
  • the subtle use of a horn section
  • an electric guitar solo
  • intricate melodic phrasing
  • an emotional male lead vocal performance

…among dozens of others. So when creating a station based off of this song, Pandora isn’t necessarily playing Beatles music. Instead, it’s playing other songs that match this musical genetic profile. (Of course, the Beatles happened to record dozens of songs similar to "Let It Be," so it may seem like Pandora isn’t doing much at first).
 
Unlike most other online radio stations, the songs Pandora plays for you have nothing to do with what other people have liked. Instead, the “like” and “dislike” buttons on tracks just add to the genome profile of the station you’ve built.
 
So, let’s say our “Let It Be” station plays “Imagine” by John Lennon next. But we’re not a fan of the song. While the two tracks share many “genes”, here’s a few that “Imagine” doesn’t share with “Let It Be”:

 

  • mellow rock instrumentation
  • political lyrics
  • folk influences

Disliking the track removes other songs that highlight these attributes. Over time, and with enough feedback, Pandora should be able to fairly accurately pick songs you’ll enjoy.
 
Of course, this is a very simplified explanation - the Music Genome Project is organized by complex mathematical formulas that remain a trade secret.
 
Are you a Pandora listener? Has Pandora’s genome system worked for you? Let us know!

Crowdfunding - How Does It Work?


In its simplest form, crowdsourcing is simply generating ideas or work through the power of a crowd – usually enabled by the Internet. Wikipedia, for example, is one of the largest crowdsourced works in the English language, comprised of over 4.5 million articles submitted from all over the world. (See the image below for a visual representation of Wikipedia's size in printed books).
 
The latest evolution of crowdsourcing is crowdfunding; collecting (often small) donations from a massive number of people. Charities, naturally, have benefitted from this type of funding scheme. However, quite a few for-profit projects have gotten off the ground this way too.
 
Kickstarter and Indiegogo, two of the most well-known crowdfunding sites, take a small percentage fee off successful campaigns. Unsuccessful campaigns (those that do not hit their initial fundraising goal met by a deadline) have all money returned to donors. Usually campaigns also have “reach” goals – additions to the project that are dependent on how far past their fundraising goal they can go.
 
Here’s some fascinating examples of crowdfunding projects that worked:
 
Bring Reading Rainbow Back: After being cancelled after a 23 year run on PBS, host LeVar Burton brought children’s show Reading Rainbow to tablet devices as an educational app. In order to make the show available on the web, as well as creating an app for classroom use, Burton created a Kickstarter with an initial goal of one million dollars.
 
The Kickstarter blew through this goal in less than 12 hours, prompting Burton to set a new stretch goal to fund apps for mobile phones, video game consoles, and to provide the app for free to disadvantaged students. The campaign raised enough for this goal too – at its close, the Kickstarter had brought in $5,408,916.00. Additionally, Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy) made a matching donation of one million dollars, bringing to total to over six million.
 
Let’s Build a Tesla Museum!: After falling into disrepair, and even being used as a hazardous waste site for a time, the former laboratory of scientist Nikola Tesla went on the market for nearly 1.6 million dollars.
 
Fearing a new developer might raze the building in favor of apartments or condos, a local librarian started reaching out to Tesla fans about the property. After web comic artist Matthew Inman (known as “The Oatmeal”) posted this plea to his website, donations started pouring in to an Indiegogo campaign to purchase the land. After 6 days, the campaign raised over $850,000 – enough to receive a matching grant from the state of New York to buy the property.
 
Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk recently made a one million dollar donation to help fund the restoration and construction of a museum on the site.
 
Canary Home Security: Lacking the funding for production costs, tech start-up Canary proposed their idea for a standalone home security unit on Indiegogo. The unit they envisioned was about the size of a soda can, and contained heat, movement, noise, and humidity sensors, as well as a camera, microphone and accelerometer. Anything triggering the unit would prompt a text message to the user’s phone, allowing them to ignore it, access the camera feed, or set off an alarm.
 
Canary asked users to preorder the unit for $200, allowing them to raise $100,000 for production. The campaign ended up raising nearly two million dollars, and the first commercial units will be shipped later this summer. That’s a lot of purchases for a product that hadn’t even been made yet.
 
I’m Making Potato Salad: This one is a bit of a mystery. With a campaign goal set at $10 on Kickstarter, the description reads: “Basically I'm just making potato salad. I haven't decided what kind yet.”
 
At the moment, over 4,500 people have donated a total of nearly $70,000. And the campaign is still going. If you’d like your name carved into a potato to be used in the salad, it’ll only cost you a $20 donation.
 
Know of any cool campaigns that could use some backers? Let us know in the comments!

Frank Stefanizzi - Socket's You-Make-The-Difference Award Winner for June 2014!


Congratulations to Field Services Technician Frank Stefanizzi for being named the June recipient of Socket's You-Make the-Difference Award!
 

Frank is originally from Guttenberg, New Jersey. (Fun fact: Steve Carrell lived in Guttenberg during his stint with The Daily Show.) In his younger days, Frank enjoyed partying it up on the Jersey Shore (before the show), renting a house every summer with 12 other guys with names like Vinnie and Tony.
 
Fortunately, his journeys eventually brought him to Missouri in 2001, and to Socket just a little over three years ago. Now, he's working relentlessly to keep Socket's business customers up and running. His attitude and determination have not gone unnoticed by his fellow Socketeers.
 
"He is always ready to tackle any job we give him," said a co-worker who nominated Frank for the award. "A team player!"
 
In his spare time, Frank enjoys being outdoors - hunting, camping, fishing and hiking. He also coaches Socket's employee softball team -  yet another example of his team spirit.
 
"I'm appreciative of the award and proud of the field services team," said Frank when he found out he won this month's award.
 
Congratulations, Frank!

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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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