Protect Your Laptop From Summer Heat


It’s summer, and while we’re busy trying to stay cool, it’s important to remember that our laptops need climate control as well.
 
Keep these tips in mind for the long, hot days ahead:
 

Don’t leave your laptop in the car. Metal components can expand in the heat, and plastic ones can melt. If you must leave it, make sure it’s completely powered off (not just “sleeping”) and store it underneath a seat, out of direct sunlight.
 
Keep air circulating.
Make sure there’s a way for heat to dissipate from the machine, particularly from the bottom. Don’t use your laptop while it’s sitting on a bed or a blanket; not only will this prevent air from flowing, but it will insulate the generated heat.

 
If you don’t have a cooling stand for your laptop, improvise. Setting your laptop down on a few bottlecaps can make a difference.
 
Beware of condensation. Taking your laptop from a chilly room directly to a sweltering, humid patio can cause water to collect on the inside. Even if this doesn’t damage the laptop, it can potentially trigger the water damage sensors inside, voiding your warranty.
 
Make sure to let your laptop transition between temperature extremes, rather than shocking it, and try to avoid using it outdoors on extremely humid days.
 
Don’t trust the heat sensors.  Many laptops are equipped to automatically shut off in case of overheating. However, if it’s heating up too quickly, or unevenly, the sensors might not trigger in time to prevent damage. If you notice the bottom of your laptop is hot to the touch, turn it off.

 
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll help extend the life of your laptop. It’ll be Fall before you know it!

Fiber Construction and Installation - What to Expect


If you're not sure exactly what happens after you sign up for Socket Fiber, this short video will outline the process step-by-step. (Spoiler alert: It's much easier than you probably think!)
  
Have questions? Ready to sign up? Give us a call at 1-800-762-5383.

 

Can Machines Think?


This week, the Washington Post reported that a computer had finally passed the Turing Test. While many other publications quickly pointed out that this was probably not correct, it sparked a jump in searches on what the Turing Test is.
 
So… what is it?
 
In 1950, computer scientist Alan Turing proposed the question, “Can machines think?” As this question was deemed too difficult to answer (how do you define “think?”), a new, solvable problem was proposed: can a machine trick someone into thinking it’s a human?
 
In many modern applications of the test, this is done by having judges converse with the “test subjects” through a chat or IM program. If the judges can't tell whether the subject is human or not, it passes the test.
 
So why do computers so often fail? Perfection. It’s hard to create a program that will reliably act in a non-perfect, i.e. human, way – typing too slowly, adding spelling or grammar mistakes, or simply being too eloquent.
 
Wondering if you could tell the difference? Check out a “chatterbot” online. You may even have a chatterbot on your smartphone already (like Siri)! Even if the test hasn't been passed yet, it's probably only a matter of time.

Socket Sponsors the Mid-Missouri Soap Box Derby


Ready, set, go!
 
43 racers lined up Sunday morning to take part in the Mid-Missouri Soap Box Derby in downtown Columbia. Among them was Michael C., piloting The Rocket (and doesn’t it look snazzy)!
 
This is Socket’s 4th year sponsoring Michael, and we’re always thrilled to watch him and his car in action. Check out some footage of him flying down Broadway below!

Get Rid of Your Old Computer


Have you purchased a new computer, but don’t know what to do with the old one? There are a couple options, most of which are better than using it as an expensive footrest.
 

1. Don’t put it in the garbage
 
Chances are it can go to a better use, even if it’s fairly old. Plus, computers contain damaging chemicals which shouldn’t be disposed of in a landfill. If you’re set on throwing it away, try to locate a disposal facility equipped to handle it properly.
 
2. Donate it to charity
 
There are various organizations that can connect your old equipment to charities that need it. It also doesn’t hurt to call any local schools or libraries to see if they’d have a use for it. In some cases, they can provide the documentation to make it a tax-deductible contribution.
 
3. Recycle it
 
If it really is too old to be of use to anyone, do the environment a favor and send your computer to a recycling facility. Many tech retailers, including Best Buy and Staples, offer in-store drop-offs for old electronics, as well as occasional recycling events and promotions.  

 
Make sure to delete any personal information from your machine before taking one of these steps!
 
For more information on donating or recycling your computer, check the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
 

Ditch the Data Caps


 
For satellite and wireless Internet users, one of the most frustrating parts about going online is dealing with data caps. These services typically come with restrictive usage limitations, which make it difficult to do things online without worrying about overage fees, reduced speeds or other negative consequences.
 
As websites and online services demand more bandwidth, this problem continues to worsen, especially for those using video services like Netflix or Hulu.
 
Fortunately, Socket Fiber offers users high-speed Internet without data caps. New fiber customers continually tell us how happy they are to be free of restrictions and how much more they're enjoying the Internet as a result.
 
We won't send you a warning notice. We won't bill you for overage charges. And we won't scold you when you call us for help. It’s your Internet. You paid for it. Use it!

Learn more about data caps on Socket's Tech Blog. Then see what Socket Fiber customer Danny Neudecker has to say about breaking free of data caps. 
 

How to Perform a Speed Test


When it seems the Internet isn’t running as fast as it should, you might want to look into running a speed test. However, what you do before you run it can have huge effects on the results (not to mention, it might be the reason for the slowdown in the first place!).
 

To properly conduct a speed test:
 

  • Make sure you’ve deactivated or removed any other devices from your connection. If you have a wireless network, make sure all phones, laptops and gaming devices are off or disconnected from the network. Oftentimes these devices automatically connect as soon as they are powered on.
  • If possible, ensure that the device you’re using for the speed test is wired to your modem (i.e. is not connected wirelessly). Nearby wireless networks can severely degrade the signal strength of your Wi-Fi and give you an inaccurately low reading. This is particularly common in apartment complexes, where there may be as many wireless networks as there are rooms.
  • Make sure you’ve stopped all downloads, updates, and web based software. You can resume these applications as soon as the test is finished. Keep in mind that many email and chat programs will continually “push” data out, so make sure these programs are closed as well.
  • Check where the test server is. For some online speed tests, you will be allowed to pick, in which case you generally want the server geographically closest to you. Other speed tests will automatically choose the server with the fastest response time.
  • Run the speed test from multiple websites. Any of the factors above can greatly impact a reading, so running multiple tests will give you an idea of your “average” speed and eliminate outliers. We recommend trying SpeakEasy or SpeedTest.net.

If you’re curious how your device usage affects your bandwidth, try running a test before and after disconnecting all or some devices. Or, try running Netflix at different quality levels. You may be surprised at how much more bandwidth it can consume while in high definition.
 
And as always, if you have any questions, or don’t think your speed is what it should be, give us a call! Our techs would be happy to help.

Socket Fiber Story: David Crane


 
David Crane, owner of well known Crane's Country Store in Williamsburg, MO, previously struggled with Internet service providers at his home.
 
His former satellite Internet connection couldn't keep up with his family. They'd have to power down devices at certain times of day to make things run slowly, and the speeds were terrible.
 
Fortunately, now that the Cranes have Socket Fiber, things are running much more smoothly. The family is using Apple TV, Netflix and more. David's wife is using the Internet for school work as well.
 
David also says he was pleased with Socket's technical support after equipment was quickly replaced following a lightning strike at his home.
 
Best of all, his whole family is able to use their many devices and not have to worry about having enough bandwidth.
 
"We've really used the power of the fiber-optic as much as we could," David says.
 
Hear David's story in this video.
 

Customize Your Web Browser With Add-ons!


Who doesn’t like customization? If you’re using Chrome or Firefox, there are some great add-ons that you can download to tweak your browser; anything from security and ease of use to simply making the tabs prettier.
 
Here are some of our favorites. If you have some to add to the list, let us know!
 
Firefox:
 
AdBlock Plus
 
Yup, it’s exactly what it says it is. Block ads on nearly any website you come across, with the option to toggle blocking based on the type of ad (say, animated flash ads or those annoying ads with sound).
 
Be warned that this may disable some sites – for instance, Hulu will display a notice saying that ad revenue pays for the video you’d like to watch until you disable the add-on.
 
Social Fixer
 
Wish you could block all those FarmVille posts on Facebook? This app can do that, along with hiding posts you’ve already seen, showing whole pictures by hovering over the thumbnail, and tweaking the font size for those with sight problems.
 
Be Quiet!
 
Automatically pause any music or other videos in your browser when you begin playing something else. Also adds the option to tie the play/pause button to a keyboard shortcut.
 
Chrome:
 
Google Dictionary
 
Double-click any word to view its definition in a small pop-up bubble. You can also set it to “translate” mode if you’re trying to learn a new language.
 
Search By Image
 
Right-click a photo online to “search Google with this image.” You’ll be able to see similar images and other places on the web where that image appears. Helpful if you’re trying to locate where an image originated from.
 
Google Mail Checker
 
A red icon will display in the corner of your browser with the number of unread Gmail messages you have. Clicking the icon will take you directly to your inbox.

 
After using these add-ons for a few days, you'll wonder how you ever got by without them... especially when you have to switch to another computer!

Kurt Bruemmer - Socket's You-Make-The-Difference Award Winner for May 2014!


Kurt BruemmerDescribed as “one of Socket's best kept secrets,” this month’s winner is Kurt!
 
After starting as Socket’s Director of Network Operations in 2000, Kurt eventually became Director of Operations, and then Director of Business Improvement and Control.
 
“Kurt is a crucial member of Socket’s team,” said a fellow coworker. “He’s recently taken on new responsibilities, and is always willing to help his fellow Socketeers however he can.”
 
“Socket is lucky to have him,” said the coworker who nominated him for the award.
 
Originally from Jefferson City, Kurt is a graduate of Helias High School and the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly the University of Missouri-Rolla). He now resides in Holts Summit with his wife, Sue, and kids Nick and Joe.
 
“The best parts about Socket are working with great people who like a challenge, work hard, and have fun,” said Kurt. “Plus, I get to learn new things and be involved in so many different aspects of the company.”
 
Congratulations, Kurt!

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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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