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!

I Have (Not) Read the Terms of Service


Remember opting in to that psychology experiment Facebook performed in early 2012? Well you did, according to their terms of service.
 
In January 2012, Facebook manipulated the news feed posts of approximately 700,000 users to highlight either negative or positive emotions, to see if this would influence those users’ moods and status updates. After publishing the results last week, Facebook claimed that their terms of service (which all Facebook users must agree to) include the right to use any data they collect for research.
 
Based on the immediate reaction that this caused, this was news to many Facebook users. Considering the terms of service would take at least 2 hours to speed-read (go on, try it), it’s doubtful many people caught that sentence nestled in the middle of the Data Usage Policy.
 
Facebook’s “research” clause is probably going to enter a long list of online TOS mishaps – here’s some of the highlights:
 

Instagram – In late 2012, Instagram attempted to add the following language to their TOS: “You agree that a business may pay Instagram to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions without any compensation to you.”
 
Backlash against what was seen as Instagram selling users’ photos was immediate, and Instagram was forced to publish a clarification less than a week later (which included removing the clause from their TOS).
 
General Mills – In April 2014, the New York Times reported that an update to the General Mills TOS included a clause that “interacting” with the brand online would forfeit your right to sue. This included downloading coupons or posting to their Facebook page.
 
To make matters worse, after contacting them for the story, General Mills further implied that simply purchasing a General Mills product would bind consumers to the TOS.  It took less than 2 days after the Times published the story for General Mills to revert their terms back.
 
Facebook: Naturally, this isn’t the first time Facebook has had issues with their TOS. One of their first large settlements came from their “Beacon” service, which has been defunct since late 2009.
 
Even after logging out of Facebook, users’ data (including purchase info) from Fandango, eBay, Overstock.com, and other sites were collected and used in advertising by Facebook. Even after introducing an opt-out feature in December 2007, users found it hard to find.
 
Despite users technically “agreeing” to the service by signing up for a Facebook account, Facebook lost a class-action suit and as a result, has since had to explicitly ask permission from users before collecting their information from 3rd party sites.

 
Finally, here’s a happy note to end on – in 2005, a company called PC Pitstop added a clause to their TOS offering “financial compensation... to a limited number of authorized licensees.” It took 5 months – and 3000 customers – before someone called in to claim their $1000 prize for actually reading it. But at least someone did!

World Cup and the World Wide Web


With the whole world posting and searching for information about the World Cup, there's a lot of trends and cool info to check out. Google's been sharing some of that data, and you may find it surprising...
For instance, this year's World Cup has generated more interest than the ones in 2010 and 2006, at least in the United States.

In the US, excitement (and searches) for the "World Cup" seem to be mostly centered over in California.

However, searches for "USA Soccer" are a little more universally popular.

In Missouri, World Cup Fever seems to be more epidemic over on the STL side of the state...

But it still can't hold a candle to our love of baseball (looking at you, Royals fans!).

According to trending Google+ activity, the United States is feeling "nervous" about the upcoming match against Germany, while the Germans are feeling a little more "optimistic." Check out some of Google's charts, and how they're breaking down national sentiments, at their trends page.
 
 

The Coolest Tech Gadgets (That You Didn't Know You Wanted)


Some of the greatest inventions solve problems you didn’t realize you had. While you’ve probably been getting along just fine without these nifty little devices, you might just love them anyway.
 
Now that we know these exist, we might have to do a little shopping ourselves!
 
 

Nest Thermostat
 
Yes, it’s a bit pricey at $250, but it may end up saving you more than that over a year. Nest is a “smart” thermostat that can program itself based on your daily patterns and preferences. It can automatically shut off your air or heat if no one’s home, preheat the house before you get back from work, and be controlled remotely with a smartphone or tablet. You’ll also be able to access detailed energy consumption reports to show you how much you’re saving.
 
 
ZOMM Wireless Leash
 
Phone and keys – you don’t want to leave the house (or anywhere else) without both. ZOMM makes that much harder to do by setting off an alarm when your phone and keys get separated by more than 30 feet. Additionally, you can trigger the alarm in order to find either object if you misplace one.
 
The ZOMM key fob also has an “emergency button” that can make your cell phone call 911 if held in for 9 seconds. If that’s a little too fancy, though, there are many similar “leash” items that are more straightforward.
 
 
RAVPower Portable Charger

 
This little device, despite being the size of a smartphone, can store enough power to charge your smartphone up to 5 times. Simply plug it into the phone’s USB port, just as you would a regular charging cable. It’s a great object to bring along on roadtrips or anywhere else you won’t have access to an outlet… or just to keep with you if your phone’s constantly dying. At around $30, it’s pretty affordable too.
 
 
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Having a hard time using those “bud” headphones? These little soft plastic bits snap onto the earpieces, making it much harder for them to fall out of your ear - even if you’re jogging. At $10 a pair, you can even afford to buy them in multiple colors.
 
 
Livescribe Smartpen
 
If you prefer taking notes on paper, this is the gadget for you. The Livescribe Smartpen looks and feels like a ballpoint pen. However, it can record and save everything you jot down, allowing you to access and preserve your notes on your computer. It also has a microphone included for recording and syncing audio. While it's an investment at $150, it’s a great tool for students, reporters, or anyone who prefers adding diagrams and doodles to their writing.
 

 
Have any neat tech gadgets that you’ve recently discovered? Let us know!

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. 
 

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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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