How National Weather Service bandwidth issues might affect your phone’s weather app

If you’re used to checking your phone every morning to see what the weather is, that might change in the future due to bandwidth issues, according to the National Weather Service. In a recent statement, the NWS shared that as their data budget is hitting a ceiling, and demand for access continues to grow, they may have to consider throttling the amount of users who can access their essential forecast data.

According to their statement: “As demand for data continues to grow across NCEP websites, we are proposing to put new limits into place to safeguard our web services. The frequency of how often these websites are accessed by the public has created limitations and infrastructure constraints.”

For the past decade, the National Weather Service has been struggling to find the best and most efficient ways to disseminate critical forecast and warning information. According to an in-depth look at this problem by the Washington Post, the combination of increased data collection and demand for access from private companies and hobbyists has created a bottleneck that at times has crashed NWS websites.

Kristy CooperHow National Weather Service bandwidth issues might affect your phone’s weather app
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The Best of Softcom in 2020

This year was definitely one for the books. But the bottom line is that we stuck the course, stayed true to our mission of putting our customers first, and continued to provide the best service we can. So as we say goodbye to 2020, we thought we’d take a look back at the best we shared. Miss anything? Here’s your chance to catch up.

Online safety and security

We’re always looking out for our customers and community, so we often share articles that not only give you knowledge to understand what’s going on out there, but information to take action to protect your home, family and business.

Kristy CooperThe Best of Softcom in 2020
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How routers sold at Walmart, Amazon and Ebay might be leaving you vulnerable to hackers and fraud

We post regularly about the importance of staying up to date on security knowledge and practices for everyone in your family who uses the internet. We even have a whole section of our blog dedicated to it that you can access by clicking here. Today, we’re sharing with you recent news of how some routers sold at Walmart, Amazon and Ebay might be leaving you open for hackers and fraud.

In a collaboration between CyberNews Sr. Information Security Researcher Mantas Sasnauskas and researchers James Clee and Roni Carta, suspicious backdoors have been discovered in a Chinese-made Jetstream router, sold exclusively at Walmart as their new line of “affordable” wifi routers. This backdoor would allow an attacker the ability to remotely control not only the routers, but also any devices connected to that network.

Kristy CooperHow routers sold at Walmart, Amazon and Ebay might be leaving you vulnerable to hackers and fraud
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Technology tips for working from home long-term

Like many others around the world, we’ve been working from home for eight months or more due to the pandemic and it doesn’t look like that will end soon. Most Americans working from home have created office spaces that provide the tools and tech they need, but without the professional IT staff on call they are used to.

Since it looks like working from home will continue for quite some time, learning how to become your own tech support will go a long way toward keeping your stress level down and your productivity up. With that in mind, here are a few tips from IT pros and experienced WFH professionals that all remote workers should know.

#1: WiFi is really, really important

If you’re working online every day, you must have internet service you can rely on. There’s nothing more frustrating, or anti-productive, as the inability to connect and communicate with your coworkers, colleagues or clients. Secure and stable access to the internet is essential for most all businesses to keep running. Here are a few tips for making sure your internet is up to speed:

Kristy CooperTechnology tips for working from home long-term
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Tips for safe holiday travel during the COVID-19 pandemic

If you’ve been sheltering at home during the pandemic but are now planning to travel for the holiday season, things have changed a lot. COVID-19 restrictions and safety precautions vary from place to place. Whether you’re visiting family members just a few towns away, or making flight plans for travels far away, there’s always been a risk of getting sick, but this year is extra risky due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One upside is that the number of people traveling this season will probably be considerably less than last year. While airlines are still operating, and the number of people traveling is slowly increasing, many people are choosing to stay home out of an abundance of caution this year. Transportation companies such as airlines have also set in place rigorous cleaning protocols that make it cleaner than ever to use their facilities.

Kristy CooperTips for safe holiday travel during the COVID-19 pandemic
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2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Just like the rest of this year, the holidays are lining up to be very different than in the past. Socially-distanced celebrations might be hard to get used to, but what we can rely on is the spirit of the season. Gift giving is always nice, and we’ve created a list of ideas that we think uniquely fit the new challenges and lifestyles that the pandemic has created. Another holiday favorite, volunteering, doesn’t have to take a back seat due to COVID-19 restriction. Virtual volunteering is alive and well and there are a lot of options to spread holiday cheer.

Giving Back / Volunteering

#VirtualVolunteering is trending on social media these days, showing that the idea of giving back during the holidays is just as alive as well as always. If you have a favorite charity or organization that you usually volunteer for, give them a call to find out how you can help. Even though in-person volunteering might not be an option, most organizations still need equipment, funds and resources to continue their work. Much of this can be done from home and is a great way to bring close family together.

Kristy Cooper2020 Holiday Gift Guide
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How COVID-19 is affecting internet availability for work and school at home

As more people rely on their home internet for work, school, shopping, and socializing due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not surprising that internet usage rates have dramatically increased, along with the amount of data to support everyone doing, well, everything. Unfortunately, one way that many internet service providers have chosen to deal with this increased usage is to reinstate data caps for their customers.

What are data caps? It’s when an internet provider limits how much data subscribers can use each month – putting a “cap” on how much they are allowed according to their plan.

Kristy CooperHow COVID-19 is affecting internet availability for work and school at home
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What NOT to post on social media to protect your security

Many people love to share highlights of their lives through social media, including daily routine updates such as running or hiking, sending kids off to school each day, or laptop working sessions at a favorite coffee shop. Experts say, however, that posting information like this often including hidden information like detailed locations and timelines, opening the door to criminals who can use that information for everything from stalking to robbery to worse.

Kristy CooperWhat NOT to post on social media to protect your security
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How to know if that super-fast, super-cheap home internet offer is too good to be true

We’ve all seen those flyers in the mail from start-up companies offering super-fast internet service at amazing low prices. But the trick is knowing if they really do deliver all that they offer, or if it’s just another too-good-to-be-true gimmick that just doesn’t add up. As long-time providers of high-speed internet service in our area, we hear from our customers from time to time asking about new offers and how they compare to our services. So we thought it would useful to share what you need to know to determine the true value of any internet provider’s offer.

Contract details

The devil is in the details, so the saying goes, and the fine print is often where you’ll find the answers to understand the real value of an internet service provider’s offer. One of the first things to do is check out the Terms of Service or Contract.

Kristy CooperHow to know if that super-fast, super-cheap home internet offer is too good to be true
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How to safely celebrate the holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic

As much as we’d like coronavirus to disappear by the holidays, it won’t. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still celebrate. According to the CDC and other health experts, the holidays don’t need to be cancelled this year, as long as you follow some simple safety tips like the ones we’ve rounded up here.

Check local regulations

First thing’s first. If you plan on hosting a holiday celebration, we strongly encourage you to check your local COVID-19 regulations to determine whether it’s safe (and legal) to have any type of gathering. Whether you’re planning on a small family gathering at home, or a larger socially-distanced event in an outdoor space, it’s good to know your local mandates to plan responsibly.

Kristy CooperHow to safely celebrate the holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic
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