When is it safe to allow software updates for your tech

As technology ages, so does its software. That means to keep your computer, phone, tablet and smart devices running smoothly, their manufacturers will issue software updates. These updates are sent out for a number of reasons, including security patches, fixing known bugs, and additional functionality.

Some updates are mandatory and automatically download. Other times, though, you are presented with a choice. While generally you want to allow these updates, it’s not always a good idea to update right away every time. Here’s a quick guide to know when it’s’ safe to update – and when you should delay.

Security Updates:

IT specialists generally advise that anything marked as a security update is safe to apply as soon as possible since it has been dispatched to fix either an active or recently disclosed security vulnerability which can affect your devices.

Kristy CooperWhen is it safe to allow software updates for your tech
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Overwhelmed by streaming? How to choose the right channels for you

With so many options out there, deciding on which service to stream has become confusing for many. Cutting the cord and moving to streaming once sounded pretty easy, but with so many services and options available, it can get confusing very quickly. Twelve dollars here, $8 there, and suddenly – surprise! – your streaming bills are now more than what you spent in the old days of cable.

According to a J.D. Powers survey earlier this year, American households subscribe to an average of 4 streaming services. If you find yourself with more streaming than you want, and rising costs that are stressing your bills, here’s a quick guide to help you streamline by getting rid of overlap and still get what you want.

Check for overlap…

If you want to lower your streaming bills, check for overlap. You might be paying for the same service twice. For instance, check with your existing cell phone plans to see what they provide. Many companies offer access to services as part of your contract, depending on the level of service you are paying for. For example, some Verizon customers get Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for free. Some T-Mobile customers can get access to Netflix, and some AT&T customers get access to HBO Max. It’s worth it to ask, you might be paying double and not even knowing it!

Kristy CooperOverwhelmed by streaming? How to choose the right channels for you
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Top smart devices for your garage

Smart homes are nothing new, but one spot where people often forget that technology can help is the garage. Smart garages can offer improved security, help you avoid accidents, and even find those little things that always get lost. We’ve rounded up a list of 4 ways you can combine the benefits of wireless internet access and Bluetooth technology to “smart up” your garage here.

#1 Smart Garage Door Opener

Have you ever left home only to panic because you can’t remember if you closed the garage door? That’s where a smart garage door opener can save the day. Smart garage door openers are easy to install and control, and they offer benefits in both convenience and security. There are a variety of smart garage door openers that can be installed – from entire new systems to attaching something to your current opener – so check with your local company and ask for alternatives before making up your mind. One established brand is the Chamberlain MyQ Garage Door Opener system that allows you to control the door from an app on your phone, and see the history of when the door was opened and closed recently.

Kristy CooperTop smart devices for your garage
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7 strategies for extending smartphone battery life

Smartphone users all have one thing in common – worrying about battery life. As these devices have become integrated throughout our daily lives for home, work, school, and travel, knowing ways to extend battery life is something we can all benefit from. Today we’re sharing some tried-and-true tips for better battery life, as well as a few you might not have heard about before.

TIP #1: Reduce screen brightness: This can extend battery life significantly, especially for devices with larger screens. The only time you need your phone at 100 percent brightness is outdoors, midday, when the sun is at its brightest. Most other times, 75% or less is sufficient.

Kristy Cooper7 strategies for extending smartphone battery life
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What is “Cancel Culture” and how can affect you

If you use social media, you’ve most likely heard the term “cancel culture.” Even in the news on television and pop culture referencing, cancel culture is cited in every way from serious news to comedy memes. But do you know what cancel culture really is, how it’s affecting society today, and what it might mean for changes in social media and our culture in the future?

What does “cancel culture” actually mean?

The term “cancel culture” itself is vague and has become a catch-all for various situations with different degrees of severity and impact.

Kristy CooperWhat is “Cancel Culture” and how can affect you
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How much screen time is good for kids today

The technology children have access to today is changing their world, giving them access to endless information and opportunities. But there’s a downside, too, that adults need to be aware of. When children are always looking at screens, it’s very easy for them to forget about other fun, healthy, or educational activities they can experience in “real life.”

This question is very timely when it comes to children: How much screen time is good? And how much is too much? First, let’s define what screen time really means.

What counts as screen time when it comes to kids?

Screen time is the amount of time a child spends using a device with a screen such as a TV, computer, gaming console, tablet, virtual reality headset, or smartphone.

Kristy CooperHow much screen time is good for kids today
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We’re here to stay! (our response to fake news about Softcom)

We have been made aware that another company has been reaching out to Softcom customers recently and making false statements about Softcom’s state of business. This is a blatant attempt to falsely try to scare our customers into switching service providers.

These statements include (but are not limited) to the following:

  • Softcom is going out of business
  • Softcom “wants out”
  • Softcom “is in trouble”
  • (another company) is taking over Softcom

We want to be crystal clear:  these statements are 100% false.

>> Our company is financially sound.

>> We are not going out of business; in fact, we are in the midst of a multi million-dollar equipment upgrade to our entire network to be able to offer speeds of several hundred megabits per second to most of our service area. (In fact, we’ve been posting regularly about this on our blog and social media about new cutting-edge equipment, and the realities of what other pop-up ISPs actually provide when compared to us.

Kristy CooperWe’re here to stay! (our response to fake news about Softcom)
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How to protect your tech during fire season

California has its own special season – fire season! Turn on the news and you can see how important it is to have a plan in place when wildfires or forest fires hit. According to the U.S. Forest Service, fire seasons are 78 days longer than in the 1970s. Since 2000, at least 10 states have had their largest fires on record. For the year 2020 in California, statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center show more than 10,000 recorded wildfires, damaging more than four million acres of land, and threatening more than 700,000 communities.

These worrying statistics, combined with current drought and weather conditions are putting emergency preparedness at the top of everyone’s list, ours included. Here are a few things we recommend you add to your list, especially when it comes to protecting your tech:

Kristy CooperHow to protect your tech during fire season
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President Biden’s executive order puts net neutrality back in the spotlight

On July 9, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, and in it there were several provisions relating to ISPs and net neutrality. The executive order calls on US agencies like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to implement 72 specific provisions. The topics include restoring net neutrality provisions repealed during the prior administration and increasing scrutiny of tech monopolies.

The order also includes changes aimed at giving internet subscribers more choices and better service. It asks the FCC to require internet service providers to report prices and subscription rates, and prevent ISPs from making deals with landlords that limit tenants’ options.

Kristy CooperPresident Biden’s executive order puts net neutrality back in the spotlight
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The 5G technology debate: Is it safe?

People are still talking a lot about the rollout of 5G technology around the world, and how it can affect us here in the U.S. Much debate is about the safety of using Chinese technology and how many watchdog agencies are reporting possible backdoor issues that would allow illegal spying through the technology if using Chinese-sources products.

The promise of what 5G technology can bring is fun to think about, including data speeds of up to 100 times faster than current connections that tech futurists say could support things like internet-connected sensors, vehicles, appliances, and devices that can perform functions yet unimagined. But the alarms being raised about invasion of privacy and backdoor spying are also concerning. It will be interesting to see how the technology grows for 5G over time, but for now it’s just something to watch and keep an eye on.

Kristy CooperThe 5G technology debate: Is it safe?
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