We're humbled to announce that Northwoods Connect is the recipient of two grants to expand Internet options in Oneida and Florence counties! We'll be sharing information soon on the exact locations and timelines, so please stay tuned. And a huge thank you to all our amazing partners who helped make this happen!

Here's a bit what WJFW has to say:

Paul Osterman can't rest for too long on a congratulations from Governor Scott Walker.

"It's a busy time, absolutely," Osterman said.  "Now the real work begins."

The Northwoods Connect CEO joined Walker at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport on Friday morning to celebrate about $110,000 for new broadband towers in Oneida and Florence Counties.

"We're growing pretty rapidly, which is exciting and hard at times too," Osterman said.

Osterman's share is part of $1.5 million in broadband grants the governor and Public Service Commission doled out this summer.

"We want to have access in every part of the state of Wisconsin so that every citizen and every small business has access to high speed internet connections," Walker said.

Companies can use the money to build internet towers and lay important high speed wiring.

"Why I like it, even as a guy that doesn't like spending a lot of government money is it's one time," Walker said. "Once we're in, we lay that network down, then the cost to provide service is manageable."

The grant funding was a competitive process. The state received 53 applications totaling $7.4 million in requests. Northwoods counties pulled in about 15 percent of the total money awarded.

"These communities are shining examples of public/private partnerships and those local voices working together," Wisconsin State Broadband Director Angie Dickison said.

Watch video HERE

Watch video HERE

Read the rest of the article and video here.

Posted
AuthorMatt Osterman

We're beyond happy to formally announce that High-Speed Internet Service is now active in Three Lakes, Sugar Camp, and Newbold, WI. 

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These locations are now live and customers are already receiving affordable and local Internet! Coverage has been fantastic thus far, but a couple quick notes regarding the service areas:

  • Three Lakes: coverage does not currently reach Thunder, Virgin, Whitefish, or Julia lakes, or anything near Stella. 
  • Sugar Camp coverage does not currently reach Columbus Lake or the upper NW part of the chain.
  • Newbold service has actually been active for a few months now and word-of-mouth has been great!

To sign up or call to see if your eligible to receive service, please visit this page or call us at 715-544-8025. 

Thank you for choosing to shop local!

PS - Our new Crescent location will also be coming online soon!

Posted
AuthorMatt Osterman

We don’t all need to be software engineers or IT admins to use our computers efficiently. But sometimes our computers don’t seem so efficient – when the computer feels slow and our programs seems to lag, preventing us from getting our work (or fun) done. You may be writing an email and the words take don’t show up immediately, or opening a program or app that seems to take forever. Or often your Internet seems slow, but could actually be your computer acting as the bottleneck.

It’s a frustrating situation, but luckily there are plenty of easy ways to troubleshoot your slow computer. In this article, we are sharing simple tips for how to speed up your computer when it is running slowly.

Programs are running in the background

This is the most common reason for a computer to run slowly – and it’s not just limited to computers. Apps on your smartphone or tablet do this, too.

You may think that you are only reading email or browsing the internet, but one or several open programs may be using computing power in the background. If you’re running Windows, you can open the Task Manager. If you’re on a Mac, open the Force Quit option. Both will allow you to see everything that is technically running on your computer, even if you’re not actively using it.

Close any programs that aren’t needed right now, but remember to save any documents you may be working on before closing them. You would also be surprised to know that having lots of tabs or windows open in your browsers can contribute to slower performance. Many websites have background actions that can take resources away from your computer even though you aren’t looking at it. These actions free up some much needed oomph so your computer can give more power to the tasks you’re working on right now.

The same goes for your tables and smartphones: close any apps that you don’t need at the moment.

Restart your computer

Sometimes it’s as simple as closing all your programs and shutting down your computer. It’s the same as occasionally turning off and on your smartphone – it can easily reset and make your computer as efficient as possible. We also recommend restarting your modem and router from time to time. They are mini-computers after all and a quick re-boot can often do wonders.

One program is hogging all the computer power

This is similar to the previous issue. Depending what programs you run, some take considerably more power and resources to run than others. For instance, running Microsoft Word typically puts very little strain on a computer, but playing a complex game like World of Warcraft uses most of the computer’s energy at one time.

Same goes for your internet browser: reading the news uses a lot less computing power than streaming videos. And certain browsers are more bigger memory hogs than others.

To see how much power a program is using, open the Task Manager in Windows or the Activity Monitor in Mac. If something stands out as using a ton of power, closes the program – unless, of course, you’re in the middle of using it. Canceling the program doesn’t delete or remove the program from your computer; it simply closes it down so it’s not using your computer’s power.

Storage is full

Whether your storage is full often depends on the age of your computer. Older computers generally have significantly less storage than computers from the last couple years. Today’s models often have so much storage that a typical internet user, one who emails and browses the internet and saves photos, will probably never use it all.

If your storage is full, you’ll want to delete or relocate files and programs. Programs typically take up more space than most files (movies and large videos are exceptions), so start with removing any old programs that you haven’t used in a while. Remember: you can always download a program again should you need it in the future.

Consider taking advantage of some online cloud storage, such as Dropbox or the free storage that comes with Google, Mac, and Microsoft Live accounts. These can help free up some storage on your computer and also allow you to access those files from anywhere you have internet – from a desktop computer, a laptop, even a tablet or smartphone. Or buy an external hard drive to store any large photo or video libraries.

Your computer may have a virus

When your computer slows down, the first thing you may think is that your computer is infected with a virus. We’ve all thought it before! Fortunately, it’s one of the least likely reasons that your computer has actually slowed.

In our last article, we talked about what viruses are and how to prevent them. If you do have a virus, it is probably very obvious. There are plenty of ways of dealing with them that are specific to each virus, so search online and you’ll learn how to remove it.

Your computer is ancient

If your computer is legitimately old (5+ years), often a few hardware upgrades can buy you some time, but at a certain point it becomes a lost cause. You can get a lot more for your dollar these days and there’s always good deals to be had, so think hard about buying new if your computer is old enough to go to grade school.

Posted
AuthorMatt Osterman

We rely on the internet for practically everything: from banking and paying bills to getting the news, tracking our fitness, and watching TV and movies. In all industries, the internet is innovating the way we do things, too: buying or selling your home, looking for the best deals on cars or appliances, and just finding coupons to save a few bucks.

With young kids and teenagers, the internet offers even more: access to unparalleled education through world-class institutions, videos and trainings to learn any subject or skill they want, and, importantly, a window to cultures and ways of life all across the globe.

While the internet opens us up to so many opportunities, it does come with inherent risks – that every parent needs to consider. As your local internet provider, we want to share some common issues that parents and kids should be aware of, so you can surf the internet with significantly less risk. Have a conversation with your kids about what feels right and safe online.

To keep things simple: the internet makes it fairly easy for hackers and con artists to steal financial data from folks. The following are common ways they attempt this, with recommendations for preventing it.
 

Passwords

Perhaps the easiest proactive move to prevent hacking or stealing is to ensure strong, hard-to-guess passwords that are unique for each of your online accounts or profiles. We’ve all heard this advice, but a lot of us continue to rely on two or three go-to passwords

The other tricky part is practically any online service requires a user profile and password, so it’s easy to amass dozens, if not hundreds, of passwords. How are you supposed to keep them all unique and memorable to yourself, but no one else?

Here we can rely on technology again! There are many password management software programs available, and they’re easy to use and often very affordable or even free.

Here’s how they work: each family member has their own account. You only remember one very unique password to log into your password manager, and then it stores any other passwords in there – so all of your personal accounts can finally have different passwords. Plus, some password management programs generate random passwords, much harder for anyone to guess or hack into, and can save them right there. 

Here’s a review of some of the best password managers available now: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-password-managers/
 

Parental Controls

Did you know most wireless routers have parental controls built right in? It’s incredibly easy to filter out specific websites, have it automatically filter inappropriate content, or even set specific times of day that a device can or cannot use that internet connection.

Learn more if you have a Linksys router: http://www.linksys.com/us/support-article?articleNum=134633

If you have a Netgear router: https://www.netgear.com/discover/apps/lpc

If you have a different brand of router, simply look at your instruction manual or Google your brand name plus “Parental Controls” and you should find what you’re looking for.
 

Games, Chat, Social Media, and Apps

We understand it's impossible to keep track of every site, app, game, or conversation your children visits or has online, but it's important for families to have an honest conversation about talking with strangers or giving out personal information. Every family is different, but we like to think common sense rules apply.

Here's a nice article that goes deeper into what to look for and what to talk to your children about: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/feature/security/how-keep-your-kids-safe-online-3411255/


Viruses

In some ways, viruses were the first way the internet became risky. Back in the era of dial-up connectivity, people worried that anything they clicked or any file they downloaded could be a virus. Today, viruses continue to threaten individuals and companies, but they are a lot easier to track and control.

A virus refers to any file that has the intention of causing harm – and could be associated with criminal activity. Here are some common types of viruses:

  • A worm takes advantage of security weaknesses and spreads itself, sometimes to other computers that are networked together.
  • A Trojan (horse) is a program that seems harmless but is masking bad functions that may be altering or destroying your data.
  • Spyware steals user information, often for fraudulent purposes, by stealing your log-in details, taking a screenshot as your surf, or logging the keys as you type.

Viruses can sometimes be self-replicating, making them harder to track down and delete. They often become the beginning of identity theft or fraud, or simply delete or corrupt your data to make it slow and unusable.

The key to beating viruses is to prevent them from reaching your computer in the first place. Be weary of email attachments or cloud-based storage systems that aren’t from people you know. If you get a pop-up from a new website that looks fishy, it probably is. 

Your best bet is installing free or paid software programs that block viruses and spyware. These systems may scan incoming emails, monitor and new files, and periodically scan your computer.

Here’s a list of free anti-virus software options that should get you started: http://www.techradar.com/news/the-best-free-antivirus

*Note that any anti-virus software cannot block email spam or fraudulent activity that is not initiated by a virus.
 

Phishing Scams

Instead of installing software on your computer to steal your information, phishing attempts to scam you into giving the information away under the guise of a real company. Phishing methods often mimic a website or email that you may already trust, such as a bank, Facebook, or Google. By appearing to be a real company, they can convince the user to enter their passwords or other sensitive data. Scams typically appear as a semi-legit looking email or instant message.

Because phishing scams often come through via email, Skype, or other messaging tool, an antivirus software can’t help. Luckily a lot of common email providers have built-in filters to sort these scams out of your inbox, so you’re not even tempted.

It is important to know that any legit online presence that you do trust will never ask for your user name and password or personal identification data via email or messaging. If you have any doubt about a message you’ve received, go to that company’s website online or call them to report this suspicious activity. You can also often tell when the URL is misspelled or is slightly tweaked from the regular domain you visit.
 

Best of both worlds

At Northwoods Connect, we believe that using the internet safely is worth just a few minutes, and maybe a few bucks, to ensure your family reduces their risk as much as possible. Take advantage of everything the web has to offer, but remember to stay smart and vigilant online.

Finally, we DO NOT individually track browsing habits nor have any right to care. Happy surfing!
 

Additional References

https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/viruses-and-spyware/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing

https://us.norton.com/security_response/phishing.jsp

https://kb.iu.edu/d/arsf

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/technology/personaltech/vpn-internet-security.html?_r=0

Posted
AuthorMatt Osterman