A tale of two teachers: Technology and travel

Saint Augustine is credited with the quote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” So it is only fitting that two retired school teachers would take that literary analogy to heart and help many in Eastern Kentucky read reams of the world’s pages.

Mary McWhorter, left, and Kim Graham, two retired educators, operate their Internet-based travel business from their homes.

Mary McWhorter, left, and Kim Graham, two retired educators, operate their Internet-based travel business from their homes.

“We both love to travel,” says Kim Graham, who formed G&M Tours with Mary McWhorter. “We wanted to do something after we retired, and we love helping people from Eastern Kentucky see the world.”

Graham and McWhorter hatched plans for their travel company while they were teachers at Rogers Elementary School in Wolfe County. Their classrooms were across the hall from one another, and the pair would talk about the idea throughout the school day. Graham became principal of the school, and the ladies formed the business before they retired in 2009.

G&M Tours was the perfect business for them. They usually each work from their homes, often sitting on their couches with their laptops researching destinations and hotels, as well as planning future trips, through their Internet service provided by Mountain Telephone. They generally communicate with each other through an instant messaging feature or email.

IMG_5673“I don’t think we would have ever attempted this without the Internet,” McWhorter says. “I don’t think it would be possible.”

The first trip was to the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, N.C., but since then G&M Tours has taken groups to New York, New England, Alaska, Nashville and Chicago — just to name a few. In 2014, the duo is planning trips to the Bahamas; Hawaii; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Williamsburg, Va.; Memphis, Tenn. and many more. G&M Tours will work with school groups, churches and businesses, but their main focus is on groups of individuals.

“We may repeat destinations from time to time, but we always try to do something different,” says Graham. “The itinerary will be completely new.”

Both Graham and McWhorter say they love their new careers. “The most rewarding thing about it is the people we meet,” McWhorter says. “We’ve made some really great friends, and we have helped many people travel, especially some elderly people, that wouldn’t be able to do it without a company like ours.”

Kim Graham and Mary McWhorter retired from teaching to run their own Internet-based travel business.

Kim Graham and Mary McWhorter retired from teaching to run their own Internet-based travel business.

Most trips require a $100 deposit to reserve a spot, with the balance due closer to departure. Travel information, testimonials, photos and itineraries for future
trips can be found on their website,
www.gandmtours.net.

Graham says people interested in going on one of their trips can call them with questions, or they may contact them through their website or Facebook page.

Broadband bovine technology means faster, more efficient cattle farming

Brad Kidd sits at his computer watching a cattle auction online. If he sees a heifer or calf he wants to bid on, all it takes is a couple of clicks.

Kidd has been a cattle farmer his whole life. He learned from his father, who learned from his father before him. But this is no longer your father’s cattle industry.

Technology is the key to efficiency, and Brad Kidd is teaching that to his son, Jackson, at Triple K Limousin Farms.

Technology is the key to efficiency, and Brad Kidd is teaching that to his son, Jackson, at Triple K Limousin Farms.

“Technology has really changed things for us,” Kidd says. “There is so much we can do online now that makes it quicker and more efficient.”

Triple K Limousin Farms has about 100 head of Limousin cattle that Kidd breeds with the best bulls available to produce top-notch beef stock. Many aspects of cattle farming are now performed digitally to improve the operation.

Kidd has broadband Internet service and television programming from Mountain Telephone. He says there are multiple programs on MTTV plus a variety of Internet sites that are changing the way cattle farms operate.

MTTV programming includes RFD-TV, which is a channel geared toward viewers in rural America. It broadcasts a number of farming shows such as “The American Rancher” and “Cattlemen to Cattlemen,” which Kidd says provide some valuable information about the cattle industry. He also watches cattle auctions and a variety of other agricultural shows.

“They talk about the cattle market, things affecting the cost of grain and a lot of other useful information,” he says.

While Kidd says television programming provides vital information for farmers, the Internet is where the real game-changing action is.

It used to take three to four weeks to register a new calf, Kidd says. But now the process can be done online and completed in less than half that time. He says he can immediately print out registration forms or receive copies sent by the state in about a week and a half.

Kidd now purchases medicines for his cattle online, and another farmer can instantly send pictures of a bull from a farm thousands of miles away to determine if he wants to buy it.

The best bulls that produce the best offspring can cost up to $40,000, which is out of the price range for a small cattle operation like Kidd’s. But he can buy a semen sample from the same bull much cheaper. Yes, that’s right — a bovine semen sample purchased online.

“We can’t go out and buy a bull for that much, but through artificial insemination, we can get a calf out of him for $40,” Kidd says.

Triple K Limousin also sells beef, which Kidd says he often advertises through Mountain Telephone’s online classifieds, www.mrtc.com/CommunityPortal/Classifieds.html.

“Technology has really changed how we do things,” Kidd says. “It has become a necessary tool in this industry.”

Building our future’s foundation

By Shayne Ison
General Manager

Can you imagine life without electricity? Of course not. It helps you take care of your home and family, earn a living, get your news, enjoy entertainment and experience a better quality of life. Wait … can’t the same be said for broadband?

Shayne Ison

Shayne Ison

I draw that parallel to drive home an important point — the broadband network we are building today is as foundational to modern society as the electricity distribution system that began powering rural America in the 1930s and 1940s.

Do you remember the first time you logged on to the Internet? Maybe it was through a Mountain Telephone Internet account. Perhaps you dialed a toll-free number, or even paid long-distance charges, to connect to EarthLink or AOL (how many CDs did you receive in the mail over the years offering 10 free hours of service to try AOL?). As you listened to the whistles and pops of your modem making a dial-up connection, you could not have imagined a day when such a network connection would impact practically every part of your life.

But that day is here. As dial-up access gave way to broadband connections, technology drove innovations that go far beyond simply browsing the Internet. And just like in the early days of electrification, rural America is benefiting greatly.

Consider these examples of how people are using their broadband connections:

  • Students are staying current with their studies when they miss class, and turning in their homework online.
  • Teachers and professors are bringing advanced studies into their classrooms through distance learning.
  • Clinics and hospitals are managing records and expediting test results in ways that help them control costs while improving patient care and convenience.
  • Businesses are selling products and services, buying supplies and communicating in ways that help them compete with companies in larger markets.
  • Local governments, fire departments, police forces, water providers and other agencies are saving money on training while offering greater access and improved services to citizens.

Our network is making stories like these possible. And it’s not just Mountain Telephone. Providers like us across rural America are creating real solutions as we lead the way for a more advanced telecommunications network in our country.

If these stories are not enough to convince you that we truly are building the foundation for our future, look at the story “Wireless Needs Wires” on Page 6. With so many people connected by cell phone these days and the use of traditional landlines on the decline, you might be tempted to think of your local telecommunications company as a provider whose most relevant days are behind them. But as you see from this article, even the cell phone service people are so attached to depends heavily on the wired network that we continue to improve. It wouldn’t work without us.

Broadband is indeed the infrastructure of the future – one we are building for you today.

Baked soup: a family staple

Soup cuts across cultures. Its popularity spans the nation in wintertime and becomes comfort food in every corner of America. This is especially true in the small town of Kirbyton, Ky., when Rebecca Spraggs makes her Baked Soup, a recipe handed down in her family for generations.

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Rebecca Spraggs

“I can remember my grandfather making it. Just the thought makes me happy,” she says. “He’d cook it in a great big iron kettle. And when we’d come inside from sledding, it would be ready.”

This soup, as well as others, is part of Spraggs’ repertoire of comfort foods that she brings to the table as a caterer. About a year ago, she and a friend launched Catering by Lorie and Rebecca.

“We both loved to cook, and often did for family and friends,” Spraggs says. “So we started catering out of our houses.” In less than a year’s time, they’ve built up a good client base.

Spraggs says clients often ask for soups when they call. “It’s just good comfort food. People love it. And it makes a hearty meal, too, when we add sandwiches or salads.”

Magic happens when Spraggs stirs the pot of her favorite baked potato soup. As the cheese melts, the flavors of bacon, garlic and onions come together, bringing the pot to a crescendo of comforting flavors. “It’s got just the right amount of texture to make your taste buds happy,” she says. “It’s just wonderful.”

Her lasagna soup is one that sends mouth-watering Italian aromas through the home as it simmers in the slow cooker for hours. And her baked soup cooks in a slow oven allowing the vegetables to absorb the flavors of fork-tender meat, creating a delicious gravy that you can sop up with bread, or use a spoon to get every last bite. There’s something about cooking it in the oven that gives it such good taste, Spraggs adds.

“Soup is just so good. And it’s so easy, you can just throw it together and let it cook all day and you have a full meal, getting all the vegetables and meat you need,” Spraggs says. “You can use leftovers and probably canned goods from your pantry.”

Are you in need of a little comfort? Try one of Spraggs’ recipes and see if it doesn’t bring some warmth to your soul.

Loaded Potato Soup

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Loaded Potato Soup

3 pounds potatoes, peeled, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
8 cups of half-and-half
16 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
White pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Green onions, chopped (tops only)
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream, optional

Melt butter in large pot, slowly add flour and half-and-half. Stir continually until flour is incorporated. Add Velveeta; continue stirring on medium heat until melted. Add potatoes, pepper, garlic, Tabasco, bacon and green onions. Once cheese is melted, turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve topped with cheese and sour cream, if desired.

Baked Soup

BakedSoup_9684

Baked Soup

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 teaspoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 celery ribs, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 slice of bread, cubed

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, water, tapioca, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into greased 3-quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 375° for 2 hours or until meat and veggies are tender. Serve with cornbread or corn cakes.

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
3 cups beef broth (or more, see note)
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup V8 juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 cups uncooked shell pasta
Shredded cheddar cheese, optional

Mix tomatoes and tomato paste in Crock pot. Add broth, beef, garlic, parsley, basil, onion, V8 juice, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours or on high 4 to 5 hours. Thirty minutes before end of cooking time, add in 1 cup of water and pasta. Stir to combine, cover and continue cooking 30 minutes. Serve topped with cheese, if desired.

Note: If you need more liquid, add extra broth when you add pasta.

Tips for making a super bowl of soup:

  • To lighten up a cream-based soup, use fat-free milk or chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Simmer soup as long as you can. It will only make the flavor better.
  • Don’t saute the vegetables first.
  • Use the freshest ingredients you can find.
  • Do not add salt until the end. Taste as you go.
  • If the recipe calls for chicken broth, and if you have the time, make your own. Use the chicken in the soup or save it to make chicken salad for sandwiches to go with the soup.

Picking a favorite?

By Anne P. Braly
Food Editor

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Anne P. Braly

There’s no better way to ward off winter’s chill than holing up inside with a bowl of steaming soup. So lately, I’ve been experimenting and making many different soups. I can’t make up my mind which is best, but I know one thing for sure: using my mother’s old soup pot makes a difference. Not only does it make a good soup, but somewhere in the steam, I swear I can see Momma smiling.

So what’s your favorite soup? For me, it’s West African Peanut Soup. There are many different recipes for this soup, but my favorite is this one that I managed to get from a restaurant in Chattanooga that no longer exists.

West African Peanut Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, very finely diced
2 large green peppers, finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juice
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 (18-ounce) jar creamy peanut butter
Chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Heat olive oil in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion, bell pepper and garlic until lightly browned. Stir in tomatoes with juice, broth, pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add rice to soup; stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes, or until rice is tender. When rice is cooked, whisk in peanut butter, return to a simmer and serve. Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts. Makes about 8 servings.

Email Anne Braly at apbraly@gmail.com

A driving passion

Museums explore America’s love affair with the automobile

By Patrick Smith

Corvette_001

Corvettes come from all over the country to pose for the perfect picture.

Since the prehistoric age when the first wheel was chiseled from stone, mankind has been fascinated with motion. Forward motion. That connection between man and machine is embodied in the automobile, with its roaring engine giving humans the power to conquer distance and time. The power of man and machine, performing as one, gave birth to the wide-open road we love to traverse, along with a multitude of ways to work and play behind the wheel.

Long before NASCAR thrived as we know it today, the roar of the dirt track echoed through the South. The glory days of dirt tracks may have waned, but our interest in cars has not. In fact, the South is America’s new automotive corridor, with a number of automakers having located manufacturing plants in the region and thousands of workers earning a living on an automotive assembly line.

Scattered across the region are a number of unique museums that preserve our automotive history and help us to relive the milestones in our fascination with the car (and truck). Visit their websites, learn more, then plan a road trip to remind yourself of why the automobile just might be America’s greatest pastime.

Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum

The sleek lines and powerful facades of the ‘70s muscle cars are alive and well at Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville, Tenn. Widely considered an expert on the era, Floyd Garrett showcases his $8 million collection of more than 90 cars, including a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 and a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 (Detroit’s highest factory horsepower car).

Address: 320 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, TN 37876

Phone: 865-908-0882 • Website: www.musclecarmuseum.com

International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum

The first tow truck was built in Chattanooga in 1916. Started in 1995, the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum is a walk through the history of the wrecker. In addition to the array of displays and exhibits, there’s a Hall of Fame presentation and a memorial to those who have fallen during their service as recovery operators.

Address: 3315 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37408

Phone: 423-267-3132 • Website: www.internationaltowingmuseum.org

While in Chattanooga, visit the Volkswagen plant, home of the Passat sedan. For more information email: tours@vw.com.

National Corvette Museum

The father of the Corvette, Belgian-born Zora Arkus-Duntov would surely be proud to see his creation thriving at the General Motors Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Ky., and the accompanying National Corvette Museum. The museum draws enthusiasts from around the world to admire its collection spanning the 60-year history of the American classic.

Address:  350 Corvette Drive, Bowling Green, KY 42101

Phone: 270-781-7973 • Website: www.corvettemuseum.org

Public tours of the assembly plant are also available. For more information visit: www.corvettemuseum.org/plant_tours

Lane Motor Museum

Uncommon cars find a home at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville. Celebrating a decade of operation, the museum showcases vehicles like the 1919 Leyat Helico, a propellor-driven car meticulously developed by aircraft engineer Marcel Leyat. Leyat believed propellor-driven cars would be simpler because they wouldn’t require a transmission, rear axle or clutch. Lane also hosts several unique motorcycle and truck designs.

Address:  702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37210

Phone: 615-742-7445 • Website: www.lanemotormuseum.org

Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum

The unmistakable creativity of Hollywood, combined with American style and ingenuity, are presented at Rusty’s TV & Movie Car Museum in Jackson, Tenn. Who wouldn’t want to solve a riddle with Scooby Doo in the Mystery Machine, or fight crime in the Batmobile? Rusty’s is the place to see more than 25 cars used in television shows and movies.

Address:  323 Hollywood Drive, Jackson, TN 38301

Phone: 731-267-5881 • Website: www.rustystvandmoviecars.com

International Motorsports Hall of Fame & Museum

Teaming man with machine, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame & Museum satisfies the need for speed. This institution celebrates the achievements of drivers breaking the limits and setting new heights. Spanning three buildings next to the Talladega Superspeedway, the facility is home to the memories of drivers, engineers and designers who shaped the motorsports community.

Address: 3366 Speedway Boulevard, Talladega, AL 35160

Phone: 256-362-5002 • Website: www.motorsportshalloffame.com

Wheels of Yesteryear Car Museum

Lifelong collector Paul Cummings showcases more than 50 vintage muscle cars and trucks at the Wheels of Yesteryear Car Museum in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Opened in 2009, the museum shows off the raw power of the 1965 Pontiac GTO and the elegant simplicity of the 1949 Dodge pickup truck. It has quickly become a landing place for tourists and car aficionados alike.

Address: 413 Hospitality Lane, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579

Phone: 843-903-4774 • Website: www.wheelsofyesteryearmb.com

BMW Zentrum Museum

BMW admirers flock to see the past and catch a glimpse of the future at the Zentrum Museum in Greer, S.C., the home of BMW’s only American production facility. Visitors flow through the history of exquisitely engineered German cars, SUVs and motorcycles while interacting with educational exhibits, galleries and interactive displays.

Address: 1400 Highway 101 South, Greer, SC 29651

Phone: 864-989-5300 • Website: www.bmwusfactory.com/zentrum

Visit www.bmwusfactory.com to inquire about the BMW Performance Center’s “Ultimate Driving Experience” and factory tour.

Swope Auto Museum

The horsepower of the ‘70s or the fuel efficiency of today’s cars can’t match the solid steel and molded aluminum of the time-honored transportation at the Swope Auto Museum in Elizabethtown, Ky. A collection that spans from the early 1900s to the 1960s, Swope is home to classics like the 1914 Model T Ford Touring and the 1925 Pierce Arrow. Swope also sells antiques to passionate collectors.

Address: 100 North Dixie Avenue, Elizabethtown, KY 42701

Phone: 270-765-2181 • Website: www.swopemuseum.com

The TV pricing drama

It’s no mystery, and it’s certainly not a comedy

Remember when watching TV meant having to choose between ABC, NBC and CBS (and sometimes the public television station, when it was clear enough)? As we walked across the room to switch channels on a TV set encased in a wood-grain cabinet, we could not imagine a world where hundreds of channels existed, catering to viewers interested in sports, movies, home decorating, cooking, science fiction, cartoons, politics and everything in between.

While we have gained tremendous choice in our television viewing options, we have also lost any pricing stability. In fact, the only thing predictable about programming rates is that they will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.bigstock-Row-of-widescreen-HD-displays--22657049

Why do TV programming prices keep climbing?

A portion of the fee you pay for your TV package each month covers the equipment and personnel costs associated with delivering you the service. But a majority of your bill goes to pay the providers of the programming you love to watch — and that you don’t watch. Because of the way these companies (from CNN and FOX News to Disney Channel and ESPN) structure their contracts, we must pay them according to the number of subscribers we have, not the number of people who actually watch each channel.

A 2013 article in the New York Times1 offered ESPN as a good example. Only 1.36 million of the sports network’s 100 million subscribers, the article states, were tuned in during prime time hours April-June of 2013. Nonetheless, all 100 million paid ESPN’s programming fees those months as part of their monthly bill from their service provider.

ESPN is an easy target for a discussion on why TV subscription costs keep climbing. According to a recent Planet Money article on npr.org2, ESPN is the most expensive channel, charging service providers $5.54 per month per subscriber. That same article lists TNT at $1.33 and Disney Channel at $1.15. Rounding out the bottom of the list as the least expensive channels were Hallmark Channel at 6 cents and CMT Pure Country at a nickel per subscriber.*

But ESPN is not the only channel that continues to raise its rates. In fact, some of the biggest increases have come from the broadcasters of “local stations,” who traditionally allowed service providers to carry their signal at no charge. Now, each time service providers have to negotiate the retransmission consent agreements with these networks, their monthly price per subscriber goes up.

Is there a solution on the horizon?

Currently, providers like us are required to buy a bundle of several channels (and often place them in certain packages) in order to get the two or three most popular channels a programmer offers. Congress has considered legislation that would change such requirements, making it possible for subscribers to have options for paying only for those channels they want to watch.

Judging by past attempts at such legislation, it appears to be a longshot that mandated unbundling will happen any time soon. It also remains unclear if picking your channels a la carte would have a significant impact on your bill anyway. A study released last year by Needham Insights suggested that the fees per member charged by ESPN, for example, would soar to $30 under such a structure, based on the assumption that their number of subscribers would drop from 100 million to  approximately 20 million die-hard sports fans.

This could also spell an end for the smaller specialty channels that would not attract a large enough audience to generate the ad sales to support them.

What is our role?

As your telecommunications company, we are committed to providing you with the channel selections you want while doing all we can to maintain package prices. This will not be easy, and you will continue to see price increases in the future as the cost we pay for these channels keeps going up.

However, we want you to know that our eyes are on the bigger picture. Whatever happens in the future regarding how you buy and watch your favorite channels, we know that the most important part of that equation is the network for delivering the signal. Whether it’s traditional TV, media websites or “over the top” services like Netflix and Hulu, you must have a robust, reliable network to enjoy these services. And we are committed to providing the broadband connectivity to deliver all you demand — in whatever form that might take — for many years to come.

 

(1) “To Protect Its Empire, ESPN Stays on Offense,” by Richard Sandomir, James Andrew Miller and Steve Eder – New York Times, Aug. 26, 2013

(2) “The Most (And Least) Expensive Basic Cable Channels, In 1 Graph,” by Quoctrung Bui – Plant Money, NPR.org, Sept. 27, 2013

*These estimates are based on a study by SNL Kagan of fees paid by the large, nationwide providers, and do not reflect the exact cost we pay for these channels.

Wireless needs wires

Why your cell phone would not work without the wired landline network

When this company was formed decades ago, our mission was to provide reliable telephone service to our region. Telephone service was the single most important method of communicating quickly with family, businesses or emergency services — across town or across the country.

bigstock-Smartphone-application-concept-34815812Today there are more cell phones in America than there are people. Users talk trillions of minutes each year and send billions of text messages every month. With all this wireless connectivity, do we really need the wired network at all?

Absolutely. The copper and fiber lines that run overhead and underground through the networks of companies like ours play a critical role in moving signals between the more than 300,000 cell sites located across the country. When you use your cell phone to make a call or access the Internet, your connection spends part of its journey on the same network that makes landline calls and Internet connections possible.

“The wireline network is the backbone of our whole telecommunications system. We need wires.” Those were the words of U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who chairs the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, in an interview last fall on C-Span (www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Pryor). AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson expressed a similar sentiment last year in a Forbes magazine article when he said, “The more wireless we become, the more fixed-line dependent we become.”

According to a Foundation for Rural Service whitepaper*, the components of a wireless phone network are:

Cell phone: The device you use to make the call

Cell site: A radio transceiver that connects the caller to the network

Mobile switching center: The “brains” that control all elements of the wireless network

Interexchange switching and transport network: The equipment that connects the wireless network to other wireless or wireline networks

The transport network is where we come in. Without our network of wires, your wireless phone calls would never be connected. So the next time you reach for your cell phone to make a call or check your email, remember that it’s the wireline companies like ours that are helping make that connection possible.

 *The whitepaper “Wireless Needs Wires: The Vital Role of Rural Networks in Completing the Call” was produced by the Foundation for Rural Service and authored by GVNW. To order a complimentary copy of the full paper, visit www.frs.org.

Make your home a hotspot!

Did you know you can make the power of the Internet available throughout your home? With a Wi-Fi network, your Internet connection is no longer confined to one computer.

When the broadband service coming into your home is connected to a wireless router, you can create a Wi-Fi network that allows you to get more benefit from the same service — just like a Wi-Fi hotspot you see in libraries, restaurants, malls, hotels and other public places.

bigstock-Home-Wifi-Network-Concept-41857123Many devices today are Wi-Fi enabled, ready to take advantage of your home’s network. This includes smartphones, tablets, laptops, e-readers, monitoring and security systems, gaming systems, televisions, thermostats and even appliances.

Unlock the power of your broadband Internet connection. As your telecommunications company, we can help you determine what you need to create a home Wi-Fi network.

Note: Are you a business owner who would like to set up a Wi-Fi network for your employees or customers? Contact us for more information.

 

Introducing your kids to email

Digital Citizenship

By Carissa Swenson

CarissaSwenson-smallEmail is an important communication method, with adults using it daily at work, in school and for personal needs. However, with so many ways to communicate, many children are drawn to interact through Facebook, Twitter and text messaging. It’s therefore important that we teach our children the value of email as a form of correspondence.

Consider the following guidelines for introducing your young one to email.

  • Contact your local telecommunications provider and ask them to set up a new email account for your child.
  • Talk to your child about how beneficial email can be for the future, and the importance of using it right now. They can use it for sharing ideas and tips, asking questions, assigning tasks to family members and even sending funny jokes.
  • Email your child a few times each week. Ask them about their ideas for weekend activities, send links to educational websites or even mention a recipe that you want to make together.
  • In the evening, open the emails together and demonstrate how the content is beneficial and sometimes couldn’t be shared through another method.
  • Try to foster an understanding that not all communication has to be done through social media, and that email will be an important part of their life in the years ahead.

Email is a great tool, but it also presents its own set of hazards. The benefits of educating your child about email outweigh the challenges, as long as you teach them these important guidelines:

  • Only open and reply to email from people you know.
  • If you receive an email from a company or a bank asking for information, never reply (and your child should inform you about this email as soon as possible).
  • Never share sensitive information, such as date of birth, social security number, physical address or passwords in an email.
  • Never open email attachments unless you are absolutely certain they are from a known source.

Put these tips to work and start teaching your child how to properly use email. It’s an important part of becoming a good digital citizen.

Carissa Swenson is the owner and technology specialist of TechTECS, a technology training, education, consulting and support company.