What’s the difference between a modem and a router?

You know those two plastic boxes that sit on your desk? The ones that have flashing lights to indicate they are doing their job? They are about the same shape and size, but what is the difference? And why do you need both?

You probably know that one’s called a modem, the other is called a router, and they’re both involved with getting you on the Internet and connecting you to the world. But, most people aren’t able to explain the difference between the two; that’s where we come in!

Although they’re working hand in hand to get you connected to your favorite websites, they’re doing totally separate jobs. So what is it that they do?

The modem connects to a cable/wire from the outside, bringing Internet data (email, You modemTube videos, Google search results, files) into your home from all over the world. A different wire that goes from your modem to your computer, delivering your Internet requests and activities to your computer and monitor. What you see is what you asked for. Thanks, modem!

Now, you could use the Internet by plugging your modem into your computer. The reason why this is not the best decision is because while modems are useful and an integral part of getting the World Wide Web on your screen, they don’t provide much Internet safety. When you are only using a modem, you put your computer at risk for viruses and hackers. That’s where the router comes into play!

A router takes the digital signal from your modem and shares it with other Internet ready routerdevices in the house. You now have a computer network at home. The router also adds security by modifying the IP address on your computer(s). Your IP address is a set of numbers that is specific to your device and allows you to access the internet and allows other devices to communicate with yours. Doing this makes it harder for hackers to invade your network.

A wireless router allows you to connect to your Internet at home with any wireless device, such as a laptop, Smartphone or iPad. You can learn how to lock down your wireless network with our previous blog post.

ImOn’s 10th Anniversary!

ImOn Communications 10th Anniversary Logo
On March 9, 2017, ImOn Communications celebrates its 10th year serving the Cedar Rapids community. Not only have we provided quality high-speed Internet, cable TV, and phone service to our residential and business customers the past 10 years, we have also grown as a company, invested in infrastructure and technology, and supported the communities we serve.

To mark our 10th anniversary, we wanted to share a few fun facts you may not know about ImOn.

  1. When we started the company 10 years ago, the top 3 company name choices were, ImOn Communications, Mable Cable, and Quix Net. ImOn Communications won the vote and as they say, the rest is history.
  2. ImOn started with 37 employees and we have now grown to over 100 employees.
  3. 3,854 customers have been with us the entire 10 years. Thanks for your loyalty!
  4. ImOn employees deliver meals once a month for Horizon’s Meals on Wheels program. Each year, more than 1,000 meals are delivered to seniors in our community.
  5. ImOn has won the Corridor Business Journal’s “Best Internet Service Provider” award 6 times.
  6. In 2016, ImOn sponsored or participated in 133 local community events.
  7. ImOn Customer Care is comprised of 14 people located right here in Cedar Rapids. They help, on average, 8,278 customers per month. And did you know the busiest day in ImOn Customer Car is Monday?
  8. ImOn’s network is comprised of over 640 miles of fiber optics, coax, and copper. Did you know ImOn was the first company to offer Fiber-to-the-home service in Cedar Rapids! That includes 1GIG (1,000Mb) Internet speed!
  9. In the flood of 2008, lmOn lost 14% of our customers and 2 hub sites due to the flooding. But in the flood of 2016, ImOn didn’t lose anything!

ImOn 10th Anniversary Employee Photo

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, ImOn will have several fun customer events and giveaways throughout the year. Here is just a preview:

ImOn March Gladness Nonprofit Bracket Challenge

ImOn March Gladness Nonprofit Bracket Challenge LogoAt ImOn Communications, we believe in supporting and investing in the communities we serve. We pride ourselves in actively giving back and supporting our local schools, cultural organizations, service groups, and nonprofits. So it would only make sense that we do something BIG for our community in honor of our 10th Anniversary on March 9, 2017.

Since our 10th Anniversary falls in line with the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament, we have decided to hold a “March Gladness Nonprofit Bracket Challenge” on ImOn’s Facebook page. For this challenge, 8 local nonprofits will compete for community votes for a chance to win a $500 donation from ImOn Communications. The nonprofits participating are: Eastern Iowa Honor Flight, Four Oaks, Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa, Last Hope Animal Rescue, Matthew 25, Young Parents Network, Bridgehaven, and Willis Dady.

We invite you to like our ImOn Facebook page, and visit each day, March 14th -24th, to vote for your favorite nonprofit and help them win $500. For more information visit www.MyImOn.com/MarchGladness

10 Months of ImOn Giveaways

We recognize that our customers continued loyalty plays a vital role in the success of ImOn, and to show our appreciation and to celebrate ImOn’s 10th anniversary, we will be launching the event 10 months of ImOn Giveaways in March.  Once a month, a prize will be given away on ImOn’s Facebook page. Some prizes include: a tablet, blue tooth speakers, Roku, and Amazon Echo.  Just another great reason to like and follow ImOn’s Facebook Page!


– ImOn Cash ClingImOn Cash Cling Sticker Image

Who wants to win $100 off their ImOn bill?  You can with ImOn’s Cash Cling! More details to come later this month – check ImOn’s Facebook page or www.MyImOn.com/10Years for updates!


-Great customer Appreciation events throughout the year

Besides the fun activities listed above, we also have a number of activities planned for the remainder of the year to help celebrate this anniversary milestone. Some of these include:

  • Uptown Friday Night FREE admission ticket giveaway – May 26
  • ImOn night at Brucemore Children’s Theatre – August
  • ImOn’s annual Customer Appreciation Celebration – August
  • An ImOn team for the Especially For You Race Against Breast Cancer – October
  • ImOn Days with the Iowa Hawkeyes – Fall
  • ImOn 10 Days of Christmas – December
  • FREE year of ImOn Services giveaway – December


Make sure we have your current email address so we can send you special information about these upcoming events. To register your email with ImOn go to www.MyImOn.com/loyalty.

March Madness Survival Guide

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Buzzer-beaters, unthinkable upsets, and fans everywhere.  We’re getting closer and closer to March Madness and ImOn wants to make sure you have everything you need for the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Schedule:
March Madness officially begins on Selection Sunday, which takes place on Sunday, March 12th. This is when the NCAA I Men’s Basketball Committee reveals the 68 teams that will play in this year’s tournament. The show will stream live on NCAA.com. After Selection Sunday, the action begins on March 14th and 15th with the First Four games. The First and Second Rounds get under way March 16th -19th. This part of March Madness may be the most entertaining days with all the possible buzzer-beaters and unthinkable upsets.  Below is the complete schedule from the NCAA with all of the tournament dates and sites.

March Madness Tournament Dates

Brackets:
The first thing you need to know is that that odds of picking a perfect March Madness Bracket are over 9.2 quintillion to 1. To put that into perspective, you have a substantially better shot at winning the Powerball than you do at picking a perfect bracket. But even with those odds, one in 10 Americans play March Madness brackets, whether online, in an office pool, or just with some friends. If you would like to be a part of the action, you can print off your official 2017 bracket by CLICKING HERE or visiting http://www.ncaa.com.

Now that you have your brackets, remember to enter the KGYM bracket challenge, sponsored by ImOn, for a chance to win $500.  Just submit your bracket on the KGYM website between March 12th-16th.


Watching the Games:
Get your DVR ready!  CBS (ImOn channels 2 & HD 802), TBS (ImOn channels 61 & HD 861), TNT (ImOn channels 57 & HD 857, and tru TV (ImOn channels 72 & 872) will be broadcasting most of the First Round through the elite eight, and CBS gets the Final Four and the championship game. During the First and Second rounds many of the games will take place during the work day and there will be an overlap in game times, this is where the DVR comes in handy.  But, you don’t have to DVR the games, you can watch them LIVE on your phone, tablet, laptop, or computer with ImOn TV Everywhere. If you are an ImOn cable TV subscriber and have TBS, TNT, or truTV in your service package, you can watch these games through ImOn TV Everywhere. You must register your ImOn account on the Watch TV Everywhere site before the games start. For registration instructions, visit www.MyImOn.com/TVE

For more information about the NCAA Tournament visit http://www.ncaa.com/march-madness

Fitness Apps to Stay on Track

Each time January 1st rolls around, many of us make a New Year’s resolution to either get healthy or lose weight. But according to Health.com, only 46% will stick to their resolution after six months. We know it can be difficult to stick with your resolution, so we have compiled a list of some helpful apps and websites to help keep you on track. Also, let us know if you have a different app, or website, you find helpful and we will add it to our list.

MyFitness Pal App LogoMyFitnessPal App
MyFitness Pal is consistently ranked as one of the best fitness apps in the industry. It features easy-to-use step and calorie counters. It uses a database of more than 5 million foods, a barcode nutrition scanner, and a recipe importer.  The basic version is free to download and use, but the premium version does cost.

MindBody App ImageMindBody App
The MindBody app is your go-to resource for finding local group fitness classes, massage studios, or CrossFit gym. Just plug in your zip code and the app connects finds the best fitness, wellness, and beauty services near you. You can also check out rating and review, find special offers, and book mark your favorites.

 

Fit Radio App imageFIT Radio App
Fit Radio is a music streaming app that specializes in DJ-created mixes that maintains consistent beat for your workouts. You can browse by genre, DT, or type of workout, such as Zumba, yoga, or Spin. The basic version of the app is free but limits you on your choices. The premium version has more options but comes with a monthly fee.

Couch to 5K app imageCouch to 5K
The Couch to 5K app has helped thousands of beginning runners cross the finish line of their first 5K race. The app helps you go from couch potato to running a 5K with training program, workouts, and motivating coaches. The app is a one-time charge of $2.99.


Sworkit App imageSworkit

Sworkit, which stand for “Simply Work It”, offers workouts and videos of exercises demonstrated by professional trainers. You can choose from standard workouts or customize your own by picking your workout length, areas you want to target, or any other special needs or limitation. The app is free but paying for the premium version will unlock even more workouts for you to try.

Fitnet App ImageFitnet
Fitnet is a workout app for people who can’t find time to go to the gym. It features 5 to 7 minute targeted workouts that fit your schedule. With over 200 free exercise videos ranging from abs to yoga at all intensity levels, there is a personalized workout for everyone. The app can use your phone’s camera to measure how closely you follow the moves shown on the screen. The app is free but does offer in-app purchases.

Yonder App ImageYonder
Yonder is like Yelp for the outdoor enthusiast. Just enter your location and the app will give you suggestions for hiking, biking, kayaking, and skiing in the area, along with reviews and tips from other users.

 

Charity Mile App ImageCharity Mile
If you’re the type of person who likes to make a difference, than get moving with Charity miles. Charity Miles is a walking, running, and biking tracker app that tracks how many miles you’ve covered during your workout. But for every mile you move, you earn money for a charity on your behalf. All you have to do is tune on the app, choose from over thirty world-class charities, and start moving.
For more great fitness and health app ideas visit:
http://greatist.com/fitness/best-health-fitness-apps
http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/16-best-health-and-fitness-apps-of-2016http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2485287,00.asp

Or if you are interested in joining a gym in the area, check out these great locations:
Sister’s Health Club
Custom Fitness
The MAC
Anytime Fitness

Cable TV Programming Costs & How They Affect You

Have you ever wondered about the fees that make up your monthly TV bill?  As your local high-speed Internet, cable TV, and phone service provider we want to give you a little background information to help you better understand the economics of the TV business.

Your monthly cable TV bill is comprised of 2 major costs. The first is the cost from ImOn Communications to provide the cable TV service to you. Our costs include maintenance and equipment costs, infrastructure (our network to your home), business expenses, and employee salaries. This cost is actually a small percentage of your cable TV bill. The other cost, which makes up a majority of your bill, comes from network fees. All cable TV and satellite providers, like ImOn, have to pay each Network (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, TNT, USA, AMC, etc.) a fee to carry their channels.

overviewbill

With only five media companies controlling about 90% of all TV networks, they can use their power to demand more and more money for their channels.  In fact, according to the National Cable TV Cooperative, network fees have increased 3.5 times the rate of inflation over the last 15 years. They also force us to take ALL their channels, even ones we don’t want to carry. Plus, many networks charge fees based on how many households receive their channels and they force us to provide their programming to all our customers. We are not allowed to just give you the channels you want. If ImOn refuses to pay increases in fees, the networks will pull their signals, causing their channels to go dark on your TV.

Major Media Companies

While TV networks are relentless in their demands for large annual rate hikes and new channel carriage requirements, another significant cost for cable TV comes from retransmission consent fees.  Local broadcast stations like KWWL(NBC), KGAN (CBS), KFXA (FOX) and KCRG (ABC) demand significant fees to pass through their TV signal to ImOn customers, even though the same programming is offered for free over-the-air when you use an antenna. Similarly, regional sports networks like Comcast SportsNet, Big Ten Network, and SEC Network charge big bucks for access to their live sports programming.sports-costs

ImOn Communications will always  fight for a fair market value price when dealing with programmers. Our goal is to keep prices as low as possible for our customers and to be transparent when it comes to cost pressures ImOn faces when it comes to cable TV. Rest assured, we’re on your side. For more information about cable prices and current negotiations visit: http://www.tvonmyside.com/imon-communications/index.php

Football, Commercials, and Food, Oh My!

Football field and goal post
It is a day hyped with football, commercials, and food!

The Super Bowl is one of the most watched sporting events in America, averaging about 111.9 million viewers each year. While many watch for the game, others are watching for the funny Super Bowl ads, which are costing companies up to $5 million for a 30-second ad.  And don’t forget the food! The Super Bowl is the second-highest day of food consumption after Thanksgiving. But whether you’ll be watching for the game, watching for the commercials, or enjoying the smorgasbord of food, here are a few fun facts about the Super Bowl.

The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. According to Time Magazine, the name ‘Super Bowl’ came from AFL founder Lamar Hunt. He had jokingly referred to the proposed interleague championship as the “Super Bowl” after seeing his son playing with a toy called a “Super Ball”. The ball is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. And while the NFL might be an American sport, the Super Bowl is worldwide. The big game is now broadcast around the world in 34 different languages.

Each year, the winner of the Super Bowl is awarded the Lombardi Trophy. It is made by Tiffany & Co. and weighs seven pounds, stands 21 inches tall, and is worth $25,000. Besides the trophy, members of the winning team get flashy Super Bowl rings costing approximately $5,000 each. Speaking of winning, did you know that the Pittsburgh Steelers have won the most Super Bowls on record!

Besides the actual football game, many people tune in to the Super Bowl to see the halftime show and commercials. It has already been confirmed that Luke Bryan will sing the National Anthem and Lady Gaga will headline the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl.  Adweek.com has released a list of brands that will have ads running during the Super Bowl. Bud Light, Skittles, Kia, and GoDaddy have confirmed that they will have commercials running during this year’s Super Bowl.  Also, Mr. Clean, Febreze, Busch, and 84 Lumber will be making their Super Bowl commercial debut this year. However, Doritos, Butterfinger, Taco Bell, Toyota, and Visa will not be participating with an ad this year. And if you what to see some of the ads before they play during the Super Bowl, check out http://www.superbowl-commercials.org/ .

And finally, no Super Bowl would be complete without the food. Chicken wings are the number one food pick with Americans devouring about 1.3 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday. That is enough to give everyone in the United States about 3 wings a piece. Super Bowl Sunday is also the biggest day of the year for pizza delivery with about 4 million pizzas being consumed. Guacamole has also become a fan favorite with approximately 100 million pounds of guacamole being devoured by fans. And all that eating and drinking adds up! The average football fan will consume more than 2,400 calories during the big game. If you are looking for a delicious treat to try at your Super Bowl party, try this recipe from one of our ImOn employees.
jennifer-recipe_web

As for this year, the Atlanta Falcons will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI (51). Super Bowl 51 kicks off at 5:30pm on Sunday, February 5th, from Houston’s NRG Stadium. The game will be televised on FOX, ImOn Channel 8 or HD 808, with Troy Aikman and Joe Buck on the call and Erin Andrews and Chris Meyers on the sidelines.

And if you need some cute and cuddly pregame entertainment remember to check out The Hallmark Channel’s “Kitten Bowl” starting at 11am on ImOn channels 58 & HD 854, and Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl” starting at 2pm on ImOn Channels 99 & HD 899.

Cyber-Safety First

boys using tabletGive your kids the freedom they want, with the security you need.

In this day and age it is nearly impossible to cut out all use of technology and social media, especially with your kids. As our children start to get older, we find ourselves wanting to give them room to take on more responsibility and prove they can handle it.  With the unpredictability of the internet, it can be incredibly difficult to give this responsibility. There are constant questions: Who’s contacting them? What are they doing online? Since tweens and teens often keep their lives to themselves, it can be tricky to get clear answers.

It is important to familiarize yourself with what your children are doing online and to have an open dialogue with your children about online safety. If you are still wary about giving your children full internet freedom, there are a few tools to keep track of what they are up to online.

  • Bark: Similar to VISR (see below), kids and parents need to work together to hook up accounts to the service. Bark’s watchdog engine uses advanced algorithms to look for a variety of potential issues, such as cyberbullying, sexting, drug-related content, and signs of depression. If a potential issue is detected, a text/email alert is sent to you to review the issue, along with recommended actions on how to handle the situation ($9/month).
  • Circle Home and Circle Go: Circle pairs wirelessly with your home Wi-Fi and allows you to manage every device on your network. Using the Circle app, families can create unique profiles for each family member. From here, kids will have a connected experience that is designed just for them. You can create time limits on specific apps, filter content, set bedtimes, and restrict internet access for the whole house or for individuals. Circle Go will also let parents filter, limit, and track on networks outside the home Wi-Fi (the Circle device is $99, the Circle Home app is free, and the Circle Go service will be $9.95/month).
  • Limitly: Limitly prevents your kids from wasting time on Android smartphones and tablets. Especially, when it is not allowed – at school, at bedtime, while doing homework, etc. This will help your children stay focused on important activities and lets you control kids’ screen time. It is essential considering that an average teen spends about 9 horrifying hours a day on a mobile device (free, Android-only).
  • Pocket Guardian: Pocket Guardian helps parents monitor their kids’ iPhone & Android Smartphone plus social media accounts without invading their privacy. Parents receive notification when Cyberbullying or Sexting are detected, plus resources to start a conversation with their child. ($9.99–$12.99/month).
  • Trackidz: With this program, you don’t see specific content from your kid’s device, but you can track app installations and use, block browsers and apps, manage time in apps and on the device, block out device-free time, grant bonus time, track location, get an alert when your kid’s phone is turned off, and see your kid’s contacts. It also claims to detect cyberbullying by tracking when your kid’s device use drops dramatically, which can indicate avoidance. Setting up a geo-fence lets parents track a kid’s location and alerts them when a kid has gone outside the boundaries, and a kid can tap the power button to send an emergency message to parents (currently free, but will be $6.99).
  • VISR: For this one to work, a parent needs the kid’s usernames and passwords, so be aware that it’s easy for kids to set up dummy accounts. Once enabled, the tool analyzes posts and emails for bullying, profanity, nudity, violence, drugs, and late-night use and sends parents alerts when anything iffy is detected (currently free, but will be $5/month).

dad-with-daughterFor added safety, you can install parental control software on your computer that will restrict access to unsuitable web pages and control how your kids can use the Internet. You should also install an anti-virus software and anti-spyware software before your kids start using the Internet. This will help to secure and protect your computer from online hacking. And ImOn Communications offers Tech Home Services that includes both desktop security and parental controls for your online protection and peace of mind. For more information on ImOn’s Tech Home services, visit http://www.MyImOn.com/TechHome.

Family Room or Battle Ground?

family-watching-tvThe Epic Struggle for the Remote Control. Few things drum up as much controversy at home than what to watch on TV. Even the most well-behaved children can come to blows at the prospect of missing out on their Saturday morning lineup. And most of us wouldn’t want to miss the season finale of our favorite show only to have the ending spoiled on Facebook the next day.

As parents, we’d like to think that when put in the same situation as our children and asked to compromise on what to watch, we would make the more mature decision. But in reality, we’re just as bad.

A few years ago, 60 Minutes asked 1,100 couples what they fight about. Surprisingly, money didn’t take the top spot—the remote did. And not only are we fighting with each other, we’re fighting with our kids too. As we speak, somewhere in the world, a jersey-clad father is in a screaming match with his 5- year-old in a classic game of Sports v. Cartoons.

 Thankfully, all of these problems are fixable, if not avoidable. If the old standard tricks aren’t up to snuff (like putting the kids—or your spouse—in time out), technology has your back. Next time the tension is rising and you feel like a remote control battle is on the horizon, try one of these strategies:

 Strategy 1: The Executive Veto
This is the simplest solution, but possibly the toughest to execute: you, as the parent, get the ultimate say on what the family does or doesn’t watch. No ifs, ands, or buts. You can either pick the show, choose who gets to choose, or turn the TV off entirely—a bold move, but your move.

The question is, what happens when you and your spouse can’t agree? Time for a new strategy…


Strategy 2: The Master Schedule
This solution will take a bit of planning, but it’s a sure-fire way to ensure that at the end of the day, everyone is happy (or at least no one is crying). With this strategy, everyone gets a designated time to watch their show(s) of choice. Generally, the youngest will get the earlier time slots and the parents have free reign once the little ones are in bed.

With DVR, you can prerecord shows to avoid scheduling conflicts, so no one has to battle it out for time slots. If you need a refresher on how to program your DVR and record shows, visit our DVR help page.


Strategy 3: The Compromise
Sometimes it feels like you need experience as a hostage negotiator to master the art of the compromise—but when it works and you see your family coexisting peacefully AND watching a show together, it’s worth the extra effort every time.

If you haven’t had much success compromising on TV in the past, try setting some ground rules. Here’s a good one to start with: everyone can veto two suggestions, but no more.


Strategy 4: Let the Tech Handle It
Years ago, you needed separate boxes to watch cable on two TVs simultaneously. Now, thanks to a thing called TV Everywhere, you can watch cable TV programming anywhere in the house on any Internet-ready device like a smartphone. That means all you need is a decent pair of headphones, and Dad can watch ESPN on his tablet while the kids watch the new Disney Channel movie.

It’s simple, no one has to watch anything they don’t like, and everyone can stay in the same room. As a plus, TV Everywhere is free with your ImOn Cable TV subscription, so no extra spending required.
Does your family battle it out for the remote? How do you come to a solution? Tell us in
the comments below.

Mid-Season TV Premieres of Your Favorite Shows!

dreamstime_l_23956447
The weather is getting colder and we are hitting the mid-winter doldrums when there’s not much going on. Don’t worry, new episodes of your favorite TV shows are hitting the air. So get your DVR and ImOn TV Everywhere account ready! Here are a couple helpful links and calendars to help keep your TV schedule straight.

TVLine.com's January TV Show premiere calendar

ImOn Holiday Survival Guide Part 5: Holiday Travel

Holiday TravelDid you know Santa travels 175 million miles on Christmas Eve?  But, Santa is not the only one traveling this time of year. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 103 million Americans are expected to travel between December 23rd and January 2nd. That will lead to cramped airports, busy highways, and increased holiday stress.

Don’t let the stress of holiday travel turn you into the Grinch. ImOn Communications is here to help with a list of useful travel websites, tips for packing, and a few ideas to keep the kids entertained for that long car ride to Grandma’s house.

-Latest Travel Conditions:

-Packing Tips:

-Road Trip Tips:

-Keeping Kids Entertained During Trips:

-Keeping your home safe when you’re away:

 

For more ways to reduce stress this holiday season visit the ImOn Holiday Survival Guide.