Guide to Smart Air Conditioners

[6/16/2021] With all the connected devices on the market these days, the smart air conditioner might have slid right under your radar. What exactly is smart air conditioning? Why would it make a good addition to your home? Though they may sound like an unnecessary luxury, you might be surprised at how practical and intelligent it really is…especially when paired with our fast, reliable internet!

Get Smart

Have you ever left home only to realize that you mistakenly left the air conditioning unit running? Even minor slip-ups like these can result in a not-so-little increase in your monthly energy bill. It’s bad enough if you leave the AC on for a few hours while you’re at work or out running errands… but imagine you made the same mistake before leaving to go on vacation for days or even weeks.

With a smart air conditioner, you can ‘air’ on the side of caution. It’s easy to control your airflow with the tap of a smartphone button, and because these devices are Wi-Fi enabled, you can control them even when you’re not at home. Many units can even be controlled through voice commands via a virtual assistant.

Smart AC units allow you to turn the unit on and off remotely and control the temperature with a single tap. Depending on the model you choose, you can also receive energy usage reports, program pre-set/automatic cooling, and even schedule routines.

Not only are smart AC units incredibly convenient and easy to use, they are also more eco-conscious and have the potential to save you from wasted energy expenses. While most smart AC units are somewhat pricier than their traditional counterparts, investing in a higher upfront cost can help you save in the long run. You could say they’re both cool and cooling!

Finding The Perfect Fit

To choose the right unit, determine the size that’s right for your room. As a rule of thumb, you’ll likely want 20-25 BTUs (British Thermal Units) of cooling power per square foot of space. However, if the room has high ceilings, large windows, lots of sun, or higher occupancy, you may want to go even bigger than the minimum recommendation. You’ll also need to choose between a window unit and a portable unit. Both have their own sets of pros and cons and come in various sizes, prices, and BTUs.

The LG Dual Inverter is the crème de la crème of smart window AC units. With a massive 14,000 BTUs, virtual assistant integration, and ultra-quiet operation, this unit is available for approximately $550 from home improvement retailers.

If you’re looking for versatility, your best bet might be the Midea Smartcool. It’s totally portable, so you can move it anywhere, and it has plenty of BTUs for a very reasonable price on Amazon.

If you want to give your current AC unit a little update, consider something like the Sensibo Sky. Sensibo is a retrofitting device that easily turns your traditional system smart and is available in a range of prices.

For more at-home smart solutions, consider the smart plug, and stay connected to our internet and all it has to offer.

Get to Know Your Local Library…Virtually

[6/16/2021] If card catalogs and the Dewey Decimal System are what you remember about your local library, you’re probably long overdue for a visit. And with our fast and reliable internet, you can do it from the comfort of your home.

Whether you’re a book lover, a browser, or a research junkie, virtual library resources are available at your fingertips.

The Digital Era

These days most libraries are equipped with digital lending services. Thankfully, this framework was already in place before the word ‘coronavirus’ ever entered the public lexicon. Now, one year on, demand for e-resources is higher than it’s ever been, and libraries have graciously risen to the occasion.

Most libraries use a platform called Hoopla to support their digital lending services. Hoopla bills itself as “a web and mobile library media streaming platform for audiobooks, comics, e-books, movies, music, and TV.” Other libraries use a service called OverDrive, “the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide,” which in turn hosts the apps Libby and Sora. Whatever platform your library uses, you’re guaranteed to get a premium experience with thousands of digital resources with just the click of a button.

So why choose virtual library services? Not only does digital lending keep you safe, secure, and healthy, it’s also significantly less expensive than buying new books directly from a retailer—approximately 100% cheaper, in fact. Buying books, whether digital or paperback, can be costly. Even renting e-books can really add up, especially for the voracious reader. So if you could get the same content for free, why wouldn’t you?

How To Access

To get the most out of your virtual library experience, you’ll still need your handy library card. You’ll probably also need a username and password to log in and access the digital resources, but thankfully, creating a profile is easy and free.

Whether you have a smartphone, tablet, e-reader, laptop, desktop computer, or even a smart TV, you’re able to log in and browse through a multitude of resources. That includes everything from audiobooks and e-books (with OverDrive), movies, television, music files, digitized newspapers and other print resources, and much more (with Hoopla).

These platforms work much the same way as an actual brick-and-mortar library: there are only a certain number of digital copies available for rental at any given time. Fortunately, you can put your name on the list, and you’ll get notified when the item is ready for you! You’ll also have a certain amount of time with your item(s) before they have to go back to the virtual library.

While your library card allows you to access your designated local library, you may have options to access other libraries in your surrounding region. Check with your local branch to learn more about your options and how you can get the most out of your virtual library experience.

As always, with a good connection from DayStarr Communications entertainment is never far away!

Employee Feature: Caitlin Brewer

[6/24/2021] We are excited to introduce our Customer Experience Manager leading our new Customer Experience Department, Caitlin Brewer. As a part of the leadership team, Caitlin’s top priority is focusing on a healthy company that achieves what we set out to do: improve the lives of people in our communities through communications. “The customer experience team is here to offer the best experience to our customers,” says Caitlin.

Caitlin was born and raised in Owosso, is a graduate of Owosso High School, and then went on to attend the University of Michigan. She and her husband now live and work in the area and are happy to call this wonderful community home. Outside of work you might catch Caitlin cooking, biking, running, or serving her church.

When asked her favorite part about working at DayStarr, Caitlin said, “Besides being within walking distance of both Foster Coffee and Cone Zone, I love that we really are putting our money where our mouth is in regard to being an employee-focused company. We’re blessed to be a small, local company that has that warmth and care for people. I’m proud to work for a company that sets itself apart from other companies by a genuine desire to serve our customers and employees by working to meet their needs, whatever they may be.”

We are beyond excited to welcome Caitlin to our team!

What Is the Difference Between Bandwidth and Latency?

[6/24/2021] Most of us understand the basics of the internet – just enough to log onto Wi-Fi and maybe turn the router on and off when it starts to malfunction.

However, are you familiar with the terms “bandwidth” and “latency?” If you’re not, that’s okay–you’re not alone! Both terms are related to your internet’s ability to send and receive data, but despite their similarities, they refer to two very different concepts. So what’s the difference between them, and why should they matter to you?

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is a word that is thrown around a lot when discussing internet function. Many people assume it just means ‘internet speed,’ but that’s not exactly true. Bandwidth is essentially how much data can move from network point A to point B in a given amount of time.

Think of your bandwidth as a high-speed motorway with, say, three lanes. When an average number of cars are on the highway, everything is going smoothly, and the cars are moving at a good clip. But when it’s rush hour—that is, you’re trying to download something with more data than your bandwidth can handle—the highway gets congested. The traffic bottlenecks then slows to a crawl.

Latency

On the other hand, latency refers to the amount of time it takes for the signal to get from point A to point B and then travel back again. The lower the latency, the better your internet will be because it means there’s less time between when you take your action and when you see the result.

For instance, think about when you do a Google search. You enter your query into the taskbar, click ‘enter,’ and then you wait. If you have low latency, the search engine will return your answer within milliseconds. But if you have higher latency, you might end up waiting a few seconds – or even longer – while the internet retrieves your data. The ‘ping’ you sent is traveling, and you have to wait until it reaches the server, collects what you need, and makes its way back to you.

How Bandwidth and Latency Affect You

Both bandwidth and latency can affect the speed of your internet but in different ways. If you’re a gamer, you’re likely already familiar with ‘lag,’ which is when you perform an action, but it takes a few moments for that entry to manifest in the game. This is a latency issue, as most of the assets you need to game are already loaded onto your computer, and therefore very little bandwidth is needed. Conversely, if you’re trying to stream a show online, but it keeps buffering or appears infuriatingly grainy and broken, that’s likely an example of low bandwidth. All that content has to squeeze its way down the digital superhighway.

You may experience both bandwidth and latency issues with subpar high-speed internet, but not with DayStarr. We promise our speedy fast Fiber Internet provides the fastest “digital superhighway” in the area.

Expanding Our Network!

[6/24/2021] As shown in the graphic above we have grown over the years and continue to. Signing up new customers as we speak. Our crew has been working on the area we call SC19, which covers the area near Bryant School in Owosso. We’ve picked up our feed at Stewart St, using Michigan Ave and S Shiawassee St. as an eastern border, tracking down to W South St. for a south border. S Cedar St. acts as a western border for this first area and runs the full length north to the railroad tracks as our northern border. We plan for this full area to be complete mid-summer with customers already being connected.

Next up in our expansion is SC18, which is the area immediately around Bryant School and north to the railroad tracks. The tracks will border this area on the north and the west with the southern border being W Stewart St. and the eastern border being S Cedar St. SC18 will also cover Hammont St., and Wilkinson and Kenwood Dr. south to Henry St. We have plans for this area to be complete by this fall.

If you or someone you know live in these areas, please have them visit https://daystarr.net/service-availability/to sign up online today! For every friend you refer, you can receive a $50 credit towards your next bill!

Online Learning Resources for the Summer Break

[6/24/2021] Summer learning loss is a real thing, and it’s actually a big problem for students returning to classrooms in the fall. Believe it or not, the concept of summer learning loss has been puzzling education researchers for over 100 years – studies on the subject date back as far as 1906!

Learning is a lifelong process, even during the summer break! Although your child may be free from the constraints of the classroom, your high-speed DayStarr Fiber internet connection can keep them learning all summer long.

Free At-Home Summer Learning Resources

Free at-home summer learning resources are an excellent substitute for students in the off-season. It helps kids retain their classroom-taught subjects and skills, and aids in brain elasticity. Plus, it’s much more budget-friendly than enrolling kids in summer school.

And these resources don’t have to be just for summer. For all your at-home learning needs, here are a few awesome—and free!—online resources for all subject areas.

NSLA

The Nova Scotia Library Association (NSLA) has compiled an incredible and comprehensive list of remote learning resources, so we would be remiss not to recommend their page. Fortunately, you can access the online tools even if you don’t live in Canada. The NSLA’s resources cover a wide variety of subjects, from literacy to arts to STEM, and are available for kids of all ages. There are simply too many resources to list here, so we’ll let you take a look for yourself!

Read Think Write

Read Think Write’s Summer Trading Cards activity is a nifty tool for engaging kids with the written word. Even if your child loves to read, this educational game will help them digest and analyze the text more thoroughly while exploring their own creativity and imagination. What’s great about this is that kids also have full license to get crafty and artistic with the cards and learn more about the world around them. Theoretically, this could work for kids of all ages but would probably suit younger kids best.

Newsela 

There are plenty of magazines for kids—think Chickadee/Chirp/OWL—and informational websites like National Geographic Kids targeted to the younger demographic. But what about news sites? Finding child-friendly news outlets can be tricky because, well, so much of what goes on in our world isn’t child-friendly. That’s why Newsela is such an excellent tool. You join as a student, teacher, or parent, and the app lets you filter real-world news results based on age and grade. Your children can explore the news safely and satisfy their curiosity.

Other Ideas

Summer learning doesn’t always happen in front of a book or a computer. Depending on your child’s interests and capabilities, why not try different outdoor activities to promote learning?

Are you feeling excited about learning this summer? Us too!

New Customer Experience Department 

[6/24/2021] One of our main goals here at DayStarr is to ensure our customers have the best experience possible–both with our Fiber Internet and our customer service. From the time our customer contacts our team, to getting connected, and beyond we strive to provide excellent service. This is why we are excited to announce a new department dedicated to just that!

This department combined with our front office team will be referred to as our Customer Experience (CX) Department. This team will handle customer interaction from the point of inquiry to signup, and then following installation, will handle customer service, including first-level technical support.

Lead by our new Customer Experience Manager, this department sees that the customer is well taken care of through every step of their DayStarr journey. Whether you are a new internet subscriber, or you’ve been with us since day one, your experience as a DayStarr customer is one of our top priorities.

Employee Feature: Cameron Wilson

[3/25/2021] If you haven’t met him already, we would like to introduce you to Cameron Wilson. Cameron is part of our fiber installation team, and also does a lot of splicing. This means Cameron is responsible for connecting our customers to our speedy fast fiber.

Cameron was born and raised right here in Owosso where he was homeschooled all through high school and met his wife, Rachel (pictured). In his free time, Cameron enjoys spending time with his wife, dog, and family.

“My favorite part about working at DayStarr is the camaraderie between myself and my co-workers. I also appreciate how the team not only cares about my work as an employee at DayStarr but also values my personal life. I have seen very few companies that care about their employees and customers the way DayStarr does,” stated Cameron

We are happy to have Cameron as a valued member of the DayStarr team!

Safe Online Messaging Apps for Kids

[3/25/2021] Our children are growing up in the digital age, surrounded by technology in all its wonder—and danger. While there are plenty of good reasons to embrace technology, it represents a significant risk for children, who can easily get lured by online predators.

Apps like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Instagram were not designed with kids in mind. Parental controls aside, most kids are savvy enough to get around them if they want. Privacy and protection from harmful content are the biggest concerns. Fortunately, there are several kid-friendly messaging apps that combine safety, accountability, and parental monitoring to give your children what they want in a parent-approved package.

Here are a few ideas for child-friendly messaging and chat apps:

Messenger Kids

Messenger Kids delivers the Messenger experience to your children in a safe, parent-controlled environment. Parents create their kids’ accounts, control their contact lists, and review content through the customizable parent dashboard. Kids can also block and report users themselves, which instantly notifies the parents. There are no in-app purchases or ads to worry about, and users have all the features, stickers, GIFs, emojis, and creative tools they need to express themselves fully.

Kinzoo (6+)

Kinzoo promises a superior experience over Messenger Kids, and as a COPPA-certified app, you can be confident of their commitment to safety. Kinzoo offers a complete range of messaging functionality, including voice, text, video, images, emojis, and pretty much everything they need to get their points across. The video chat features a time-limited setting to encourage more meaningful connections, and overall it’s a great—and safe—online experience for children six and up.

Blinx (8+)

The Blinx app calls itself “kindergarten for social media,” as its mission, essentially, is to give children a controlled environment to learn the joys of online social interaction without the worry. Only your selected “in-crowd” can send messages or share photos, videos, and vemos (voice memos), and your kid can send their own instantly with a single click. Data privacy is assured because messages are only stored on your in-crowd’s devices. If the message isn’t downloaded, it’s deleted from Blinx’s servers for good.

JusTalk Kids

JusTalk Kids gives your children all the fun calling and messaging features they’ll love in a safe environment. One nice bonus is that since it works over Wi-Fi, you don’t need a phone number to get the most out of it; in other words, you can repurpose an older phone that’s not locked to a number or provider. Your kid will enjoy doodles, stickers, games, group chats and calls, and easy connections to family members who already have a JusTalk account. One caveat – it’s a paid app, either by subscription or a one-time fee, but there are plenty of cool features to justify the expense, and they do offer a three-day trial, so you can see what it’s all about.

If your children are clamoring for social connection, there are plenty of safe, controllable, and fun ways to satisfy their needs. Just make sure to look for apps that prioritize privacy and give you the level of control and oversight you feel comfortable with.

Newly Completed in Our Network

[3/25/2021] We have just completed what we call SC10. This area borders at E King St. to the north then follows N Water St. to the west, tracking down E Oliver St as a southern border until we reach N Saginaw St. and then we track south again to E Exchange St. The eastern border fills into the area that we completed around Emerson School back on 10/15/2020. Roughly using Oak St as a border until reaching E Oliver St where N Saginaw becomes the eastern border.

We are signing up new customers up in this area now! If you or someone you know lives within this area, let them know that they can now get DayStarr Fiber!!

Next, we will be working on what we call SC19. SC19 is our first Fiber Service Area on the southern side of town. Building in the general area of Bryant School will be our area of focus for 2021. The first area will pick up our feed at Stewart St, using Michigan Ave and S Shiawassee St. as an eastern border, tracking down to W South St. for a south border. S Cedar St. acts as a western border for this first area and runs the full length north to the railroad tracks as our northern border. We plan for this area to be complete this June and we’ll start taking signups for this area at the beginning of the summer.