At Home Learning Strategies

Young African american girl at home sitting on the table, using laptop, studying and looking at camera

[9/15/2020] This school year will certainly put a lot of stress on parents, who must unexpectedly navigate the virtual learning landscape on top of their jobs and other responsibilities. How do you keep students, who would prefer to think of the new school year as an extension of summer break, focused on learning?

In addition to having our fast and reliable internet to power all of your devices, here are a few other strategies to help your students excel during these at-home learning days.

Create a Routine

While the schools and teachers will certainly have a routine during the virtual school day, it is also important to develop a routine at home during the rest of the day. For instance, experts suggest adhering to a regular bedtime on school nights and structuring your morning similar to how it would be if you were attending school in person. This means waking up at a consistent time each morning that allows for breakfast and getting completely ready for the day before sitting down at the computer.

Designate a “Classroom” Space

Whether it’s a home office or the kitchen table, you should designate one specific area in the house as the virtual classroom. When choosing the space, keep in mind a few things:

Eliminate Distractions

Pets, toys and devices are constant temptations for students learning at home. That’s why it’s best to keep all of them out of your classroom space during the school day. Think of your child’s learning space at home as if it were their desk at school. Anything that would not be allowed on their desk or in their lap at school, should not be there at home either.

Be Mindful of “Screen Time” Overload

While it is good and productive screen time, the virtual school day still counts as screen time, and the simple fact is that staring at device screens for a long period of time is not good for anyone, much less children. Once the virtual school day is over, take a break from screens and spend a few hours offline. Be it playing outside, reading a book, or exercising, give your kids’ minds and eyes a rest from staring at a screen.

Affordable Computers for the Home

[8/12/2020] Buying a home computer is like that old cliché about buying a boat: You can spend as little or as much as you want and end up doing essentially the same thing.

The point being, you don’t need to spend a fortune to “stay afloat” and perform the basics of internet surfing, document editing, email, socializing, shopping, banking, and video streaming.

Computer makers know that, and the market is flooded with relatively inexpensive devices that can make it hard to choose. For the average home user, you can begin by deciding between three basic choices: tablets, laptops, and desktops.

Desktop computers require a separate monitor, of course, and aren’t convenient to move around. Because you can get the same features and functionality for the same investment, and often less, in portable devices, tablets and laptops may well be the way to go.

A Shiny New Chromebook

OK, so now, laptop or tablet? Well, tablets―like Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s Surface―begin as touch screens that can accommodate external keyboards. Laptops, on the other hand, begin with the keyboard and can come with touch screens.

The simplest machines are Chromebooks, typically small laptops, which run on Google’s Chrome OS (operating system). Most of the applications and documents are stored in the cloud, not on the device itself, so you’ll need to be connected to the internet to use most features. That lack of hard drive and limited software capabilities results in prices in the $100 to $250 range.

Chromebooks are great for the casual home user, very light and portable, but not really that suitable for people who work and play on their computers. These are not choices for serious gamers or visual designers, of course, and if that’s you, you’re already well aware of your need for speed and size.

Looking at Laptops

As for laptops―which typically run on Microsoft Windows or Apple iOS operating systems—expect to pay $250 or more for a decent model that has the processing power, memory, and storage to handle both home and work duties. They also tend to have larger built-in monitors than tablets and Chromebooks.

Docking stations, which connect a laptop to an external monitor and/or keyboard, generally run from $75 to $150 and are ideal for the user who wants both the big screen and portability, the best of both worlds.

Home Computing Homework

There are multiple sites to review your options online. Educate yourself first, for instance, by beginning with a neutral site like the Computer Buying Guide from Consumers Reports.

Then, once you decide what kind of computer you want, start shopping. Visit stores in person when you can. You might be surprised at how different a keyboard might feel or screen display might look to you in person.

Then, with that knowledge as power, keep in mind that prices change constantly and vary from site to site. Two good places to start your comparison shopping are at Amazon and Best Buy.

You don’t have to spend big money to get big functionality in a home computer. Just do your homework to find what you need, and make sure you maximize that connectivity with our fast and reliable internet!

Employee Feature: Dennis Graham

[8/17/2020] Meet Dennis Graham (right), one of DayStarr’s Customer Support Technicians. Dennis joined us back in January and has been a great addition to our team. As a Customer Support Technician, Dennis is dedicated to providing exceptional service to our customers. He is always sure to see any issues to the resolution. Dennis also enjoys tackling any other projects that allow him to gain experience while working alongside his coworkers.

“My favorite thing about working at DayStarr is the joy and/or relief that you get to see from customers when you can resolve their issue and having that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day,” explained Dennis.

In his free time, Dennis enjoys spending time outdoors, powersports, and computer gaming. However, above all else, he loves spending time with his family. Dennis is originally from Michigan but grew up on the east coast and spent a majority of his youth in Florida.

We are happy life brought Dennis back to Owosso, Michigan, and love having him as part of Team DayStarr.

Create Your Perfect Streaming Setup

[8/17/2020] You have speedy DayStarr Fiber Internet and left video buffering behind in the dust! Now which streaming set-up is right for you? The many choices can be daunting. Read on to create a custom streaming portfolio.

Netflix: The gold standard for those who love movies

Netflix, a pioneer in made-for-streaming television, has managed to hang onto its throne and is well worth the $9 to $17 you’ll pay monthly. Many streamers believe that no setup would be complete without this staple. Why?

In recent years, the streaming giant has put an increasing emphasis on original programming — and it has paid off, resulting in some of the most celebrated, original content. The service now boasts more than 100 original movies and shows along with a streaming catalog that would literally take years to view in its entirety.

No matter what genres you’re into, Netflix has you covered, from episodic shows like Ozark, Stranger Thingsand Orange is the New Black to riveting documentaries like Tiger King, Unsolved Mysteries and Lennox Hill to original movies including The Irishman and The Two Popes.

There are, of course, pluses and minuses to Netflix:

Thumbs up: Netflix supports HDR video, streams in 4K and its content can be watched offline on mobile devices. So you can finish that show you started last night on your commute to work.

Thumbs down: Netflix doesn’t offer live TV or sports.

Hulu: For the budget-conscious streamer who binges TV shows

That’s not to say that Netflix is for everyone. A budget-conscious alternative is Hulu with prices starting at $6 per month. Hulu’s niche is offering full season and day-after access to a long list of shows you won’t find elsewhere, including Family Guy, ER and Seinfeld.

And to a lesser degree than Netflix, Hulu has created award-winning content, including The Handmaid’s Taleand the documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week.

One big plus: Hulu has a live-TV option for about $45 monthly so you can watch live broadcast networks.

One big minus: You’ll have to sit through ads — unless you pay an extra $12 monthly for the commercial-free option.

Amazon Prime Video: A great streaming service you probably already have

If you’ve already paid your $119 for your Amazon Prime subscription that gives you free two-day shipping on purchases, then you’ve already got Amazon Prime Video. Similar to Netflix, the streaming service offers a huge range of TV shows, movies and original programming, including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  Be sure to check out its catalog of HBO classics such as The Wire and The Sopranos.

Disney Plus: The “must-have” streaming service if you have small kids — or are a kid at heart

Disney Plus is quickly becoming a streaming staple for households with kids and superhero afficianadoes. For $7 per month, the streaming service provides access to the complete catalogues of Disney (Frozen, Muanaand every other Disney classic you’ve ever seen), Pixar (Toy Story movies), Marvel (Black Panther, Avengers) Star Wars and National Geographic. Looking to add more content? For $13 per month, you can bundle Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN+.

Fubo: For the avid sports fan

Just want sports and news? Check out Fubo. For about $55 monthly, the service offers more than 100 channels in 4K, including a ton of niche sports channels and almost every cable and broadcast network you can think of — except for ABC and ESPN. Both of those are owned by Disney.

And you don’t have to commit right away to Fubo. Seven-day free trials are available.

Crackle and Peacock: Totally free streaming services

Short on cash? Several streaming services are totally free. You won’t get access to the latest blockbuster or the hot new TV series. And you’ll have to put up ads. But that’s what makes these options possible.

One solid option is Sony’s Crackle. While the service offers limited TV shows, its catalogue of movies makes it worthwhile. Original programming is also part of the mix along with children’s shows.

Meanwhile, Peacock Free provides access to TV shows from USA, Syfy and NBC as well as movies from Universal and Dreamworks Animation. All you need is an email address and password to start watching immediately. And if you get hooked, Peacock offers paid packages too.

Now sit back, relax, and enjoying streaming your favorite shows and movies.

Now and Up Next

[8/17/2020] We have finished up SC9 around Emerson School. If you or someone you know live in this area, service is now available! We already have many new customers from this build installed. Ask us about our special promos in this new area.

Next up is SC12 (pictured); which is a large area north and south of M21 immediately west of M52. Look for our trucks to be working to expand our services in this area!

We look forward to serving this new area!

Transform Your Backyard Into a “Connected” Oasis

[8/17/2020] People are spending more time than ever at home this summer. It’s the perfect opportunity to use smart technology to transform your deck, patio or other outdoor space into a “connected” oasis. With a strong internet connection from DayStarr Communications and a few essentials listed below, you’ll become the envy of the neighborhood.

Get the party going with the perfect outdoor speaker

Whether you’re enjoying some downtime in your backyard or hosting a few friends for a “socially distanced” celebration, music should be part of the mix. But what smart speaker will do justice to your summer playlist?

Luckily, an array of highly durable options are now on the market:

Keep that landscaping looking lush

No backyard paradise would be complete without beautiful, lush landscaping. But who wants to keep up with the watering? That’s where smart watering apps come in.

One of our favorites? For $100, the Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller will activate your sprinkler system anytime from anywhere. And its app will give you insight into water consumption from your iPhone or iPad. Want to change up your irrigation schedule? Siri will take your voice command and get it done.

Keeping your paradise cool.

Outdoor spaces quickly become unusable during the heat of the day. Too many homeowners must crawl behind patio furniture or through bushes to turn on their fans, misters and other small appliances.

There’s a much better way thanks to a growing line of new smart plugs, including the  iHome control iSP100 outdoor smart plug. Pair this $40 water-resistant plug with Alexa, Siri, Nest or other platforms to turn on your device with a voice command. You can also set it for specific times on certain days and never worry again about keeping cool.

Plugs aren’t the only thing getting in the smart game. Smart bulbs like the Eufy Lumos offer on-demand dimming and can even create color schemes.

Light up the night.

When the sun goes down, it’s time for outdoor areas to shine.

A growing line of smart lighting can highlight your foot paths, flowerbeds and water features. Some can even turn your outdoor area into a wonderland of color.

One of the most popular choices: Philips Hue lighting can be set to change brightness and yes, even color. Choose from Tropical Twilight, Arctic Aurora and others to set your backyard mood. Use Hue’s smartphone app or Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant to control the system.

Big screens for movie night

Whether it’s snuggling up to stream a romantic movie or laughing at silly YouTube videos with the kids, outdoor TVs are quickly becoming outdoor must-haves. Weather-resistant models, such as those made by Sunbrite, allow you to enjoy your show without worrying about rain, humidity or the sprinkler system destroying your TV.

Looking for something large and in charge? Check out the popular Sony XBR85X900F.

These outdoor devices, paired with fast and reliable DayStarr Fiber Internet will ensure a fun summer in your backyard paradise!

DayStarr COVID Update

[8/17/2020] COVID-19 resulted in some changes at DayStarr, including employees working from home and the implementation of Customer Assisted Installs. We also have had a few virtual pizza parties! This past month, we were excited to be able to give back to our local non-profits with a “Supporting our Community Credit.”

Starting on March 13th, the majority of our office employees transitioned to working from home. Luckily, we had the technology to support remote workers. Employees simply took their desk phone and work laptop or tablet home and just about everything could be done business as usual.

In April we developed a contact-free Customer Assisted Install which allowed new customers to assist in the installation of their new Fiber Internet. New customers performed the inside work, and the DayStarr Installer did the necessary outside work. We felt this was the best way to keep both our customers and employees safe. A detailed video explaining the inside process was made available for customers to follow. Customer Assisted Installs have become quite successful and we are still offering them to this day.

In June a few additional employees returned to the office, though our office remains closed to the public.

We are proud to have continued to provide excellent customer service to our customers through out this very unusual period of time. We are committed to serving our customers and providing the best possible service, no matter how things change in the coming months.

[3/27/2020] This month the Accession app will be renamed MaX UC.  MaX UC (formerly Accession) allows complete integration of your mobile device with your desk phone or can even be used in place of a physical desk phone.  Most of us use multiple devices, so having a way to work seamlessly between a mobile and desk phone is becoming a necessary part of business. We are delighted to be able to offer this great software as part of our communications solution.

The rebranded app icon will look like the icon on the left. If you already have the Accession app you will need to perform an update to see the new name, look and features.  This update will happen automatically, on or around March 31st for most users, however if the update doesn’t happen you may need to force the update to continue using the app.
 
If you do not already have the app we’d love to talk to you about it. There is a monthly charge to add the app to your service plan. You will need to coordinate with our office to activate this app.  
 
Once again thank you for choosing us as your partner for all of your communication needs.

[3/18/2020] As schools close their doors to slow the spread of COVID-19, many families across the country are making a rapid and unplanned switch to homeschooling—at least for the time being. 

If you’re not sure where to begin with your child’s at-home education, check out these online homeschooling resources. Pair them with high-speed internet from DayStarr to keep your kids on track during these uncertain times.

Programs for Getting Started

Homeschool.com is a comprehensive guide to homeschooling and offers online community support. You can access an array of resources and services, including free printable educational activities and worksheets.

An easy A-to-Z guide to homeschooling, The Homeschool Mom includes links to some of the best online resources. You have access to local programs, lesson plans, and other popular topics. This program also offers parent reviews of various homeschool curriculums.

Free Online Courses & Lesson Plans

You can find thousands of free online courses and lesson plans across many different subjects at Kahn Academy: Math, English, Science, Computer Programming, Art, History, Economics, and Finance, to name a few. Kahn has partnered with NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, the California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to provide specialized content.

TED-Ed is an extensive online video library that features cool animation paired with great educational content. Popular video topics include: “Does Time Exist?”, “History Through the Eyes of a Chicken”, “Can You Solve the Leonardo Da Vinci Riddle?” and “A Day in the Life of an Egyptian Doctor.”

Want to balance education and religious life? Try All-in-One Homeschool. This free Christian homeschool curriculum includes Reading, Math, Language Arts, Science, Bible, Computer, Foreign Languages, History, Art, Music, and PE. You can customize your child’s daily lessons based on their skill level and track their progress for each course.

Additional Free Online Resources by Subject

Math: Math Games, Corbett Math, Dreambox (free trial available), Math is Fun

Science: Exploratorium, NASA for Students, Steve Spangler Science, How to Smile

Reading and Language Arts: Project Gutenberg, Starfall, Read Write Think, Read Works

Whether you’re looking for a structured homeschooling curriculum or simply want some fun, interactive learning resources to keep your kids occupied throughout the coronavirus crisis, any of these digital resources can help. 

Call DayStarr today at 989-720-6000 to ensure you have the fast and reliable internet you need to power all of the smart, at-home education resources at your fingertips.

[3/18/2020] Has COVID-19 forced your office to go remote? Video conferencing is a great tool for staying connected, but planning your first online meeting can be pretty overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

In addition to fast, reliable internet from DayStarr, here are a few tips to help you plan successful web conferences.

Pick the Right Program

For smaller, in-house team meetings, you can test the video conferencing waters for free with platforms like join.meCyberLink U, and Skype’s group video chat. When big pitches or high-stakes meetings are on the line, it may be worth investing in paid software instead. Topping the list of PC Magazine’s Best Video Conferencing Software are ClickMeetingZoom, and Webex. (Pro Tip: Even the paid software platforms often have free plans with limited capabilities, so compare the options to find the best one for your needs and budget.)

Get Good Video Conferencing Equipment

Your laptop’s built-in webcam might work, but you should consider using a camera with a resolution of 1080p and speed from 30 to 60 frames per second. Business Insider’s top choice is the Logitech C920. It’s an Amazon bestseller that you can purchase for $79.99. If you’re interested in ultra HD, Business Insider also recommends the Logitech Brio 4K. Even though it’s a bit pricey—offered at $199.00—you’ll see why people love Brio’s stunning 60-frames-per-second image quality.

Because audio is also important and you certainly don’t want any awkward “Can you hear me now?” moments, you’ll probably want to invest in a noise-canceling headset that delivers clear sound. Windows Central recommends the Plantronics Voyager, a wireless headset that’s compatible across PCs and mobile devices.

Be Mindful of Your Filming Area & Dress for Success

Pay attention to lights, camera, and action. Unless you wish to appear as a spooky silhouette, follow these final tips:

  1. Position yourself in front of a light source with no illumination at your back.
  2. Natural light is best, but a lamp will do.
  3. Clear clutter from the background and look at the camera lens to convey eye contact. 
  4. Keep body movements to a minimum. 

And what about your wardrobe? Well, plaid may be great for weekends, but make sure to stick to solid colors while you’re in front of the camera.

Check Your Internet Package

Of course, all of your carefully-made web conferencing plans will be for nothing if your internet can’t power the technologies you need to make them happen.

Call DayStarr today at 989-720-6000 to ensure your connection offers the strength and bandwidth you need to work and video conference from home without interruption.