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The Results Of Net Neutrality Day

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On July 12, many well-known tech companies, websites, and activist groups participated in the “Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality”…or just “Net Neutrality Day” for short. This day of protest sought to raise the alarm about net neutrality which is in danger thanks to a bill President Trump signed overturning rules put in place by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Many high-profile tech and media companies including Amazon, Reddit, Patreon, Vimeo, Kickstarter, Mozilla, and Etsy have voiced their support and/or participated in the protest.

Let’s back up a minute though. What is net neutrality and why should you care? Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) should allow access to all web content regardless of where it comes from without favoring, blocking, or throttling a application or website. For example, let’s say you pay for a Netflix subscription. Because Netflix streaming requires a lot of bandwidth, your ISP (say Comcast) could charge Netflix for using bandwidth on its network. If Netflix doesn’t pay Comcast, then Comcast may reduce the bandwidth for their customers resulting in slower speeds and poor streaming for Netflix customers. Meanwhile, Comcast could prioritize its own streaming services. Net neutrality would prevent Comcast from prioritizing its own video streaming service and charging Netflix for the same kind of data. Video streams from both Comcast and Netflix would be equal or “neutral” instead of one preferred over the other.

Net neutrality proponents argue that data travelling over the internet should be equal and ISPs cannot prefer one website to another because it discourages competition. Larger companies such as Netflix and Amazon may be able to pay fees to ISPs for priority streaming but a smaller streaming company may not have the resources and so may not be able to compete. Further complicating the issue is that broadband competition is largely absent in many parts of the country. Many neighborhoods and apartment complexes only have access to one internet provider. Therefore, if Comcast throttled or blocked access to Netflix, a customer is unable to switch to another ISP because of the lack of choice (that’s another conversation).

Net neutrality opponents (mainly ISPs and conservatives) argue net neutrality regulations would stifle broadband innovation and make it harder for ISPs to recoup their network infrastructure investments. They argue that because it takes a lot of money to build out networks and keep internet traffic relatively fast, charging companies like Netflix for higher bandwidth will help pay for costs associated with having to accommodate higher fidelity content like 4K streaming and the addition of more internet users in general. Opponents also argue that net neutrality regulations would be harmful for small businesses or startups trying to enter the broadband space. ISPs reject the idea of becoming “dumb pipes” or having a network with little to no control or management of how users use the network. It’s analogous to how city infrastructure like water pipes are used. In fact, back in 2015, the Federal Communications Comission (FCC) ruled in favor of net neutrality and reclassified broadband as a Title II telecommunications service and thus placing new regulations from the Communications Act of 1934 and Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Alright, that was a lot of background, but let’s get back to Net Neutrality Day. Google published a blog post in defense of net neutrality but interestingly did not change the Google homepage or display any banner or Google Doodle about it. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg post on his personal page, “Right now, the FCC has rules in place to make sure the internet continues to be an open platform for everyone,” he writes. “At Facebook, we strongly support those rules. We’re also open to working with members of Congress and anyone else on laws to protect net neutrality.”

Popular message board/meme site Reddit placed a pop up that loads slowly. The point was to mimic what would happen if ISPs were allowed to throttle or slow down access to Reddit. Like Google, Twitter also published a blog post defending net neutrality. Netflix (which has had up and down support for net neutrality) posted a banner on its homepage saying “Protect Internet Freedom. Defend Net Neutrality.”

net neutrality day

Some of the more humorous protests came from Mozilla, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and The Internet Archive. Mozilla (maker of the Firefox browser) released a nine hour YouTube video where the narrators “soothingly” reading pro net neutrality comments. The EFF and Internet Archive both had fake pop up messages that simulated what would happen without net neutrality.

What about the ISPs? Verizon and Comcast both released statements in response. Both companies support an “open internet” but reiterated their opposition to Title II with Comcast stating, “You can have strong and enforceable Open Internet protections without relying on rigid, innovation-killing utility regulation that was developed in the 1930s (Title II). While some seem to want to create hysteria that the Internet as we know it will disappear if their preferred regulatory scheme isn’t in place, that’s just not reality.” AT&T actually said that it was participating in the day of protest despite them being against net neutrality.

AT&T’s SVP of External and Legislative Affairs Bob Quinn wrote, “This may seem like an anomaly to many people who might question why AT&T is joining with those who have differing viewpoints on how to ensure an open and free internet. But that’s exactly the point – we all agree that an open internet is critical for ensuring freedom of expression and a free flow of ideas and commerce in the United States and around the world.”

Whew. That was a lot. So here we are. Both sides of the net neutrality argument have valid arguments and the debate will probably never be settled soon. Based on the statements and actions by FCC Chair Ajit Pai and the Trump Administration, it seems that many net neutrality protections will be rolled back. However, that won’t stop the legions of net neutrality advocates from making their voices heard. More than 2 million comments have been sent to the FCC with millions more emails and phone calls going to members of Congress. Whatever side of the debate you claim, we must continue to respectfully hear arguments and ideas we disagree with in order to come to a compromise that will benefit us all. That will truly make the Internet better.

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Business

Home Office Safety Tips

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Here’s some home office safety tips. In today’s digital world more and more companies are allowing their employees to work from home. The employees can increase their productivity when they do not need to commute daily. The only requirement is an internet connection. However, there come some security issues with this freedom and flexibility. You need to create a safe home office environment to reap the benefits of telecommuting.

Security of sensitive data (Home Office Safety)

Cyber security is a big concern for the business houses as more and more people are electing the ‘work from home’ option for freedom and flexibility. It is vital to work from a secured Wi-Fi connection to keep all the sensitive data away from the prying eyes. The companies provide VPN access to its employees, but if someone hacks the home Wi-fi connection or public hotspot, your data could be compromised. Make sure you secure your sensitive data to have proper home office safety.

So, you need to be extra cautious about other devices connected to your wi-fi. You should also invest in a robust anti-virus software. Do not let your family members use your work laptop. You should always follow the company policy of accessing the company network remotely. Your computer should have up-to-date operating systems, antivirus software and regular scanning programs. You should take extra care about storing office files and backup. The storing location should be approved and accessible by your company.

Workstation safety

Many organizations ask their employees to read and sign a telework agreement. These agreements clearly mention the home safely checklist. People who want to telecommute must have a separate and secure workstation. The work area should be peaceful and quiet. Your desk height and chair should be proper. You cannot work for longer periods if your table and chair are not comfortable. Your back should be adequately supported. Floors should be dry and free of hazards. You must also keep a first aid kit at your workplace. To avoid fire hazards, there should be more than one exit. You should keep a fire extinguisher too. The workspace should be free of clutter and trash. You should keep your work devices far from flammable items. Your office furniture and equipment should be ergonomically correct. Your table should have enough space for computer, printer, document holder, and phone.

Electrical safety

In recent years, computer-related accidents and falls have increased quite a bit. Experts suggest placing the computer or any other work devices away from the edges of desks. You need to organize and secure the open wires to avoid tripping over them. You should install safety covers on unused electrical outlets. You should keep your computer equipment connected to a surge protector. You should not keep any damaged or exposed wiring. Avoid use of extension cords. Keep the electrical plugs and panels in good condition.

The employer often overlooks the health and safety issues of a telecommuter. The teleworkers should have a proper understanding of the hazards of working alone at home. There should be a safety surveillance program to check the ‘work-at-home’ arrangement. Monitoring the safety of every telecommuter is difficult for the company, but they can provide proper safety guidelines to every teleworker. The employees can do self-inspections and send in regular reports to the company HR department.

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Customer Satisfaction Should Be Your Number One Priority

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No matter what your product or service is, without customers you don’t have a business. This is because customers are the backbone of any business. In fact, customers are so important many businesses have adopted a “customer is always right” policy. Many companies strive to keep their clients happy. However, there are businesses that do not know why customers are important. Here are reasons why your customers should be your number one priority.

No Business

Let’s say that your product is so cool it solves many problems. This is very good but without customers to patronize it, you have no business. Customers are important because without them, your company does not need to exist. Businesses exist to provide products and services to customers. In the entrepreneur world, businesses exist to provide products and service that customers consume. Prioritizing customers will let you learn what they want so that the cycle is unbroken.

Helps You Improve

Customers are important not only because they consume your goods and services, but also because they help you improve. By listening to their feedback, you will learn what can make your product/service better. Many companies spend millions of dollars on R&D but there is no better source than the people who patronize your product. By listening to your customer’s feedback regularly, you can improve and tweak your product so that it gets better each time.

More Customers

Loyal customers are the best brand ambassadors for your products. If they really like your product, they will tell their friends about it. This is good news for businesses because it is free advertising and because it will bring in more customers. Having loyal customers rave about your product to other people is a good way to measure success. By listening to what they want, you are establishing a relationship with your customers. Prioritizing their feedback will gain their trust and they in turn will recommend you to other people.

Quality Feedback

Customers are also the best source of quality feedback. Remember that they are the ones who are using your products on a regular basis. Prioritizing customers means that you are engaging them. You will have good sources for feedback which allows you to analyze quality information. Following this strategy will let your company analyze and respond better to make your products or services improve which could help boost sales.

Make You Rich

When consumers are happy they consume more of your products which can make you rich. How? Customers like to buy from a brand they trust. They are happy to use a product that is of good quality and will recommend your product so that their friends are happy thereby expanding your customer base. The more people that buy from you, the more potential for profit. Most of the time, more profit means more money inside your pocket.

Ensuring that customers are happy and are prioritized is a good marketing plan. Making them number one is a good way to make your business successful. Prioritizing them could start a chain reaction that can propel your business forward.

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Business Insurance And Why You Need It

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Business insurance is a requirement that you should not ignore even if you are in a low-risk workplace. For certain business sectors such as healthcare industries, mechanical workshops or amusement parks, getting a liability insurance is essential. Finding the best insurance can be a challenging and complicated process, but it is better to get an insurance coverage. Disasters happen, and you need an authorized protection to save you from severe economic loss.

Why is business insurance necessary?

If you start a business and employ some people, you need to have business insurance. It is a legal requirement. The insurance coverage varies from one country to another. Almost all countries have made it compulsory for the companies to get a liability insurance. You may think that your business is small and has less risk. You can also think that you can afford the losses your companies might face. The business experts always advise getting a proper insurance for every kind of business. There can be natural disasters like floods or earthquakes. Fire accidents and thefts are not the only risks. Your business can incur massive losses due to disruption of work. There can be cash crunch, skilled labor crisis, road work, police barricades and criminal acts too. You should consider all the aspects before buying an insurance coverage for your company.

General Liability Insurance

Almost all trades have some liabilities. So, a general liability insurance is essential. Before you hire some employees for your business, get a liability insurance first. Your company becomes the ‘employer.’ It becomes a legal need if you wish to make your business a limited company. If any of your staff falls ill or faces any fatal accident during working hours, your company becomes liable. You need to discuss with your insurance broker about the amount of liability insurance cover your business needs. If there is any death because of their work in your company, you need to arrange appropriate compensation. So, you should avoid any expense trimming while buying insurance for the company.

Professional Liability Insurance

It is also known as errors & omissions (E&O) insurance. This is not a one-size-fits-all insurance. Each industry has different concerns while running the business. So, you need customized coverage for your business. The professional liability insurance protects the business from the claims that the company was negligent in performing their services accurately. When you buy the E&O insurance, make sure you appoint an attorney for your company who can defend the lawsuits filed against the company.

Property Insurance

Property Insurance is a must when you run a business. Be it your own building or leased property, you need coverage. This insurance covers your business inventory, equipment, signage, and furniture from any losses due to fire, storm or burglary. Home based businesses still do not get much coverage from property insurance. You need to ask your insurer for extra coverage.

Product insurance

Apart from the above-mentioned insurance policies, you should get an additional product insurance to cover your manufacturing business. It covers any loss due to manufacturing, distributing and retailing hitches.

Buying insurance for your business is complex. You need a trustworthy insurer. Every business needs a unique package based on the requirements of the company. You should always review your insurance policies and keep them in active status.

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