Cruzio Proposes Mid-County Fiber Internet Construction

Everyone in our community should have equal access to high-speed, affordable internet. This has been Cruzio’s goal throughout our history, and it’s why we’ve been constructing our own fiber network, Santa Cruz Fiber.

 

Following our success building in downtown Santa Cruz, there is potential for a new project in mid-County. We’re calling it Equal Access Santa Cruz. Financing for the project would come from a state grant,  for which Cruzio recently applied.

 

This project fits the grant’s purpose to a T; improving internet access in areas which aren’t well served. We have support from Congressman Jimmy Panetta; State Assembly Member Mark Stone; County Supervisors Zach Friend and John Leopold (in whose districts the project lies); the County Office of Education; and many others.

 

Here’s a description of the project:

 

Equal Access Santa Cruz

map of EASC project

Working people in Santa Cruz are sometimes situated in islands where housing is more affordable but internet is not.

Our county in general is considered prosperous, but there is a lack of internet access in working class neighborhoods that’s known to many of us and indicated on recent availability maps from the CPUC. The map is a good start because it means that CASF funds are available from the State of California to help finance improvements to internet connectivity in these areas. Specifically, we are looking at several mobile home parks in the Aptos/Capitola area.

Cruzio proposes to apply for the CASF grants to serve their residents with low-cost, state-of-the-art speeds of fiber internet: gigabit-per-second internet for about $50 per month, lower for income-qualified households. That rivals the best internet offered in the USA.

The project would make use of the Sunesys fiber installed with state funds in 2014. It involves expanding Cruzio’s existing fiberoptic network into these mobile home parks with underground construction. The areas we’re proposing to connect are marked in red in the map above.

About Santa Cruz Fiber

Cruzio’s Santa Cruz Fiber networks are robust and long-lasting — fiber optic cables can be used to provide not only what’s considered high speed internet today but can be used with more advanced technologies to provide hundreds or even thousands of times as much bandwidth in the future.

Cruzio has already built a similar mobile home park network in downtown Santa Cruz. It’s a great success: El Rio is the best-connected mobile home park in the country, and our story has attracted nationwide attention. We think proceeding further with the same type of project into different parts of the county will kickstart further expansions into other unserved neighborhoods.

A map of other “underserved” areas is below. These maps are notoriously inaccurate, and one of our challenges is to find out what areas of the county are actually in most need of internet — and then to do our best to extend great internet to those areas. Check the map: is your neighborhood represented accurately?

Now that we are experienced fiber network builders, the only thing slowing us down is funding. So the possibility of a grant would go a long way to getting reliable, low cost gigabit internet to all of Santa Cruz County, which is always our goal.

What really helped us get our previous projects going — whether all-fiber or fiber-backed — was enthusiasm from neighbors. We asked for “fiber champions” to come in and talk to us about their neighborhoods and they definitely contributed to our decisions. We know there are other parts of our city and county that want us to build — to provide competition, which lowers prices and improves service. We’re eager to get it done.

Your voices will help if we get to the next stage of the grant application. If you need better internet, please let us — and your elected officials — know where you are!

underserved areas in Santa Cruz

“Underserved” areas of Santa Cruz County are in orange

Spotting Spam: Harder Than it Looks!

Recently, a few phishing*, or scam email, schemes got through Cruzio’s spam filters and landed in customer email boxes.

We catch more than 90% of spam, but sometimes the scammers who run these schemes are clever and manage to fool our filters. It’s a constant arms race as barriers improve but spammers figure out how to bypass them.

We have some tips to help you recognize phishing when you see it, so you can have more confidence in tossing phonies away. We’ll use the recent email imitating Cruzio as an example. It was well crafted, but there were some “tells” we’d like to point out.

(By the way, if you think you know all the tricks and are good at spotting spammy schemes, go ahead and skip these tips and try this Google quiz. How’d you do?)

Check the “From” Address

phishing email showing return address

Here’s a great clue to a phishing email. Click the “From” email address to see the full address written out. Usually it won’t be what you expect. In this case, the return address is someone at “wildblue.net,” not Cruzio.

 

Roll Your Mouse Over the Links

phishing email showing phony link

The best indication of all is to roll your mouse over the links in the email. This is where the sender wants you to go to enter your password or other information. Don’t click on the link. Just put your mouse over the link and wait until the destination is revealed. (If you do click, just back out. Unless you enter information, clicking a link is pretty harmless.)

You’d expect this link to point to an address at cruzio.com. But it’s not. It’s sending you to “jamaioaa.com”. That’s a pretty sure sign that this is fake.

Notice that the text appearing in the email looks like the right website address. That’s a spoof. You have to mouse over the link to see where it will really send you.

Sometimes the scammer will put the word “cruzio” into their link to try to fool you. For example they might name the link http://jamaioaa.com/cruzio/verify. But other parts of the address are just words. It’s the “.com” part which shows the server’s identity.

Read Carefully: Does It Look or Sound Odd?

example of phishing email

The example above is one of the best fakes we’ve ever seen. Still, there are several obvious problems, if you look closely:

  1. The Cruzio logo is squished. We don’t display our logo with an oval cat, it’s a circle. In fact, the whole header, which has been copied off the internet, is compressed and looks wrong side by side with our real logo.
  2. We don’t start emails with “Attention customer:”. If you’ve ever received email from us — and as a customer you certainly have — you know we are friendlier than that. The whole letter has a tone unlike our other communications.
  3. This sentence is so poorly written, it doesn’t seem written by an English speaker.  “Please verify your account with your details click link below” — what? We sometimes make typos or phrase something a bit awkwardly, but this sentence is grammatically wrong in several ways.
  4. Often phishing email will contain easily-spotted typographical errors. In this case there’s an apostrophe in front of “Thank You”. Plus, the email is signed “Cruzio Customer Service” rather than “The folks at Cruzio.” Missing that friendliness again.

Overall, if you take the time to read carefully, this email doesn’t look or sound like us.

If you ever have doubts about an email sent to you by Cruzio or any other company, contact the company directly and ask what’s up.  And if you fear you’ve fallen for a scheme, change the password you think you’ve compromised and contact the company and/or Cruzio. We’re always glad to help you.

Now that you’re familiar with scammers’ “tells,” if you didn’t do it before, take that Google quiz to test your knowledge. How’d you do now?

*”Phishing” is the term email that tries to get users to click on fake links and enter their passwords and other personal information into fake websites. The scammers imitate the look and feel of real companies, sometimes very convincingly. Even professionals can fall for these schemes — a campaign aide who fell for a phishing scheme is what gave Russian operatives access to Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails.

The Internet is Unfair. Let’s Fix It

Areas with poor interent service are orange – is the map accurate?

We’re proud that the first neighborhood Cruzio connected to our Santa Cruz Fiber network was the El Rio Mobile Home Park on North Pacific Avenue. Building devastatingly fast internet to areas that tend to get overlooked — that’s part of Cruzio’s mission.

So our next step is to get financing for replicating that success, building to other places around the county that have suffered from corporate neglect.

Although parts of our county have excellent, competitive internet right now — and we’re trying to keep it competitive! — there are other areas where expensive satellite service and aging telephone lines are the only, increasingly inadequate, options. By the way, income levels are part of the disparity, but not all of it. Some of the most expensive properties in the county, estates up in the mountains, get low-quality internet.

Cruzio has been pushing our local representatives to take action to get fair access to everyone.

The California Public Utilities Commission maintains a map defining what areas have poor service — making them eligible for grants. We’re looking at the map closely.

We know our community wants two things, internet-wise:
•to get fast, reliable internet at low prices to their own homes and businesses, and
•to make sure everyone else gets it too — regardless of low income or difficult terrain.

Rest assured that Cruzio is working on both fronts as fast as we can.

We’re working on a big project, more on that in the next newsletter!

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Don’t Swim in the Toilet Bowl

There are a lot of places to swim in Santa Cruz. There are some places where you just really, really should not swim. The Toilet Bowl is one of them.

Next to world-class surf break Steamer Lane, this is a spot where people from all over the world are tempted to jump into a wide round area carved out of the soft rock. But the surf gets trapped in there, and the rocks are slippery. Watch the video and be warned.

This article was featured in our newsletter. To read more content from our newsletter, visit our archive page and sign up for our email list.

What’s Happening With Fiber

1,200 downtown Santa Cruz homes and businesses can now connect to blazingly speedy internet — fiber cables which will scale to their needs for decades to come. Cruzio just installed it a few months ago. And now, that network is underused. Local columnist Nuz called it a Fiber Fumble!

We had some delays — not unusual in construction, right? — but the future is here.

Now it’s time to see what folks do with this bountiful internet offering.

(One idea: sign up now.)

With such a surplus of broadband, how quickly will people take advantage? Nuz notes that we’re behind in signups despite better service, higher speeds, and, well, the local-ness of it all. (The article didn’t mention lower price, but that’s true too: $49.95/mo for gigabit internet).

It’s true that Cruzio took on high upfront costs to build the network and we need a 30 – 50 percent “take rate” to make it all pencil out — that is, over 30 percent of locations that can connect to Cruzio’s Santa Cruz Fiber need to sign up. We’re still behind that total. Maybe it’s the rain?

Hey, downtown folks, your neighbors all around the county are asking when they’re gonna get their fiber. It’s a killer deal on a great service, so please sign up so we can afford to build more!

We know you’ll like it.

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We’ve Got Your Back – How Cruzio Handles Phishing Schemes

privacy logo

Like all ISPs, once in a while, our email users get hit with a phishing scheme. Generally, they’re poorly done and obviously fake, at first glance. This weekend we got hit by a particularly nasty one.

As you can see, it looks pretty sophisticated: not too many obvious typos or grammatical errors. And they stole our logo and header!

This email started hitting our mail users at around 9:30am last Sunday. As it happens, one of the first people to notice was our Chief Technical Officer, Chris Neklason, who right away saw it was a potential security threat to our users and alerted our support team. We immediately contacted the company hosting the rogue site, as well as our email filter provider. Within a couple of hours, the rogue site was taken down and the email had been blocked and deleted from our users’ inboxes. But not before about 100 of our eagle-eyed and responsible customers had notified us of the email and, sadly, a few folks had clicked through.

A couple of things to take away from this:

1. Cruzio has your back
We identify these threats quickly and we have tools to quickly neutralize them. If you do get fooled — and it happens to everyone — change your password and contact us immediately.

2. There are always tell-tale signs
Even though it was a relatively good phishing attempt, there are a few obvious clues in this that reveal it to be spam pretty quickly. First, the actual sender was not an @cruzio mailbox, it was a totally different domain. Secondly, none of the clickable links in the email pointed to the Cruzio site. Pro tip: you can always see where a link is pointing before you click it by hovering your mouse cursor over it — depending what mail tool or browser you’re using, the destination URL will show as a pop-up or in the lower part of the window you’re in. If you do happen to click on the link, most web browsers catch scams fast and almost immediately flash a warning on the page.

As a reminder:
* Don’t enter personal information into any site you’ve reached via email unless you’re 100% sure it’s legitimate. If you have even the slightest doubt, contact the company
* The more information an email asks for, the more suspicious you should be. For example, no one should ever want your Social Security number from an email message
* The more urgent the message, the more suspicious you should be
* There are so many scams, we can’t report every one. But if you see one you feel is serious, or if it’s for a small company, report it to the FBI https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

Bottom line: if you ever have any doubts about an email that purports to be from Cruzio, play it safe and contact us at cruzio.com/contact or call us at 459-6301 x2. Cruzio is keeping an eye out 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure your security.

Be safe out there!

Turning 30

This year, Cruzio turns 30. So we’ll spend some time throughout 2019 remembering what we built in the past and how it’s helped us build toward a better internet future.

Were you a part of the 1980’s tech scene in Santa Cruz? We’d love to talk to you. Just contact us and we’ll get back to you. If you talked to us for our 25th anniversary 5 years ago (has it been that long?), we’ll be trying to get in touch again. We don’t want to lose track of Santa Cruz’s place in the history of the internet.

We’ll be sure to have a party towards the end of the year. Watch this space, it’ll be a doozy!

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One Idea: Just Don’t Answer Your Email

Last month The Atlantic Magazine proposed an unusual solution to email overload. They call it “Inbox Infinity.”

This one’s the complete opposite of another recently popular idea, “Inbox Zero,” where you always empty your mailbox, every day. By contrast, Inbox Infinity means never answer your email at all.

“In 2019, I suggest you let it all go,” opines author Taylor Lorenz.

We’ll let you decide which result to aim for, but It seems like a good thing that people are working on this issue.

This article was featured in our newsletter. To read more content from our newsletter, visit our archive page and sign up for our email list.

Santa Cruz in the Movies

Us

Santa Cruz Beach in "Us"

Us

Santa Cruz can be horrifying. In the movies, that is.

We know this from Hitchcock’s The Birds (based on a real event — sooty shearwaters getting disoriented over Santa Cruz!) and from (this is a great clip) Lost Boys and, much more recently, from Jordan Peele’s new thriller, Uswhich looks terrifying.

Us even recruited local extras on Facebook. Oops, missed that call!

Bumblebee

transformers Bumblebee movie still

Bumblebee

And, do you simply dismiss Transformer movies out of hand, because you saw a couple of them and they were overly cheesed up?

Then you would have missed the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s starring role in the latest Transformers flick, Bumblebee.

Our newsletter squad doesn’t always get to the latest films but we’re assured by the much more in-the-know folks in Marketing and Business Development that Bumblebee is actually a much better movie than you’d expect. Must be Santa Cruz and the Bay Area that made the difference.

Bird Box

still from "Bird Box"

Bird Box

And there’s a third popular movie recently filmed in Santa Cruz — this one on Netflix — Bird Box. Another entry in super-scary cinema, this was partly filmed in Henry Cowell Park where the fog and the huge redwoods provided lots of moody atmosphere.

Maybe it’s our fog.

Want to see a big list of movies filmed locally? Someone put together a list on LocalWiki:

  • Vertigo (1958) … 
  • The Gnome-Mobile (1967) … 
  • The Endless Summer (1966) … 
  • My Blood Runs Cold (1965) …
  • Tilt (1979) … 
  • Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) … 
  • Harold and Maude (1971) … 
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
  • A Romance of the Redwoods (1917)
  • The Gnome-Mobile (1965)
  • Harold and Maude (1971)
  • Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
  • Tilt (1978)
  • Heartbeeps (1981)
  • Shadow Riders (1982)
  • The Ugly Duckling (1982)
  • The Sting II (1983)
  • Sudden Impact (1983)
  • Creator (1985)
  • Hard Traveling (1985)
  • Alone in the T-Shirt Zone (1986)
  • Back to the Beach (1987)
  • The Lost Boys (1987)
  • Survival Game (1987)
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
  • Split (1989)
  • Voyage of the Heart (1991)
  • Strawberry Road (1990)
  • Out on a Limb (1992)
  • Steel Heel (1993)
  • Dangerous Minds (1995)
  • $40,000 (1996)
  • Glory Daze (1996)
  • Somebody is Waiting (1996)
  • The Aqua Girls (1998)
  • Frog and Wombat (1998)
  • Homegrown (1998)
  • Cirque de Soleil: Journey of Man (2000)
  • The Truth About Beef Jerky (2002)
  • Kinsey (2004)
  • Grave’s End (2004)
  • The Tripper (2006)
  • 10 Inch Hero (2007)
  • I Think We’re Alone Now (2008)
  • Chasing Mavericks (2011)
  • Tao of Surfing (2013)
  • House on Rodeo Gulch (2016)

From LSD to Sock Monkeys: A Blast from Cruzio’s Past

Photo of Mark Hanford

Mark Hanford

Ad 1: LSD/DSL

Before there were hipsters in Santa Cruz, there were (and are) hippies. When we introduced a brand new technology in 1999 — replacing good ol’ dialup with the new service called DSL — we had to find a way to explain it.

Here’s a script for an early DSL ad, written by the many-talented Mark Hanford, one of a handful of Cruzio employees at that time, who wrote and performed a lot of our ads in that era. He’s now our Chief Systems Engineer, but he was a pretty hilarious copywriter. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have audio, just the script:

Cruzio ‘LSD/DSL’ 60-second spot for KPIG.

(SP = Support Person)
(SD = Stoner Dude)

(SFX of phone ringing, and someone picking up)

SP: Hello, Cruzio tech support.

SD: Yeah.. ummm… I heard that you were umm… selling drugs?

SP: What?!?

SD: Yeah, I heard you had acid!

SP: Uhh.. no…

SD: No really, a friend told me about the LSD you’re offering.

SP: LS… Oh, you mean DSL! It’s always on Internet access at several times the speed of 56k.

SD: Uh… did you say speed?!? I could use some of that!

SP: No, I’m not talking about drugs, I’m talking about a high speed connection!

SD: Yeah, that’s what I need… a connection!

SP: Let me explain… Cruzio is Santa Cruz county’s oldest and largest local Internet Service provider. We offer web hosting, e-commerce, dial-up access, and new always-on, high-speed DSL connections at competitive rates. We also have some of the friendliest (and most patient) tech support and sales people around.

SD: Look, I don’t think you get what I need. Umm… Let me talk to Dave…

Tagline: Cruzio is offering a two hundred dollar cash rebate to anyone who signs up for a year of DSL service, now through May 7th. Some restrictions apply. Please visit www.cruzio.com or call 459-6301 for details.

 

Ad 2: Sock Monkeys

And here’s another Mark Hanford ad, circa 2000,  recorded with his partner, Barbara Diamond for our web design service and classes. Have a listen!

 

Ad 3: Three Little Pigs

Cruzio co-founder Peggy Dolgenos wrote ads, too. Here’s a script from a KPIG ad in 2002. Peggy always wanted to get the radio stations to use lots of sound effects in the ads:

> Sound of fiddle music playing a country tune.

> Sound of pigs squealing happily.

> Pig 2: It sure is snug here in your house of bricks, brother pig!

> Pig 3: (very stupid voice) Yeah, thanks for sharing this nice house after my straw house got blown away.

> Pig 1: (slowly and grandly) I take care of you, brother pigs.

> Pig 2: Now that the house is done, what else do we need?

> Pig 3: Big screen color TV!

> Pig 2: Waffle iron!

> (squealing)

> Pig 1: No! What we need is a good Internet connection.

> Pig 2: Brother Pig, you are always so smart.

> Pig 3: I know where to get an Internet connection made of straw!

> Pig 2: We can get one made of twigs!

> Pig 1: No straw, no twigs. For a very reasonable price we can get a connection with an excellent local company called Cruzio. It’s easy to use and very reliable. Cruzio has been around since 1989. They provide excellent service.

> Pig 3: (questioning) Cruzio????

> Pig 2: (enthusiastic) Cruzio!

> Pig 1: I’m ordering Cruzio service today.

> Pig 3: I stuck a bean up my nose, Brother Pig can you help me get it out?

> Pig 1: sighs.

> Fiddle music and pigs squealing again.