Category Archives: Cruzio Blog

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 Bowel

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.

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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.

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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.

When the Weather’s Bad…

In sunny weather, Cruzio’s all-pro field team installs fast new connections to our independent network. We also spend a lot of time and investment upgrading the parts of the network nobody sees, making it more robust and redundant.

We do a lot of preparation when the weather’s good because sometimes the weather is challenging, as it has been the last few weeks.

When it’s rainy, dark and cold — even snowy in some spots! — Cruzio is out there making sure all our equipment is working properly. That can mean sudden calls, late nights, and cold, wet conditions.

We take our responsibility as a lifeline service very seriously. And we’re proud to have a crew committed to making things work, even when the going is tough. Special thanks to Ali, Dan, Jay, Frost, and the rest of the team. That’s a 24/7, all-weather group.

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.

Are You on the Menu in 2019?

To Serve Man

Richard Kiel played the alien in the above episode of Twilight Zone and Jaws in James Bond films

We all know what happened in 2015-2016.

Our personal information — our “profiles” — were bought and sold, not just for advertising, but for political gain. Like the episode in The Twilight Zone pictured above, something we think of as a service for our benefit (social media) turned out to have ulterior motives behind it (data collection and sale).

What kind of manipulation will the internet bring in 2019, with elections coming? How will consumers be consumed?

To be sure, there’s a big baby of good in the bathwater of the internet. We may decide some exchanges are worth the cost. Free service for exposure to ads is an example. We’ve been making that trade for decades. More concerning is the new and hidden level of advertiser access, which isn’t just one way (sending ads to our device) but two-way (sending ads and collecting data).  Because that’s not a trade we’re making consciously,  it doesn’t feel right.

The extent of quiet intrusion has been surprising, and mentioned in various news reports. Now that we know, what do we do?

Humans are great at fooling ourselves, so we have to watch out for “I’m not affected by propaganda, not me!” thinking. We are affected by propaganda. We are gullible, and need to guard against appeals to our own prejudices.

More we all can do toward a more accurate internet:

  • Use your dollars. If the market shows that people value privacy, companies will follow suit.
  • Don’t click on links to websites you’ve never heard of. CNN, NPR, or the Wall Street Journal are going to take responsibility for their reporting. Thousands of other “news” websites exist just to draw clicks. Don’t get lured in.
  • Avoid forwarding lurid, extreme news. Whatever side of the political spectrum you’re on, it’s giddy to imagine that the other side is committing crimes so foul they’ll be jailed for life. But that rarely happens. Reputable reporters (see above) will discover and describe crimes more accurately than clickbait creators.
  • If a friend or relative sends out irresponsible headlines, consider having a gentle word. Funny memes are one thing, stories that pretend to be news are a step beyond.
  • You vote with your mouse. You define yourself and your community — even, in a way, humans as a species! — with your clicks. If you’d like to see better quality stories, don’t click on the shallow ones.
  • Use incognito web browsing, but do recognize its limitations.
  • Support the good guys on the internet. Donate to Wikipedia. Subscribe to legitimate online newspapers and magazine.
  • Use the controls available to you: Check your browser’s privacy settings. Use Facebook’s  and Google’s settings.
  • Support legislation like the Honest Ads Act. Fight back when internet companies protest that their usage policies are easy, obvious, or even a choice (what if you *don’t* agree with Facebook’s privacy agreement? It’s not negotiable, and the service has no real competitors.)