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Online Informer – May 2017

The Online Informer is published each month to help keep customers up-to-date with what's happening on the Internet, and to help ensure they have every opportunity to benefit from it.

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Actrix – best little ISP in New Zealand

Welcome to the May 2017 Online Informer

Welcome to the Online Informer for May 2017. In this issue we answer some questions about wifi. The article was customer Bob's idea. He reckons there are a lot of "silver surfers" out there like him who would be interested in knowing about using wifi when travelling overseas. Thanks for the story idea, Bob!

We also reproduce an article, originally from The Telegraph about what to do when you've made that embarrassing email faux pas (and we've all probably done that a time or two, or three). I don't want to talk about it.


I've also received a couple of emails from customers inquiring about a seeming rise in spam. It is true that spam volumes do seem to ebb and flow, and this can vary from person to person depending on whose spam list your email address has ended up on (and no, there's not much you can do about this directly). And if you use a lot of email addresses or own a few domains, you will get more spam.

Actrix does have filters on its mail servers set to capture spam and redirect it to your Spam folder. However, this can be risky because it's possible for legitimate and important emails to be caught and filtered, which many customers can't see (depending on what email program and version you have) unless you log into My Actrix and view your web mail. For this reason we don't set the filtering criteria to the strictest levels.

I'm afraid spam is a fact of internet life now and my best advice is to try and not let it spoil your day overly. If you want to do more about it, we recommend using the antispam service provided by your anti-virus software. However, this may require upgrading to the subscription based service. You could also use a pre-inbox spam filter such as Mailwasher which is free and very highly regarded.

Lastly, a lot of people wonder how anyone could fall for the scams in so many of these spam emails. You may be interested to know, if you don't already, that scam spam emails often have such bad spelling and ridiculous-sounding stories because they want to filter in the people who are less savvy and will respond to their "offer". It saves them time.

YouTube feature – Einstein the Parrot

Einstein is an entertaining and famous talking African Grey Parrot from Texas. The sounds he can make and words he can speak on command are quite extraordinary. He's all over the internet, but is seemingly paid only in sunflower seeds – so he's probably making money for somebody, somewhere.

Watch the video.


Using wifi internet when travelling overseas

Bob (pictured right) is a long-time Actrix customer who describes himself as a "silver surfer". He's thinking of taking a long overseas holiday through Canada and then through a number of countries in Europe. He wrote to the Online Informer asking for clarification about how to use wifi when overseas, whether he needed to set up a local account in various countries to use the internet, and about which device would be best for him to use. He doesn't own a smartphone.

Bob wants to check his email periodically when travelling, and use the internet to search maps, find interesting places to visit, get train times, etc, just like he does on his home computer. He's not into gaming and doesn't need to watch movies, so he doesn't use a lot of traffic.

The good news is this is all pretty simple and easy. Once you've purchased a device (and we'll get to that shortly) the hardest part is getting things like your email account set up on it before you leave home, and there's plenty of help around for that.

Basically, wifi is just about everywhere in the world. It lets your device connect to the internet wirelessly and once online you can download your email, surf the internet, access Google, do online banking and all the things you would do from home – without having to set up an account in every country you visit. Wireless devices like smartphones, iPads and tablets all come with browsers and email programmes and if you have these all up and running before you travel, they'll work anywhere.

Wireless devices can also detect what wifi networks are available where you are. All you have to do is click or tap your wifi icon, choose a network and then enter the password for it. In some cases, you may need to open your device's browser first and go to a page where you can type in a user name and password to log on.

Just about every hotel you stay at will have wifi you can connect to, and this will either be free or cost you just a few dollars a day. Hotel staff will give you instructions on how to connect, and if they don't just ask them. Your device won't care if you connect it to a new network in every new place. Wifi (often free) is also commonly available at cafes like Starbucks or McDonalds, but it will be slower. Again, ask the staff if it's available and how to log on.

Choosing a device

There are lots of options for wireless devices and most of them won't cost you an arm and a leg. We went down to Harvey Norman on Tory Street in Wellington to ask about devices and talked with sales assistant Olivia. She was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful – and chances are you'll find a version of her wherever you go to buy a device.

Of course the first option is to upgrade to a Smartphone. You can get an internet capable one of these for around $150. The main advantage of smartphones is they are small and you don't need to carry other devices around. The main disadvantage is also that they are small so there's not a lot of screen room for options and it isn't always easy to make them do what you want. The cheaper ones may also have limited storage capacity for things like photos and videos you take while travelling.

You could buy an iPad (the latest budget version starts at around $539) but a tablet is probably all you really need, and these start at less than $200. They're much smaller than laptops and are lightweight enough to easily carry around in your backpack. Another advantage is that you can connect your phone to a tablet and transfer your photos and videos, which is usually better for viewing. Lastly they will generally work with PDFs and this is a good idea if you want to take your own address books or other e-documents around with you.

There are many tablets to choose from, and you could spend a lot more money on one, so we recommend talking with people like Olivia at the store you visit. You will generally find these sales assistants helpful. Just tell them what you want to achieve and their training should swing into action.

One downside of smartphones, iPads and tablets for some people is that they don't usually use Windows as their operating system. Most use Android or Apple IOS and this can take a little getting used to if you're a Windows person. Most things are easy to accomplish, however, and if you really want to use Windows so you can access Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc, you can download an app and set up an Office 365 account for around $119 per year. Your salesperson can talk you through that.

Setting up your email

Nowadays these devices are fairly good at setting up your email account and this should go painlessly. Just tap the email icon that should already be on display. As long as you know your Actrix email address and email password, the device will do the rest. Again, your salesperson can probably help you. Actrix also has help pages for this at Call the Actrix help desk on 0800 228749 if you're still stuck.

Lastly, be a little bit careful if you're using wifi overseas. Wifi networks you access in public places like cafes may not be all that secure, so don't use them for things like internet banking. Wifi at good hotels is more likely to be safe, but make it your practice to log in to anything that needs a password as infrequently as possible.


Five ways to salvage your worst email blunders

Borrowed from Stuff, 10 April 2017

We've all been there. You're in a rush, tired, not paying attention to your screen and before you know it you've made an embarrassing spelling mistake in an email.

Worse, you've hit "reply all" and fired off a message to the very person you were criticising. Realisation dawns seconds after you've pressed send.

You freeze in horror, burn with shame and then go into full-on panic. What to do? Dare you admit your mistake?

But an email mishap need not leave you rocking to and fro in a darkened room. Here are five common email blunders, and how best to recover from them.

If auto-correct has embarrassed you

In this era of smartphones, the dangers of auto-correct are well-documented.

Writing "horny" instead of "hungry" might cause you shame, but it's more than likely that the recipient has made similar errors.

Harder to explain away is the addition of a rogue emoji, as discovered by the woman who sent an email of condolence on the death of a friend's parent, only to have her sign-off – "see you at the funeral" – completed by a skull and crossbones. Send a calm follow-up, explaining you were in a hurry and that your phone got the better of you.

If you've written the wrong name

The sooner you notice, the better. Respond quickly and briefly, apologising for your mistake. Don't dismiss it too lightly, as people can be offended, especially if it suggests a misunderstanding of their culture.

But there is no need to grovel. It happens to everyone and - if their name lends itself to a mis-type, like the office PA constantly called Turkey, instead of Tuckey - they might well be used to it.

If you accidentally send your boss a kiss

Ending an email with "X" is the most natural thing in the world, except when the recipient is your chief executive. Pity the person who sent their boss two lines of "Zzz" in an email about tiredness, only to have them auto-corrected to kisses.

The only options are to laugh it off and blame technology, ensuring all follow-up emails are exactingly professional, even if it comes back with an "X".

If you hit 'Reply All'

This tends to be irritating more than anything: when you accidentally reveal to the entire company what menu choices you would prefer at the staff summer do. The best solution is to send a light-hearted email to excuse your clumsiness.

But it can quickly escalate if people start hitting "reply all" to join in a long conversation, as happened when the NHS mistakenly sent 840,000 staff a test email in November 2016, and nearly 200 million unnecessary replies came back.

The best thing is not to get involved. Step away from your keyboard, allowing everyone to calm down.

If you send an unkind message to its subject

There's nothing so likely to make your body seize up with pure panic. You write a nasty message about someone, intending to send it to a friend, but accidentally forward it to the person you're discussing.

A face-to-face apology is essential, especially if you work together. Ask to speak in private as soon as possible.

If the email was triggered by a specific incident, it's probably a good time to explain why you were angry in the first place.

Set out your frustrations calmly and see it as an opportunity to rectify any difficulties. Or just go into lockdown, delete your social media accounts and screen calls.

This article originally appeared in The Telegraph, London.


Interesting sites 

Please note: Actrix supplies links to these sites for your interest and possible use. We cannot endorse or take any responsibility for their contents.

Got a site you think would be neat to share with other readers? Click here to e-mail and let me know!

Notey – Notey features the very best stories from a number of blogs every day. While some of it is North American based, a lot makes for interesting general reading (who doesn't want to know about Ikea meatballs?). There's even a section of the site dedicated to news about Donald Trump. You can decide whether or not that's a bad thing.
Quora – I signed up to Quora a few months ago because I wanted specialised knowledge about a subject from people who had experience with it. It's based around questions people ask and the responses given by people in the know. Each day I receive a Digest of the latest questions and the answers given and it's some of the most fascinating reading ever! Sometimes the questions and answers are really useful. Other times they're a bit weird, but still about things you may have been curious about in the past. You will need to set up a log in, but it's free.

Most exclusive website – Okay, this site is interesting in the "What the?" sense of interesting. You queue up to log in and then be the only person at the site for exactly one minute. If you leave a comment you receive a prize at the end of your minute. Mine was an animated gif of cats riding motorcycles. Sometimes the net is just weird.

Poem a day – Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring more than 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge. Sign up!

Nitch – Nitch is a seemingly endless scroll of pictures of famous people and interesting quotes. I like it because you can pick out your favourite people just by looking at the photos – or you get to see what some of the people you hear about so often actually look like. It was a hard site to leave...

Vox – understand the news – Vox explains the news. "We live in a world of too much information and too little context; too much noise and too little insight. And so Vox's journalists candidly shepherd audiences through politics and policy, business and pop culture, food, science, and everything else that matters."

Foodbeast – If you're a foodie, this may or may not be a website to interest you. It covers the latest food stories that are going viral on the internet. For example, find out about Starbucks Japan's cherry pie frappuccino that comes with a pie crust lid, how to make famous sauces at home, or 31 unique ways to use a lemon. I gotta say it. Eat some of this stuff at your own risk...

Marc and Angel hack life – Following on from our Hacking your life article of last issue, Marc and Angel give practical tips for productive living. Some of their hot topics include: 20 beliefs you will gradually let go of over the next 20 years; six things happy people never do; and 10 choices you will regret in 10 years. You can even sign up to receive the free checklist of life changing ideas.

Attack of the cute – Some believe this is why the Internet was really invented; so we could look at an endless stream of pictures and videos of cats, dogs and other little animals doing things that make us feel all mushy. Page after page after page...

Londonist – More than half of Kiwis have probably been to London and the other half probably want to go there. This site provides everything you need to know about England's capital, while celebrating the quirks, eccentricities, hidden and surprising bits that make up its alternative side.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?


Kim Dotcom reveals new venture: Bitcontent would eventually allow people to earn money from the content on their websites. Read more.

Google: Our study says teens think we're cool: In a new report eloquently titled "It's Lit: A guide to what teens think is cool," the search giant looked to understand Gen Z, those born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s. Read more.

'Pants on Fire!': Google wades into the world of fact-checking content: The world's largest search engine is rolling out a new feature that places "Fact Check" tags on snippets of articles in its News results. Read more.

Web inventor wins top award: Most people who search on Google or share on Facebook never heard of Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Read more.

Robert Taylor, whose early vision helped create the internet, dies at 85: Taylor was not strictly an inventor, but as a research director at federal agencies and private research centres he had a knack for finding the right people and ideas to make the digital revolution possible. Read more.

Staying on the down-low online: Nadine Chalmers-Ross asks whether it is safe to have an employer see all the fun you are having on the internet. Read more.

The best web browser 2017: We've rounded up the best web browsers - Chrome among them, of course - to show that there's much more to viewing the web. Read more.

Bitcoin rush means virtual currency is now worth more than gold: For the first time in the history of the virtual currency, a single Bitcoin has become worth more than an ounce of gold. Read more. helps find man who stole dead baby's identity: An American man who assumed the identity of a baby who died in Texas in 1972 has been arrested after the child's aunt discovered the ruse through Read more.

Broadband providers ordered to block illegal streaming sites: Six major film and TV studios have secured injunctions directing internet service providers to block access to websites involved in illegal streaming or downloading of films and TV shows. Read more.

Google accused of underpaying women: The US Department of Labor alleges female Google staff are paid less compared to their male colleagues across the entire company. Read more.

Nigerian torrent downloaders given prison sentences: Downloading torrents of copyright-infringing material is illegal, as we all know, and while those involved in large-scale file-sharing operations, your garden variety torrenter, caught downloading a copy of Deadpool, usually expects little more than a hefty fine. Not in Nigeria... Read more.

Prank responsibly: April Fools' gags that missed the mark: This year, we've rounded up some of the worst April Fools' pranks unleashed on a tech-savvy audience in recent memory. Read more.

Google searches for 'World War 3' and 'Trump war' hit all time high: More people are using Google to look up the phrase 'World War 3' than ever before, the online giant has revealed. Read more.

Tech firms fight net neutrality: Net neutrality is important because it ensures that all online content is treated the same. Read more.

New Zealand

Job vacancies booming but wage increase yet to come: New data from Trade Me sees more job vacancies – but the average wage is yet to rise. Read more.

NZ no longer at Interpol cybercrime facility because of a lack of funding: New Zealand no longer has a presence at a major Interpol facility fighting cybercrime because of a lack of funding. Read more.

Netsafe warns Kiwis over fake invoice scams: New Zealanders are being urged to be cautious about online invoices after Netsafe reported an increase in the number of fake invoice scams. Read more.

NZ government's cyber-security one-stop shop Cert NZ opens for business: The government's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ) officially opened today to act as a one-stop shop for all New Zealanders and local entities to find information on how to deal with cyber-security issues. Read more.

Dotcom urges Kiwi cops to go after FBI chief: Internet mogul Kim Dotcom has launched a bold, though probably doomed, bid to have FBI director James Comey grilled by New Zealand police while visiting the South Pacific nation for a security conference. Read more.

Kiwi teens online for 6+ hours a day: One in six Kiwi 15-year-olds is now online for at least six hours every weekday. Read more.

Social media

Scammers target Facebook Marketplace: Bargain-priced items on Facebook Marketplace seem to good to be true, and often are, say police. Read more.

Big fines for anti social media: The likes of Facebook and Twitter could find it costly in Germany if they don't move quickly to remove hate speech Read more.

Facebook fights 'revenge porn': Facebook adding tools to make it easier to report "revenge porn" and prevent images from being shared. Read more.

Twitter won't reveal who Trump critic is: Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Homeland Security. Read more.

A beginner's guide to Mastodon, the hot new open-source Twitter clone: Mastodon is a fast-growing Twitter-like social network that seeks to re-create the service's best parts while eliminating its whale-sized problems. The distributed, open-source platform offers better tools for privacy and fighting harassment than Twitter does, but it also comes with a learning curve. Read more.

That chicken nugget tweet is on course to become the most retweeted of all time: One teen’s insatiable appetite for chicken nuggets is about to break a big record. Read more.

Negative effect of no social media: Teens forced off of social media lose more than social interaction, research shows. Read more.

Security and privacy

Online privacy protections struck down: Donald Trump will allow internet service providers to sell your private information for billions, says Danielle McLaughlin. Read more.

Five steps every victim of revenge porn should consider: Sharing pictures of yourself with your friends is normal. But when someone else posts explicit pictures of you without your permission, that’s not normal: It's a violation of your rights, and it’s illegal. Read more.

How hackers exploited Microsoft: Microsoft took nine months to fix a bug that allowed a hacker to seize control of a computer with little trace. Read more.

Devastating impact of cyberbullying acknowledged with new act: A Horowhenua man who used social media to elicit nude photos from pre-teen girls is one of 22 cases prosecuted under a new act. Read more.

Billionaire makes $4.8b in five minutes: A surge in after-hours trading puts Amazon founder $5b away from becoming world's richest person Read more.

The weird, wide web

Woman's live stream interrupted by bright flash of falling meteor lighting up sky behind her: A woman doing a live stream with her friend was given a fright after the video captured the moment a meteor appeared behind her. Read more.

Twitter account dedicated to Trump's ties makes 'yuge' fashion statement: For some reason, Donald Trump likes to wear his ties really long – like down to his fly. Since a tie that long can get caught in one’s zipper, it’s considered a fashion faux pas. Of course, so is holding a tie together with tape, something Donald Trump has also done on numerous occasions. Read more.

Researchers invent a way to transmit drinks over the Internet: A team at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a way to digitally transmit the flavour of a drink, and have it reproduced by electrodes to trick your tongue into thinking it is tasting lemonade. Read more.

The saga of a YouTube family who pulled disturbing pranks on their own kids: Suddenly, MommyOFive reveals a small bottle in her hand. She smiles and laughs. The ink was trick ink, she says, it will disappear from the floor. "You just got owned!" DaddyOFive says. Read more.


It was five years ago today

Top NZ tweeters as voted by you: Top NZ tweeters as voted by you: Online experts have nominated New Zealand's Top 50 Tweeters – a mix of those who contribute laughs, expertise or encouragement. Read more.

Banking faces its digital revolution: With one in three Kiwis owning a smartphone, banks are expanding their apps, small programs which act like a mobile bank, and have juicy extras such as using the phone's GPS to track down the nearest ATM Read more.

Facebook hits 901 million mark: Facebook says it has 901 million users, making it likely that it will pass the 1 billion mark well before the end of the year. Read more.

Ex-lover punished for Facebook revenge: A jilted boyfriend who put nude pictures of his former lover on Facebook has been sentenced in Sydney to six months' jail - the first social networking-related conviction in Australian history and one of just a handful in the world. Read more.

Teen sells kidney for gadgets: Authorities have indicted five people in central China for involvement in illegal organ trading after a teenager sold one of his kidneys to earn money to buy an iPhone and an iPad. Read more.


Bringing it all back home

Thanks again for reading the Online Informer. Feedback can be sent to me via the e-mail address listed below. Please limit this to comments/suggestions regarding the newsletter. The best place to send requests for support is the Help Desk ( or to the Accounts Department (

Take care through May!

Rob Zorn 


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