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This newsletter has been produced to help you get the most out of the Internet and to keep you, as an Actrix customer, informed of developments and services within the company.
Questions and comments about the newsletter can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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|Getting the Most out of Outlook
This article is written mainly for those literally thousands who have joined the Actrix community over the last few months and who may be new to the internet and to email. In coming newsletters I hope to deal briefly with other email programs and also with browsers such as Explorer and Netscape.
At Actrix we don't
always endorse everything Microsoft does. In particular we believe that approaches like
their "Dob in a friend who might be using pirated software" are exactly what the
world needs less of, but with Outlook Express, most of us here will say they have produced
a winner. It's a program that suits the average email user perfectly. It enables you to
sort and manage your email with ease without its becoming too powerful or cumbersome (like
its bigger and less popular brother Outlook). Like most Microsoft products, it is
reasonably simple to use. It usually comes bundled with Windows and it is freely available
from the Microsoft Update site (http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/default.htm and then click Product
Updates) or courtesy of Actrix as part of the downloadable Internet Explorer 5
program. Downloading IE5 from the Customer Services section of the Actrix Web site is a
great way of updating both programs from version 4 to version 5 at the same time. This is
certainly recommended if you haven't done it already.
Whether you love or hate Microsoft, there is definite value to the fact that so many of their programs are organised similarly. Like Word, FrontPage and most of the others, Outlook Express has an Options section that is easy to find and work with. It mostly consists of a series of tick boxes allowing you to choose which features you'd like to employ. It's a good idea and a learning experience to experiment with some of these options. If you're not sure what an option will do, tick or untick it and experiment with your email. It just might be a good idea to remember which ones you're experimenting with so that if you don't like something you can easily go back to the way things were. Remember, too, that Microsoft products generally come with very good Help features.
The Options section can be found by clicking the Tools menu near the top and to the left in Outlook Express when no email is open. I don't think I need to explain every option that can be found. Most are pretty self-explanatory, but here are a few suggestions:
Some things that are particularly fun to experiment with:
The Address Book: This is a really handy feature that saves time and typing errors. Click the address book icon at the top of Outlook Express to open it. You can add new people to your Address Book by clicking on the "New" button. You can select someone from your list by double-clicking them. A new email will then open with their email address already in the "To" field.
But nicknames is the best feature of the Address Book. By giving a correspondent a simple nickname such as "Bill," Outlook Express will add his complete email address whenever you simply type "Bill" into the "To" field. You can add someone to your address book manually, but an easier way is to open an email from them, and click Tools in the open email, and then Add to Address Book. There are lots of tabs and features within the Address Book, and, again, you are encouraged to experiment.
Multiple Accounts: With Outlook Express you can
manage more than one account, and, using the Tools/Accounts feature, you can set it up to
check your main account, all your mailboxes, and even email accounts with other ISPs
without having to log off and re-dial. You will need to know names of pop and smtp servers
to check accounts with others ISPs, but once you're familiar with how Outlook Express
works and thinks, this sort of stuff is mostly a snap. And, of course, there's always the
Actrix Support Desk.
Go for it! Outlook Express yourself!
This month I'd like to introduce a couple of new writers who have agreed to help out with a regular feature. The first is our help desk's very own Joseph Bartlett.
Ever wonder what all those acronyms and weird internet-related words mean? Each month Joseph will take a few of these and explain them briefly in layperson's terms. I've asked him to try and define each one in two sentences or less - no mean feat!
Let's start with protocols:
In internet terms, the word protocol means pretty much what it does in everyday English. Its a previously arranged way of talking or acting that both parties agree on. In the definitions below you will see that protocols are important when computers are communicating with each other for whatever reason. Without an agreed upon protocol, not much will be accomplished.
Different protocols are designed for different tasks and have
different features or ablilities.
FTP: File Transfer Protocol (part of TCP/IP) - a simple protocol for transfering files between computers, what is usually used to download files onto you computer or upload files onto a web page.
SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (part of
TCP/IP) - the protocol you (or your mail program) uses to send your e-mail.
|The Infamous Back Orifice!|
Back Orifice has been gaining a little notoriety lately, though it
has been around since its "release" at the Def Con Hackers
Underground Conference by the "Cult of the Dead Cow" hacker group in early
August 1998. It is well-known and commonly found within New Zealand. Its name, of course,
is a parody of Microsoft's "Back Office" suite.
|One of the most interesting things about Back Orifice
is that it has its own web-site. More accurately, there is a section of the Cult of the
Dead Cow website devoted to their product. You can access that site at www.bo2k.com/ or click on the Cult of the
Dead Cow icon included here. There you can read statements from the developers (code named
things like "Dildog" and 'Sir Dystic") about just how powerful the latest
|One of the statements that I found of particular
interest was a note on product legitimacy and security. Here the developers claim to have
designed their product to meet consumer demand (and their program is downloaded freely by
thousands each week) and that the only difference between Back Orifice and other
"administration tools" is that Back Orifice is smaller, better and free.
Such a claim is not without a degree of truth. PCAnywhere, Remote Access, Controller and other similar programs do most of what Back Orifice does, but they are marketed as legitimate network administration tools allowing an administrator to work on, modify and install to a remote machine within his jurisdiction. The assumption, of course, is that such an administrator is not spying or modifying someone's machine without their knowledge or consent in any malicious way. He's just doing his job.
Considering what we know of Back Orifice, however, perhaps our scepticism about their claims to legitimacy can be pardoned. The program was released at a hackers conference, its proponents go by the names of Dildog and Sir Dystic, many would find its label and logo (not pictured here) offensive, and the name of the company that developed it is "The Cult of the Dead Cow." Sure, Back Orifice could be used legitimately, just as legitimate controlling programs are frequently misused, but one gets the distinct impression that Back Orifice is designed primarily with makers of premeditated mischief and malicious mayhem in mind.
Worried you might have Back Orifice?
Back Orifice is well-known to makers of anti-Virus software, and most recent virus checkers will probably find and erase it easily enough. However, you should update to the very latest version of your anti-virus software in order to be more certain about catching Back Orifice 2000. There are some, however, who say that virus scanners are not good for finding all trojans, so a simple virus-checker may not be enough in and of itself. ICQ and IRC users are more likely to "bump into" people who might want to target them for whatever reason, and should probably go a step further and install some form of protection specifically designed to protect against trojans like Back Orifice and other nasty attacks such as "nuking." Nukenabber comes heartily recommended by some of the staff here and is available from Puppet's Place at www.dynamsol.com/puppet/nukenabber.html.
|Lockdown 2000 is a program one Actrix customer
has recently used to catch a New Zealand based hacker. You can learn more about this
program at www.lockdown2000.com.
What is really interesting about the Lockdown2000 site is their demonstration of what a
hacker can see while he is connected to your computer. Click on the Hacker Demo button to
see for yourself. It is extremely interesting. Lockdown2000 can be ordered in New Zealand
by emailing Lockdown_v5@hotmail.com.
|One thing I feel I must recommend to all our users is
that they download the very latest versions of their browsing software. Microsoft Internet
Explorer in particular seems vulnerable to security breaches. If you're using Explorer,
please visit the Microsoft site and download the very latest version as well as any or all
of the updates or security patches they provide. To do so, go here:
I really can't stress this enough, especially if you
are using outdated software.
This month I am pleased to introduce my second helpful contributor. Jeremy Fairbrass also hails from the Actrix help desk. Each month he will scour the net to bring you the very latest and greatest in useful and interesting sites. This time around, however, he has written an informative article on buying CDs online.
Online Music Shopping:
If you're looking for a European or English title, try the CD Zone in the United Kingdom.
Please note that the image links provided here are for your convenience. They are not advertising in that Actrix Networks derives no benefit from their inclusion. (Ed)
Camera Deals from
Oh ho ho! - all this panic about the year 2000!
You know, if only more people had asked *my* opinion, there wouldn't have been half the brouhaha. All of the computers at Actrix were sure to be fine because of my latest technical invention, the "handy dandy, nifty thrifty, dialametric Y2K Bug Spray version 28.9." Each machine got a good going over, as did some of the staff. - But enough about my brilliance. It was just this sort of innovation that lost me my last position at the Old Post Office.
This month's challenges!
I will grudgingly say well done to astroboy who had me a wee tad stumped, but vanity forbids elaboration. Your chocolate fish are in the mail.
The first honourable mention this month goes to Enkidu who thought
he might have had me with the modem installation problem, but no.
The challenges are ongoing! Any Actrix user who can stump me on an internet related technical matter will win a six-pack of chocolate fish. Send your challeges to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. But you have to know the answer yourself!
- Norrie the Nerd
As the holiday season is over, the Actrix helpdesk is again
available 24 hours per day. You can contact the helpdesk by phone on 0800228749 or on
email at email@example.com.
cameras are by far the most fun and convenient way of capturing your personal images for
display on your homepage or for sending to friends or relatives across the internet. If
you're in business, digital cameras are ideal for enhancing your web presence by capturing
pictures of your products for electronic display.
They operate like an ordinary camera except that they depend on a certain amount of memory rather than a film. When the memory is full of images you simply download them to your pc, edit them if necessary with your imaging software and then use them as you would any other digital image. Downloading the images frees up the memory again, so you never have to buy film.
This month I'm highlighting two special deals for you on behalf of Forcetech Computers in Wellington. The first is the Mustek Gsmart 350 (pictured above).
This might be ideal for your first digital camera but it still has loads of good features such as
This camera normally sells for $439, but is on special for Actrix
customers this month for a cash payment of $399.00 including GST.
Normally $749 this camera is on special to Actrix customers for a cash payment of $699 including GST.
Both deals include all required software (including imaging), cables, batteries/powerpack and free delivery to your door.
|Did you know that gen and co are interchangeable in
your Actrix email address, and with regards to the names of our mail servers?
Are you fully aware of the services available to you via the Actrix web site? If not, next time you're surfing, why not go to Customer Services at www.actrix.co.nz and have a look? Under our Customer Services section you can
If you're not sure what all of these services are, I don't think I need to explain. Why not head on over and learn for yourself?
|Actrix Product Focus - ADSL
ADSL accounts are available to Actrix customers.
|Code||Free Traffic||Monthly Fee||Extra Traffic||Install'n Fee||Joining Fee|
There is no joining fee for existing Actrix customers, and Telecom were offering free installation before 22 December. Perhaps if you ask nicely they will extend this.
You get one free email address per account. Extra email addresses are $5.00 each per month.
Telecom and Actrix will bill separately for each of their components of these costs, but there may be some additional charges. You can rent a JetStream (ADSL) modem from Telecom at a cost of $30/Month. You can purchase a JetStream modem from Telecom for $450 and an ethernet card (if you need one) for $50. All prices include GST.
Sure, it's a lot more expensive, but it also has some real advantages, such as speed, and the fact that the way ADSL works effectively gives you a second phoneline dedicated to your internet connection.
So that;'s it for another month. I hope you were able to find something here that interested you or helped you to extend what you get out of the Internet. I am truly grateful for all of the comments, suggestions, and even the occasional criticisms received from readers.
We're all here to help each other and to learn from each other, so if you have something to suggest, something you'd like to know more about, or something to share with others in the Actrix community, then my email door is always open.