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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.
Past newsletters may be viewed at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/
Newsletters are now archived by article at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/
Questions and comments about the newsletter can be e-mailed to editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to support@actrix.co.nz

 

A Note from Actrix:

Most of you are probably aware that there are two numbers your computer can dial in order to connect to Actrix. These are 086722874 and 087302287. These numbers each use different phone networks. In reviewing some call statistics the other day, we noticed that many many customers are dialling in using 087302287, who probably would be better off using the other number.

086722874 is a preferable number, and may result in better performance, because it dials in to the nearest POP (Point of Presence) and we have many of these around the country.

087302287 dials into Telecom's IP Net and as a result there is no guarantee that your call routing will be anywhere near as direct.

Both numbers will work from just about anywhere in the country, but in most cases 086722874 is the correct number to use.

To change your dial in number using Windows 98, double click "My Computer" and then double-click on Dialup Networking. Right-click on your Actrix connection and left click on Properties. Change the number (leave use area code and dialling properties unticked) and then click Apply, and then Okay.

For Windows 2000 and ME, you have to open your Control Panel (Start/Settings/Control Panel) in order to find the Dial up Networking folder.

Our help desk can also assist you with making this change if you'd like. You can get them on 0800-228749.

 

Reasons for Microsoft Updates by Dean Moor

I am again grateful to Dean Moor for this next article in his series on hacking. To many it is a fascinating topic. It really would be a good idea for those interested but new to computers or the net to read over Dean's previous articles at:

http://editor.actrix.co.nz/0008.htm,
http://editor.actrix.co.nz/0009.htm,
http://editor.actrix.co.nz/0010.htm,
http://editor.actrix.co.nz/0011.htm and
http://editor.actrix.co.nz/0012.htm -Ed

Hi Folks, Well, its been a while. I apologise for not submitting an article for the last couple of months. I have been absolutely flat out. Anyway; back in to it...

The first article I wrote was more like instructions on how to use the Microsoft update web site, and the last one I wrote was regarding Trojan software. Well, this month, we are going to learn why the Windows updates are so crucial.

In the last article we discussed how dangerous a Trojan in your system can be. Well, I am sorry to say, that Trojans are not the only way into your system. When your computer is online you have several services running, such as your web browser loading a page, your e-mail program checking e-mail, or your web server handing out your web site to those who wish to see it.

Now, as you most likely know, web pages are designed using a code called HTML. What some of you may not know is that other types of code can be inserted into the HTML on the web page, such as Java, Pearl, C+ and various others. The most common of these is Java. Java is generally pretty safe. However, to display a web page your browser must download all of the code related to that particular page, and then run it. Like I said, generally Java is safe, but there are certain things that can be done using this programming language that you may not wish to happen. For example, an intruder can get a large amount of personal details from your machine such as the information displayed below.

This information has been gathered using a simple Java script.
No Information what so ever has been kept in any form.

A malicious web designer can even see what pages you have been to, and how often, drop cookies on your machine that will track you every where you go, and the next time you view his web site, deliver all the information and more. It can be a truly dangerous adventure on the Internet. Now for the good news, if you have the latest updates from Microsoft you are protected from the majority of these exploits.

Now, lets take a look quickly at a vulnerability with the web server, the machine that displays the web page on your machine. One particular vulnerability called "Malformed URL" can cause Service Failure in IIS 5.0 and Exchange 2000" by Microsoft. If a malicious attacker found that your machine had this vulnerability, they could request a specific URL (Address) that would cause the web server to stop functioning. Now, imagine for a moment that you are running an e-commerce web site, and relied on your web page to be operational. A "hacker" finds your web site, decides that they don't like you, and types in this URL. Your Web Server stops running, and nobody else can see your web page until the machine or service has been restarted. It could be a couple of days before you realise, and that could equal a large amount of lost profit. Once again, time for the good news, If you are up to date with your Security Patches, you would be protected from this attack, and therefore would not lose anything.

Another example: many of you would use Outlook Express as your e-mail client. What would you think if I told you that anyone could run almost any code on your machine that they wished if you were to add their vCard (Personal Contact Details exported to a small file) to your address book. Well, believe it or not, it can be done. This code could be a Trojan Virus to make the attackers life easier, or it could be any program of their choosing. Once again, there is some good news. Firstly you would have to manually add the vCard, and secondly, Microsoft know about this problem, and yes, they have released a patch to fix it.

So, you see, above I have listed just three of the vulnerabilities that may exist on your machine. As I mention in one of my earlier articles, the average Windows 98 machine has about 50 vulnerabilities, and the average Windows NT machine with Internet Information Server 4.0 has about 400. Please, do use the Windows Update Site to protect yourself from as much as possible. I would also like to suggest that you drop by the StarTech Web Site from time to time as well. I have the latest Microsoft Security Bulletins listed and the Operating Systems/Programs that they refer to for easy reference. The reason I say this is the Windows Update Site doesn't have all of the Security Patches that you may need. I would also like to suggest the Microsoft Tech Support Site - Technet.

So, to wrap up. Your computer may be more vulnerable than you are aware of. The solution, use the available assistance and save yourself trouble and money employing the Technicians fixing those annoying crashes.

The windows Update site is found at http://www.windowsupdate.microsoft.com. Simply go there and follow instructions.

Safe Browsing and Good Luck. Most of all Have Fun.

Dean Moor
StarTech.
www.startech.co.nz


Handling Page Content While Surfing

Sometimes, while you're surfing around the Internet, you may want to do things with the information or images that you come across. There is a fair bit you can do with your browser under the Windows operating system.

Working with an Image: If you come across a picture that you fancy, there are a number of easy as pie things you can do with it. Simply click on the image with your right mouse button (otherwise known as "right-clicking"). A little grey box pops up with a number options that you can select by left-clicking (usually known as simply "clicking").

Right-Click MenuWhen you click on Save Picture As, a Save Picture box comes up allowing you to browse for the directory you would like to save the picture in.

When you click Set as Wallpaper the picture will automatically become the background to your Windows desk top. You can choose whether to have your wallpaper tiled across your desktop (the same picture appearing over and over again until it fills the screen. Further, you can choose to have the image centred on your desktop, or you can elect to have the picture stretched over your entire desktop. To choose between these options,

      1. Right-click on your desktop somewhere,
      2. Left-click on Properties,
      3. Left-click on the Background tab,
      4. Choose from Center, Tile or Stretch in the dropdown Picture Display box.

Set as Desktop Item and Add to Favorites are not things you generally do with images. Settings as a Desktop Item is a way for you to put a link to a web page onto your desktop so that you can view it offline, but more on that next month.

When you click on Copy the image is copied into your computer's memory. It can then be pasted (using the right-mouse button/Paste) into another application such as Word or Outlook Express.

Clicking on Properties allows you to find out a few things about the image such as its size, its location and its name. 

Note that Netscape Navigator has all these functions and a couple more. It has a feature called Create Shortcut that puts a little image on your desktop. All one has to do is click this image for Netscape to load itself and head off to that page automatically. Copy Image Location puts the address of the image (e.g. http://www.actrix.co.nz/image) into your computer's memory so that it can be pasted into another application.

A Note on Right and Left Clicking:

Knowing when to Right-click and when to left-click can be confusing for some people. As a general rule Right-clicking is for bringing up a menu of options. Left-clicking is what you do to choose or perform the option you have chosen.

Working with Text: So, you've come across some information on the web that you think a friend would like to know about. There are a number of things you can do to pass that information on.

Firstly you can send your friend the URL. URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator, and it is just another way of stating web address. http://www.actrix.co.nz is a URL, for example. To do this, right-click on the web address in your bowser's address bar. Left-click on copy. Open an e-mail to your friend, right-click in the message part of the e-mail and left-click on Paste.

If it is just the text you want to send to your friend, you can do this easily too. With your left mouse button held down, drag your mouse cursor across any text that you want to copy. Release the mouse button just after the text you want to copy ends.  This should leave you with a portion of the text blocked or highlighted in blue. Simply right-click anywhere on the selected text and then left-click on copy. This loads the text into your memory. Right-click and paste into an e-mail or other document.

Sending the Whole Page: Using both Microsoft Explorer and Netscape Navigator, you can send a whole page (images and all) to someone by e-mail. While you are at the page, click on File on the Menu Bar. In Navigator you click on Send Page or Send Frame in order for your e-mail program to be invoked with the chosen web page as an e-mail all ready to send. Using Explorer, click File, then Send, then choose Page by E-mail from one of the three options given. Keep in mind here, though, that the inclusion of graphics can make your e-mail quite large, and it may take your recipient a long time to download. Be sure they really would want you to send them the whole page, and have a good idea of the whole size of it before you send.

Bookmarks: You set up bookmarks when there are web sites you would like to visit often. Using a bookmark means that you only have to click a button to get your page rather than having to type in the who;e URL into your browser's address bar.

With Explorer, once you have gone to the page you want to bookmark, simply click the Favorites menu at the top of your browser. The click Add to Favorites on the drop down box. The next time you click Favorites, the page you have added will appear in the drop down box. Simply click it to go straight to the page.

With Navigator, click on the Communicator menu item, then on Bookmarks. In the next grey box that pops up, click on Add bookmark. The next time you click Communicator and the Bookmarks, the page will now appear on the drop down menus. Simply click it to head off to that page.

There are more things you can do with Bookmarks, but we can probably deal with anything more than the basics next time.

Miscellaneous: There are a few other things you can do, and I would encourage you to play around a little with the Menu Bar. Under Edit, for example, there is a find feature that will help you locate certain words or phrases on a large page. There are various display options under View. There are a couple of other options under File, including Print.

Lastly, just about all of the functions above can be achieved using a Macintosh computer, despite the fact that a Macintosh mouse only has one button. Macintoshs are just more dependent on the menu bar and tool bar. You can get the equivalent of a right-click menu box by clicking and holding down on an image, and then releasing the mouse on the option you choose. Selecting text, copying it and pasting can be achieved by dragging the mouse over the desired portion of the page, then selecting either copy or paste from the Edit menu.

Netscape Navigator's and Microsoft Explorer's Macintosh versions have pretty much the same way of doing things as Windows versions. As already stated, they just rely more on the menu bar in the absence of a right mouse button.

Intermission: We've all felt like this.....

I'd like to share a little anecdote that happened in the office the other day. Young Debbie was having trouble with her computer, so she called Tim the Techie over to her desk. Tim clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem. As he was walking away, Debbie called after him, "So, what was wrong?"
  Tim replied, "It was an ID ten T error."
  A puzzled expression ran riot over Debbie's face. "An ID ten T error? What's that in case I need to fix it again??"
  He gave her a grin ..."Haven't you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?"
  "No," replied Debbie.
  "Write it down," he said, "and I think you'll figure it out."

(She wrote ...) I D 1 0 T

 

Sending Attachments by E-mail

E-mail is a great way to send files such as pictures or Word documents to your friends or associates. In most cases, it is a very easy thing to do. The one thing you need to be fairly sure of is whereabouts on your hard drive the file you want to send is.

The Outlook Express New Mail buttonTo send an attachment using Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express: Simply open a new message by clicking the New Mail button to the top left of the program. You can add the attachment at any time before you send the e-mail, so go ahead and put the recipient's address in and type some text about what it is that you are sending on to your recipient.

Attach button - Outlook ExpressWhen you're ready, usually just before you are about to send, simply click the Attach button on the toolbar of the e-mail you've been working on. This will bring up an "Insert Attachment" box which you can use to browse for the picture or file you want to attach. When you have found the file you want to send, either double-click on it, or click once to select it and then click the Attach button on the "Insert Attachment" box. You should automatically be returned to your open e-mail which will now have an extra field at the top showing your attachment. This field will be called "Attach."

If you right-click on the attachment as it appears in the Attach field, a small grey menu box pops up. You can use this menu box to add more attachments or to delete, open or print them.

Eudora New Message buttonTo send an attachment using Eudora 5: Simply open a new message by clicking the New Message button near the top of the program. You can add the attachment at any time before you send the e-mail, so go ahead and put the recipient's address in and type some text about what it is that you are sending on to your recipient.

Eudora Attachment buttonWhen you're ready, usually just before you are about to send, simply click the Attach File button on the toolbar of the e-mail you've been working on. This will bring up an "Attach File" box which you can use to browse for the picture or file you want to attach. When you have found the file you want to send, either double-click on it, or click once to select it and then click the Open button on the "Attach File" box. You should automatically be returned to your open e-mail which will now have an extra field at the top showing your attachment and the whole path to it on your hard drive. This field will be called "Attached."

Netscape Messenger New Mail ButtonTo send an attachment using Netscape Messenger 4.7: Simply open a new message by clicking the New Message button near the top of the program. You can add the attachment at any time before you send the e-mail, so go ahead and put the recipient's address in and type some text about what it is that you are sending on to your recipient.

Netscape Messenger Attachment buttonWhen you're ready, usually just before you are about to send, simply click the "Include an Attachment" button on the toolbar of the e-mail you've been working on. This will bring up a drop-down box allowing you to choose what sort of attachment you want to send. If it is a picture or document, click File. This will bring up an "Enter File to Attach" box which you can use to browse for the picture or file you want to attach. When you have found the file you want to send, either double-click on it, or click once to select it and then click the Open button on the "Enter File to Attach" box. You should automatically be returned to your open e-mail which will now show your attachment near the top.

It is always important to keep in mind that attachments can often be sizeable and if they are too large, or if you try and send too many at once, they can really slow down both the upload of the e-mail at your end, and the download of the e-mail at your friend's end. If you're using a 56K modem, I wouldn't recommend attaching anything that is or adds up to more than 100 Kilobytes (approx 100,000 bytes). Even this may cause you problems depending on the quality of the connection you are able to maintain. If you have a number of attachments to send, it is probably recommended that you send them all separately; one per e-mail.

 

JetStart!Actrix JetStart Now Available

Actrix is pleased to announce the availability of JetStart. JetStart is built on the same technology as ADSL, which Telecom call JetStream. JetStart, however, is aimed at the domestic consumer; in fact it is only available to domestics and home based businesses.

It is a cheaper option than JetStream in the long run, but it is nowhere near as fast. A 56Kilobit modem, for example, will provide you with a maximum of 7 Kilobytes in download speed (and you are pretty lucky if you're getting near that). JetStart promises a maximum of around 15 Kilobytes. In other words, under ideal circumstances, you could expect JetStart to provide you with about twice the speed of your 56K modem. For many, that would be quite enough to justify the extra financial outlay. Other advantages include the fact that your connection is permanent, your phoneline is left untied (so you can make or receive calls while you surf) and your traffic allowance is unlimited. Lastly, gamers who log onto the jetstreamgames.co.nz realm using JetStart will enjoy a full rate JetStream connection while they play.

So just what is the financial outlay? The big component is the fact that you have to supply your own ADSL capable modem/router. These retail for upwards of 300 dollars (and the good quality ones are significantly dearer). There is an installation fee of $178 (that's mainly for your connection to the ADSL network - you still have to install your own modem). Telecom will charge you $29.95 on top of your phone bill (keep in mind that JetStart, in effect provides you with a second phone line because it splits your existing line in two) and Actrix will charge you $34.95 per month. It's proving to be a reasonably popular connection type. If you think it might be something for you, click the image above to go the Actrix JetStart page. You will also find ordering details and procedures there.


Goodbye to Paul Walker

Good bye Paul!We were sorry to receive Paul Walker's resignation earlier this month. Paul has been with Actrix for almost the last three years. In that time he has established himself as an excellent web designer. I know that many of our customers, especially corporate ones he has designed for, will miss him as well.

Paul is heading over to England to seek his fortune and we wish him all the best. In the meantime, our very own Scott Miller will take over as head designer at Actrix.

 

Cyberspace News Snippets

American web search company AltaVista this week launches a New Zealand search site. Several million pages of Kiwi content will be searchable when the site goes live in March. Surfers can choose whether to search only New Zealand material or the entire World Wide Web. Click the link below for more:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/inl/index/0,1008,692828a1898,FF.html

Security Fears for Peers: With Napster leading the charge, peer-to-peer technology is all the rage.  ["Peer to peer" technology refers to two computers being directly connected for the purpose of file transfer, which is what happens, for example, when you download songs using Napster.] But obstacles must be overcome before file sharing becomes a truly viable business model. Security is a major concern. The way that people are using their computers -- and their computers are being used by other people -- is rapidly changing, opening up a host of security problems that could cause new users to shy away from the emerging peer-to-peer technology. Click the link below for more:

http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,42438,00.html

Napster Music Trading Plummets as Filtering Kicks In: Napster users are sharing almost 60 percent fewer digital music files since the embattled Internet song-swap service began implementing new filters to block copyrighted material, a Cambridge-based company which tracks Web traffic reports. ``Napster is successfully filtering many songs from its system,'' said analyst Matt Bailey of the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm Webnoize. "It is not just the number of files available that has fallen sharply. The number of downloads per user has dropped by half.'' Click the link below for more:

http://digitalmass.boston.com/news/daily/03/031601/napster.html

Email Can Do Anything:A survey for MSN has found 10% of women have dumped boyfriends by email, and 44% think an email thank you is as acceptable as a paper one. Two-thirds of 18-24 year olds don't worry about punctuation, grammar or style - and 16% sign every email with love and kisses, even when addressing their boss. Despite this, more than half of people interviewed are annoyed by messages that are over-familiar, have spelling or grammatical errors, or lack a proper greeting.

Who is spying on your downloads? - I can see you. I know that you recently downloaded the latest Limp Bizkit album off Gnutella, plus a few Korn singles and as much of Dr. Dre's back catalog as you could find. I know that you   have been struggling to download a DivX copy of "The Matrix" - although every copy you find is incomplete -- and that you own pirated versions of Quake and Photoshop. I know that your IP address is..., your ISP is ..., and that you logged in last at 2:26 a.m. Click the link below for the full story:

http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/03/27/media_tracker/index.html

US Online Billers Say New Zealand a Fraud Risk - Some US agencies handling online credit card payments on behalf of website operators have blacklisted the whole of New Zealand. By doing so they are breaching, or causing their merchants to breach MasterCard's conditions of use, and possibly Visa's.Click the link below for the full story:

http://www.thestandard.com.au/articles/display/0,1449,13490,00.html?inside


Interesting Sites
(Click the picture links to access the 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.

Starport

Starport

www.starport.com

This site represents a comprehensive central site for Science Fiction fans. It contains games, news, chat and competitions. You can even get questions answered by famous sci-fi authors.

Hear from those who were there!

Eyewitness - history through the eyes of those who lived it

www.ibiscom.com

This page is really something! It is dedicated to providing eyewitness accounts of important historical events. It contains eyewitness accounts, radio recordings, photos and covers a wide range of categories including the Ancient World, The past few centuries, the World Wars and many more.

News, news and more news!

Headline Spot!

www.headlinespot.com

This site simply describes itself as the news portal of the web. This is almost an understatement in my view. An extensive and  clickable index is listed providing free access to news, news providers, comics, tabloids, crosswords and everything you could imagine that might be associated with newspapers. 

Secrets of the Pharaohs!

Secrets of the Pharaohs

www.pbs.org/wnet/pharaohs/

Ancient Egypt buffs will love this one. The site is extremely well-presented and is based on a tv series aired on the PBS network. It starts with a description of the series, but goes on to include a wealth of information about Ancient Egypt. It includes photos, maps, science and secrets, and links to a wealth of further resources.

Internet News And Commentary

Daily Aardvark

www.aardvark.co.nz/

This is a New Zealand based Internet and technical news site. There is a wealth of this sort of thing available on the net, but what makes Aardvark especially useful and refreshing is its New Zealand perspective, and down-to-earth commentary.

Confused? You will be...

Confused Online

www.confusedonline.com

The confused online site has answers to the world's most bizarre, perplexing and plain annoying questions such as, "Were hotdogs ever made from dogs?" Plus, with a whole heap of pictures, quotes and interactive games, you're guaranteed to find a lot to keep you busy.

Eric conveys and emotion

Eric Conveys an Emotion

http://emotioneric.com

Definitely not a site for people with anything significant to do. Eric enjoys his digital camera and has provided pictures of himself displaying 100s of different emotions. Some are very clever and funny. Choose from emotions such as Senile Dementia, Caught picking your nose, realising Arnold Swartzenegger is your father, etc.  Interesting thing about the site is you can request emotions for Eric to emulate. .. if you're inclined. PGR

Star Trek Reviews!

Star Trek HyperText

www.st-hypertext.com

This site contains extensive reviews of Star Trek episodes, particularly Voyager and Deep Space Nine. Non-Trekkies probably won't understand the benefits of such a site, but there are many. Not only can you get an accurate idea of just where we are in the series at the moment, and an idea of what is to come, but the reviews themselves are extremely good and thought-provoking. Jammer, the compiler, must be a real devotee.

Junk Science

Junk Science

www.junkscience.com

Wondering about that story on melting ice caps? Steven Milloy is the publisher of Junkscience.com. This site takes on faulty scientific data and analysis used to further a special agenda. The junk science "mob" includes the media, personal injury lawyers, government regulators, business, and politicians.

Free Lotto

www.freelotto.com/

This site has half a dozen or so free lotto games with some pretty enormous prizes. The games are completely free for anyone to play once a day, and they are open to anyone in the world.

Do Not Enter

Do Not Enter

www.donotenter.com/index2.html

At Do Not Enter, you'll find plenty of unique, unusual, and humorous do not enter and warning signs from all over the world. There are sheep warning signs, caution water on bridge after rain signs, plus a no guns sign from Texas. My
favorite: A no disco sign...

Do It Yourself

Do It Yourself

www.doityourself.com

A site full of links to all sorts of helpful articles on how to do stuff yourself. Topics range from how to re-roof your house to how to be more frugal with your money. Diagrams and step by step instructions are usually included.

 

Epages Survey Results

Epages wishes to thank everyone who completed the survey. Edwin Hermann of Wellington won the draw and is enjoying his bottle of Moet. Epages is currently at the beta testing stage and will be available soon at www.epages.net.nz.

A cross section of the results are included here for those interested:

85% found such an online directory service desirable.
44% spend time phoning people to ask them for their email address or website.
64% currently use search engines to find websites for products or services.
83% wanted to be listed in a web based directory with confidentiality and protection from spamming.
79% would choose a web-based directory over a conventional one.
39% would expect to pay for such a service.
82% thought a free website link from the directory would be an advantage.
49% thought a listing in a universal directory would benefit their business.
39% spent between 6 and 20 hours per week on the internet.
The gender of respondents was pretty evenly split.
50% of respondents were aged between 26 and 45, 32% were over 45.
63% used the internet mainly for e-mailing friends, family or work.


Bringing It All Back Home

The EditorAnd so that's it for April 2001. Once again I hope you found something of interest this month.

I am now using different e-mailing software for sending out newsletter announcements. This means the mailing lists are a lot easier to manage than they used to be. Newsletter anouncements are sent to the main e-mail address for each and every Actrix account, though Ido have other lists for non-Actrix customers or people who have requested the announcements to be sent to some other address that they check. If you would like the newsletter announcement to be sent to one of your mail boxes just let me know. If you know someone who is not with Actrix who would also like the newsletter announcement to be sent to them, then all they have to do is let me know by e-mail. If you no longer wish to receive the announcement, please send a removal request to the e-mail address below.

Take care through April,

Rob Zorn
Actrix Newsletter editor
editor@actrix.co.nz